Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good morning. It’s an honor to be here with you today.
I want to thank our host, Secretary Haaland, who I have had the pleasure to get to know over these last two years. She was one of the first colleagues I told I was expecting a little girl last year. She then promptly cried and I followed suit – at a pretty busy restaurant. So I have a permanent special place in my heart for our Interior Secretary.
Now, OMB. When I address groups I usually start by explaining what OMB does.
Today I get to skip that part, as I know many of you have joined our tribal consultations and have really guided how we look at Federal investments.
You’ve already heard directly from the President so you know his commitment to Indian Country. As the person responsible for making sure his values are reflected in his budget, I want you to know we are on the job at OMB to make good on those commitments.
The President has been clear from Day One: we stand with Indian Country. And as this summit makes clear, he has a bold vision to do three things: to uphold the U.S.’s trust responsibility to Tribal nations, to strengthen the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the United States and Indian Tribes, and to support Tribal nations as they govern their own communities and make their own decisions.
OMB works day in and day out to make sure that the Biden Administration’s commitments to you become a reality.
And Tribal consultation and engagements like the summit are integral to ensuring we remain laser focused on issues that affect tribal nations across the country.
In my time at OMB, we have held five Tribal Consultations. We view these as opportunities for us to listen – so that we can really understand how federal programs and funding deployed to Indian Country work.
Today, I’d like to briefly highlight three ways in which we listened, and then took action as a result of listening to you.
First, we listened when you asked for a shift to mandatory funding for the Indian Health Service — and that’s exactly what the President requested in his latest budget. Just as he promised you he would.
Indian Health Service needs a consistent source of funding, just like other health care programs in this country.
That’s what it takes to improve and expand access to high-quality health care and support the entire Indian health care system. You have gotten a former staff director of the appropriations committee on board to shift funding to mandatory. That’s huge.
Second, we listened when Tribes said they needed larger investments that support tribal self-determination.
That’s why the President’s budget also included $4.5 billion dollars for the Department of the Interior’s Tribal programs – a $1.1 billion increase above 2021.
These resources would greatly improve the Department of Interior’s work to empower Tribal nations by: supporting land consolidation, addressing public safety concerns raised by Tribal leaders, and recognizing what is working well for Indian Country by supporting expansion of the Tiwahe initiative, which is focused on prosperity and resiliency in Tribal communities.
Overall, the President’s FY 2023 Budget requested over $31 billion in discretionary and mandatory investments for Tribal communities. That’s the single largest annual investment in Tribal Nations in history.
And it’s on top of significant Tribal investments from the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act that will make a huge difference for Indian Country.
I want to thank Secretary Halaand and Secretary Becerra for their partnership. They have been champions of these initiatives and that makes our job easier at OMB.
Last but not least – we listened when Tribal leaders asked that OMB establish a Tribal Advisor position.
Earlier this fall, I was proud to be the first Director of OMB to create a position like this – and just as proud to appoint Liz Carr, a citizen of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, to serve in this role.
That means that not only is OMB listening to Tribes through the Tribal consultation process.
But we also have a dedicated voice – just down the hall from my office – who is from a Tribal community…and whose entire mission at OMB is to engage with Tribal leaders from across Indian Country and ensure that the decisions OMB makes – on the budget, on management issues, or on regulations — reflect Tribal needs.
The first two years of the Biden Administration have been historic – with historic commitments in the President’s Budget and action on overdue policy and programmatic recommendations from Tribal leaders.
But we have more to do. And you have my commitment as Director of OMB that we will continue to listen. We will continue to take action.
And we will continue to work hand in hand with you, in true government to government fashion, to deliver more progress moving forward.