Tester Introduces Bill to Protect Tribes from Future Government Shutdowns

Bill Will Hold Federal Government Accountable to Trust and Treaty Responsibilities

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester has introduced legislation to protect Native American tribes from the financial harm caused by future government shutdowns.

Tester’s bill, the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act will hold the federal government accountable to its trust and treaty responsibilities by protecting essential federal and tribal initiatives from funding cuts during future government shutdowns. The bill will also give tribal governments long-term certainty by providing advanced funding for Indian Health Service (IHS) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) programs.

“It is not a choice, our country must uphold its treaty and trust responsibilities to all Native Americans,” Tester said. “This bill will ensure tribes have long-term budget certainty and no longer suffer negative consequences as a result of political infighting in Washington, DC.”

During the 35-day government shutdown, a lapse in IHS and BIA funding hampered critical public safety, child welfare, and health care initiatives in Indian Country. Many tribal governments were forced to take over operation of federal BIA and IHS services, which quickly exhausted reserve funding to cover the operating costs of essential federal programs and pushed some tribes to the financial brink.

Tester is currently leading bipartisan negotiations with a small group of lawmakers tasked with crafting border security legislation and avoiding another government shutdown.