Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
As Congress and the White House continue negotiations over raising the United States' debt ceiling (i.e. its borrowing power), there are several policy proposals under consideration that could negatively affect Indian Country and the delivery of trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations. These include:
- The possibility of caps on or cuts to discretionary spending (where the vast majority of funding to Tribal Nations is located);
- Reforms to the federal energy infrastructure permitting process, including the streamlining of cultural and environmental reviews;
- Increased work requirements for federal social safety net programs like Medicaid; and
- Rescissions of unspent COVID-19 relief funding.
Earlier today, USET SPF transmitted a letter to Congressional leadership expressing our opposition to proposals that would negatively affect Tribal Nations. While the exact parameters of any agreement to raise the debt ceiling remain unclear, USET SPF is concerned that these proposals are being negotiated without regard for their impacts to Indian Country. While spending cuts and other policy reforms may be appropriate pathways forward to raising the debt limit, the federal government’s trust and treaty obligations must not be jeopardized in exchange for increased borrowing power. Tribal Nations are not responsible for U.S. deficits. Rather, our cession of land and resources—oftentimes by force—allowed the United States to become the world power it is today.
United States’ obligations to Tribal Nations must be insulated from unrelated
political brinksmanship and efforts to reduce the deficit," said USET/USET SPF President, Chief Kirk Francis. "While the federal
government must pay its debts, it must always honor the first debt it
incurred—that to Tribal Nations. We call upon the White House and Congress to
protect trust and treaty obligations as negotiations around the debt ceiling
With this in mind, we strongly encourage member Tribal Nations to reach out to the White House and your respective Congressional delegations to urge that Tribal Nations, our citizens, and our funding are exempt from any caps, cuts, rescissions, or other harmful impacts as a result of a deal to increase the debt ceiling. We have enclosed a template letter for your use below.
The United States must not default on its financial obligations. However, this must not lead to an even greater default on its obligations to Tribal Nations. We have paid for this country’s progress and stability many times over—with our land, resources, and even our lives. We must not be forced to pay once more.
For more information, please contact Liz Malerba, USET SPF Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.