Thursday, February 08, 2007

2007 Indian Country $$$$$$$

The 2007 BIA budget would be funded at $2.2 billion, about $1 million less than the amount in the 2007 appropriations bill recently passed by the House. The budget contains cuts of $104 million, including the outright elimination of the $23.4 million Housing Improvement Program.
According to the administration, the HIP duplicates efforts by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Other cuts were made to tribal education assistance (-$12.7 million); education construction (-$18.4 million) and Indian land consolidation (-$49.4 million).
"Founded on treaties and a trust responsibility between Native Americans and the U.S. government, our relationship with Indian Country is one we have to honor and respect," said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), the chairman of the House Resources Committee. "Yet, funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been on a downward spiral under this administration -- decreasing by $50 million since FY 2006, while at the same time military spending is increasing dramatically."

Rahall welcomed the inclusion of the Safe Indian Communities Initiative but said $16 million won't be enough. The National Congress of American Indians recommended at least $150 million just to address the need to build, staff and operate tribal detention facilities.

Overall, the budget seeks $10.7 billion for Interior, which represents a 4.5 percent increase over the 2007 appropriations level approved by the House. The biggest boost went to the National Park Service, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016.

Kempthorne was confident the public will support the budget, which contains just two other new initiatives besides the Indian ones. "With our Native Americans, the fact that they are being preyed on by organized crime and by drug cartels -- we're not going to stand by and watch that," he said. "We're going to do something about it."

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