Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.
Congress has a long to-do list to complete before the end of the year.
It must enact a budget, either a real one, or for most federal agencies, a Continuing Resolution that funds the government after the current one expires on Dec. 16. Many ask: “Why doesn’t Congress just pass the budget?” Because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have enough votes to say yes, but they do have enough votes to reject the alternative.
Still, Congress must pass a new round of payroll tax cuts and extend unemployment benefits or both of those programs will expire at the end of the year.
Currently Republicans are adding all sorts of amendments that have little to do with either a budget or a tax cut. The House bill on the payroll tax, for example, requires a 60-day deadline for permitting the Keystone XL Pipeline to pipe oil from Northern Alberta across Montana, South Dakota and other states in the midwest. There is significant opposition to the pipeline construction from Indian Country. The National Congress of American Indians in June said: “The Keystone XL pipeline . . . would threaten, among other things, water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other resources vital to the peoples of the region in which the pipeline is proposed to be constructed.”