This week the Tribal Interior Budget Council met here in D.C. at the Washington Plaza Hotel. The focus was on the President’s budget and the elimination of several key Tribal programs (as we reported in our last update). After the Government Shutdown and the compromise on the budget in January 2019, the Bureau of Indian Affairs in general did not fare as badly in comparison to some departments. However, Indian Affairs still suffered losses that could have been avoided if the budget compromise had gone though as planned when the US Senate voted unanimously in September 2018 to keep the government open. For example, Tribal road maintenance would have increased prior to the shut down by more than $4 million. After the shutdown the increase was only $1 million. The President’s proposed 2020 budget eliminates, Indian Guaranteed loans, Tribal Scholarships, and Housing (HIP) programs, and decreases funding for many other programs, such as the Indian Child Welfare Act, Mineral and Mining projects, public safety and education construction, and funds for small and needy tribes. see budget comparison
Tribal leaders focused on other priority issue at the conference, such as land into trust, the Bureau of Indian Education funding and programs, and Transportation and road maintenance funding. The question is whether the Tribes have the clout to get Congress to ensure key Tribal programs and funding is protected and increased.