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Senate to take up appropriations bill in '04
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

A massive appropriations bill that calls for changes in how Alaska Natives receive federal funding has been delayed until next year.

Senate Democrats objected to the 1,182-page omnibus bill, which funds 11 government agencies. Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said the White House was trying to ram it through Congress.

The bill creates the Alaska Rural Justice and Law Enforcement Commission. A panel of tribal, state and federal officials would be charged with making recommendations about a "unified law enforcement system, court system, and system of local laws or ordinances for Alaska Native villages and communities of varying sizes including the possibility of first, second, and third class villages with different powers."

The language was written to replace a rider that would have denied federal funds to Alaska tribal courts and justice systems. The new provision denies funding to tribes with less than 25 members and those located within a list of seven municipalities and boroughs. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is also requiring a General Accounting Office (GAO) study on how Alaska Natives receive federal funds.

A separate item treats Alaska Native corporations as tribes, even though they are not tribes, under the executive order on government-to-government relationships. The bill states that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should consult with the corporations.

The House passed the bill on Monday. The Senate won't pick it up until after returning to session on January 20, 2004.

Get the Story:
After Democrats Object, Senate Delays Vote on Spending Bill (The Washington Post 12/10)
Senate Won't Vote on Spending Until 2004 (The New York Times 12/10)
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Related Stories:
House passes massive appropriations measure (12/9)
Massive spending bill likely to be delayed till '04 (12/8)
Massive appropriations bill holds surprises (12/4)
Tribes lobbying against 'harmful' appropriations riders (11/10)
Stevens unapologetic in speech to Alaska Natives (10/27)
Stevens remarks on Alaska Natives draw fire (10/7)

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