Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
|Senate Committee on Indian Affairs|
|Members, 109th Congress|
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is concerned with any legislation that has a direct impact on Native American tribal groups and individuals.
This committee was re-established in the late 1970s after the original Indian Affairs committee (set up in the early 1800s) was shut down in 1946. In 1946, the committee folded when Congress adopted a policy of tribal "termination." The primary objective of "termination" was to dissolve the tribes. That proved to be difficult to do, and by the late 1970s, the termination policy was abandoned. The committee's website includes a recent history of the re-creation of the committee, but doesn't really say much about the political and social activism that led to a renewed interest in "Indian Affairs" and a new approach in the Senate.
Looking at the recent 2006 midterm election, the four committee members who were up for re-election this time (Thomas(R), Conrad(D), Akaka(D), and Cantwell(D)) all won their races. We'll have to see how the shift in party dominance in the Senate will affect the leadership and membership of this committee next year. At the moment, there are 8 Republicans and 6 Democrats serving on this committee.
According to the committee's website, they hold their meetings every first Tuesday of the month when Congress is in session. These are generally open meetings, and public notice of these meetings will be given one week in advance.
The most recent press release states that a hearing on the "Indian Health Care Improvement Act," scheduled for 11/10/06, has been indefinitely postponed. The document attached to the press release outlining this legislative proposal is 373 pages long.
A recent article (Nov. 10) in Indian Country Today includes an interview with former staff of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and recounts the accomplishments of Sen. Inouye as a leader of this committee.
From Senate Majority Leader-to-be Harry Reid's website here is the list of Democratic committee members for next year: Indian Affairs CHAIR: Dorgan, MEMBERS: Inouye, Conrad, Akaka, Johnson, Cantwell, McCaskill, Tester
11-16-06 Senator Dorgan issued a statement about his new role as chair of this committee: "Dorgan will move up from vice chairman to chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, taking over the position from Senator John McCain, who has been serving as chairman in this current session of Congress. As chairman he will now schedule hearings and set the agenda to focus on Indian health care, housing, education and economic development."
On January 29, 2007 The Chair of the Committee, Sen. Dorgan had the rules of the Committee for the 110th Congress entered into the Congressional Record on the floor of the Senate. They are as follows:
Committee on Indian Affairs Rules of Procedure
Committee on Indian Affairs
Rule 1. The Standing Rules of the Senate, Senate Resolution 4, and the provisions of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, as amended by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970, to the extent the provisions of such Act are applicable to the Committee on Indian Affairs and supplemented by these rules, are adopted as the rules of the Committee.
MEETINGS OF THE COMMITTEE
Rule 2. The Committee shall meet on Thursdays while the Congress is in session for the purpose of conducting business, unless for the convenience of the Members, the Chairman shall set some other day for a meeting. Additional meetings may be called by the Chairman as he may deem necessary.
OPEN HEARINGS AND MEETINGS
Rule 3. Hearings and business meetings of the Committee shall be open to the public except when the Chairman by a majority vote orders a closed hearing or meeting.
- (a). Public notice, including notice to Members of the Committee, shall be given of the date, place and subject matter of any hearing to be held by the Committee at least one week in advance of such hearing unless the Chairman of the Committee, with the concurrence of the Vice Chairman, determines that the hearing is non-controversial or that special circumstances require expedited procedures and a majority of the Committee Members attending concurs. In no case shall a hearing be conducted with less than 24 hours' notice.
- (b) At least 72 hours in advance of a hearing, each witness who is to appear before the Committee shall submit his or her testimony by way of electronic mail, in a format determined by the Committee and sent to an electronic mail address specified by the Committee, or shall submit an original, printed version of his or her written testimony. In addition, each witness, on the day of the hearing, shall provide an electronic copy of the testimony on a computer disk formatted and suitable for use by the Committee.
- (c) Each Member shall be limited to five (5) minutes of questioning of any witness until such time as all Members attending who so desire have had an opportunity to question the witness unless the Committee shall decide otherwise.
- (d) The Chairman and Vice Chairman or the ranking Majority and Minority Members present at the hearing may each appoint one Committee staff member to question each witness. Such staff member may question the witness only after all Members present have completed their questioning of the witness or at such time as the Chairman and Vice Chairman or the Ranking Majority and Minority Members present may agree.
BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA
- (a). A legislative measure or subject shall be included in the agenda of the next following business meeting of the Committee if a written request by a Member for consideration of such measure or subject has been filed with the Chairman of the Committee at least one week prior to such meeting. Nothing in this rule shall be construed to limit the authority of the Chairman of the Committee to include legislative measures or subjects on the Committee agenda in the absence of such request.
- (b) Notice of, and the agenda for, any business meeting of the Committee shall be provided to each Member and made available to the public at least two days prior to such meeting, and no new items may be added after the agenda published except by the approval of a majority of the Members of the Committee. The notice and agenda of any business meeting may be provided to the Members by electronic mail, provided that a paper copy will be provided to any Member upon request. The Clerk shall promptly notify absent members of any action taken by the Committee on matters not included in the published agenda.
- (c) Any bill or resolution to be considered by the Committee shall be filed with the Clerk of the Committee not less than 48 hours in advance of the Committee meeting. Any amendment(s) to legislation to be considered shall be filed with the Clerk not less than 24 hours in advance. This rule may be waived by the Chairman with the concurrence of the Vice Chairman.
- (a). Except as provided in subsection (b), a majority of the Members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business of the Committee. Consistent with Senate rules, a quorum is presumed to be present unless the absence of a quorum is noted by a Member.
- (b) One Member shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting a hearing or taking testimony on any measure before the Committee.
- (a). A recorded vote of the Members shall be taken upon the request of any Member.
- (b) A measure may be reported from the Committee unless an objection is made by a member, in which case a recorded vote by the Members shall be required.
- (c) Proxy voting shall be permitted on all matters, except that proxies may not be counted for the purpose of determining the presence of a quorum. Unless further limited, a proxy shall be exercised only for the date for which it is given and upon the terms published in the agenda for that date.
SWORN TESTIMONY AND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
Rule 8. Witnesses in Committee hearings may be required to give testimony under oath whenever the Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Committee deems it to be necessary. At any hearing to confirm a Presidential nomination, the testimony of the nominee, and at the request of any Member, any other witness shall be under oath. Every nominee shall submit a financial statement, on forms to be perfected by the Committee, which shall be sworn to by the nominee as to its completeness and accuracy. All such statements shall be made public by the Committee unless the Committee, in executive session, determines that special circumstances require a full or partial exception to this rule. Members of the Committee are urged to make public a complete disclosure of their financial interests on forms to be perfected by the Committee in the manner required in the case of Presidential nominees.
Rule 9. No confidential testimony taken by, or confidential material presented to the Committee or any report of the proceedings of a closed Committee hearing or business meeting shall be made public in whole or in part, or by way of summary, unless authorized by a majority of the Members of the Committee at a business meeting called for the purpose of making such a determination.
Rule 10. Any person whose name is mentioned or who is specifically identified in, or who believes that testimony or other evidence presented at, an open Committee hearing tends to defame him or her or otherwise adversely affect his or her reputation may file with the Committee for its consideration and action a sworn statement of facts relevant to such testimony of evidence.
BROADCASTING OR HEARINGS OR MEETINGS
Rule 11. Any meeting or hearing by the Committee which is open to the public may be covered in whole or in part by television, radio broadcast, or still photography. Photographers and reporters using mechanical recording, filming, or broadcasting devices shall position their equipment so as not to interfere with the sight, vision, and hearing of Members and staff on the dais or with the orderly process of the meeting or hearing.
Rule 12. The Chairman may, with the agreement of the Vice Chairman, or the Committee may, by majority vote, authorize the issuance of subpoenas.
AMENDING THE RULES
Rule 13. These rules may be amended only by a vote of a majority of all the Members of the Committee in a business meeting of the Committee: Provided, that no vote may be taken on any proposed amendment unless such amendment is reproduced in full in the Committee agenda for such meeting at least seven (7) days in advance of such meeting.