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Ms. FOXX. I thank the gentleman from Washington for yielding time.
I want to associate myself with the words of my very capable and articulate colleague from Oklahoma (Mr. Cole), the author of this legislation. As he said, this should be a routine bill to be passed on suspension on the basis of his comments alone. However, some have chosen to try to divert, to take us away from the subject at hand of this bill.
I support H.R. 2362, an important bill designed to bolster global economic cooperation by making it easier for Native American tribal communities to strengthen ties with foreign trading partners.
Even though Native American communities suffer from the highest unemployment rate in the United States, economic development on tribal lands is stifled by a restrictive and archaic leasing system, requiring applicants to succumb to a multilayered review process, taking up to 6 years to complete.
These unnecessary hurdles have compromised important tribal economic development in the past. For example, the Round Valley Indian Housing Authority continues to wait, after 9 years, for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to process a lease for a large housing project. And in 2006, the Swinomish and Walmart agreed to build a store on the reservation while the BIA regional office stalled for 2 years before Walmart withdrew from the deal following the 2008 financial crisis.
This bill helps correct these problems by authorizing select tribes to develop guidelines for leasing land and services to both foreign and domestic companies for economic development purposes. The bill further provides for only one approval of the land leasing guidelines by the Interior Secretary, thereby reducing current multilayer, prohibitive land leasing laws.
Without imposing any new costs, these changes will promote tribal job growth and economic empowerment, encourage foreign and domestic investments in Indian Country, all the while, inviting foreign and domestic companies to explore commercial opportunities with tribes. It's for these reasons that I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
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