Budget plan directs $ 20.5 billion to Indian country programs



Budget plan directs $ 20.5 billion to Indian country programs

Wednesday August 11, 2021

Indianz.Com

A budget plan just passed by the United States Senate provides for spending $ 20.5 billion for Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian programs. S.Con.Res.14 was approved by a narrow 50 to 49 vote shortly before 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. The measure allocates $ 20.5 billion to programs in Indian countries over the next 10 fiscal years. “For too long, the historic underfunding of federal programs serving Indigenous communities and tribes has left them vulnerable,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “The budget reverses these systemic injustices with a targeted investment of $ 20.5 billion.

Overall, S.Con.Res.14 seeks $ 3.5 trillion in spending on federal programs. The measure covers fiscal years 2022 to 2031. The resolution, however, does not actually take the money. It mainly lays the foundation for the funding that will be provided by Congress to the federal government in the years to come. “The responsibility of the United States government to American Indians, Alaska Natives and Hawaiian Natives is not just up to Democrats or Republicans. It is a commitment that we all share, ”Schatz said on the Senate floor on Monday. “This budget resolution will empower these indigenous communities like never before. No further consideration of S.Con.Res.14 is required by Congress or the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats. The chamber itself is evenly divided, with 50 Democrats alongside 50 Republicans. No Republican voted for the draft budget. The section of interest in S.Con.Res.14 reads as follows:

INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. – The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is to report on changes to laws under its jurisdiction that increase the deficit by up to $ 20,500,000,000 for fiscal years 2022 to 2031.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. He is seen here during a hearing on July 21, 2021. Photo: SCIA
The full text of Schatz’s remarks on August 9 follows:
Mr. Speaker, you know, this is a very important week in the United States Senate. Our infrastructure bill is big, bold, and bipartisan, and it reflects the needs of a population that is particularly important to me: Indigenous communities and Indian country across the United States. As chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, I made it my mission to support these communities. This legislation contains more than $ 11 billion in direct investments for indigenous communities, including $ 3.5 billion for access to and distribution of drinking water, $ 3 billion for safe roads and bridges and 2 billion dollars to bridge the digital divide for Native Americans, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians. families. This bill will have a direct and lasting impact, and I am proud to support it. Since receiving the gavel of the committee, I have worked with President Biden, with the presiding officer, with committee members and my colleagues in both houses to ensure that Indigenous voices are always heard. table. Our tribal arrangements in the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act were the two largest investments in Indigenous communities in American history – the two largest investments in Indigenous communities in American history. Both bills contained long overdue and desperately needed resources and political reforms, and they are already bearing fruit. But our work must continue, and this historic budget resolution is the next step. Fundamentally, our budget is about restoring the middle class and giving more Americans the chance to enter the middle class. It cuts taxes for millions of American families. It creates millions of jobs in the United States while battling the climate crisis, and it’s paid for by the rich who pay their fair share. No one who earns less than $ 400,000 will have their taxes increased. I hated graphics. Before, I wasn’t a chart guy. I have a rule in my office: if you come and introduce me, no PowerPoint. I don’t like the graphics. But I’m making an exception right now because it’s really important that the audience understands what we’re about to do. We will cut costs for all Americans. We will cut taxes for American families. We will create millions of jobs while fighting the climate crisis. And it’s going to be paid for by forcing the rich to pay their fair share of taxes. The budget is also aimed specifically at aboriginal communities. For too long, the historic underfunding of federal programs serving Indigenous communities and tribes has left them vulnerable. Today, one in three Native Americans lives in poverty, and only 19% of Native American students attend university. Native Americans have a life expectancy that is 5 1/2 years shorter than that of the general population, and Native Americans are on the front lines of the climate crisis. This budget reverses these systemic injustices with a targeted investment of $ 20.5 billion. The budget invests significantly in the climate resilience of indigenous communities and gives them the tools they need to mitigate the impacts of climate change, deploy their own clean energy solutions on their own terms, and restore and protect their lands. It ensures that Indigenous students and families have greater access to Indigenous language programs, early childhood education and college. It also includes historic investments in health and education programs to provide much needed support to Indigenous people across the country. We’ve already made the biggest investment in Indigenous communities in American history, and we’re not done yet. The responsibility of the US government to the Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians is not just up to Democrats or Republicans. It is a commitment that we all share. This budget resolution will empower these Indigenous communities like never before and make our country stronger, safer and more resilient. I will be proud to move it forward. I yield the floor.



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