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Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on five bills

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a legislative hearing this afternoon.

Five bills were on the agenda. But the main focus was S.2188, a bill to fix the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

In February 2009, the court held that the Bureau of Indian Affairs can only place land in trust for tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934. The decision has caused uncertainty throughout Indian Country and has sparked new rounds of litigation.

"If this was an easy issue it would have been fixed a long time ago," said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), the chairman of the committee, said at the hearing.

The Obama administration and tribes support a "clean" fix, witnesses told the committee. But controversy over gaming, federal recognition and jurisdiction have prevented measures from moving forward in the last five years.

"We're holding all land into trust hostage because some people are upset about a handful of these gaming applications," Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the BIA, testified.

Brian Cladoosby, the president of the National Congress of American Indians, complained that the Carcieri fix has been "weighted down" by other issues. He said tribes are willing to consider addressing some of those concerns but said the committee must remain committed to a fix.

The hearing lasted about 1 hour and 16 minutes. Audio can be found on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud.

Committee Notice:
Legislative Hearing to receive testimony on the following bills (May 7, 2014)

Related Stories:
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on bills (5/6)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on Carcieri bill (5/5)

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