National | Politics

NCAI warns of negative effects of fiscal cliff on tribal programs





The National Congress of American Indians sent a letter to Congressional leaders to warn of the negative impacts of budget cuts in Indian Country.

Members of Congress have until the end of the year to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" that will result in numerous spending cuts. Tribes say the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service and other Indian programs should be spared.

"Federal responsibilities are already significantly underfunded and the problems we are working hard to confront will only be exacerbated if treaty obligations are treated as line items,” noted NCAI President Jefferson Keel.

Combined, the BIA and IHS budgets represent merely 0.19 percent of the entire federal budget. An 8.2 percent across-the-board cut would have an disproportionate effect on job training, energy, housing, education, law enforcement and other Indian programs.

"The federal trust obligation to Indian tribes must be honored and vital tribal programs must be sustained in any deal to reduce the national deficit," the letter to Congress states.

The fiscal cliff and efforts to avoid it are expected to be discussed as tribal leaders meet with President Barack Obama and other administration officials for the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

Get the Story:
Tribal leaders, worried ‘fiscal cliff’ spending cuts could impede progress, meet with Obama (AP 12/5)

Related Stories:
Charlie Galbraith: President Obama to host tribal leaders in DC (12/4)
Navajo Nation vice president attending White House meeting (11/30)
Tentative schedule for White House Tribal Nations Conference (11/28)
Fourth White House Tribal Nations Conference on December 5 (11/16)