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ICT interview with Loretta Tuell on stalled land-into-trust bill

A bill to fix the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar almost came up for a vote at the end of the 112th Congress and Indian Country Today asks Loretta Tuell, the top Senate Indian Affairs Committee staff member at the time, why it didn't happen:
During the fall of 2012, Chairman Akaka began to alert all the interested players that a deal had been reached with the majority leader. They had an agreement that during the lame-duck session, the Carcieri bill would come to the Senate floor for an up or down vote. True to his word, when the time came, the leader listed the Carcieri bill on the very short list of the important bills eligible for a vote in that very critical session. In fact, the unprecedented nature of securing an up or down vote on an Indian bill during a limited lame duck session was historic and an accomplishment in itself. Yet, this very action may have unsettled those who never believed it could happen and added to the “sausage-making” process.

As the exact timing for consideration was revealed, all the interested players were updated. The chairman and the committee staff prepared internally for the next step with further caucus presentations, bipartisan outreach, vote counts, background information and floor statements, etc. Now the sausage-making begins and the roles of the all the players – internally and externally – become complicated or some would say dramatic, or many would say tragic. Many of the advocates in the chamber and outside the forum, including tribal leaders and their advocates, wanted complete certainty—not calculated certainty. A fear factor arose, and many players could not move past it or rise to the challenge.

The end result was the decision to put the bill aside for later consideration. The chairman continued to pursue reconsideration with the leader, as the bill remained on the now shortened list of possible bills for the lame-duck session.

Get the Story:
So Close! How the Senate Almost Passed a Clean Carcieri Fix (Indian Country Today 9/19)

Related Stories:
Rep. Young promises to take action on land-into-trust fix (06/13)
Dave Palermo: Carcieri still at issue four years after decision (04/02)

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