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Pallone Decries Republican Bill that Leaves Critical American Indian Programs Unfunded

October 16, 2013
Press Release

Says GOP Relentless Effort to Repeal Health Care Reform also Means Repeal of Reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act

Washington, DC – Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) denounced the resolution H.J. RES. 80 - American Indian and Alaska Native, Health, Education, And Safety Act on Saturday, October 12, 2013 that House Republican leadership brought up for debate without proposing full funding of all critical American Indian programs or the entire federal government.  On Monday evening Pallone voted against the measure.  Pallone condemned the House Republican’s hypocrisy towards American Indian healthcare, citing their unrelenting efforts to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act, which includes the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. 

Pallone’s full statement follows:

“The Republican position is clear.  Either affordable health care for millions of Americans goes or we will keep the government shutdown.  In an effort to avert the public’s attention from this extreme and destructive hostage-taking, they have been putting forward a series of piecemeal, two month, sequestration level, funding bills. 

“However, today’s piecemeal bill reaches a new level of hypocrisy.  The irony here would only be lost on a Republican Party as intransigent and dominated by the Tea Party as the one we have here in the House.

“The Affordable Care Act, which the Republicans are demanding be eliminated in exchange for allowing the government to reopen, includes the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.  As the author of the reauthorization of Indian Health Care Improvement Act, I know the challenges that the reauthorization faced and just how long it took for us to finally get it into law—a decade, in case you are wondering. 

“If we yield to Republican hostage-taking and throw out the Affordable Care Act, we throw out the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.  This will be devastating to Indian Country.

“Furthermore, this Republican bill provides funding for only a relatively small number of programs that support tribes.  While not taking away from the importance of these programs, there are many more programs that go unfunded.  To name just a few, this bill does not fund food distribution on Indian reservations, child nutrition programs, Fish and Wildlife Service support, and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians. 

“This bill also continues the damaging sequester cuts that the National Congress of American Indians have said, “pose particular hardship for Indian Country and the surrounding communities who rely on tribes as employers.”  But while I support repealing sequestration, the Democrats have done their part.  We have said let’s keep the government open while we negotiate and work out our differences.

“It is time for us to stop this nonsense.  If you truly do believe in the sacred trust responsibility our government has to tribes, than let’s have a vote on a clean CR and re-open the government.”