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On March 11, 2019, President Trump released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget Request to Congress. Included in the President's FY 2020 Budget Request were eliminations to tribal-specific programs, as well as programs tribes are eligible to access, from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Department of Education. Programs proposed for elimination included: the BIA Indian Guaranteed Loan Program and Tribal Climate Resilience Program; the BIE Replacement School Construction Program and Replacement Facility Construction Program; the HUD Indian Community Development Block Grant Program and Native Hawaiian House Block Grant Program; and the HHS Community Service Block Grants Program. The President's FY 2020 Budget Request also included an increase of $7 million for education management and information technology resources for BIE student learning and an increase in funding across Department of Justice (DOJ) tribal services and programs through a seven percent tribal set-aside across all DOJ programs. For an in depth analysis of the President's FY 2020 Budget Request as it relates to tribal programs, please view and Analysis of the FY 2020 President's Budget compiled by the National Congress of American Indians.
Another federal government shutdown scheduled for February 15th was averted after bipartisan appropriations legislation passed the House and Senate on February 13th. The appropriations package did not include funding for a 230 mile southern border wall with Mexico. It was reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urged President Trump to sign the appropriations package to avoid another shutdown of the federal government. President Trump agreed to sign the legislation and declared a national emergency to access other taxpayer accounts for construction of the southern border wall. In response, sixteen states have filed a lawsuit again the declaration in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, citing that the action was unconstitutional. The following states joined California in the filing the suit, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia. On Tuesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives held a vote to repeal the President's declaration, which passed 245-182 with all Democrats voting in support and 13 Republicans joining them. Additionally, reports have indicated the possibility that Republicans in the Senate might vote in favor of the resolution. While the President could veto the bill if it passes both chambers, a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate could overturn the President's veto.
Additionally, on February 5th President Trump delivered the State of the Union outlining his Administration's priorities to support criminal justice reform, reducing the price of prescription drugs, support infrastructure deployment, and emphasized new trade deals that are contributing to the workforce and economy. President Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw) of the National Congress of American Indians presented the State of Indian Nations on February 11th to highlight the organization's priorities for the year. In his speech, President Jefferson highlighted NCAI's commitment to protecting the Indian Child Welfare Act, the high turnout of the Native vote and election of Native candidates in federal, state, and local elections, ongoing protection of Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, the effects of the government shut down on Tribes, and issues regarding climate change. Congresswoman Debra Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna) (D-NM-1) provided the congressional response, which highlighted the her focus on Native youth, issues of missing and murdered Indigenous women, the struggles of Tribes during the government shutdown, environmental justice and protection of cultural resources, and the pervasive digital divide and lack of broadband throughout Indian Country.
To view a recording of the State of Indian Nations, click here.