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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs meets for first oversight hearing






Ancestral and sacred sites at Santa Clara Pueblo are among the areas affected by repeated natural disasters in New Mexico. Photo: Adam DuBrowa / Federal Emergency Management Agency

With an organizational meeting under its belt, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is ready for its first hearing of the 115th Congress.

The committee meets on Wednesday to hear about emergency management. The goal is to see how the federal government can improve its relationships with tribal governments when it comes to dealing with fires, floods and other disasters.

Historically, Indian Country never had a seat at the table in such matters and had to seek help through state governments. But Congress amended the Stafford Act in January 2013 to recognize tribal sovereignty.

As a result, former president Barack Obama issued several declarations for tribes after they were affected by natural disasters. That allowed them, for the first time, to receive direct funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency rather than go through states.

The oversight hearing on Wednesday takes place immediately following at business meeting at 2:30pm Eastern in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. The witness list follows:

Mr. Alex Amparo
Assistant Administrator for Recovery, Office of Response and Recovery, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC

Mr. Milo Booth
National Tribal Affairs Advisor, Office of External Affairs, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC

The Honorable Russell Begaye
President, Navajo Nation, Window Rock, AZ

The Honorable J. Michael Chavarria
Governor, Pueblo of Santa Clara, Española, NM

Mr. Cody Desautel
Natural Resources Director, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Nespelem, WA

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notices:
Business Meeting to consider S. 39, S. 63, S. 91, S. 140, S. 245, S. 249, S. 254, S. 269, & S. 302 (February 8, 2016)
Oversight Hearing on "Emergency Management in Indian Country: Improving FEMA's Federal-Tribal Relationship with Indian Tribes." (February 8, 2016)

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