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Rare Opportunity to Pass Significant Self-Governance Reform Legislation this Year


September 16, 2020

This year has been difficult in getting Indian legislation through the Congress. First gridlock in the Senate, and then the COVID-19 pandemic have caused delays, resulting in an abbreviated legislative schedule.

 

In spite of these difficulties, tribal nations are now presented with a historic opportunity to improve the administration of Department of Interior (DOI) self-governance programs through passage of the PROGRESS Act, S.209, by the House of Representatives.

 

The PROGRESS Act has already passed the Senate on a voice vote and, with House approval, can go to the President for signature before the end of this congressional session. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is requesting that House leadership schedule S.209 for floor consideration under suspension of the rules, which requires a 2/3 vote for passage. This option is attainable since the bill is bipartisan and represents bicameral legislation supported by the administration. The PROGRESS Act has the potential to be a rare gridlock buster in an otherwise polarized congressional session. Indian Country cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by!

 

The PROGRESS Act harmonizes Title IV of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), which authorizes tribal nations to administer certain programs within the Interior Department with Title V of the ISDEAA, which is the authority for self-governance of Indian Health Service programs.  Most self-governance tribes manage programs through compacts with both of the agencies.

 

The PROGRESS ACT proposes the following changes: 

·     Requires DOI agencies to clarify their reasons for declining tribal proposals;

·     Prohibits DOI from imposing unauthorized terms;

·     Establishes clear processes and timelines for final offers to avoid unreasonable delays;

·     Provides an interpretive rule for resolving ambiguities in the statute, compacts, and funding agreements;

·     Reinforces carry-over authority and procedures for awarded funding;

·     Clarifies standards and procedures for appeals and waiver requests;

·     Clarifies construction oversight roles to ensure fiscal prudence and public safety; and

·     Establishes clear payment schedules and procedures for involved parties.

 

PLEASE CONSIDER SENDING THE TEMPLATE LETTER TO SPEAKER PELOSI AND MAJORITY LEADER McCARTHY TODAY.

 

For additional information contact NCAI Vice President of Government Relations, Nathan Bergerbest at nbergerbest@ncai.org

 

-DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE LETTER-

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