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After 35 days, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended January 25th when Congress and President Donald Trump agreed to a short-term funding bill. The stalemate began on December 22, 2018, over President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to fund a southern border wall, which Democrats in the House of Representatives refused to authorize. The new deadline for appropriations legislation to fund the federal government is now February 15th.
The partial federal government shutdown left a gap in funding for Tribal services, which affected the lives of millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives as well as non-Native employees in Tribal communities. Tribes contend the government failed to uphold its treaty responsibilities. Examples from around the country illustrate the negative impacts the shutdown had on Tribes, who hope to avoid similar calamities in the future by exempting Native nations from sequestration due to federal government shutdowns.
To read more about “How the Government Shutdown Affected – and Continues to Affect – Tribes”, click here to view a summary of news articles compiled by AIPI.
On December 12, 2018, Congress passed the 2018/19 Farm Bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), which provides funding for farmer assistance programs and extends the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with no reductions to benefits. The law also makes it legal to grow hemp, a cannabis plant related to marijuana, which could open up a multibillion-dollar industry within the agriculture sector. Tribes, like states, may participate in hemp farming. The bill includes language to extend funding of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) for two years. The legislation allocates funding for rural development, education, and research programs. It also expands Tribes’ forestry and land management authority.
The University of Arkansas has created a useful bullet-pointed breakdown of the Farm Bill as it relates to Indian Country. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law this week.
Next month AIPI will be releasing a "115th Congress Report Card" highlighting the bills we tracked and which became law following conclusion of the 115th Congress. Stay tuned!
A partial federal government shutdown could become effective after Friday, December 7th. On September 28th Congress passed an appropriations bill to fund the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education through fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019). However, the FY 2019 appropriations bill only provided a continuing resolution for the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Commerce, Interior, and Justice through December 7, 2018. In the FY 2019 appropriations bill Democrats agreed to $1.6 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which included provisions for construction of a southern border wall. However, Republicans vowed to revisit funding for the southern border wall following the November 6th midterm elections. President Trump has previously requested $5 billion in southern border wall funding and has restated his position as the December 7th expiration for the FY 2019 continuing resolution draws near. According to Politico, Republican House leadership met with President Trump on Tuesday, November 27th to discuss possible funding options for a southern border wall, which primarily focused on providing $5 billion in funding over a two year period.