On April 9, 2021, President Biden released his $1.52 trillion budget request for the 2022 fiscal year, and in Congress, appropriations season is underway. Like other major actions during his first 100 days, the president’s budget request is focused on addressing four crises: the Covid-19 pandemic, an economic recession, climate change, and persistent economic inequities.
As a part of this effort, the budget request includes substantial increases for tribal programs within the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Indian Health Service. For Interior, the president proposes $4 billion in funding for tribal programs, which is a $600 million increase over 2020. For IHS, the president proposes $8.5 billion in funding, which is a $2.2 billion increase over 2021. The budget request also seeks advance appropriations for IHS in 2023 to sustain tribal health programs from one fiscal year to the next.
The budget request provides some specific budget information, but most of the information is focused on highlighting the Biden Administration’s policy priorities. For example, no matter which agency is being discussed, the budget request frequently cites policy priorities such as improving healthcare, water infrastructure, and education, as well as supporting renewable energy and addressing climate change.
Meanwhile, appropriations work is getting underway in Congress. The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies took written testimony on appropriations from Indian tribes and tribal organization on Friday, April 16. This year, the subcommittee is not holding its normal hearings, in which many tribes and tribal organizations testify over two days.
On Tuesday, April 20, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland testified before the subcommittee on the budget request for Interior, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan testified for EPA on Wednesday, April 21. Secretary Haaland’s written testimony is available here. The hearings and verbal testimony provide further budget information, and can be viewed on the Subcommittee’s website at the addresses below.
Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP tracks the appropriations process to advocate for our tribal clients’ budget needs. To learn more about this issue and how we can assist, contact attorney Rollie Wilson in our Washington, D.C. office at (202) 434-8903.