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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 recently.

Special Diabetes Program Reauthorization Passes Senate Committee

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed the bipartisan Special Diabetes Program Reauthorization of 2023 (S.1855) by a 20-1 vote to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Title 1 and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) at $170 million for fiscal years (FY) 24-25 for each program. 

The proposed legislation comes with a $20 million increase. The program has been funded at $150 million annually since 2004 and is set to expire on September 30, 2023.

The bill would reauthorize the program for fiscal years 2024 and 2025 at $170 million per year. The bill will now be moved to the full Energy and Commerce Committee.

SDPI’s integrated approach to diabetes healthcare and prevention programs in Indian Country has become a resounding success and is one of the most successful public health programs ever implemented. Currently, 31 urban Indian organizations (UIOs) receive SDPI funding that enables UIOs to provide critical services that reduce the incidence of diabetes-related illness among urban Indian communities. The program is currently set to end in September 2023, and it remains critical that Congress reauthorizes SDPI to ensure there is no lapse in funding.

Interior Dept. Announces Behavioral Health & Wellness Program for Tribal Schools

The U.S. Department of the Interior on Thursday announced the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) awarded an additional five-year contract to increase access for behavioral health and wellness support to all students and staff at Bureau-funded schools and programs. Initially designed to increase access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Behavioral Health and Wellness Program provides virtual counseling and on-site crisis services.

“The Interior Department is committed to creating positive, safe and culturally-relevant learning environments. I am proud of the hard work by the Bureau of Indian Education to ensure that Indigenous youth have the support they need in a culturally-relevant and supportive environment for their physical, mental and emotional well-being,” Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) said.

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The BIE’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Program provides students and staff at all Bureau-funded schools and programs with Indigenous focused, evidence-based and trauma-informed behavioral health and wellness supports. Services are tailored to meet the unique and diverse mental, cultural, spiritual, emotional and social needs of Indigenous communities served by BIE.

“Our schools play an important role in the lives of students, faculty and staff, and Tribal communities. By providing these resources, we will help our students and BIE team succeed inside the classroom. Even more importantly, we will help promote the mental and physical wellbeing of entire communities,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community) said.

HUD Makes $75 Million in Funding  to Tribal Communities for Community Development 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it will make available $75 million through the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) Program. Grant funds may be used for infrastructure, community facilities, housing rehabilitation, public services, economic development, and more to support Native American and Alaskan Native families on Indian reservations and in other Indian areas.

“Investing in our Tribal communities is essential. HUD is committed to ensuring support, so these communities have access to essential resources,” HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said. “The purpose of these grants is to create more equitable outcomes for Tribal residents.”

The ICDBG program is a competitive program that provides grants to Tribes to carry out a broad range of eligible activities in Tribal areas primarily for the benefit of low- and moderate- income Native American families. Eligible activities include housing rehabilitation, land acquisition, roads, water, and sewer facilities, single or multipurpose community buildings, and public services. Applicants must complete and submit their application on www.grants.gov by September 5, 2023.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Strickler to Highlight President’s Investing in America Agenda in Grand Canyon Visit

On July 6, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Matt Strickler will travel to Grand Canyon National Park to join Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt to highlight how investments the President’s Investing in America agenda will improve the park’s visitor experience and accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.

Investing in America is a critical component of that – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $470 billion in private sector investments in the United States, to creating good paying jobs and building a clean energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

WHAT: Media availability to announce new projects that will improve the park’s visitor experience and accelerate the transition to a clean energy future

WHEN: Thursday, July 6, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. - MDT

WHERE: Grand Canyon National Park

39 Tribal Governments Receive $73 Million to Support Tribal Enterprises and Small Business Owners

 Last Monday, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the approval of the first 15 Tribal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) awards for tribal governments funded by the American Rescue Plan, providing $73 million to 39 tribal governments to support Tribal enterprises and small business owners.

These are the first-ever SSBCI awards directly to tribal governments. The announcement coincides with the launch of the second round of President Biden’s Investing in America tour, where President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, and leaders across the Administration will fan out across the country over the course of three weeks to highlight manufacturing, infrastructure, and cost-saving investments in communities across the country driven by President Biden’s economic agenda.

This is the first ever inclusion of dedicated, direct support to tribal governments in the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program to help enable investments in tribal enterprises and small businesses. Investments like SSBCI will help to ensure that all Americans—including in historically underserved tribal communities—will benefit from the record small business growth happening under President Biden’s leadership.

The SSBCI awards announced on Monday will not only benefit tribal communities and Native entrepreneurs but will also create critical jobs and economic opportunities for workers and businesses in surrounding areas. 

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