Rob Capriccioso of ICTMN reports that the President Barack Obama has requested an 8 percent increase in funding in his budget for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service.
The $4.4 billion requested this year is up from $4.03 billion appropriated by Congress last year.
Obama’s requests for funding the BIA have been a mixed bag. His 2010 budget proposal for the agency represented an increase by $161.3 million, or 6.8 percent, over the previous year for a total of almost $2.7 billion. A new Interior appropriation wasn’t passed by Congress for 2011, so the BIA has been operating under a continuing resolution, meaning the 2010 level has remained stagnant. For 2011, Obama requested less than the 2010 level, proposing a net decrease of $3.6 million from the 2010 enacted level.
But in Congress (the body that appropriates funding), Sen. Rand Paul proposed a bill to cut the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior agency that oversees a variety of Indian programs. His aim is to help cut the federal budget.
If there is any good news related to Paul’s proposal, it’s that Indians now know who their true allies are in Congress. Some of the most important friends happen to be Republican appropriators in the House. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who chairs the appropriations panel overseeing the Interior Department, recently told the AP that the BIA and IHS are “programs he wants to try to protect.” And Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, chair of the Indian affairs subcommittee in the House, while skeptical of BIA, thinks the agency should be reformed, not eliminated.