October 12, 2013
House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson gave the following statement on H.J. Res. 80, the American Indian and Alaska Native Health, Education, and Safety Act:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this important legislation to continue funding for the Bureaus of Indian Affairs and Education, and the Indian Health Service.
"This bill focuses on education, law enforcement, healthcare, and many other vital services for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
"Mr. Speaker, long ago the Federal government made treaty commitments to American Indians, who in return ceded the vast lands that make up the United States today. Visit just about any Indian reservation today and you will quickly realize that the Federal government hasn’t even come close to living up to its end of the bargain.
"My colleagues on the subcommittee, on both sides of the aisle, and my predecessors before me—Mr. Moran, Mr. Dicks—have been working hard over the past several years to try to address critical needs and challenges in Indian Country.
"Even in declining budget environments, on a bipartisan basis, our Committee continues to make funding for Indian Country a priority. That is why I doubt my friends and colleagues on the other side of the aisle will oppose the merits of this bill.
"Mr. Speaker, for the past 11 days the House has been attempting to re-open parts of the government without further delay and without trying to extract any further concessions from the Senate or the President.
"Mr. Speaker, you can’t go wrong by trying to do the right thing. Right here, right now, those of us who care about Indian Country have been given an opportunity to do the right thing.
"Let’s not waste the opportunity pointing fingers arguing over everything other than the topic at hand.
"This is the hand we’ve been dealt. Let’s do the right thing.
"I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this resolution, and I reserve the balance of my time."