In the ongoing debate involving the Osage Nation employee Christmas bonuses, Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw said the next move is up to Principal Chief Jim Gray.
“The best I could find out is Congress has done everything they could possibly do – short of filing a lawsuit,” Supernaw said during Friday’s Congressional Special Session. He made the announcement one day after meeting with attorneys for lunch, which he said was at “no charge to the Nation.”
“Their advice was due to the court system, even if we did that (file a lawsuit against Gray’s office for the bonuses), it would be after Christmas before that was settled,” Supernaw said. “It’s in his court now. We’ve done just about everything Congress can do.”
Congress and Chief Gray are at odds over whether emergency appropriation legislation has passed authorizing the Christmas bonuses to be issued to the employees while the two sides work on passing the Nation’s 2010 fiscal year budget.
An emergency appropriation bill approved and signed Monday is extended until Jan. 30 but Gray told the Osage News “the continuing resolution [ONCA 10-17] doesn’t allow the Christmas bonus to go out. I cannot spend money that hasn’t been appropriated.”
Congressional Speaker, Archie Mason, sent a letter to Osage Nation Treasurer, John Jech, on Dec. 1 asking that he “Please pay the Christmas bonuses immediately.” The letter maintains that a prior continuing resolution, ONCA 10-15, is still alive and that ONCA 10-15 exempted the one-twelfth spending restriction which would allow the Christmas bonuses to be given out. Chief Gray is maintaining that he pocket vetoed ONCA 10-15 and that the Nation is operating on the resolution passed and made into law Monday.
Congressman Doug Revard asked Mason during Friday’s session if he received a response to the letter. Mason said “I have a written response from the chief – yes… and it is basically an acknowledgement of my letter sent to him.”
The next Special Session of Congress has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The Congressional Commerce and Economic Development Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. and the Government Operations Committee meets at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.