indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
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
Latest News:
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Telling the indigenous story with public art (10/1)
Crystal Willcuts: A tribute to my mother who was lost to cancer (10/1)
FCC will consider petition to outlaw R-word on public airwaves (10/1)
Native Sun News: Agency weighs uranium mine near sacred site (9/30)
Jim Abourezk: South Dakota tribes can put Rick Weiland in office (9/30)
Cherokee chief participated in live pigeon shoot for Sen. Inhofe (9/30)
Navajo vice president returns home after near fatal spider bite (9/30)
North Dakota tribe sees big problems as energy industry grows (9/30)
Andre Cramblit: Another year brings challenges for our people (9/30)
Jack Duran: State's 'shocking' attack on Big Lagoon Rancheria (9/30)
Navajo Nation Council to select a new leader after resignation (9/30)
Editorial: Long delayed trust fund settlement for Navajo Nation (9/30)
Keepseagle plaintiffs oppose use of $380M to create foundation (9/30)
Opinion: Working with New Mexico tribes to protect sacred sites (9/30)
Pueblo man chosen as chair of VA minority advisory committee (9/30)
Woman sues over fall at Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe business (9/30)
Seminole Tribe makes another attempt to join banking business (9/30)
Mohegan Tribe purchases more wood pellet production facilities (9/30)
Ponca Tribe takes down old headquarters and readies new home (9/30)
Native Mob gang leader sentenced to 43 years in federal prison (9/30)
Three indicted for murder of man from Northern Arapaho Tribe (9/30)
Rivals funded DC trips to oppose Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/30)
American Gaming Association includes tribes in economic report (9/30)
Editorial: Vote yes to support North Fork Rancheria gaming deal (9/30)
Editorial: Florida shouldn't take a gamble with casino expansion (9/30)
Tim Giago: All Indian people ask is for America to honor treaties (9/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes take on IRS and win battle over taxation (9/29)
Mark Trahant: Indian vote could bring a surprise in South Dakota (9/29)
Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act signed into law by Obama (9/29)
Obama signs law for settlement with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (9/29)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: Transforming the spirit of suicide (9/29)
Migizi Pensoneau: Behind the scenes at a Washington NFL game (9/29)
Donna Ennis: Ancestor starting asking about trust fund in 1900s (9/29)
Steven Newcomb: Indigenous conference yields power to states (9/29)
Kyle Mays: Rejecting narrowminded views of indigenous studies (9/29)
Brian Pierson: Tribal preference ruling strengthens sovereignty (9/29)
Thousands missing out on share of Cobell settlement payments (9/29)
Navajo presidential candidate in doubt over fluency in language (9/29)
Oneida Nation repeats history with women in top leadership jobs (9/29)
Al Jazeera: Tribes working together to restore bison to their land (9/29)
Indian Time: Oklahoma Indian museum expected to be big draw (9/29)
Column: Washington team should be worried about FCC petition (9/29)
Opinion: NMAI exhibit finally puts federal-tribal dealings to light (9/29)
Gun Lake Tribe hails new law that protects casino from litigation (9/29)
Former mayor remains hopeful on Los Coyotes Band casino bid (9/29)
Chumash Tribe awards $112M contract as part of casino project (9/29)
Documents show Seminole Tribe was close to new gaming deal (9/29)
Column: Taking a gamble in Louisiana - What's legal and illegal? (9/29)
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.