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Budget bill urges solution to contract support cost battle

The 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill urges the Obama administration to resolve a long-running self-determination dispute by developing a plan and consulting with tribes.

Tribes and Alaska Native corporations have won two major decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding contract support costs in their self-determination contracts. But the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service still owe an estimated $2 billion.

After the second decision, the Obama administration asked Congress for permission to resolve each contract on an individual basis. That idea was rejected in the appropriations bill that was released on Monday.

"That proposal was developed without tribal consultation and the committees heard from numerous tribes voicing their strong opposition," lawmakers said in an explanatory text.

Instead, the Senate Appropriations Committee the House Appropriations Committee directed the BIA and the IHS to submit a plan within 30 days to show how contract support costs will be allocated for the current fiscal year.

The committees additionally told the agencies to develop a long-term plan within 120 days and to announce a tribal consultation section.

Get the Story:
Spending bill directs government to pay Indian contracts (The Washington Post 1/15)

Relevant Documents:
FY14 Omnibus Text & Joint Explanatory Statement | Detailed Omnibus Summary | Subcommittee Allocations

Supreme Court Decisions:
Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter (June 18, 2012)
Cherokee Nation v. Leavitt:
Cherokee Nation v. Leavitt (March 1, 2005)

Related Stories:
Budget measure offers modest increases for BIA and IHS (1/14)
Non-Indian firms concerned about tribal contracting dispute (1/3)
Bipartisan budget deal offers some relief from sequester cuts (12/11)

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