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WASHINGTON — In addition to articles already covered by Native News Online, here is a roundup of other news released from Washington, D.C. that impacts Indian Country during the past week.

President Biden Signs Executive Order Strengthening Health Care Access for American Families 

National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Vice Chairman, Nickolaus Lewis (Lummi Nation Tribal Council) and NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bohlen (Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa) attended the signing of executive order by President Joe Biden on Wednesday at the White House.

Also, in attendance was former President Barack Obama. It was his first visit back to the White House since he left office on Jan. 20, 2017.

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The Executive Order will fix a glitch in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and open the path for American families to gain access to affordable health care. The Executive Order that will strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Access to Medicaid. 

To learn more about how the Health Insurance Marketplace for AI/ANS you can check here. To enroll into a health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace you can go to healthcare.gov.

National Indian Organizations Leaders Testify at Two Congressional Hearings. 

OnTuesday, NCUIH President-Elect and CEO of the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley, Sonya Tetnowski (Makah Tribe), testified before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Tuesday was the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Public Witness Day hearing regarding Fiscal Year 2023 funding for Urban Indian Organizations. 

Ms. Fawn Sharp for the National Congress of American Indians, Mr. Jason Dropik for the National Indian Education Association, and Mr. William Smith for the National Indian Health Board also testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee. 

The testimony from these individuals is used to inform the FY2023 Appropriations decisions. 

NCUIH requested the following be included:

  • $49.8 billion for the Indian Health Service (FY22 Enacted: $6.6 billion) and $949.9 million for Urban Indian Health (FY22 Enacted: $73.4 million) for FY 2023 as requested by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup
  • Advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS)
  • Support of mandatory funding for IHS including Urban Indian Organizations.
Department of Treasury Seeking Nominations for Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity (TACRE)

On Friday, via the Federal Register, the Department of Treasury published a solicitation of nominations for TACRE. They are encouraging tribal leaders to apply. The deadline is April 15, 2022. 

The Committee will be composed of 25 individuals. The purpose of the committee is to provide assistance, intelligence, and recommendations to the Treasury leadership on priority issues and topics that involve economic policy and issues of racial equity. These issues are anything centered around issues like financial inclusion, capital access, housing stability, federal government supplier diversity, tax policy, and economic development.

The committee is estimated to meet four times a year either virtually or in person. These meetings will typically be open to the public. 

Applications can be sent to: [email protected]. Any inquiries regarding TACRE can be directed to [email protected], or the webinar can be reviewed. Any questions can be sent to Nicholas Lovesee, Senior Policy Advisor, at [email protected].

Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill Supporting Shadow Wolves’ Efforts Securing the Border, Bill Heads to President’s Desk

The U.S. Senate passed Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act—bipartisan, bicameral legislation that classifies the Tohono O’Oodham Shadow Wolves unit as special agents, allowing them to better patrol, investigate, interdict, and secure the border.

Sinema’s bill – introduced with Republican Senator John Hoeven (N.D.) – previously passed the U.S. House and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“The Tohono O’Oodham Nation’s Shadow Wolves serve as critical partners to help combat drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other illicit activity on the Southwest border. I’m proud both the U.S. Senate and House passed our legislation with bipartisan support, entrusting the Shadow Wolves with more authority to investigate and interdict illegal border activity and keep Arizona families safe and secure,” Sen. Sinema, Chair of the Senate Government Operations and Border Management Subcommittee, said.

Shadow Wolves are members of the Tohono O’odham Nation who work for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Shadow Wolves patrol the 76-mile stretch of land the Nation shares with Mexico and are known for their ability to track drug smugglers as they attempt to smuggle illegal commodities across the border. Sinema’s bill reclassifies Shadow Wolves from tactical officers to special agents, allowing the unit to better investigate and track cross-border criminal activity. The bill also provides the ability to expand the Shadow Wolves program to other parts of the border.

EPA Releases Proposed Changes to the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday released proposed changes to the guidance and allocation of the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP).

GAP is EPA’s largest capacity building program for tribes. Enacted by Congress in 1992, GAP provides grants and technical assistance to Tribes and intertribal consortia to plan, develop, and establish environmental protection programs and to implement solid and hazardous waste programs and service delivery activities. In FY21, $66.25M was awarded to more than 525 grantees to address their environmental priorities.

“GAP has assisted recipients across the nation to identify and address environmental priorities impacting their communities, homelands, and lifeways,” JoAnn Chase, Director of American Indian Environmental Office said.

Tribes are invited to participate in a tribal consultation on the proposed changes National GAP Allocation and GAP Guidance on the Award and Management of General Assistance Agreements for Tribes,

For more information about EPA’s programs in Indian country, click here

Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians), a Michigan State University student who is interning with Native News Online, contributed to these briefs.

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