Joe Biden

FACT SHEET: The President's Budget Delivers on His Commitment to Tribal Nations and Native Communities

March 11, 2024

Since taking office, President Biden has been committed to strengthening the Nation-to-Nation relationships between the United States and Tribal Nations and advancing Tribal sovereignty. Over the past three years, the Administration has taken steps to strengthen its understanding of Tribal needs and priorities, respect and support Tribal sovereignty, reform critical federal processes for Tribal Nations, and improve health, education, safety, and welfare across Indian Country—particularly for Native women, children, and families. The American Rescue Plan made the largest direct federal investment in Indian Country in history, and through the President's Investing in America agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration has made additional record-setting investments in Tribal Nations and Native communities.

The President's Budget, which is informed by direct consultation with Tribal leaders, demonstrates the President's continued commitment to Indian Country, including through historic investments in the Indian Health Service, Tribal public safety, educational equity, environmental justice, affordable housing, and more. Moreover, through the President's Executive Order on Reforming Federal Funding and Support for Tribal Nations, the Biden-Harris Administration is committing providing this funding in a manner that is more effective, efficient, and accessible for Tribal Nations—part of the President's vision for the next era of federal policies that better support Tribal Nations as they govern and grow on their own terms. The President's Budget:

Guarantees Adequate and Stable Funding for Indian Health Services (IHS). The Administration is committed to upholding the United States' trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal nations by addressing the historical underfunding of IHS. The enactment of an advance appropriation for 2024 for IHS was a historic and welcome step toward the goal of securing adequate and stable funding for IHS that will provide needed improvements in access to care and the overall health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Budget requests $8 billion in discretionary resources in 2025, including increases for clinical services, preventative health, facilities construction, contract support costs, and Tribal leases. Beginning in 2026, the Budget proposes all resources as mandatory. Mandatory funding would close longstanding service and facility shortfalls over time; improve access to high-quality healthcare; and fund key Administration priorities, such as the Biden Cancer Moonshot. The Budget also proposes to reauthorize and increase funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, which has been critical in lowering the prevalence of diabetes in Indian Country.

Honors Commitments to Support Tribal Communities. Incorporating feedback from Tribal consultations, the Budget continues to provide robust support for Indigenous communities in keeping with our federal trust and treaty responsibilities. The Budget invests $4.6 billion for the Department of the Interior's (DOI) Tribal programs, more than $1 billion over the 2021 enacted level, to support public safety and justice, human and social services, and education. The Budget continues to propose reclassification of Contract Support Costs and Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 Section 105(l) leases as mandatory spending, beginning in 2026, to provide certainty for tribal communities in meeting these ongoing requirements with dedicated funding. The Budget's investment in DOI's tribal programs build on historic investments in Indian Country under the American Rescue Plan and complement Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments to ensure long-term success by addressing critical infrastructure and climate adaptation needs in Indigenous communities. The Budget supports and protects funding for economic development and other tribal community programs at DOI, including for climate resilience and natural resources management, education programs across Bureau of Indian Education schools, tribal human services programs. It also supports Native language and cultural revitalization programs to meet the needs highlighted by the Federal Boarding School Initiative and the recently concluded Road to Healing Tour.

At the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Budget allows more Tribes to be able to claim reimbursement for prevention services and programs, including traditional healing programs that are consistent with meeting mental health and substance abuse treatment needs of children, parents, and caregivers. The Budget also invests $66 million for HHS's Native American Programs to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages by using current grant programs and funding strategies for Native American language preservation and maintenance. 

Supports Tribal Conservation Through Co-Stewardship of Public Lands and Waters. The Administration is committed to a new chapter of the United States' Nation-to-Nation relationship with Tribal Nations that includes innovative new partnerships with Tribal Nations to steward the public lands, waters, and wildlife that are most precious to Tribal Nations and where they bring invaluable expertise. The Administration is investing in this new chapter by providing resources in this Budget that will facilitate and support these agreements with Tribal Nations to co-steward Federal lands and water across the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service. The Budget also includes a new $8 million allocation of mandatory funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to support Tribal land acquisition for conservation and outdoor recreation. 

Invests in Salmon Restoration in the Columbia River Basin. The Budget supports the Administration's recent commitment to prioritize restoration of healthy and abundant wild salmon, steelhead, and other native fish populations in the Columbia River Basin, and honors the United States' obligations to Tribal Nations. 

Supports Child Welfare in Tribal Communities. To support child welfare across Indian Country, the Budget proposes to allow Tribes to use a new, optional grant program that consolidates certain existing mandatory and discretionary child welfare funding streams to be used for any child welfare service need, including culturally appropriate prevention and support services, foster care, kinship supports, reunification services, guardianship or adoption support, and child welfare staff and training. The new grant program would remove burdensome plan requirements originally designed for state agencies and instead create a streamlined application process grounded in the principles of Tribal self-determination and ensuring the safety and well-being of children and families.

Invests in 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 provides $1.1 billion at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support Tribal efforts to expand affordable housing, improve housing conditions and infrastructure, and increase economic opportunities for low-income families. Of this total, $150 million would prioritize activities that advance resilience and energy efficiency in housing-related projects.

Commits to Tribal Water Rights Settlements Funding. The Budget builds on Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments by providing $2.8 billion in additional mandatory funding to the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund, as well as $226 million in discretionary funding to meet existing settlement obligations. This funding would ensure stable, dedicated funding for Tribal water rights settlements, which is crucial for safe, reliable water supplies to improve public and environmental health and support economic opportunity in tribal communities.

Prioritizes Efforts to End Gender-Based Violence Against Native Women. The Budget proposes $800 million at the Department of Justice to support programs under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), which was reauthorized in 2022 with enhanced Tribal for expanded criminal jurisdiction over non-Native offenders, including an Alaska Native Pilot Program. This represents a $100 million—or 14 percent—increase over the 2023 enacted level, which was the highest funding level in history. The Budget strongly supports underserved and Tribal communities by providing $15 million for culturally-speci?c services, $5 million for underserved populations, $25 million to assist enforcement of Tribal special domestic violence jurisdiction, $3 million to support tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and $10 million for a new special initiative to address the intersection of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.

Connects Indian Country to High-Speed, Affordable, and Reliable Internet. The President is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to affordable broadband internet, including Tribal communities—and thanks to his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has provided $2.3 billion to people living and working across 35 States and Territories, which is expected to expand broadband access to more than 137,000 households. Building on the $2 billion for USDA broadband programs provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for 2023, the Budget provides $112 million for the ReConnect program, which provides grants and loans to deploy broadband to unserved areas, especially Tribal areas. 

Advances Environmental Justice in Indian Country. The Administration continues to take bold steps and prioritize efforts to deliver environmental justice in communities across the United States, including throughout Indian Country. The Budget bolsters these efforts by supporting several key initiatives to accelerate energy equity and justice. This includes a new $25 million grant to develop Direct Implementation Tribal Cooperative Agreements to carry out crucial EPA programs in Indian Country with an emphasis on addressing the impacts of climate change. The Budget also includes funding for the Tribal Partnership Program at EPA which supports technical and planning assistance for Tribal communities who want to participate in these programs. Additionally, the Budget includes $95 million at the Department of Energy (DOE) to electrify Tribal homes and transition Tribal colleges and universities to renewable energy. It also advances the President's Justice40 Initiative goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution, including Tribal communities.

Expands Access to Quality Education for Tribal Nations and Tribal Communities. Recognizing the pathways to opportunity that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) represent, the Budget includes $30 billion in mandatory funds over 10 years for eligible 4-year HBCUs, TCCUs, and MSIs to provide two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000. The Budget increases institutional capacity at these institutions and provides $100 million—doubling funding—for four-year HBCUs, TCCUs, and MSIs to expand research and development infrastructure, a program the President has championed since his first year in office to address historic disparities in Federal research and development funding. The Budget also includes funding for programs focused on increasing the participation of groups historically underrepresented in science and engineering fields, as well as $256 million in funding to build capacity for advancing energy research and developing a new energy workforce at HBCUs, TCCUs, MSIs, Tribal Colleges, Community Colleges, and emerging research institutions. The Budget provides $46 million to the Minority University Research and Education Project to increase competitive awards to HBCUs, TCCUs, and other MSIs to recruit and retain underrepresented and underserved students in STEM fields.

Joseph R. Biden, FACT SHEET: The President's Budget Delivers on His Commitment to Tribal Nations and Native Communities Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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