In the wake of a year that saw across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester ravage reservations, Congress must do more to meet its treaty obligations with Indian tribes, said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum.
In signing treaties with Indian nations in exchange for land, the federal government promised a wide array of services, including education and health care.
Congress has not kept its end of the bargain, McCollum said Thursday after attending the State of Indian Nations address in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
The National Congress on American Indians, an association of federally recognized tribes, called on Congress to consider tax and budget reform that won’t shortchange Indian Country.
“Health care and education are treaty-trust responsibilities,” said McCollum, who represents St. Paul and the east suburbs in Congress.
“They’re put in discretionary spending, but it should be mandated. It’s an obligation of the United States Government.”
Come 2015, McCollum could play a larger role in budget decisions affecting Indian Country.
With the pending retirement of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia, Betty McCollum is in line to be the lead Democrat on the House panel that oversees the budget of the Interior Department, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Moran, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Interior subcommittee, announced this month that he will not seek another term in Congress.
Based on seniority, McCollum would take over Moran’s role next January.