President Biden knows a strong middle-class is the backbone of America and that Tribal Nations and Tribal communities are essential to the success and economic growth of our country. The President’s Budget for fiscal year 2023 makes historic investments in Tribal communities and lays the foundation for shared growth and prosperity for decades to come. The President’s 2023 Budget makes historic investments in programs and activities benefiting Tribal Nations, organizations, communities, and Native American individuals. And for the first time in U.S. history, the President’s Budget is informed by direct consultation with Tribal communities, recognizing their inherent sovereignty, and honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations. We are best served when Tribal governments are empowered to lead their communities and when Federal officials listen to and work together with Tribal leaders when formulating budgets that affect Tribal Nations.
The President’s 2023 Budget will make these important investments while cutting the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade and ensuring that no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in new taxes. The investments will mean:
- Health Equity for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Budget significantly increases the Indian Health Service’s (IHS’s) funding over time, and shifts it from discretionary to mandatory funding. For the first time ever and the first year of the proposal, the Budget includes $9.1 billion in mandatory funding, an increase of $2.9 billion above 2021. After that, IHS funding would automatically grow to keep pace with healthcare costs and population growth and gradually close longstanding service and facility shortfalls. Providing IHS stable and predictable funding will improve access to high quality healthcare, rectify historical underfunding of the Indian Health system, eliminate existing facilities backlogs, address health inequities, and modernize IHS’ electronic health record system. This proposal has been informed by consultations with Tribal Nations on the issue of IHS funding and will be further refined based on ongoing consultation
- Historic Investments in Tribal Nations through the Department of the Interior. The Budget makes the largest annual investment in Tribal Nations in history through $4.5 billion for the Department of the Interior’s Tribal programs, a $1.1 billion increase above the 2021 enacted level. The historic investments will support public safety and justice, social services, climate resilience, and educational needs to uphold Federal trust and treaty responsibilities and advance equity for Native communities.
- Quality Facilities for Culturally-Appropriate Education. The Budget includes a $156 million increase to support construction work at seven Bureau of Indian Education schools, providing quality facilities for culturally-appropriate education with high academic standards, as well as $7 million for the Federal Boarding School Initiative, which includes a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies.
- Increased Support to Address the Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. The Budget provides $632 million in Tribal Public Safety and Justice funding at the Department of the Interior, which collaborates closely with the Department of Justice, including on continued efforts to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered indigenous Persons.
- Reduced Maternal Mortality Rates. The United States has an unacceptably high mortality rate for American Indian and Alaska Native and other women of color. The Budget includes $470 million to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates expand maternal health initiatives in rural communities, implement implicit bias training for healthcare providers, create pregnancy medical home demonstration projects, and address the highest rates of perinatal health disparities, including by supporting the perinatal workforce. The Budget also strengthens collection and evaluation of health equity data.
- Expanded Child Care Services. One analysis finds that more than half of Native American families live-in child-care deserts. The Budget provides $20.2 billion for HHS’s early care and education programs, an increase of $3.3 billion over the 2021 enacted level. This includes $7.6 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant to expand access to quality, affordable child care for families.
- Increased Support and Flexibility for Tribal Child Welfare Systems. Native American children are among the most overrepresented populations in foster care. The Budget proposes to expand foster care prevention services and to ensure all Tribes can adapt these evidence-based services to make them culturally appropriate in order to reduce unnecessary child removals and keep families safely together. For children who do need to be removed from their home, the Budget supports State and Tribal child welfare agencies in placing children with kin caregivers, including family members and others with close ties to the child, whenever possible and appropriate. Finally, the Budget makes the adoption tax credit fully refundable and expands the credit to include qualifying guardianships to ensure families pursuing legal guardianship are able to access these resources.
- Transitioning Tribal Communities to Renewable Energy. Tribal communities are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which threatens their cultural and economic well-being. The Budget complements Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments with $670 million in Tribal climate funding at Interior. In addition, the Budget provides $150 million to electrify Tribal homes and transition Tribal colleges and universities to renewable energy. The Budget also bolsters funding for environmental justice efforts across key agencies to create good-paying jobs, clean up pollution, implement Justice40, advance racial equity, and secure environmental justice for communities that too often have been left behind, including rural and Tribal communities.
- Stable Funding for Required Tribal Payments. The Budget proposes to provide mandatory funding to the Bureau of Reclamation for operation and maintenance of previously enacted Indian Water Rights Settlements, and the Administration is interested in working with the Congress on an approach to provide a mandatory funding source for future settlements. The Budget also proposes to reclassify Contract Support Costs and Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act Section 105(l) leases as mandatory spending, providing certainty for Tribal Nations in meeting these ongoing needs through dedicated funding sources.
- More Affordable Housing in Tribal Communities. Native Americans are seven times more likely to live in overcrowded conditions and five times more likely to have inadequate plumbing, kitchen, or heating systems than all U.S. households. The Budget helps address poor housing conditions in tribal areas by providing $1 billion in HUD to fund Tribal efforts to expand affordable housing, improve housing conditions and infrastructure, and increase economic opportunities for low-income families.
- Making College More Affordable for Tribal Communities. Half of American Indian or Alaska Native and more than one-third of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students use Pell Grants to help pay for college. The Budget proposes to double the maximum Pell Grant by 2029, beginning with a historic $2,175 increase for the 2023-2024 school year. The Budget also invests in institutional capacity at Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and low-resourced institutions such as community colleges, by providing an increase of $752 million over the 2021 enacted level. This funding includes $450 million in four-year HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs to expand research and development infrastructure.
- Expanded Tribal Broadband Access. The President is committed to ensuring that every American has access to broadband, which will not only strengthen Tribal economies, but also create high-paying union jobs installing broadband. Building on key investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Budget provides $600 million for the USDA ReConnect program at USDA, which provides grants and loans to deploy broadband to unserved rural areas—especially Tribal areas—and $25 million to help rural telecommunications cooperatives refinance their Rural Utilities Service debt and upgrade their broadband facilities.
- Additional Support for Tribal Producers. The Budget includes $62 million for agriculture research, education and extension grants to Tribal institutions, and $7 million to support Tribal producers through the Inter-Tribal Assistance Network. In addition, through the Tribal Forest Protection Act and other authorities, the U.S. Forest Service will make initial investments of at least $11 million in 2023 to increase equity and expand Tribal self-governance, allowing Tribal Nations to participate in restoration activities under agreements and contracts.
- Helping Address Gender-Based Violence. The Budget strongly supports underserved and Tribal communities by providing $35 million for culturally-specific Violence Against Women Act program services, $10 million for underserved populations, $5.5 million to assist enforcement of tribal special domestic violence jurisdiction, and $3 million to support tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys. The Budget also provides the FBI with an additional $69 million to address violent crime, including violent crime in Indian Country.
These investments build on the Administration’s efforts to date to uphold America’s trust and treaty responsibilities with Tribal Nations, including:
- Securing the Reauthorization of the Landmark Violence Against Women Act. On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act, which expanded special criminal jurisdiction of Tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on Tribal law enforcement officers on Tribal lands; and supports the development of a pilot project to enhance access to safety for survivors in Alaska Native villages. The law also supports the efforts of Tribal Nationsto prevent and prosecute cybercrimes, including cyberstalking and the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images.
- Providing the Most Support Ever for Tribal Communities. Through the American Rescue Plan, the Administration invested $32 billion in Tribal communities and Native people, the largest single financial assistance investment to Tribal governments in history. The investments supported expanding COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and treatment; increasing preventive health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives at higher risk for COVID-19; expanding hospitals’ and health clinics’ ability to serve their communities during the pandemic and beyond; and providing the IHS, Tribal health programs, and urban Indian health programs with needed funding to make up for lost reimbursements experienced during the pandemic. This historic funding also supported grants for Tribal Nations to provide temporary housing, assistance, and supportive services to survivors of domestic and dating violence, as well as supplemental funding for the StrongHearts Native Helpline, and additional funding for services for sexual assault survivors.
- Securing Historic Infrastructure Investments to Rebuild Tribal Communities. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is rebuilding Tribal roads, bridges and rails, expanding access to clean drinking water for Native communities, helping ensure every Native American has access to high-speed internet, tackling the climate crisis, advancing environmental justice, and investing in Tribal communities that have too often been left behind by investing more than $13 billion directly in Tribal communities across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also makes Tribal communities eligible for billions more in much-needed investments.
- Making Tribal Consultation an Administration Priority and Reconvening the White House Council on Native American Affairs. In his first days in office, the President issued a memorandum making it a priority of his Administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy. Since then, the Administration has been regularly meeting with Tribal Nations on a range of Administration priorities, from implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to drafting the President’s Budget.
The Budget demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s strong commitment to strengthening the Nation to Nation relationships and maximizing Federal efforts to support Tribal Nations and Tribal communities as they tackle pressing issues. Importantly, even as the Administration pursues this historic agenda, the President believes that there will be more to accomplish in the coming years, and he remains committed to working with Congress on these and other priorities.