Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Advances Five Bills on Wednesday

Published March 29, 2017

Improvements for Indian Veterans Care Clears Committee

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) passed the following five pieces of legislation at its business meeting:

·         S. 304, the Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act;

·         S. 343, the Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes Act (RESPECT Act);

·         S. 381, a bill to repeal the Act entitled “An Act to confer jurisdiction on the State of Iowa over offenses committed by or against Indians on the Sac and Fox Indian Reservation”;

·         S. 607, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act; and

·         S. 669, the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act.

During the business meeting, U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the SCIA, highlighted what three of these bills intend to accomplish.

The Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act:

“On February 3, 2017, Senators Thune and Rounds introduced S 304, the Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act.

“This bill amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to allow the Indian Health Service to cover co-payments for an Indian veteran who has an IHS referral to receive medical care or services from a Department of Veterans Affairs facility. It requires the IHS and VA to enter into a MOU to govern how this payment system will be executed.

“It also requires the VA and IHS report to Congress on the number of Native American veteran beneficiaries of IHS served by the VA, and the number of Native American veteran beneficiaries of IHS that receive an actual referral to be served at a VA medical facility.

“A previous version of this bill was introduced in the last session of Congress and the committee voted to approve that bill.”

The Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes Act (RESPECT Act):

“On February 8, 2017, Senators Rounds and Lankford introduced S. 343, which is identical to the Senate version that was amended and passed out of committee last Congress.

“This bill repeals eleven laws relating to Indians. The policies underlying these obsolete laws have been disavowed by Congress long ago, so it’s past time to get them off the books.”

The Native American Business Incubators Program Act:

“On March 13, 2017, Senators Udall, Tester, and Cantwell introduced S. 607.

“It would create a competitive grant program in the Department of the Interior to establish and maintain business incubators that serve Native entrepreneurs and reservation communities. The committee favorably reported the predecessor bill without amendment last Congress.”

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