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S. 140, To amend the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010 to clarify the use of amounts in the WMAT Settlement Fund

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, the House will consider S. 140, to amend the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010 to clarify the use of amounts in the WMAT Settlement Fund, under a closed rule.  S. 140 was introduced on January 12, 2017, by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The Rules Committee Print is based on the text of S. 140, as reported by the House Natural Resources Committee on November 8, 2017, and includes the text of S. 249, a bill to provide that the pueblo of Santa Clara may lease for 99 years certain restricted land, and H.R. 986, the Tribal Sovereignty Act of 2017.


Summary

The Rules Committee Print includes the text of S. 140, to amend the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010 to clarify the use of amounts in the WMAT Settlement Fund, S. 249, a bill to provide that the pueblo of Santa Clara may lease for 99 years certain restricted land, and H.R. 986, the Tribal Sovereignty Act of 2017.

Section 1 amends the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010 to clarify that funds in the WMAT Settlement Fund are authorized to plan, design, and construct a rural water system. 

Section 2 provides that the pueblo of Santa Clara may lease their restricted fee lands, similar to the authority they have to lease their trust lands, for up to 99 years, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. In general, under current law, the tribes can lease tribal lands to schools, businesses, and public entities for up to 25 years.

Section 3 would add tribes to the list of entities that are excluded from the definition of “employer” for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act.


Background

Title III of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 resolved the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s water related claims against the United States, the State of Arizona, and a number of other State and non-federal parties. The Act authorized funding for the construction of the White Mountain Apache Rural Water System to provide safe and reliable drinking water. The Rural Water System will consist of a dam, reservoir, treatment plant, and necessary pipeline. The Act also established a WMAT Settlement Fund that can be used for cost overruns for the System and “water-related economic development projects.” Currently, the Tribe and Bureau of Reclamation have been working together to complete a study is ongoing to determine if additional construction activities are necessary to accommodate geological conditions at the site of the dam.  The Department of the Interior has previously indicated that it is unclear whether the WMAT Settlement Fund can be used for the System’s cost overruns. This bill clarifies such uncertainty.[1]

The Santa Clara Pueblo is a tribal reservation located in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, and is home to 1,018 tribal members. Along with the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, it is a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos of New Mexico. Located on the Rio Grande, about a mile south of Espanola, New Mexico, the Santa Clara Pueblo is a total of 2.1 square miles, or roughly 24 acres. In 1834, with the enactment of the Non-intercourse Act, land transactions with Indians were prohibited unless authorized by Congress. Over time, such restrictions came to apply primarily to lands held in trust by the United States for the benefit of individual Indians or tribes (trust lands), and land title held in fee by Indians or tribes subject to a restriction on alienation (restricted fee lands). In 1955, Congress passed what is commonly known as the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955 to soften the effect of the Non-Intercourse Act. Congress has amended the ILTLA more than 40 times to adjust the terms and conditions of leases of Indian lands, and to authorize leases of specific Indian lands by their Indian owners for a term of up to 99 years, subject to approval of the Secretary. In 1992, the ILTLA was amended to authorize leasing of up to 99 years for lands held in trust for the Pueblo of Santa Clara, and in 2011 was amended to authorize 99 year leases for lands held in trust for the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly known as the Pueblo of San Juan).[2]

Through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of most private-sector employees to form a union and to bargain collectively. Adding tribes to the list of excluded employers would treat them similarly to state and local governments. Currently, the NLRB generally asserts jurisdiction over the commercial enterprises owned and operated by Indian tribes, even if they are located on a tribal reservation. However, the NLRB does not assert jurisdiction over tribal enterprises that carry out traditional tribal or governmental functions.[3]


Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates enacting S. 140 would not affect the federal budget. CBO estimates enacting S. 249 would have no effect on the federal budget. CBO further estimates enacting H.R. 986 would also have no effect on the federal budget.

 


Staff Contact

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.

 

[1] See House Report 115-441 at 1-2.
[2] See House Report 115-242 at 1-2.
[3] See CBO score for H.R. 986. 

115th Congress