CORRECTION: Congress passes Omnibus appropriations bill

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CORRECTION: The Operation of Indian Programs amount in the first sentence in paragraph three is corrected to $2.34 billion.  

Contact: Jared King
Navajo Nation Washington Office
Communications Director
202-682-7390

***LEGISLATIVE ALERT***

Congress passes Omnibus appropriations bill

WASHINGTON— On May 4, Congress passed the 2017 Omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the remaining fiscal 2017. Funding for Indian affairs fared well considering the discussion of potential budget cuts. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Education will be funded at $2.86 billion, which is an increase of $63.6 million from fiscal 2016.

Within BIA’s funding, the Operation of Indian Programs will be funded at about $2.34 billion, which is an increase of about $71.4 million from fiscal 2016. Of this amount, Public Safety and Justice will receive an increase of $8.3 million for an overall amount of $385.7 million. Road maintenance will also receive an increase of about $3.6 million for an overall amount of $30.3 million.

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) will receive about $892 million, which is an increase of $39.1 million from fiscal 2016. BIA contract support costs is fully funded estimated to be $278 million in fiscal 2017. The funding for BIA and BIE is detailed more specifically in the appropriations committee’s summary report at the following link.

The Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR) will receive an increase of $431 thousand to $15.431 million. The appropriations committee requires ONHIR to submit a comprehensive plan to the committee with the fiscal 2018 budget request regarding closure of ONHIR. This includes a legal analysis as to transferring functions to another agency or organization.

Indian Health Service (IHS) will receive $3,694,462,000, which is an increase of $128,075,000. IHS contract support costs is fully funded, estimated to be at $800 million for fiscal 2017. Indian Health Facilities will be funded at $545,424,000, which is an increase of $22,192,000. The funding for IHS is detailed more specifically in the appropriations committee’s summary report at the following link.

The Native American Housing Block Grants program will receive a $4 million increase to $654 million to remain available until September 30, 2021. Congress revised the formula grant application to the sum of three years prior allocation as opposed to the three times current allocation language, and this formula will continue until September 30, 2021. Additionally, the agreement provides $7,227,000, to remain available until expended, to subsidize a total loan level of up to $1,762,682,927. Within these amounts, $1,727,000 is provided for the cost of guaranteed loans for the construction of rental housing for law enforcement, healthcare, educational, technical and other skilled workers, to subsidize loan principal up to $421,219,512.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will lose about $81.4 million in funding, but considering all the discussion of huge cuts, the loss is less than expected. Funding for the State and Tribal Assistance Grants will increase by about $9 million, however most funding for tribal programs within EPA remained the same as the 2016 levels. The Tribal Air Quality Management program and Tribal General Assistance program remained at the same 2016 funding levels of $12.8 million and $65.48 million respectively.

The appropriations bill allocated $4 million for a long-term water quality monitoring program of the Animas and San Juan River as a result of the Gold King Mine Spill. The bill also expresses concern about the legal decision by EPA that they will not compensate stakeholders for their property, business losses and other negative financial impacts. The appropriations committee requires EPA to report back to the committee within 60 days after enactment of the bill as to the details and timeline for the efforts to compensate individuals and plans for engagement of stakeholders affected by the spill.

Head Start will be funded at $9.25 billion, which is an increase of $85 million. Native American language preservation will be funded at $12 million, Generation Indigenous at $5 million and language immersion programs under the Native American Programs Act at $4 million.

The Federal-Aid Highways program was funded at the president’s budget request amount of $43,266,100,000. This means that the Tribal Transportation Program will likely be funded at the President’s budget request of $475 million. This is an increase of $10 million from 2016 funding levels. The TIGER grant program will remain at the 2016 levels of $500 million.

The appropriations for the Indian Land and Water Claim Settlements and Miscellaneous Payments to Indians under the Department of the Interior’s budget has been reduced by $4.43 million to $45.045 million. The Navajo Water Resources Development Trust Fund and the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is funded under this line item. The Navajo-Gallup settlement portion in the Energy and Water Development and other agencies bill is funded at $87 million.

The Office of Indian energy policy and programs will be funded at the same level of $16 million.

The Native American Programs under the Department of Labor will receive $50 million, which is the same level as fiscal 2016. The Native American Programs under the Administration for Children and Families will receive $52.05 million – an increase of $2.05 million.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) formula grants will remain at the 2016 level of $3.39 billion.

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