Category Archives: Senate

Defense Authorization Bill on its Way to the President

On December 20, 2012, the House voted 315-107 to adopt the Conference Report on the Defense Authorization bill. Today the Senate voted 81-14 to approve the Conference Report clearing it for President Barack Obama’s signature. The Indian provisions in the bill appear to have remained intact. Below are the Indian provisions in the bill.

Sec. 312 – Amends the Sikes Act (conservation management on government lands) to authorize the Secretary of the military department concerned to enter into cooperative agreements with Indian tribes for land management in areas adjoining military installations and state-owned National Guard installations.

Sec. 553 – Amends 20 U.S.C. 7703 regarding Impact Aid and Payments for eligible federally connected children that affects Indian housing undergoing renovation or rebuilding.

Sec. 1087 – Amends 28 U.S.C. 1442 adds Indian tribes to the definition of “State” for removal of an action from State Court.

Sec. 1632 – Amends 15 U.S.C. 1644 requiring the Small Business Administrator to submit as part of a larger report the concerns of small businesses owned by Indian tribes.

Sec. 1802 – Amends 15 U.S.C. 2203, the Federal Fire and Prevention Control Act to allow Indian tribes to benefit from the Act.

Sec. 3151 – Requires the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, to review and report on abandoned uranium mines in the United States that provided uranium ore for atomic energy defense activities of the United States on Federal, State and Tribal lands.

Advertisements

Sen. Akaka Urges Passage of Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.

On the Senate floor on December 20, 2012, Senator Akaka urged the passage of the Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.

S. 675, the Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, recognizes a Native Hawaiian Governing entity and provides the Secretary of the Interior with the discretion to recognize a Native Hawaiian Governing entity under the Indian Reorganization Act. The bill also includes a Carcieri fix for a Native Hawaiian Governing enity should Native Hawaiians be subject to a challenge that they were not “under Federal jurisdiction” in 1934.

A hearing has not been held on the bill but Senator Akaka states that the bill is “supported by President Barack Obama and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Interior. It has the strong support of Hawaii’s Governor, the State legislature, and a large majority of the people of Hawaii. Our bill has the endorsement of the American Bar Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Alaska Federation of Natives, and groups throughout the Native Hawaiian community.”

Senate Passes Alaska Native Bill

On December 20, 2012, the Senate passed an amended version of H.R. 443, to provide for the conveyance of certain property from the United States to the Maniilaq Association located in Kotzebue, Alaska. Because the bill was amended it will need to be passed by the House again before enactment into law.

Sens. Tester and Collins – Tribal Stafford Act Amendment does not apply to Tribes in Maine

In the Congressional Record for December 20, 2012.


   Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I rise today to engage my colleague, Senator Tester, in a colloquy regarding language he authored in this bill that would amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. This language would authorize chief executives of federally recognized tribes to submit a request for a major disaster or emergency declaration directly to the President of the United States.

   The principal effect of this language would be to eliminate the current requirement that tribal chief executives submit such requests to the Governor of the State in which the tribal reservation is located; tribal chief executives would be permitted to submit such requests to the President without first obtaining the Governor’s approval.

   The tribes of Maine–the Penobscot, the Passamaquoddy, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs–have a jurisdictional relationships with the State of Maine which is unique among the 50 States. Although, based on my analysis, this language would not in any way affect the relationship between the State of Maine and the tribes of Maine, to make this clear, I would like to pose some questions to the Senator regarding the intent of the language.

   The jurisdictional relationship between the tribes of Maine and the State of Maine is set forth in the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act and the Maine Implementing Act, the latter having been enacted by the Maine State Legislature and ratified and approved by Congress when it enacted the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act.

   If the language the Senator authored was to be enacted into law, would this in any way change the relationship of the State of Maine and the tribes of Maine?

   Mr. TESTER. No. I understand that the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act not only recognized the uniqueness and significance of that jurisdictional arrangement but specifically provided that, following the enactment of the Settlement Act, no future congressional legislation would in any way alter or affect that arrangement unless Congress specifically so provided. This requirement is set forth in Title 25, Section 1735, of the United States Code.

   Ms. COLLINS. Did the Senator take Section 1735 into account in his drafting of this legislation?

   Mr. TESTER. Yes. I understood that, given the requirement that Section 1735 imposed on Congress, this provision would not and should not apply within or to the State of Maine unless Congress specifically so provided. Knowing that Section 1735 operated to that effect, I did not include specific language making this legislation inapplicable to Maine, as such language was unnecessary. Our Senate colleagues should understand that this legislation in no way supersedes Section 1735.

   Ms. COLLINS. Did my colleague also consider the unique foundation for the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act and the Maine Implementing Act, as well as the subsequent acts for the Houlton Band and the Aroostook Band?

   Mr. TESTER. Yes, I understood that the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act and the Maine Implementing Act constitute statutory settlement documents. Therefore, our colleagues should understand that the current legislation respects the intent of the parties to Maine’s historic and complex settlement and does not in any way disturb the settlement agreement or the statutory construct on which that settlement rests.

   The intent of this legislation is to improve communication, response times, and recovery of disasters in Indian Country while better respecting tribal sovereignty. I understand that tribes in Maine have a unique relationship with the State of Maine and nothing in this Act should be interpreted to change or degrade that relationship.

   This legislation, if enacted into law, would in no way change the relationship between the State of Maine and the tribes of Maine. That means that, even after the enactment of this legislation, if any of the tribes of Maine wished to obtain a declaration from the President that a major disaster existed, they would have to bring their request to the Governor of Maine, who would have to consider the request in accordance with existing standards and procedures but who would retain the discretion to deny that request.

   Ms. COLLINS. I appreciate the time and attention of my colleague from Montana, Senator Tester, regarding the intent of this language, as well as the care that he took in crafting this legislation.

Sen. Leahy on VAWA Reauthorization

In the Congressional Record for December 20, 2012, Senator Leahy made the following statement on VAWA Reauthorization.


   Mr. President, I have been saying for weeks and months that we are overdue to pass into law the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which the Senate approved in April with 68 bipartisan votes. I am disappointed that the House still has not picked up this bipartisan effort and that we are not getting the job done this year. I want everyone to know that I will be back next year, and we will get it done.

   Just yesterday we were reminded again why this legislation is so important. In Colorado, a man just released from jail on domestic violence charges shot his way into a house, murdering his ex-girlfriend, and her sister, and her sister’s husband, before killing himself. We have seen enough horrific violence. It is past time to act.

   The Leahy-Crapo bill would support the use of techniques proven to help identify high-risk cases and prevent domestic violence homicides. It will help us go further to prevent domestic and sexual violence and to provide services and support to all victims.

   For several weeks, I have been advocating a compromise on a key provision aimed at addressing the epidemic of domestic violence against native women. I want to compliment my partner on this bill, Senator Crapo, who has been working hard to try to bridge the divide and address concerns with the provision in our bill that gives limited jurisdiction to tribal courts to make sure that no perpetrators of domestic violence are immune from prosecution. Senator Crapo has pushed hard and has indicated a willingness to compromise significantly, as have I. Sadly, others have continued to draw lines which would ultimately deny assistance to some of the most vulnerable victims. That is unacceptable.

   I appreciate that there have at last been some renewed discussions about this bill in the House of Representatives but that is not enough. The only way to reauthorize VAWA this year is for the House to take up and pass the Senate-passed bill. If the House Republican leadership refuses to do that in the final days of this Congress, it is a shame.

   I remain steadfast in my resolve to get this done and pass a good VAWA bill that protects all victims. I know Senator Crapo shares my resolve. I know every woman in the Senate and many other Senators and House members share our resolve. I know President Obama and Vice President Biden share our resolve.

   We will be back next year. We will introduce a good bill, and we will pass it through the Senate. We will continue our discussions, and we will work tirelessly to have a good bill enacted into law. This is not the end of our efforts to renew and improve VAWA to more effectively help all victims of domestic and sexual violence.

   We know that the epidemic of violence against native women is appalling, with a recent study finding that almost three in five native women have been assaulted by their spouses or intimate partners. We know that immigrant women are particularly vulnerable, with their immigration status another weapon that abusers can use to keep power and prevent reporting. We know that some victims cannot access needed services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We know that women and girls on college campuses are too much at risk, and more must be done to protect them. The list goes on.

   We have shown a willingness to compromise but we must make progress on all of these issues. We must make things better, and never make things worse, for the most vulnerable of victims.

   The community of advocates and service providers who work every day with victims of these terrible crimes is inspiring. It was their advice on the real needs of real victims that shaped this legislation, and they have fought with us every day to get this bill enacted. I want them to know how much I value the work they do and that I will not abandon their cause. We will continue working together, and we will reauthorize VAWA.

   We have seen enough violence. If we cannot get the Leahy-Crapo bill over the finish line this year, we will come back next year, and we will get it done. I look forward to other Senators joining us as we continue this vital effort.

Indian Provisions in the Defense Authorization Bill

The Senate and House have agreed to a conference report to the Defense Authorization bill. Below are the Indian provisions in the bill. The House and Senate will likely vote on the conferenced bill this week, and if approved, it will be sent to the President for his signature.

Sec. 312 – Amends the Sikes Act (conservation management on government lands) to authorize the Secretary of the military department concerned to enter into cooperative agreements with Indian tribes for land management in areas adjoining military installations and state-owned National Guard installations.

Sec. 553 – Amends 20 U.S.C. 7703 regarding Impact Aid and Payments for eligible federally connected children that affects Indian housing undergoing renovation or rebuilding.

Sec. 1087 – Amends 28 U.S.C. 1442 adds Indian tribes to the definition of “State” for removal of an action from State Court.

Sec. 1632 – Amends 15 U.S.C. 1644 requiring the Small Business Administrator to submit as part of a larger report the concerns of small businesses owned by Indian tribes.

Sec. 1802 – Amends 15 U.S.C. 2203, the Federal Fire and Prevention Control Act to allow Indian tribes to benefit from the Act.

Sec. 3151 – Requires the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, to review and report on abandoned uranium mines in the United States that provided uranium ore for atomic energy defense activities of the United States on Federal, State and Tribal lands.

Senator Inouye Walks On

Floor statements from Senators Reid, McConnell, McCain and Akaka on the passing of the beloved Senator Inouye. Rest in Peace Senator. Your tremendous service to this nation will not be forgotten!

————–

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I rise with a real heavy heart. Our friend, DAN INOUYE, just died.
I have never known anyone like DAN INOUYE. No one else has. The kindness he has shown me during my time here in the Senate is something I will cher- ish always. He was a man who has lived and breathed the Senate. If there were ever a patriot, DAN INOUYE was that pa- triot.
A week ago last Friday he and I spent some time together in his office, just the two of us alone. We spent an hour together, and we ended the meet- ing with both of us saying: You know,
we need to do this again. Well, I won’t be able to do that again. He won’t be able to do that again.
He was a wonderful Senator, brave soldier, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. He left an arm in Italy. He said to me at that last meeting together, when I asked him: DAN, did anything else happen to you, other than your arm? He said: Yeah, I got shot in the gut—that is what he said—and the leg a couple of times.
We will all miss him, and that is a gross understatement. I wish I were ca- pable of saying more, but that is all I can say. I have talked to his wife Irene. She is there, with his son. We have known for a few hours this wasn’t working out well for Senator INOUYE. But he was certainly one of the giants of the Senate.
I remember what he said when his son asked why he fought the way he did after having been declared an enemy alien. He said he did it for the children. That was Senator INOUYE. His commit- ment to our Nation will never be sur- passed. His service in the Senate will be with the greats of this body.
Now I should ask my friend if he wishes to speak upon this issue. It would be my hope the two votes that are scheduled could both be done— these judges—by voice vote. I don’t think it is appropriate to record a vote at this time.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous con- sent that the two judges be approved by voice vote.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I think we all, at a subsequent time—I just talked to his wife and walked out here—will have some more formal remarks.

————–

Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, I too am going to address the remark- able life of Senator INOUYE at a later time, but I did want to make some observations here for a few moments at the time of his passing.
Senator INOUYE was a man who, as we all know, rarely called attention to himself but who lived a remarkable American life filled with the dignity and grace of the true hero he was.
He was only 17 when he heard the si- rens over Honolulu and saw the great planes flying overhead. At the time he dreamed of being a surgeon. A few years later a medic would be taking care of him after his heroic action in the Italian mountains, for which he would one day receive our Nation’s most prestigious award for military valor.
DAN INOUYE’s dream of being a sur- geon was not realized but there were other things in store. Instead, he be- came a member of one of the most decorated U.S. military units in Amer- ican history and one of our Nation’s longest serving and finest Senators.
An iconic political figure of his be- loved Hawaii, and the only original member of the congressional delega- tion still serving in Congress, he was a man who had every reason to call at- tention to himself but who never did.
He was the kind of man, in short, that America has always been grateful to have, especially in our darkest hours—men who lead by example and who expect nothing in return.

————–

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I didn’t mention, and I should have, but I real- ly have been waiting the last hour or so to make sure it was okay with his wife that I come and say something, so I haven’t had time to do much other than feel bad about Senator INOUYE.
As I indicated, I talked to Irene. I wasn’t able to talk to Ken, but I did talk to Irene. I want to make sure everyone understands the depth of my feelings—and I know I am speaking for the entire Senate. DAN INOUYE believed in me, even more than I believed in myself. Many, many years ago—a couple of decades ago—he said: You know, you’re going to do great things in the Senate, and he always talked about my leading the Senate. And he always came and said: You did the right thing. He would always tell you that you would do the right thing.
The chapter of DAN INOUYE in the Senate is something that is remarkable, not only his military record but what he did with the defense aspects of our country, the security aspects of our country. And there was no one more bi- partisan than Senator INOUYE.
He has a brother who lives in Las Vegas, and a wonderful person he is, but he was as close to Ted Stevens as he was to any person could be to a brother. They were brothers. They called themselves brothers. So he set an example always about bipartisan- ship, about working with others. And as far as being a good member of our caucus, no one was better than he was.
No one has been a better American than Senator INOUYE. And when we talk about people in Hawaii and who they revere, it is Senator INOUYE. The State of Hawaii is going through a great deal at this time. Senator AKAKA has announced his retirement, and now the death of Senator INOUYE.
On behalf of all Senators, I express my appreciation for his service and his friendship.

————–

Mr. McCAIN. I thank the majority leader. Today, the Senate lost, America, and especially his beloved citizens of Hawaii lost a unique, brave, wonderful legislator, a man who brought to this institution the most unique credentials I would argue probably of anyone who has ever served in this pretty diverse body.

   Dan Inouye was born of Japanese parents who came to Hawaii, as many Japanese did in that period of time at the turn of the century, to work in the pineapple fields and agriculture, which was a fundamental of the economy for the State of Hawaii. Their conditions were not good. They worked hard. But they raised their families with pride, with dignity and honor, and were proud to call themselves Americans.

   Dan Inouye was as proud as any. As we know, one of the most shameful chapters of American history took place during World War II when an incredible act of injustice took place. The United States of America decided to intern Japanese Americans who lived in California. They were put into internment camps because they happened to be Japanese Americans, not because they had done anything wrong, not that they did not love America, but because they happened to be Japanese Americans. By the way, some of those internment camps were in my home State of Arizona. Conditions were not terrible, but they were not good. People were incarcerated because they happened to be ethnic Japanese.

   In Hawaii, there was a group of young Japanese Americans who decided that they wanted to serve their country and they wanted to serve in uniform. One of the most well-known and famous and most highly decorated units of the entire World War II was the battalion in which Dan Inouye served. They were in many of the most gruesome and difficult blood lettings of the entire conflict as the American forces fought their way up through Italy against a very well trained, very well equipped, professional German opposition. Dan Inouye was a proud member of this battalion. In fierce combat, Dan Inouye was gravely wounded on the battlefield. He was brought home. He, as we all know, lost his arm as a result of one of the wounds he sustained.

   Interestingly and coincidentally, he went to a veterans hospital in Chicago where a person in the same ward, was a American Army second lieutenant who had also been wounded seriously in Italy, one Bob Dole–2LT Bob Dole of Kansas. And there began a friendship that lasted to this day, both gravely wounded, both dedicated more than ever to serve their country. Both served with distinction. The friendship, the bonds of friendship that were forged in that hospital between Bob Dole and Dan Inouye were unique and enduring.

   So Dan Inouye returned to his beloved Hawaii. The story goes–and I do not know if it is true or not–the story goes that a Dan Inouye went down to join the veterans organization, and when he applied for membership, he was told that the only members they took in that organization were Caucasian.

   Dan Inouye decided that he wanted to continue to serve his country and the State of Hawaii. He was the first Senator from the State of Hawaii and has served longer than any Senator in this institution. He was loved by all of us. I did not always agree with Dan. Occasionally, we had differences about how we use appropriations bills. No one–no one ever, ever accused Dan Inouye of partnership or unfairness.

   He loved Native Americans, and he loved his Hawaiians. One of the more rewarding periods of my time here in the Senate was being on the Indian Affairs Committee under his chairmanship. Very important pieces of legislation came out of that committee. It was a great honor for me to have the privilege to serve with Dan Inouye. He loved Native Americans. He knew that Native Americans had been wronged in our history. He knew that solemn treaties must be honored by our government even if those treaties sometimes meant that there would be significant expenditures of America’s tax dollars.

   Have no doubt that our treatment of Native Americans and the treatment of Native Hawaiians is not the most glorious chapter in American history when we look back at what happened to the proud Native Americans, the Native Hawaiians as their civilization collided with the civilization that came to the United States of America from around the world.

   Dan Inouye fought for the things he believed in and the principles that he held dear. He held nothing more dear than the glory of being able to serve people who needed to be served.

   Dan Inouye will be missed. There will not be another like him. There will not be another Senator literally deprived of his rights. There will not be another Senator who will serve in length and with the dedication that Dan Inouye served this Senate and his beloved Hawaii. So we will all miss Dan Inouye. I hope from time to time, with the bitter partisanship that exists here sometimes in the Senate, maybe we could use Dan Inouye’s record as an example of bipartisan, of friendship, of a willingness to reach across the aisle and work with the other side; it characterized Dan Inouye’s record here in the Senate.

   For some reason, when I heard and thought about Dan’s passing today, I was reminded of another person who died and is buried on the island of Samoa, and his poem is inscribed on his gravestone as an epitaph. I think it applies to our dear and beloved friend who passed today. It was by Robert Lewis Stevenson. I quote:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

   I see my dear and beloved friend, the other Senator from Hawaii, Dan Akaka, on the floor.

   I thank you, Danny, and God bless.

————–

   Mr. AKAKA. Madam President, it is very difficult for me to rise today–
with a heavy heart–to bid aloha to my good friend, colleague, and brother Dan Inouye. It is hard for me to believe that the terrible news I just received is true. Senator Inouye was a true patriot and an American hero in every sense, and he is at this time in Hawaii the greatest leader.
   He served his country as a soldier, receiving the highest honor our Nation can bestow. When we think of how he began to serve his Nation, it is difficult to believe the difficulty we had in Hawaii as Japanese Americans. To be a part of our Nation’s military–we were denied. We were considered aliens of this country. But he was one of those who wanted to serve their country, and they went to the highest level to receive that dignity, and eventually they were given the honor to serve our country. As we now know, it became the greatest unit in military history, with the most decorations of any unit and also with the highest levels of decoration, of the Medal of Honor.

   He served as a leader, the third longest serving Member of the U.S. Senate in our Nation’s history. He served as a defender of the people of this country, championing historic charges for civil rights, including the equal rights of women, Asian Americans, African Americans, and Native Hawaiians. It is an incredible understatement to call him an institution. This Chamber will never be the same without him.

   I remember, in our childhood in Hawaii, that Hawaii was a diversified place. Where I lived in Pauoa Valley, there were many Japanese families who lived around us. There were many nights that I spent sleeping in the homes of our Japanese families, ate their food, slept on the tatami on the floor, and I really was brought up with the Japanese families. So when the war broke out, I couldn’t understand what was happening because there were families who were removed from the community, and, of course, at that time the Japanese American boys weren’t allowed to be in the military, but they pursued it because they wanted to serve this country as well. This is why, in my time in Congress, I did focus on trying to help the Japanese Americans in this country and the Asians in this country as well and to help them achieve what they really earned.

   I remember seeking the Medal of Honor for the unit and for those who fought in World War II, and I provided the Pentagon with 100 names from these units. I was really surprised that there were finally 21 of them who were selected for the Medal of Honor, and Senator Inouye was one of them. But that showed that they were willing to give their lives for this country, and they did. Since then, he has continued to serve his country.

   We all used the G.I. bill to be educated in Hawaii. We went to the University of Hawaii, graduated from there, and went on to further degrees. They came back, in a sense, those who could help the communities, and became leaders.

   In the case of Danny Inouye, he was one of the ones who turned the tide in Hawaii politically since 1954, and by 1959 we became a State. Senator Inouye ran for office and was our first Member of the House. After one term, he moved to the Senate because Senator Long decided to retire. As a result, Senator Matsunaga was elected to the House and served the House and also the Senate as well, and he also was a member of the 100th infantry during World War II. But the Japanese Americans really served our country, and Danny Inouye is one of those great leaders in the history of this country.

   Through my career in Congress, I have been proud to be on Dan’s team. We have worked on everything from appropriations to Native Hawaiian rights, to veterans and to defense. All of us in Hawaii looked up to him, and we are so sad to see him go.

   Danny Inouye leaves behind him a list of accomplishments unlikely to ever be paralleled. His lifelong dedication and hard work in the name of his beloved country, the United States of America, influenced every part of his life and set him apart, even in the Senate. He was a fierce advocate as a senior member of several committees, and the way he conducted himself commanded respect from all with whom he worked.

   His legacy is not only the loving family he leaves behind, it can be seen in every mile of every road in Hawaii, in every nature preserve and every facility that makes Hawaii a safer place. He fulfilled his dream of creating a better Hawaii. He gave us access to resources and facilities that the mainland States, I would say, took for granted.

   Tomorrow will be the first day since Hawaii became a State in 1959 that Danny Inouye will not be representing us in Congress. Every child born in Hawaii will learn of Danny Inouye, a man who changed the islands forever.

   I join all of the people of Hawaii tonight in praying for his wife Irene, his son Ken, and his daughter-in-law Jessica; his stepdaughter Jennifer, and his grand-daughter Maggie, who really tickle his life. Whenever I had a chance to chat with him, we talked about Maggie. They brought him so much joy in his life and will carry his legacy forward.

   I am going to miss Dan, and so will all of us here in the Senate, and this great country will also. He represented a true American, and for us in Hawaii, he represented a true Hawaiian in Hawaii. He served Hawaii and this country well.

   Dan and I have worked so well together all these years. When I was in the House and on the Appropriations Committee there, we worked very well between the House and the Senate. Many of the renovations that have come about in Hawaii were because of Danny, and he really helped to shape Hawaii and this great country. He brought here on Earth a kind of life that people of our country and this world can follow to be great citizens of the world.

   Dan, my dear friend and colleague, you will be missed in Washington as much as you will be missed in Hawaii. Rest in peace. God bless you and your spirit.

   Mr. President, I yield the floor.

END