Mullin, Luján, McCollum, Cole Reintroduce Legislation to Responsibly Fund Critical Public Services for Tribal Nations

Today, U.S. Senators Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and U.S. Representatives Tom Cole (OK-04) and Betty McCollum (MN-04) reintroduced the bipartisan Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act (IPAAA) to provide advance appropriations and avoid lapses in funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), which fund critical public services for Tribal Nations, including hospitals, schools, law enforcement, and child welfare programs, among other services.

Advance appropriations provides funding for the current fiscal year and for one year in advance for critical public services. Moving federal programs that serve Tribal Nations, including BIA, BIE, and IHS, to the advance appropriations process will protect these agencies and Tribal governments from cash flow problems that regularly occur due to delays in the enactment of annual federal spending bills in time for the start of the new fiscal year.

The federal government already authorizes advance appropriations for other programs, like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to protect these critical services from such lapses. In 2011, Congress enacted the Veterans’ Health Budget Reform and Transparency Act which required the federal government to provide advance appropriations for the VA.

Last year, Congress provided the IHS with advance appropriations for the first time, a historic achievement thanks to the tireless work of Tribal Nations and advocates across the country. 

However, current law does not require IHS to continue receiving advance appropriations, nor does it consider similar authority for the BIE and BIA.

“If the federal government lapses in annual appropriation funding, Indian Country should not have to suffer the consequences,” said Mullin. “In order to uphold our trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, it is vital the federal government moves these programs to the advance appropriations process to ensure economic security for Tribal communities. I’m proud to join my colleagues on this important legislation to protect Indian Country from future shutdowns.”

“As a member of the Senate Committees on the Budget and Indian Affairs, I’m committed to ensuring our country’s funding reflects our trust responsibility to Tribal Nations and New Mexico values. That means common-sense reform that provides Tribal Nations with timely, sufficient, sustainable, and predictable funding,” said Luján. “This bipartisan legislation responsibly funds critical programs that protect the health, safety, and education of Tribal communities served by these agencies. I’m proud to lead the reintroduction of this legislation and I look forward to building support for this much-needed bill.”

“The federal government has a trust responsibility with tribal nations, and part of that responsibility is to ensure basic services are securely provided,” said Cole, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus and member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. “This legislation would allow vital accounts within the Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Indian Education, to be funded a year in advance so Indian Country is not left behind. The bill provides tribal nations with a stable budget to support the health, life safety, education and other public services of Indians and I am proud to co-lead this effort in its critical introduction.”

“The federal government has a responsibility to honor our trust and treaty commitments to Indian Country,” said McCollum. “Advance Appropriations ensures that health care facilities, tribal justice services, and social services for children, families, and seniors are not interrupted in the event of a government shutdown. With this bill, we’re taking a necessary step to ensure stable funding for Native American communities.”