Udall: Interior & Environment Funding Bill Secures Strong Investments for Indian Country
Rejects Trump administration’s harmful cuts and includes critical funding for programs vital to Indian Country, including BIA, IHS, and opioids response programs
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and lead Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, hailed the passage of the Fiscal Year 2019 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill as part of the government funding package that passed Congress last week. The bipartisan bill provides increased funding for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Health Service (IHS) programs, which Udall secured despite the administration’s devastating proposed cuts to this critical funding for Indian Country.
“This bipartisan bill is a win for all of Indian Country, and its strong funding for BIA and IHS programs reflects a bipartisan commitment to meeting our trust and treaty responsibilities to Native communities,” said Udall. “I’m proud to have fought off the Trump administration’s harmful cuts to BIA and IHS, which would have had devastating consequences for Tribes, and to have pushed for critical resources that will strengthen Indian Country. Together, these investments will help promote Tribal public safety, increase economic development, safeguard public health, combat the opioid epidemic in Native communities, and more. As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I’ll keep fighting for strong investments in Indian Country to ensure that we better meet our obligations to Tribes, and deliver vital resources based on meaningful government-to-government consultation.”
Highlights for Indian Country include:
Indian Health Service’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse program—$245.6 million, including $10 million for an opioid pilot. The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program is part of an integrated behavioral health approach to collaboratively reduce the incidence of alcoholism and other drug dependencies in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. This includes $2 million for grants and contracts with public or private detox centers that provide alcohol or drug treatment, including Na’Nizhoozhi Center in Gallup, New Mexico, which serves Native populations.
Indian Arts and Crafts Act Enforcement– The bill provides $2 million in additional funding for enforcement of federal laws prohibiting the trafficking of counterfeit Native American art in New Mexico and across the country. Udall held an Oversight Field Hearing in Santa Fe on this topic in July 2017.
Chaco Canyon— The bill includes language to express Congress' support for the delay of the oil and gas lease around Chaco Historical Park until robust tribal consultation and historic preservation studies can be completed.
Tribal Programs—The bill provides $5.804 billion for the Indian Health Service, $267 million more than fiscal year 2018 and $380 million more than the President’s budget request. The agreement provides $4.103 billion for health care services, an increase of $151 million above the fiscal year 2018 level. Within that amount, the bill fully funds staffing needs for newly constructed health care facilities and includes $10 million in new funds for grants to tribes to address opioid and substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. Contract support costs are fully funded at an estimated level of $822 million, an increase of $104 million above fiscal year 2018. The agreement also funds health facilities construction and maintenance at $878.8 million. The agreement provides $358.7 million for BIA and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) construction and maintenance programs, including $238.3 million for education construction requirements. This funding will help address the priority list of replacement schools, which includes three BIE schools in New Mexico.
Tribal Public Safety — Includes $411.5 million, an increase of $6 million, for public safety funding for the BIA.
Office of Surface Mining Tribal Coal Cleanup — $10 million for coal mine reclamation and economic development in Indian Country, including $3.5 million for Navajo Nation to support cleanup and job creation.
Indian Land and Water Claims Settlement — $50.5 million, which will provide funding for congressionally authorized Indian water rights settlements. This funding will help address the future water needs for Tribal communities, municipalities, and local residents.
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