On March 29, 2023, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies held a hearing on President Biden’s FY 2024 Budget Request for the Department of the Interior. The budget requests $18.9 billion, an increase of $2 billion from the FY 2023 enacted budget.
Secretary Deb Haaland testified at the hearing, highlighting the significance of the President’s proposal to provide mandatory funding for certain tribal programs, in particular:
- Contract Support Costs,
- 105(l) Tribal Leases, and
- Indian water settlements.
Currently, Congress funds these programs using discretionary funding, which is subject to political changes in Congress and despite the actual needs of tribes to run these programs. As tribal governments know, it is difficult, if not impossible, to run tribal programs subject to uncertainties and variations in discretionary funding.
Haaland also testified on the President’s proposed $4.7 billion budget for Indian Affairs programs, an increase of $690 million from FY 2023. Haaland testified that the proposed budget would support Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples awareness efforts, investigations into Federal Indian Boarding Schools, and language revitalization programs, among other programs. Secretary Haaland also reiterated the Department’s commitment to funding tribal public safety and justice, including working on the paid parity program to help recruit and retain officers.
Haaland’s testimony included the following FY 2024 funding proposals:
- $3 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, which is an increase of $482.8 million above FY 2023;
- $1.6 billion for the Bureau of Indian Education, which is an increase of $209.2 million above FY 2023;
- $2.5 billion in mandatory funding over ten years for Indian Water Rights Settlements, as well as $340 million in mandatory funding over ten years to cover operation and maintenance costs; and
- $78.1 million for the Tiwahe Initiative, an increase of $33.5 million from FY 2023.
Chairman Merkley, Ranking Member Murkowski, and Senator Tester directed questions to Haaland concerning BIA’s public safety and justice programs, energy development, climate change, infrastructure, and progress on Indian water settlements. Secretary Haaland’s written testimony may be found here and the link to view the hearing may be found here.
Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP is dedicated to the representation of American Indian tribes, tribal entities, and individual Indians across the United States. Our mission is to support and advance the sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and self-governance of our tribal clients. To learn more about how we can assist your tribe, contact our DC office at (202-434-8903).