indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge actors make a splash with new film (5/29)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Let's change the image of 'Racist City' (5/29)
Miccosukee Tribe joins Native youth announcement at DOI in DC (5/29)
Kurt Luger: It's time to put an end to the Indian wars in America (5/29)
Summer Montileaux: Silence on sexual abuse in Indian Country (5/29)
John Guenther: Protecting Indian children and protecting ICWA (5/29)
Kerry Hawk Lessard: Urban Indians come together in Baltimore (5/29)
Lydia Millet: Selling off sacred Apache land to foreign interests (5/29)
Stuart Delery: Safeguarding voting rights of the first Americans (5/29)
Student from Navajo Nation competes in national spelling bee (5/29)
Navajo Nation to vote on fluency requirements for candidates (5/29)
Cherokee Nation signs hunting and fishing compact with state (5/29)
Onondaga Nation player earns top lacrosse award for 2nd year (5/29)
Wisconsin Supreme Court rules for Oneida Nation in permit case (5/29)
School district in Wisconsin bans clothing with 'Indian' mascots (5/29)
Republican former congressman Dennis Hastert hit with charges (5/29)
Court allows lawsuit against gaming officials of Pechanga Band (5/29)
Another lawsuit seeks to block Jamul Band from $360M casino (5/29)
Bill for one more tribal casino in Connecticut sent to governor (5/29)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe shares another $2.7M in gaming funds (5/29)
Native Sun News: Ex-Rapid City police chief admits erasing tape (5/28)
Omaha Tribe surprised by appeal in reservation boundary case (5/28)
Mary Annette Pember: Historical trauma might affect Native DNA (5/28)
Erik Stegman: Native youth subjected to racism and stereotypes (5/28)
Charges announced in big drug trafficking ring in Indian Country (5/28)
Osage Nation expects to see offers from land buy-back program (5/28)
Voters of Red Cliff Band show support for some uses of marijuana (5/28)
Maine tribes assert sovereignty and sever relationship with state (5/28)
Navajo Nation sees larger numbers of sand dunes on reservation (5/28)
Mille Lacs Band plans public hearing on proposed energy pipeline (5/28)
Michigan tribes warn of disaster from pipeline spill in Great Lakes (5/28)
Coquille Tribe completes acquisition of 3,200 acres of forestland (5/28)
Spiritual leader of Lipan Apache Tribe back in court over feathers (5/28)
Lumbee Tribe to appeal findings of misuse of federal HUD funds (5/28)
Nebraska ends death penalty in historic and close veto override (5/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation chooses new leader amid casino conflict (5/28)
Poarch Creeks file lawsuit over taxes imposed on gaming facility (5/28)
Connecticut tribes counting up votes on bill for one more casino (5/28)
Comanche Nation closed casino for one day to address flooding (5/28)
Native Sun News: EPA hears Native views about uranium mining (5/27)
Renae Yellowhorse: Navajo Nation can't cede power to outsiders (5/27)
Donna Loring: Politicians circle the wagons around Maine tribes (5/27)
David Treuer: Andrew Jackson turned on Cherokee Nation allies (5/27)
NCAI responds to criticism from Rep. Young on land-into-trust (5/27)
Lawsuit challenges constitutionality of Indian Child Welfare Act (5/27)
Hopi Tribe seeks to prevent auction of sacred property in France (5/27)
Indian students face harsh punishment at public schools in Utah (5/27)
Menominee Nation school sees dramatic rise in graduation rate (5/27)
Poarch Creeks planning family-friendly entertainment at project (5/27)
Coquille Tribe names executive at economic development entity (5/27)
Cherokee law students eager for summer work on Indian issues (5/27)
USDA sends $125K to Indian economic development corporation (5/27)
County by Pine Ridge Reservation receives justice service grant (5/27)
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to challenge Sen. John McCain in 2016 race (5/27)
Law Article: Indian inmate wins religious rights suit in Wisconsin (5/27)
Alaska Native corporation holds election for five seats on board (5/27)
Blood Tribe combats rise in abuse of extremely dangerous drug (5/27)
First Nations housing program brings just 99 homes to reserves (5/27)
Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Graton Rancheria casino (5/27)
Kialegee Tribal Town given extension to respond in gaming case (5/27)
Quapaw Tribe looks to dispel concerns about casino in Arkansas (5/27)
Pokagon Band faces hurdles in plan to develop casino in Indiana (5/27)
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.