Bipartisan Disaster Relief Bill Approved
Tribes To Be Treated Like States, Navajo President Encouraged
WASHINGTON—In a 62-36 vote, the Senate last night approved HR 152, a $50.5 billion package aimed at providing relief and assisting the recovery of communities that were devastated by last October’s Hurricane Sandy.
Included in the measure are provisions that change federal disaster laws to treat tribes as state, rather than local governments.
Having actively encouraged the changes since early last year through meetings and letters with congressional and administration officials and staff, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly expressed his thanks to Congress for this bold affirmation of tribal sovereignty.
“The Navajo Nation has had a distinct government since before the United States gained its independence from a colonial power. The United States is committed by law and treaty to the self-governance of the Navajo Nation, and working with us on a government-to-government basis. The passage of this bill is a welcoming sign of the blossoming recognition nationally of the sovereignty of the Navajo Nation as a co-equal government within the United States. I appreciate the bipartisan team in Congress that approved this bill, and the bold leadership of the Obama Administration and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in endorsing the proposal”.
After the president signs the bill into law, FEMA will hold consultations on the successful implementation of the measure in the coming months.