House Passes Bill Authorizing Tribal Disaster Assistance Requests

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Contact: Jared King
Navajo Nation Washington Office
T 202-6820-7391
C 202.200.0625
www.nnwo.org

 ***LEGISLATIVE ALERT***

House Passes Bill Authorizing Tribal Disaster Assistance Requests

WASHINGTON—The House yesterday approved HR 2903, a bill that would authorize the chief executive of a federally recognized Indian tribe to make a request to the president for a declaration of an emergency or major disaster by amending the Stafford Act.

Under existing law, tribes are treated as local governments, and must rely on state governments to make a request when a disaster strikes tribal lands.

If enacted into law, the measure would treat tribes the same as states, and would make federal resources more readily available to tribes when responding to disasters affecting their citizens.

While the tribal provisions are noncontroversial and enjoy bipartisan support in the House and Senate, HR 2903 faces opposition in the Senate due to its primary objective - reauthorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Several Senators have expressed concern over FEMA reauthorization, and this may mean that HR 2903 will not go anywhere in the Senate.

A tribal only bill, HR 1953, was introduced in the House last year, but no action on it was taken.

The tribal provisions may yet become law this Congress.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee may mark-up S 2283, a bill containing only the proposed tribal Stafford Act amendments, by mid-November.

Since the House already approved of the tribal provisions yesterday, it should also be able to approve S 2283.

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