Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
As you are likely aware, it was announced over the weekend that the White House and Congressional Republicans have reached a deal on legislation to prevent a U.S. default in exchange for spending caps, COVID-19 rescissions, and other policy change. The Fiscal Responsibility Act would extend the nation's borrowing power through 2024, but also contains the following:
- A two-year cap on discretionary spending (keeping it effectively flat in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 and raising it 1% in FY 2025), with larger increases for military and veterans programs, but no protections for Tribal agencies and programs;
- A rescission of $30 billion in unspent COVID-19 funding, with protections for certain Tribal funds, including Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Education funding;
- Provisions that streamline the federal permitting process, including limiting the definition of "major federal action" and setting environmental review deadlines; and
- Imposing additional work requirements on recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs will be hosting a call this afternoon to provide an overview of the deal. Call-in information is as follows:
White House Briefing on the Bipartisan Budget Agreement
Date: Tuesday, May 30th, 2023
Time: 3:00pm ET
Subject: Bipartisan Budget Agreement Briefing
About two weeks ago, USET SPF transmitted a letter to Congressional leadership and the White House expressing our opposition to proposals that would negatively affect Tribal Nations. Although steps have been taken to protect Tribal-specific COVID-19 funding from rescission, the bill’s provisions would have disproportionately negative impacts on Indian Country. While spending cuts and other policy reforms may be appropriate pathways forward to raising the debt limit, USET SPF maintains that 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. The U.S. debt to Tribal Nations has never been fulfilled, and yet this debt is deepening to meet the nation’s obligations to others.
Congress is expected to vote on the Fiscal Responsibility Act this week. USET SPF will continue to follow the legislation's progress and will provide updates as they develop.
For more information, please contact Liz Malerba, USET SPF Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at email@example.com.