Committee Considers Budget Request, Lack of Results for Insular and Tribal Communities
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 25, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Today, the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs held an oversight hearing on the president's Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget request for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA). Subcommittee Chair Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) issued the following statement in response:
"There are finite federal resources and agencies must be held accountable for their spending and prioritization of policies. They must ensure that tribes and territories are not limited in opportunity for natural resource development on their lands. Real property holdings are the basis for social, cultural, and religious life, and a significant economic resource. Access to development cannot be restricted by this administration’s broadly and nebulously defined climate goals, or other restrictive policies. History has shown that we can balance conservation and resource development, and federal agencies should be supporting efforts of self-determination, not limiting them."
The BIA is an agency of the Department of the Interior (DOI) charged with honoring the United States’ treaty and trust responsibilities towards American Indians and Alaska Natives and the 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. The BIA supports a wide range of programs for tribes, including programs that address community services, manage water and resource rights, execute fiduciary trust responsibilities, support energy and mineral production on tribal lands and encourage economic opportunity for native communities. Over the past several years, Indian Country has seen substantial federal funding increases across agencies and programs that serve native communities. The president's FY 2024 budget request includes an increase of $684.01 million over last year's funding for the BIA. Yet as funding increases, outcomes remain the same. In a new report this week these failures were evident. Despite promises of reforms in the prison system, inmates overseen by BIA continue to die at an alarming rate with suicide rates nearly doubled since 2021.
BIA has a great responsibility to support the economic, social and cultural well-being of tribal communities. Congress must continue its oversight of the agency and ensure limited taxpayer funds are being spent in ways that best serve the needs of American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
OIA is charged with carrying out all duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of the Interior regarding all U.S. territories and the Freely Associated States (FAS). COVID-19 profoundly affected tourism in the territories, and while most travel restrictions on the islands have been lifted, businesses are still attempting to recover. Congress provided federal funds and expanded access to federal programs to the insular areas in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Now as Congress considers the president's FY 2024 request, oversight is essential to ensure the funding is used in ways that best serve the needs of U.S. territories and the FAS.To learn more, click here.
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