CSAC Bulletin Article

Carcieri “Fix” Rider Removed from House Legislation

July 14, 2016

In a victory for CSAC, controversial language that would overturn, in part, the Supreme Court’s Carcieri v. Salazar decision was removed this week from the fiscal year 2017 Interior Appropriations bill (HR 5538).  Under the language in question, tribal trust-land acquisitions made between June 18, 1934 and February 24, 2009 would be insulated from legal action challenging the Secretary of the Interior’s authority to hold the land in trust.  In Carcieri, the Supreme Court held that the Secretary is prohibited from taking land into trust on behalf of any tribe that was not “under federal jurisdiction” as of 1934.

It should be noted that the Carcieri rider was added to the Interior spending legislation by Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), who serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.  Congressman Cole, who also sits on the House Appropriations Committee, successfully included the partial-fix language via an amendment during the committee’s consideration of HR 5538.

During this week’s floor consideration of the legislation, however, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee – Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) – raised a point of order against the Carcieri language.  Chairman Bishop’s order was sustained and the language was dropped from the bill.  It should be noted that Bishop, in raising objections to the rider in a recent letter to the chairman of the House Rules Committee, indicated that the Natural Resources Committee – which has plenary jurisdiction over all Native American issues – is developing its own legislation that would address the Carcieri decision.

While CSAC has long called on Congress to address the implications of the Carcieri ruling, the association has repeatedly maintained that any Carcieri bill must comprehensively reform the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) broken fee-to-trust process.  CSAC has appeared before Congress on numerous occasions to present testimony regarding the systemic flaws in the BIA’s trust-land system and has offered a comprehensive fee-to-trust reform proposal to House and Senate lawmakers.

To view CSAC’s letter to House committee leaders regarding the Cole amendment, please click here.

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