American Indian Policy Institute
Leading the discourse on tribally-driven, informed policy-making.
Despite being occupied with a second impeachment hearing in its first weeks, the 117th United States Congress continues to introduce new legislation, including proposals with significant impacts on Indian Country. Perhaps the most impactful legislation introduced in February is S. Con. Res. 5, which enables Congress to begin the Budget Reconciliation process, allowing for passage of President Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 relief package. This proposed package includes about $20 billion allocated to Tribal Governments.
There were also important administrative actions taken this month, including President Biden’s executive order to strengthen nation-to-nation relationships and consultation with Tribal Nations. The President’s order requires all agencies to develop a comprehensive Tribal consultation plan which recognizes and respects Tribal sovereignty within 90 days. Further, this update includes Notices for funding opportunities under the Rural Business Development Grant Program and newly scheduled meetings for the U.S. Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee and the U.S. Commission on Human Rights Arizona Advisory Committee.
Policy Recap for January 2021
In the last few weeks, we witnessed disturbing events at our nation’s capital, but we were also reminded about the enormous potential of our republic when the right principles and ideas are placed at the forefront. In this spirit that we celebrated the historic nomination of Representative Debra Haaland (D-NM-1) to serve in President Biden’s Cabinet as the first Native American to serve as the Secretary of Interior. This is a deeply meaningful nomination to Indian Country and we look forward to working alongside the new administration.
We have also posted more detailed comments and thoughts on Haaland’s nomination here.
Despite much of their time being consumed by the transition to a new administration and a second impeachment trial of the 45th President, there were some important actions taken on legislation in the final days of the 116th Congress, including the Indian Community Economic Act of 2020 being signed into law on December 30, 2020. There are also pertinent notices in the Federal Registry, including upcoming virtual meetings and numerous solicitations for grant proposals.
Policy Recap for November 2020
The most contested election in history has passed but as of publishing, the President of the United States has yet to concede. This election cycle was historic for Indigenous candidates seeking office with a record number running and elected at all levels from council persons to Congress. Further, in some states, Native voters carried the general candidates to victory. In fact, 6 Indigenous candidates were elected and this number is a record.
We have produced a full overview of National and Arizona candidates elected to the 117th Congress and the Arizona 55th Legislature click here.
As the process plays out, a lame-duck Congress is in session. Six bills were considered or introduced that would impact Indian Country. One of those, S.3264, Bridging the Digital Divide Act of 2020, seeks to establish a Tribal Broadband Interagency Working Group. At last count, there were 7 tribal specific broadband bills and 30 plus general broadband bills awaiting action.