Published March 19, 2017
WASHINGTON — While seeking to increase the defense by $54 billion, the Trump administration sent a budget to Congress this past week that recommends a 12 percent cut to the Department of the Interior and almost 18 percent reduction to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budgets. The Interior Department houses Indian Affairs and HHS houses Indian Health Service.
While the budget does not get into specifics relating to Indian Affairs or Indian Health Service, the assumed across the board cuts at both departments will reduce services to Indian Country, which are already underfunded.
“The Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs is proposed to receive a 12 percent cut. BIA funding is chronically underfunded at about 40 percent. Further cuts threaten to erode the federal government’s treaty and trust responsibility. It is unclear, what the Trump Administration’s understanding and position is regarding maintaining at least a minimum fidelity to settled law and policy regarding the federal government’s obligations,” comments Aaron Payment, tribal chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and secretary of the National Congress of the American Indians.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-Arizona), vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is also concerned about the cuts to the Interior Department impact on Indian Country.
“Cutting Interior Department agencies could reduce core services to American Indians and Alaska Natives, such as education and law enforcement — services that our nation has an obligation to provide,” says Sen. Udall.
Udall says he predicts the budget will be “dead on arrival” in Congress.
Related: Remember the Sequester? Trump Budget Would Make Those the Good Old Days
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