Published October 23, 2017
WASHINGTON — Last Thursday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced that he has filed several amendments to the Senate Republicans’ fiscal year 2018 budget resolution to protect Native communities and programs that are vital to Indian Country. The deceptive Republican budget bill would slash billions of dollars from federal programs, including Medicaid and Medicare, in order to pay for tax cuts for billionaires. The amendments include:
Addressing critical housing needs in Native communities: This amendment would make it clear that the budget should provide full funding under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act to all Native communities, including Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, for safe and affordable housing. Far too many Native communities struggle with severely overcrowded housing, affordable housing shortages, substandard living conditions, and significant barriers to economic opportunity. In January 2017, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published the results of a comprehensive national study confirming that American Indian and Alaska Native people in large Tribal areas were more than eight times as likely to live in housing that was overcrowded, and more than six times as likely to live in housing that did not have adequate plumbing facilities than the national average. For Native Hawaiian communities, HUD similarly reported that housing affordability challenges are more acute in Hawaii than in the United States overall, which contributes to the state’s disproportionate Native Hawaiian homeless population. This amendment would address these urgent needs for housing assistance.
Preventing new restrictions on the land into trust process: This amendment would prevent the administration from using federal resources to impose new, unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and more red tape on the land into trust process—a vital tool Tribes have used to restore their Tribal land bases and expand opportunities for economic development. Grounded in the Indian Reorganization Act, the land into trust process has played a critical role in restoring millions of acres of Tribal homelands.
Preventing devastating cuts throughout Indian Country: This amendment would protect funding for critical Tribal programs within the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, HUD, and the Indian Health Service from any across-the-board sequestration cuts. It would ensure that Native American health care, education, public safety and housing programs won’t face devastating funding set-backs to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy.
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