Government

Osage Congress to convene for May 24 special session to consider ARP funds

The Seventh Osage Nation will convene for its eighth special session starting Monday, May 24 at 10 a.m. to take up consideration of appropriating American Rescue Plan Act federal funds disbursed to the Nation.

On May 7, the Congressional Office filed a legislative proclamation with nine Congress members signing the document and calling themselves to convene for the special session. The sole item on the proclamation is “Appropriation of American Rescue Plan funds.”

The special session comes after the U.S. Congress passed the 2021 American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, which “invests $1.75 billion in American Indian and Alaska Native government programs administered under the oversight of the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (AS-IA),” according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs website. “The American Rescue Plan makes changes to laws and provides emergency supplemental funding to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

In an April 30 statement issued by the BIA: “Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland announced that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has begun disbursing $900 million to federally recognized tribes under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act.”

In an information breakdown issued by the BIA, the $900 million disbursement plan addresses the following activities stipulated by Congress in the ARP Act:

  • Potable Water Delivery - $20 million
  • Housing Improvement - $100 million
  • Tribal payments and direct service for Tribal Government, Social Services, Public Safety and Justice, Indian Child Welfare, and other related expenses - $772.5 million. These funds will be allocated as follows:

-       $700 million through the Aid to Tribal Government funding line, thereby allowing tribes to reprogram across Tribal Priority Allocation (TPA) lines as necessary. Funding will be allocated to tribes listed in the BIA’s Federal Register notice. Allocations will be based on tribal enrollment data, using a distribution approach that groups tribes by enrollment size.

-       $30 million for law enforcement and detentions funding.

-       $30 million for tribes in Public Law 83-280, also known as P.L. 280, states through the Social Services line. The majority of tribes in these states do not receive law enforcement support from the BIA. To address their unique needs, these funds can be used for tribal safety needs that fall outside of a formal law enforcement program. The tribe can determine whether to reprogram them as necessary to other areas like tribal courts. In addition, tribes can provide funding to BIA regional or agency offices for direct support services, if necessary.

-       $12.5 million will be held centrally to allocate for unexpected exigencies as necessary.

-       Administrative and Oversight Costs - $7.5 million: These funds will be managed centrally to support maintaining public health capabilities to have an informed Indian Affairs response to COVID-19, IT surge needs, adaptations for COVID safety requirements, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), staff surge needs, and project management.

According to the Osage Constitution, special sessions may be called at the written request of two-thirds of the Congress members and may last up to 10 days.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Congressional sessions will be live-streamed for the public as the Congressional office and meeting areas are closed. Congress members have the choice of attending session in-person or by videoconference as conducted in recent special and regular sessions. Any Congressional committee meetings also called to consider legislative items as well as interim matters are also live-streamed and archived for listening online.

For more information regarding ON Congressional regular or special sessions, filed legislation and Congressional committee meetings, visit the Legislative Branch website at www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/legislative-branch