Wyoming Congresswoman and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) spoke on the House floor Monday in support of multiple pieces of legislation that aid tribal communities including grants for school health insurance, child protection programs, and business incubators for tribal startups.
Video clips and transcripts of her remarks follows:
H.R. 895, Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act:
REP. LIZ CHENEY: I rise in support of H.R. 895. As it was just described, this bill would enable tribal grant school employees to participate in the Federal Health Benefits program. Under current law, Bureau of Indian Education employees and tribally-managed schools operating under a self-determination contract are already eligible for this benefit. It is time that we help tribal grant schoolteachers. This bill will not only to provide parity for the benefits that employees receive at other schools serving Native children, but it will help keep essential monies focused on education itself. I want to thank the sponsor of the legislation, Congressman Dusty Johnson, for his thoughtful leadership on this issue. This stand-alone legislation will go a long way to help tribal grant schools during the COVID-19 recovery period and beyond. I am disappointed however Mr. Speaker that the Democrat Majority has refused to act on S. 886, the Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act.
S. 886 includes the text of this bill and would also help tribes in one of the hardest hit COVID-19 regions of the country, the Navajo Nation, which has cited lack of water as a complication for fending off this deadly virus. S. 886 addresses this very issue by ensuring better access to water for the Tribe. Unfortunately, the Majority has let this water settlement agreement for the Navajo collect dust — it has been 90 days since the Senate passed this bipartisan bill and despite repeated requests for its consideration, the Democrats have taken no action to see this critical agreement enacted into law. I would like to submit for the Record a letter from Navajo President Nez asking Speaker Pelosi to schedule a vote on final passage for S. 886. . . Again, we support the passage of Congressman Johnson’s H.R. 895 but would much prefer to enact the provision into law, along with measures that will help the Navajo Nation with their broader water shortages.
H.R. 4957, Native American Child Protection Act:
REP. CHENEY: H.R. 4957 reauthorizes three programs that are intended to prevent cases within Indian communities where child abuse, neglect, family violence, and trauma may occur, and to provide treatment for victims of Indian child sexual abuse. The authorization for appropriations for the three programs expired in 1997. The bill also makes several technical changes to the underlying statute, requiring agency reports on grant awards. While advocates cite the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act as the only federal dedicated child abuse prevention and victim treatment funding for tribal governments, Congress has only appropriated approximately $5 million for this program. I appreciate the sponsor bringing attention to this important issue as abuse, neglect and violence have no place in any community.
S. 294, Native American Business Incubators Program:
REP. CHENEY: Madam Speaker, S. 294 recognizes the important role that business incubators can play in generating economic growth, economic activity, and supporting our tribal businesses, and I thank my colleague very much for bringing this legislation to the floor here in the House. As defined in this bill, Madam Speaker, a business incubator is an organization that provides physical workspace and facilities resources to startups and established businesses. As my colleague has pointed out, there are many challenges that are unique to our tribal communities that this bill will help to focus on and help members of our tribes overcome. By offering services that range from workplace enhancement, comprehensive skills training, networking assistance, business incubators have been a reliable and consistent solution to many of the challenges startup businesses face around the country, and many of the challenges that continue to plague Indian country.