Daines Works to Improve Federal Cooperation with Indian Country

U.S. SENATE —Senator Steve Daines today fought to improve Montana’s tribes’ sovereignty, pressing the Obama administration to work more collaboratively and efficiently with Montana’s tribes relating to health care and management of tribal forests. 

During two different Senate Committee hearings today, Daines called on witnesses to improve stewardship of federal funds while working to alleviate some of the challenges associated with wildfires in Indian Country.

U.S. Indian Health Service Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request:

Click here to download Daines’ remarks.

Click here to watch Daines’ remarks. 

During this morning’s Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing on the Indian Health Service budget, Daines called on Mary Smith Principal Deputy Director of the Indian Health Service to ensure federal monies are spent more directly on tribal health care services, rather than unnecessary federal bureaucracy.

“It’s my concern that disproportionate spending on admin costs doesn’t translate into better care in Indian Country,” Daines stated. “A recent study showed in Montana that white men live 19 years longer than American Indian men and white women live 20 years longer than American Indian women. I know there are other factors involved, but I do believe it’s unacceptable that we’ve reached disparities like these under the watch of IHS. I urge you to address the real health challenges facing Indian Country and really turn the focus back to results versus just activities.”


Indian Country Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request:

Click here to download Daines’ remarks.

Click here to watch Daines’ remarks. 

During this afternoon’s Indian Affairs hearing on the President Fiscal Year 2017 Indian Country budget, Daines fought to ensure that Montana tribes have greater authority to manage their forested resources that neighbor federal forests.

“In 2015, Montana experienced one of its worst fire seasons and Montana’s tribal Reservations were no exception,” Daines stated. “Fires on the Blackfeet Reservation were so severe, the Tribe opened a separate facility for elders and those with special health needs who had been displaced by area wildfires. Now here’s one of the challenges: Often times, these fires start on federal lands and then spread to tribal lands. The Tribal Forests Protection Act of 2004 did attempt to address that problem. And a proposal passed the House to provide Tribes more freedom to protect tribal trust resources from wildfires through active management.”  

Daines secured a commitment from Bureau of Indian Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary Larry Roberts to work with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address challenges associated with management of tribal forests and manage wildfire risk.