Senate passes legislative package with four Indian bills

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Senate passed S. 886, the Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act with a substitute amendment

News Release

U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Senator John Hoeven, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, yesterday released the following statement after the Senate passed S. 886, the Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act with a substitute amendment offered by Senators Tom Udall, Jerry Moran and Mitt Romney.

“This package of four bills includes important priorities for Indian Tribes, including provisions to improve access to health care for tribal school employees and Native veterans. The package includes legislation providing parity for all tribal school employees to access health benefits provided to federal employees. The second bill enables Native veterans living in urban areas to access medical care through Indian Health Service-funded Urban Indian Organizations. The other pieces of legislation authorizes funding for water development projects important to Tribes, including extending the Aamodt water settlement to 2028. I hope the House considers this bill in an expeditious manner.”

S. 886, the Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act, as amended, includes:

  • S. 2365, the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act of 2019 allows the Indian Health Service within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Department of Defense to enter into agreements for the sharing of medical facilities and services with urban Indian organizations;
  • S. 279, the Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act allows schools that receive grants under the Tribally Controlled Schools Act of 1988 to participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program; and
  • S. 1875, the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Completion Act of 2019 amends the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act to provide an additional $137 million in authorization to complete construction of authorized water projects in the settlement, including the Pojaque Basin Regional Water System in New Mexico;
  • S. 1207, the Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement Act authorizes $198.3 million for a water development fund for the Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, of which $11 million is to be used for operations, maintenance, and repair of approved water development projects for the Navajo Nation. An allocation of 81,500 acre-feet per year of water from the San Juan River in Utah is also included;
  • Language that requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study the plan developed by the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas to resolve the water rights claim and to recommend changes within the plan.

With Senate passage of S. 886, 22 Indian bills have now moved through the Senate with 16 of these bills waiting further action in the House of Representatives.

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