Chairman Grijalva, Democratic Leaders Highlight Dramatic Shutdown Impacts on Indian Country, Natural Resources at Capitol Hill Hearing

The quote from Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) was added online after this press release was initially publicized.

Washington, D.C. – Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and House Democratic leaders today highlighted the dramatic impacts of the government shutdown on Indian Country and on our natural resources and public lands at a recently concluded hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. The event, which featured two panels of witnesses and a broad cross section of the House Democratic Caucus, was livestreamed and is available to watch at https://www.facebook.com/NRDems/videos/1148568341960181/?__tn__=-R.

As lawmakers heard today, the impacts to Indian Country health services are especially acute, and Indian Health Service (IHS) programs still have no appropriations for the current fiscal year. The House recently passed a measure (H.R. 266) to fund IHS at $4,072,385,000 for the remainder of fiscal year 2019. Each day without that bill becoming law is a day health funding for Indian Country doesn’t reach its intended recipients. This lack of funding impacts cities as well as rural Native American communities. While 78 percent of Native Americans now live in urban areas, the “Urban Indian” line item constitutes less than 1 percent of the total IHS budget.

A recent report on urban Indian health funding by the National Council of Urban Indian Health is available at https://www.ncuih.org/action/document/download?document_id=291.

Select Video Highlights

Chairman Grijalva opening statement: https://youtu.be/ELhn51G0Xwc

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) exchange on Indian Country health impacts: https://youtu.be/0DEZlnj9Qt4

A message from a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employee on furlough: https://youtu.be/uP4zt2yPTtI

Lawmaker statements are below. Witness testimony is available online at http://naturalresources.house.gov/media/press-releases/chairman-grijalva-democratic-steering-and-policy-leaders-holding-hearing-jan-15-on-shutdown-impacts

Chairman Grijalva: “The Trump administration and its friends in Washington can only continue this shutdown if the real costs remain invisible, and we’re well past that point,” Grijalva said today. “Families across Indian Country are suffering health and economic impacts too upsetting to ignore. Our national parks are sustaining long-term damage, and our public lands professionals are losing precious time to prepare for the high travel season. Democrats are not going to let the serious human and environmental damage this shutdown has caused pass in silence.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Co-Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee: “Native Americans and our public lands are taking the brunt of President Trump’s childish shutdown. President Trump may proudly own the shutdown, but today we learned that its pain is owned by Indian communities where people are being laid off from work, denied care at hospitals, and dying from lack of opioid treatment. All the while, our public lands are being left for ruin as garbage piles up and waste flows out of clogged bathrooms. John Muir famously wrote, ‘The mountains are calling, and I must go.’ Our beautiful national treasures indeed are still calling, but if President Trump's shutdown persists, we will not be able to answer their call. This Trump Shutdown must end before more Americans are hurt and our lands bear permanent scars.”

Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Co-Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee: “As we heard in this hearing today, our public lands and Native communities are bearing the brunt of this unnecessary and harmful government shutdown. Our national parks are falling into disrepair, with trash cans overflowing and delicate ecosystems destroyed. On Native lands, communities have lost vital services – roads have gone unplowed and basic health care and nutrition assistance are in jeopardy. One thing is very clear: President Trump must stop holding families and our public lands hostage. It’s past time for President Trump to end this reckless shutdown and re-open the federal government.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Co-Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee: “Indigenous communities rely on the federal government for vital essential services, including matters of law and justice, and life and death. They are suffering because of the President’s shutdown. The Trump Shutdown is also hurting our national parks and public lands. They are in a state of disrepair because, unlike past shutdowns, the Trump administration has tried to keep these areas operating with skeleton crews—putting those lands and the guests at risk. It is time for the President to stop holding the American people hostage, and I urge my Republican colleagues to heed these harms. Help us open the government. Indigenous communities, federal workers, and families across our country cannot keep waiting.”

Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies: “Hearing the stories from members of tribal communities puts a human face on the crisis of governance we’re facing with President Trump’s shutdown. Throughout Indian Country, people cannot access medical care and other basic services. We also heard stories about the impacts on our national parks — America’s crown jewels — which are overflowing with trash. The administration is illegally using park entrance fees for short-term maintenance, threatening our pristine places in the long term. All the while, 800,000 federal workers are feeling the financial burden of going without a paycheck. It is long past time to reopen the government. President Trump and Senate Republicans must stop holding the American people hostage and end this shutdown immediately.”

Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) "The shutdown clearly has a disproportionate effect on Tribes, many of whom are having a difficult time supplying food and medical services for their members. As we move forward, I’ll be looking at proposals to alleviate the loss of basic services for Tribes during unnecessary government shutdowns and budget uncertainty."

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