March 28, 2011

Top Transportation Democrat Rahall Releases Draft Tribal Legislation

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today released the following statement on draft legislation to address issues raised by tribal leaders at a Native American transportation, infrastructure, and economic development roundtable Rahall convened earlier this month:

“In January, I wrote an Op-Ed in Indian Country informing tribal leaders of my move to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and of my commitment to continue advocating for tribal issues.  In that Op-Ed, I indicated that I would release draft legislation to treat Indian tribes as sovereign governments for emergency management purposes and authorizing direct access for Indian tribes to surplus Federal property.

“On March 2nd, I held a Native American Transportation, Infrastructure, and Economic Development Roundtable.  At the Roundtable, Native leaders raised the need for Indian tribes to be directly included in emergency management issues.  In addition, several tribes have indicated a desire to have direct access to surplus Federal property.  The two draft bills that I am releasing today address both of these issues.

“Before proceeding further, however, I want to hear Indian Country’s thoughts or comments about any changes that may be necessary to improve the drafts.  Please review the proposed legislation carefully and submit any questions or comments by April 8, 2011 to”

Links to the draft legislation are included below:

H.R. ____: To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to include procedures for requests from Indian tribes for a major disaster or emergency declaration, and for other purposes.

H.R. ____: To amend certain provisions of subchapter III of chapter 5 of title 40, United States Code, to include Indian tribes in property disposal programs, and for other purposes.