A tribute to Ashlynne Mike is seen in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The 11-year-old girl was abducted and murdered on the Navajo Nation in May 2016. Photo by Dezzo Stanley

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs considers two bills at meeting

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is set to advance two pro-tribal bills that nearly fell off the Congressional agenda.

Lawmakers were supposed to take testimony on S.772, the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, and S.825, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act, last month. But they were forced to go into a listening session after the unexpected firing of the FBI director led to partisan outrage on Capitol Hill.

But both measures are still very much alive and are being considered at a business meeting on Tuesday afternoon, a critical step in the legislative process.

S.772 ensures that tribes, for the first time, can receive federal funds to help them develop child abduction alert systems. Currently, AMBER Alert grants are limited to states.

"Our people need to know that we are in charge and we are able to protect our children," Amber Kanazbah Crotty, a delegate to the Navajo Nation Council said the listening session last month. She cited the case of Ashlynne Mike, an 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered on the reservation last year.

S.825 authorizes the transfer of property owned by the Indian Health Service to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. The Native organization plans to use the property in Sitka, Alaska, to build a new health facility to replace one that is nearly 70 years old.

"It looks like something that was built by the Department of War," Charles Clement, the top executive at SEARHC said of a hospital that's the oldest in Alaska and one of the oldest in the United States.

The business meeting takes place at 2:30pm Eastern in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. It will be immediately followed by a legislative hearing.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Business Meeting to consider S. 772 & S. 825 (June 13, 2017)

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