***UPDATE: NIHB has just received word that the Full Appropriations Committee mark-up of the FY 2014 Interior Appropriations bill will reconvene when the House returns in September from its August recess. ***
July 31, 2013
Today the House Appropriations Committee began consideration of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. As you may recall from last week, spending in this bill was cut by 14 percent from FY 2013 post-sequestration levels. While the Indian Health Service (IHS) received funding equal to that of the FY 2013 post-sequestration level, many other programs in the bill were eliminated or drastically slashed causing Ranking Member of the Interior Subcommittee Jim Moran (D-VA) to call the bill a "disgrace" and "an embarrassment."
After 4 ½ hours, and consideration of at least seven amendments, the Appropriations Committee adjourned until further notice without advancing the bill. Among the amendments considered was a measure introduced by Co-Chair of the House Native American Caucus Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) to repeal FY 2013 and FY 2014 sequestration and replace future sequestration cuts. It would also codify the Indian Health Service as a special obligation that is to be exempt from sequestration. While other sequestration exemptions have been offered by Democrats on other Appropriations measures, this amendment was the first to include a fix for IHS sequestration.
The amendment was defeated in committee on a party-line vote. NIHB applauds Rep. McCollum's inclusion of an IHS exemption in her amendment and will continue to advocate in Congress for an exemption from sequestration for IHS.
As noted last week, NIHB appreciates the Committee's prioritization of Tribal programs in difficult fiscal times, but believes that the funding levels in this bill are an abrogation of the federal trust responsibility to provide health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). Additionally, these funding levels will result in continued health disparities for AI/ANs and even loss of life for America's first peoples. AI/ANs should not continue to suffer because Congress cannot agree on a spending plan for FY 2014.
As of this evening, the committee was still adjourned until further notice from Appropriations Committee Leadership. Please stay tuned to NIHB for further updates.
Mission of the National Indian Health Board
One Voice affirming and empowering American Indian and Alaska Native peoples to protect and improve health and reduce health disparities