December 19, 2011

Funding cuts for tribal justice

Do Congress and Obama Really Support the Tribal Law and Order Act?

By Rob Capriccioso“There continues to be a public safety crisis on our Indian reservations, and the lives of women and children are in danger every day,” lamented the now retired Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who led the way for passage of the TLOA when he headed the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

That reality is one reason that Dorgan and many advocates in Indian country were so disappointed to learn that Congress, last month, majorly undercut the abilities of the TLOA to combat the crisis when it passed a measure that shortchanged a whopping $90 million in proposed funding for U.S. Department of Justice programs in Indian country.

“One way the TLOA sought to remedy the epidemic was to mandate that federal law enforcement cooperate and coordinate with tribal law enforcement,” wrote Ryan Dreveskracht, a lawyer with the Galanda Broadman Indian-focused law firm, in an article posted on his firm’s website. “The TLOA sought to immediately increase tribal law enforcement funding levels. Because Indian country crime is local, these consultation and tribal funding mandates were deemed crucial to the effectiveness of the TLOA.”

But when Congress released its fiscal year 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Programs Report on November 14, it was as if those components of the TLOA, which so many Congress members had hailed so recently, didn’t matter.

The legislation offered funding cuts for tribal justice programs across the board, and it did not include a tribal set-aside for discretionary Office of Justice Programs needed to implement the TLOA, Dreveskracht noted. It also proposed $15 million cuts to both the COPS Tribal Resources Grant Program and the Tribal Youth Program. Funding for tribal assistance within Office of Justice programs, meanwhile, received $38 million, which Dreveskracht noted was $62 million short of the approximately $100 million initially proposed in Obama’s FY 2012 budget request. In total, over $90 million was lost.
Comment: When I posted this article on Facebook and put Obama's "support" in quotes, someone wrote:Obama did not write the bill.My response:

He signed it. And I don't recall his making any speeches criticizing it. If you sign a bill and it's not under protest, you're basically endorsing it.

Obama did a bunch of caving in on taxing the rich. He's still doing it. Do you disagree with that, because that's the standard liberal position.

That money could've gone to fund this bill and other social services. So yeah, I blame him for caving in rather than fighting harder for increased taxes.

For more on Obama's support of Indians, see UN Declaration's First Anniversary and United Police State of America.

Below: "Indians always have a hard time being heard in Washington, but Obama (here signing the Tribal Law Act) seems to be more willing to listen."

1 comment:

dmarks said...

Yes, he embraced this policy and put his stamp of approval on it.