indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
White House hit over delays in health care and Cobell
Thursday, October 5, 2006

A senior White House official sought to explain the Bush administration's stance on Indian health care and the Cobell settlement amid angry questions on Wednesday.

Attendees of the National Congress of American Indians annual conference in Sacramento criticized the administration for its last minute objections to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The bill was cleared for passage in the Senate until the Department of Justice, on the eve of consideration, sent a memo that was used by some Republicans to delay action.

"What will the White House do to help us deal with this last minute ambush?" asked Rachel Joseph, the chairwoman of the Lone Paiute Shoshone Tribe of California and the head of the steering committee that has been working on the bill for several years.

Ruben Barrales, the target of the remark, didn't have much of a response. He indicated that the DOJ memo was as much a surprise to him as it was to Indian Country.

"All I can tell you is I have the same question," said Barrales, the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Linda Holt, the chairwoman of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board and a council member for the Suquamish Tribe of Washington, said administration officials have been given numerous opportunities to provide comments on the measure. She called the DOJ salvo an affront to the federal-tribal relations.

"They've never done that and then at the last minute they turn around and say, 'We have these objections,' and the bill is pulled," Holt said. "That is not true government-to-government relations."

Barrales defended the administration's handling of the overall talks. "I do have to disagree with you," he said. "We were working in good faith on the issues."

But when he appeared to downplay President Bush's role by noting that the his boss has only been in office for five years while the bill expired 13 years ago, former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado) took the floor. As chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee during the time in question, he laid the blame at the administration's feet.

Campbell said former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, a Bush appointee, repeatedly told him the administration supported reauthorization. But he said officials kept coming back with piecemeal changes that delayed action for years.

"I get the feeling the same thing has been happening again," said Campbell, who called the reauthorization "a matter of life and death for many of our people."

In addition to facing fire on health, Barrales acknowledged the White House was behind the delay in the Cobell case. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the current vice chairman of the committee, told NCAI on Monday that the administration has failed to provide a response to the $8 billion settlement proposal.

"That is absolutely true and we are conscious of that," Barrales said.

But he said the settlement is "more than a number." Although he didn't delve into specifics, he indicated trust management going forward was a key concern of the administration, whose officials have called for a bill that addresses land consolidation and other issues.

"I think everyone understands that the federal government has not done a good job in terms of its trust responsibility," he admitted. "It's all related," he said of trust management issues. "It's related to the number itself."

Like the Indian health care bill, however, the settlement legislation has been on the table for more than a year. On the day before the Senate committee was going to clear the bill for a floor vote, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asked for more time.

"There is one recalcitrant entity here and its' the administration," said Keith Harper, an attorney for the Cobell plaintiffs who spoke to NCAI on Monday.

As he has done at past conferences, Barrales repeated his pledge to keep an open door for tribal people. He hailed the creation of an "Indian Country Working Group," composed of federal agencies with involvement in Indian issues, that meets once a month at the White House.

He said the administration is working to develop an "Indian Country 101" course for federal employees and appointees to educate them on sovereignty and the government-to-government relationship.

But Campbell, in his remarks during the question-and-answer session, said more action is needed.

"The message now from Indian Country is we're not going to take it anymore," said Campbell, who now works as a lobbyist. "Indian Country is alive, well and active, and we vote."

Health Care Bill:
Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments (S.1057)

Indian Trust Reform Act:
S.1439 | H.R.4322

Relevant Links:
National Congress of American Indians - http://www.ncai.org

Related Stories:
Methamphetamine a big focus at NCAI conference (10/4)
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation pledges $1M to NCAI (10/4)
Latest delay in Cobell settlement tied to White House (10/3)
NCAI kicks off annual meeting in Sacramento (10/3)
Harvard to present Honoring Nations at NCAI (10/3)
NCAI meets in Sacramento for 63rd annual conference (10/2)
Senate committee sends Cobell letter to Kempthorne (9/18)
Interior delays Cobell settlement legislation (9/15)
McCain firm on $8B settlement for Cobell (9/5)
NCAI president a watchdog for Indian Country (08/15)
New Standard: U.S. failing to deliver health care (07/18)
NCAI meets for midyear session in Michigan (06/19)
Kempthorne takes helm at Interior Department (05/31)
Navajo Nation committee fails to act on bid to join NCAI (05/03)
NCAI raising money for embassy in Washington (04/10)
Update from NCAI winter session in Washington (02/28)
NCAI meets in Washington for winter session (2/28)
Next week a busy one for tribal issues in Washington (2/24)
NCAI hires new governmental affairs director (2/17)
McCain criticized for focus on lobbying, gaming (2/14)
NCAI's Garcia addresses New Mexico Legislature (2/9)
Panel debates tribes and election campaign act (02/09)
Q&A with Joe Garcia: Abramoff, stereotypes and more (2/6)
Garcia outlines agenda in State of Indian Nations (2/3)
Garcia to appear on C-SPAN 'Washington Journal' (2/3)
Jodi Rave: Garcia calls for settlement of Cobell (2/3)
Garcia to deliver State of Indian Nations address (2/2)
Garcia prepares for big debut as NCAI president (1/26)
Reform, gaming on agenda for members of Congress (1/20)
NCAI Embassy gets $50K boost from Famous Dave (01/09)
Jodi Rave: Joe Garcia's down-to-earth leadership (01/04)
Joe Garcia to deliver State of Indian Nations address (01/04)
Radio show focuses on tribal lobbying practices (12/02)
Q&A with Joe Garcia, the new president of NCAI (11/28)
Joe Garcia, Pueblo leader, ready to take on NCAI (11/15)
Live from NCAI annual convention in Tulsa (11/03)
Senate panel advances Indian health care measure (10/28)
Senate committee takes up slate of Indian bills (10/27)
Pueblo leader completes National Statuary Hall (09/23)
Leader of New Mexico tribe seeks to change name (09/19)

Copyright 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Choctaw Nation Trial:
Choctaw Nation releases statement after guilty verdict in case (11/21)
Former Choctaw Nation employee found guilty after lengthy trial (11/21)
Trial on Choctaw Nation fraud winds down with final testimony (11/21)
Leader of Choctaw Nation faces tough questions in fraud trial (11/21)
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux youth to join White House meet (11/21)
Obamas welcome youth from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to DC (11/21)
House passes bill to address Grand Portage Band per capitas (11/21)
House Natural Resources Committee passes three tribal bills (11/21)
Chaske Spencer: Changing the narrative for our Native youth (11/21)
Winona LaDuke: No one believes in the 'black snake' pipeline (11/21)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tax disparities remain in Indian Country (11/21)
ICT interview with DOI deputy secretary on Cobell buy-backs (11/21)
Oglala Sioux Tribe rounds up dogs after deadly attack on girl (11/21)
Leader of Navajo Nation signs bill for higher tax on junk food (11/21)
North Dakota tribe in negotiations for pipeline to curb flaring (11/21)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe passes language to new generation (11/21)
Little Traverse Bay Bands swear in interim leader after recall (11/21)
Blog: Play-by-play of election controversy on Navajo Nation (11/21)
Column: Theories link Thanksgiving to 1637 Pequot massacre (11/21)
Editorial: Work with Burns Paiute Tribe on land-into-trust bid (11/21)
Ex-employee of Passamaquoddy Tribe admits to drug charge (11/21)
BIA publishes notice of Karuk Tribe Class III gaming compact (11/21)
Oklahoma reports drop in gaming exclusivity fees from tribes (11/21)
Pala Band gears up for official launch of Internet gaming site (11/21)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux woman shot and killed by police (11/20)
Mark Trahant: Lakota honor song wasn't out of place in Senate (11/20)
Dog attack blamed for death of eight-year-old girl at Pine Ridge (11/20)
DOI issues status report on Cobell land consolidation program (11/20)
Greg Grey Cloud explains Lakota honor song after Senate vote (11/20)
Steven Newcomb: Disestablishing the doctrines of domination (11/20)
Sen. Mark Begich: Moving forward for the first people of Alaska (11/20)
Bill Richardson: Indian Country feels effects of climate change (11/20)
Smithsonian: Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 won't be forgotten (11/20)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe sues South Dakota over sales tax (11/20)
Morongo Band distributes 10K turkeys for Thanksgiving meals (11/20)
GAO report looks at tribal implementation of Adam Walsh Act (11/20)
FBI opens background check database to tribal law agencies (11/20)
Survey shows most Americans wouldn't use R-word in person (11/20)
USDA Blog: Youth from Angoon Tribe carry on their traditions (11/20)
Editorial: County and critics must stop fighting Chumash Tribe (11/20)
Editorial: Oklahoma Indian museum benefits the entire state (11/20)
Muscogee Nation finally starts work on $365M gaming project (11/20)
Two tribes making push for off-reservation casino in California (11/20)
Mashantucket Tribe hires new executive for gaming operation (11/20)
Opinion: Catawba Nation makes a sneak attack with casino bid (11/20)
Opinion: Poarch Creek gaming deal won't help state's economy (11/20)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne activists push for change (11/19)
Mark Trahant: Historic election in Alaska with Native candidate (11/19)
Audio: Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on child trauma (11/19)
Republicans hold up action on Alaska tribal jurisdiction measure (11/19)
DOI official to give update on Cobell land consolidation program (11/19)
Center for Native American Youth hosts panel discussion in DC (11/19)
Sen. Heitkamp to host panel on child trauma in Indian Country (11/19)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.