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house Bill H.R. 375

Should the Interior Secretary’s Authority to Take Land Into Trust for All Tribes Be Reaffirmed?

Argument in favor

The Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Carcieri v. Salazar had severe repercussions for tribes’ abilities to make land into trust requests, as it rendered some tribes unable to make these requests due to not being under federal jurisdiction at the time of the Indian Rights Act’s passage in 1934. This is unfair, and creates a false distinction between tribes.

Dale's Opinion
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last Wednesday
Don’t let the tweeter in chief derail this bill.
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Solomon's Opinion
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last Wednesday
Federally recognized tribes should be given control of their land. This bill restores that right when for tribes not included in the original IRA
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KyleCorley's Opinion
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last Wednesday
We took their land from them in the first place, so we should at least give them back some of it.
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Argument opposed

Federal land into trust conversions can have serious consequences for states and thus should be managed carefully. The Carcieri decision rightfully creates appropriate definitions for the tribes that are — and aren’t — eligible to restore their homelands via the Dept. of the Interior’s land into trust process.

jimK's Opinion
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last Wednesday
As I understand it, Native American's land and people are regarded as sovereign Nations unto themselves. I do not understand this legislation and I do not trust any of the non-confirmed, temporarily acting heads of Trump's agencies to do anything but subvert the reason these agencies exist. Constant spinning, lying, distorting and enrichment of the chosen few has consequences Mr. President!
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Kathi13's Opinion
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last Wednesday
Native American lands do not need to be held in “trust” by the government intent on wiping them out, but should be given to them free and clear.
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Linda's Opinion
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last Wednesday
The government doesn’t handle trusts very well. Look at Social Security for over 50 years, Congress exchanged cash from the trust for treasury bonds. Now how do they intend to Pay at maturity. They don’t GOP talking cuts in 2020 budget. And to top it off, these funds aren’t part of General Budget. So, no. We can’t trust government - Congress & President.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Indian Affairs
  • The house Passed May 15th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 323 Yea / 96 Nay
      house Committees
      Indigenous Peoples of the United States
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedJanuary 9th, 2019

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What is House Bill H.R. 375?

This bill would reaffirm the Interior Secretary’s authority to take land into trust on behalf of Indian tribes. This would confirm that all tribes, regardless of the date of their federal recognition, can restore their homelands through the land into trust process. This would serve as a “clean fix” to nullify the Supreme Court’s decision in a 2009 decision, Carcieri v. Salazar, which set in place a precedent for making distinctions between tribes based on whether they were under federal jurisdiction when the Indian Rights Act (IRA) was signed in 1934. 

Impact

Native American tribes; tribal land into trust process; tribal reservations; Dept. of the Interior; Interior Secretary; and Carcieri v. Salazar.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 375

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced this bill to support Indian Country by reaffirming Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s authority to take land into trust on Indian tribes’ behalf.

Kevin K. Washburn, Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law, testified in favor of this bill at a House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States hearing on April 3, 2019. He argued that this bill provides a “clean Carcieri-fix:”

“H.R. 375 is an elegant way of addressing Carcieri v. Salazar. It is a model of clarity and simplicity and would fully address the problems highlighted above. H.R. 375 has three important features that are crucial to clarifying the IRA and remediating the harm caused by Carcieri. First, it strikes from the IRA the confusing term, ‘now under federal jurisdiction,’ making it more obvious that the land into trust provisions have broad application to all federally recognized Indian tribes, no matter when they achieved federal recognition. Second, it makes the amendment retroactive to the original date of enactment of the IRA in 1934. This insures proper authorization for all actions to take land into trust since that time and prevents unnecessary and fruitless litigation about whether authority existed at the time the land was taken into trust. Finally, H.R 375 amends the definitions section of the IRA to make it even more clear that the Secretary of the Interior has authority to take lands in trust for tribal nations in Alaska.”

While she didn’t state opposition to this specific bill in her testimony to the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, Claire Richards, Executive Counsel to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, urged caution on land into trust conversions:

“Federal trust acquisitions can have serious consequences for states. They strip states of their jurisdiction over land, they encourage tax free and tax-advantaged sales on trust property and they give rise to complex jurisdictional “checkerboarding” problems. And, the acquisition of land in trust is often a necessary precondition to the establishment of a federal Indian casino… Because of their effect on surrounding jurisdictions, trust acquisitions should strictly conform to the plain language of, and limitations set forth in, the IRA. They should follow an orderly and established vetting process which includes consideration of the impact on neighboring states. They should not be based on a firmly discredited legal rationale to which even the current Secretary of the Interior does not adhere.”

This bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States by a 29-7 vote with the support of 27 bipartisan cosponsors, including 22 Democrats and five Republicans. It was originally scheduled for a full House vote in the first week of May under a fact-track process using special rules limiting debate and requiring a two-thirds majority to pass, but House Democratic leaders pulled it and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (H.R. 312) after President Trump tweeted criticism of the latter bill. In his May 8, 2019 tweet, Trump tweeted, “Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!”

Democrats also accused Matthew Schlapp, the husband of Trump’s director of strategic communications, of influencing Trump’s tweet. Schlapp is a lobbyist representing a lobbying company that works for a management group that owns two casinos in Rhode Island, which opposes the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act because it’d grant land rights to the Mashpee to build a casino in Massachusetts that’d compete with Rhode Island casinos.

After both bills were pulled from the floor, Rep. Cole told the Washington Examiner in a written statement that he plans to support both bills’ passage in the full House. He said, “Both of the bills pulled from the floor of the House, H.R. 375 and H.R. 312, are important to Indian Country. I support both of the bills and look forward to working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to pass them on the floor. I believe we will be successful in doing so." In an interview, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) called Trump’s tweet “silly” and stated his plans to bring both bills up again under rules requiring a simple majority vote.

However, some GOP lawmakers, such as Western Caucus Chairman Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), have said they won’t help either bill pass the House. A spokeswoman for Gosar told the Washington Examiner that her boss is “strongly opposed” to both bills and plans to vote against them “in their current form.”


Of NoteThe Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Carcieri v. Salazar ruled the Secretary of the Interior’s effort to take 31 acres of land into trust for the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island into trust for a housing project unlawful. The decision laid the ground for making distinctions between tribes, making some tribes unable to petition to federal government to have land restored to them through the land into trust process.

In Carcieri, the Court held that Section 5 of the Indian Rights Act (IRA), which allows the Secretary of the Interior to authorize new trust land for tribes’ benefit, is limited to “persons of Indian descent who are members of any recognized Indian tribe now under Federal jurisdiction.” It also said “now” is defined unambiguously as the year that the IRA was enacted (1934), rather than the moment when the Secretary decided to take land into trust for a particular tribe’s benefit.

Thus, following Carcieri, any tribe seeking a land into trust conversion became required to establish that it was “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934. This means the Carcieri decision disrupted 70 years of Dept. of the Interior practice in acquiring trust lands for tribes.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / grandriver)

AKA

To amend the Act of June 18, 1934, to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes, and for other purposes.

Official Title

To amend the Act of June 18, 1934, to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes, and for other purposes.

    Don’t let the tweeter in chief derail this bill.
    Like (33)
    Follow
    Share
    As I understand it, Native American's land and people are regarded as sovereign Nations unto themselves. I do not understand this legislation and I do not trust any of the non-confirmed, temporarily acting heads of Trump's agencies to do anything but subvert the reason these agencies exist. Constant spinning, lying, distorting and enrichment of the chosen few has consequences Mr. President!
    Like (72)
    Follow
    Share
    Native American lands do not need to be held in “trust” by the government intent on wiping them out, but should be given to them free and clear.
    Like (59)
    Follow
    Share
    The government doesn’t handle trusts very well. Look at Social Security for over 50 years, Congress exchanged cash from the trust for treasury bonds. Now how do they intend to Pay at maturity. They don’t GOP talking cuts in 2020 budget. And to top it off, these funds aren’t part of General Budget. So, no. We can’t trust government - Congress & President.
    Like (44)
    Follow
    Share
    This program both usurps state rights and native American rights. The land should be held in private trusts owned by the tribes, not federal trusts owned by the government.
    Like (24)
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    Federally recognized tribes should be given control of their land. This bill restores that right when for tribes not included in the original IRA
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    We took their land from them in the first place, so we should at least give them back some of it.
    Like (17)
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    Share
    Their land is their land. This country has screwed the Only Real Americans ENOUGH. Extend & continue.
    Like (14)
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    Ethics Concerns Apply To Democrats, As Well As Republicans, Equally.... 🤔 I’ve.Also.An.Idea. 🤔 I do not want Democratic powers expanded, extended, or increased in any way shape or form. They are a danger to the environment and their financial liabilities need to be closely examined given their history with all sectors of the nation. The 1978 Ethics in Government Act, “which requires federal officials to publicly disclose financial liabilities that could affect their decision-making,” should be enforced for all sectors of Government, Democrats OR Republicans, “Come Hell Or High Water” SneakyPete..... 🤔👍🏻ETHICS🤔👍🏻. 5.15.19.....
    Like (10)
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    I wouldn’t give any authority for anything to this administration. They’d be building hotels on the land after declaring eminent domain.
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    Honor the Native tribes! They have suffered enough from unfair practices!
    Like (9)
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    TRUMP'S LOBBYIST CABINET MEMBERS FOR SECETARY OF INTERIOR CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO BE IN TRUST FOR ANYTHING! THEY'S CHAET THE NATIVE AMERICANS BLIND!
    Like (8)
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    With the track record of the US government and all that they have done to the native Americans, who would have faith or trust that the government is looking out for the best interest of native Americans?
    Like (6)
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    The Native Americans owned this land long before we arrived. They need no supervision to govern their own land. Give back to them what was previously taken from them by you lawmakers and let them live in peace!
    Like (5)
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    Whose land are they planning to turn over to tribal use? All of the items on deck for this week seem to be under the table. This one, and purple and orange books. No information is given to citizens who it may effect drastically. Nothing should be considered with out more information to those who are going to be affected by your votes and personal agendas. You are supposed to represent us all, NOT just a certain group!
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    The federal government, especially the current administration, should not have the power to take someone’s land into trust. It is already there land. So a resounding hell no!
    Like (5)
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    This bill would reaffirm the authority of the Interior secretary to take land into trust for Indian Tribes, land on which the tribes could then operate casinos. Heather Sibbison, legal counsel for the tribe, said a tribe’s right to hold land has “profound historical and cultural meaning. But for almost everyone else on the other side who is working to disestablish the tribe’s reservation, this is just a big, huge fight over casino market share. If it loses its reservation, it loses its school, its ability to provide basic social services; it loses its fundamental right to have land on which it can engage in true self government.” Please do the right thing and vote yes
    Like (4)
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    First, we should never take anyone's personal opinion on these things be it Trump or Obama or any other president. These things need to work through the senate as they should. We have continued to give bureaucrats more and more power because we are to lazy to vote. We live in the proverbial frying pan.
    Like (3)
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    The white man stole their land. At least treat these people decently.
    Like (3)
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    Yes Native tribes need protection still.
    Like (3)
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