Murkowski Pushes Interior Department to Repair, Restore Trust Relationship for Contract Support Costs

Senator Reminds Secretary of Interior that Shortfalls are Broken Promise, Broken Law

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski today took the opportunity of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s first appearance before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee to press the newly-confirmed Cabinet head for answers on the Obama Administration’s proposal which would limit the rights of tribes to make claims for contract support costs from both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.   During her questioning, she received firm pledges and commitments from both Secretary Jewell and Assistant Interior Secretary David Hayes to “make good” on the funds owed, despite the White House failing to allot the total amount of resources to these programs in FY2014.

(“This is an important one” – Murkowski getting answers on contract support costs – CLICK for video)

For the second time in a month, Murkowski brought up the issue of full funding of contract support costs –funds to administer health and socials service programs of the BIA and the IHS – which was also recently upheld in a Supreme Court decision. In a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing in April, Senator Murkowski emphasized that self determination contracts are the “core of the Nation’s federal trust relationship” with its First People, and following through with expenses to administer those contracts is essential.

“We do need to figure out how we’re going to do right, not only the right thing because of the court decision but the right thing when it comes to these obligations that our Native people have incurred when it comes to operating our hospitals and our schools,” said Murkowski at the close of her questioning.  “This is an important one … this is us dealing with our responsibility and our obligation and how we make good on it is hugely important.”