The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a business meeting
on Thursday and advanced four bills, including
the significant Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
Reciting his familiar cry of a "bona fide crisis in health
care in Indian Country," Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota)
pushed for approval of the act, which expired in 2000 and has
been held up repeatedly.
Unlike years past, the bill, S.1200, cleared the committee without amendments.
"This reauthorization has been kicking around, back and forth,
back and forth, for a long time," said Dorgan, the chairman
of the committee.
That doesn't mean the measure wasn't controversial.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), a physician, cast the
lone "no" vote because he said the bill won't resolve
major problems with the delivery of health care in
"We will pass this bill, but we will not be addressing
Indian health care concerns in a satisfactory way,"
The measure now heads to the Senate Finance Committee
for consideration. It is also moving in the House,
where it passed the Natural Resources Committee
and awaits action from two other panels.
In other action yesterday, the Indian Affairs Committee
approved two Native Hawaiian bills.
One was the S.310, a bill to extend the policy of
self-determination to Native Hawaiians,
and H.R.835, a bill to reauthorize a Native Hawaiian
S.310 passed without amendment but Coburn raised
constitutional concerns. The Bush administration
opposes the bill, saying it creates a race-based
Senate Republicans last year blocked passage of the
measure but Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
said the new Democratic majority
is close to securing enough votes to approve it
H.R.835 also cleared the committee without changes
but Coburn was concerned about a provision
regarding the loan process.
Currently, prospective Native Hawaiian homebuyers
must be turned down by a private lender before
seeking federal help, according to the Department
of Housing and Urban Development's interpretation of
existing federal law.
The new bill strikes language in the
Section 184A, the Native Hawaiian Housing Loan Guarantee Fund,
that referred to "private financial markets."
The House has already approved the measure, though
it had to take it up twice in order to overcome
Finally, the committee approved S.J.Res.4 without
amendments. The bill extends a formal apology to all Native
peoples for "official depredations and ill-conceived policies"
of the United States.
The resolution is sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas),
a 2008 presidential hopeful.
It passed the committee during the 109th Congress but
never came up for floor consideration.
, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2007
, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007
, Hawaiian Homeownership Act of 2007
J. Res. 4
, Native American Apology
Senate Indian Affairs Committee - http://indian.senate.gov
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