Many thanks to Patricia Ferguson,
Some of you have asked for the information prepared by Josh Pitre regarding the status of the 2016 Interior Appropriations Bill. This information was shared at the NCAI Federal Recognition Task force meeting in Phoenix. Thanks to Josh for putting this together.
Fiscal Year 2016 Interior Appropriations Bill
- As the Department of the Interior was finalizing the reforms to the federal acknowledgment process, the following rider surfaced in the FY 2016 House Interior Appropriations bill:
- Provided further, That none of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary to finalize, implement, administer, or enforce the proposed rule entitled `Federal Acknowledgement of American Indian Tribes’ published by the Department of the Interior in the Federal Register on May 29, 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 30766 et seq.).
The bill was brought up on the House floor but was subsequently pulled from consideration due to a dispute over issues related to the Confederate flag.
The Senate version of the bill did not contain the federal recognition rider.
Ultimately, Congress enacted an omnibus appropriations bill, which did not include the federal recognition rider.
Fiscal Year 2017 Interior Appropriations Bill
- In May 2016, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee released its FY 2017 bill, which once again contained the federal recognition rider:
- Section 125 of the bill, titled “Tribal Recognition,” states that “None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary of the Interior to implement, administer, or enforce the final rule entitled ‘Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes’ published by the Department of the Interior in the Federal Register on July 1, 2015 (80 Fed. Reg. 37826 et seq.).”
- The Obama Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) opposing the bill, which included specific language addressing the federal recognition rider.
- In July 2016, the House of Representatives passed the FY 2017 Interior and Environment bill largely along party lines by a vote of 231-196 (only 3 Democrats voted for the bill and 15 Republicans voted against the bill).
- In June 2016, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal Year 2017 Interior, Environment Appropriations bill. This bill does not contain the provision prohibiting funding for the implementation of the new Part 83 regulations. The full Senate has not considered this bill.
Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution
- In late-September, Congress approved a 10-week continuing resolution (CR), which funds the government at current levels until December 9, 2016.
- The bill also provides full Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations for military construction and veterans.
- The bill did not contain the federal recognition rider.
- Shortly after finishing its work on the CR, Congress adjourned until after the November elections.
Lame Duck Session
- When Congress returns in mid-November it will need to pass 11 of the 12 spending bills.
- Congress is only scheduled to be in session for three weeks so it will not have time to pass all of these bills individually.
- The plan is to package several of the bills together and pass them in small groups (minibus strategy).
- We will have to work to ensure the federal recognition rider is not included in one of these small packages of spending bills.
- Allies on the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee include Senators Udall (D-NM), Tester (D-MT) and Daines (R-MT).
- Allies on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee include Representatives McCollum (D-MN), Kilmer (D-WA) and Cole (R-OK).
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