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Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in full support of this resolution to fund the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
While House Republicans continue to offer solutions to end this government shutdown, we will continue also to take steps to provide funding for important areas of our government.
This measure fulfills the Congress' unique responsibility to fund programs vital to Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. There are 56 million acres of Indian trust lands in the United States. Unlike other privately owned lands, in most cases, Indian trust lands may not be leased for development purposes without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. These lands are critical for Indian tribes to create jobs and to generate revenue for their reservation economies.
For example, in my central Washington district, two tribes are major producers of timber that employ hundreds of people and produce income for tribal governments and thousands of individual members. In other parts of the country, tribes utilize their trust lands for oil, natural gas, coal development, and for a variety of business leasing and housing. It is critical to ensure continued funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to perform functions necessary for tribes and individual landowners to lease and develop their lands.
The joint resolution additionally provides funding for the Indian Health Service programs. While direct care for acute and chronic health conditions is being provided as an essential government service to Native Americans during this shutdown, other services, such as preventative care, have been scaled back. It is critical that these be restored to normal operations.
The President repeatedly stresses the importance of the United States' unique relationship with Indian tribes. He now has an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to match his rhetoric with action by supporting the passage of this resolution and signing it into law.
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