Ron Andrade in Native Condition. Discussion »
The announcement of the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act, known as the HEARTH Act, should give proper credit to some great congressional work although President Obama appears to be taking all the credit.
Ron Andrade - La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians
This historic Act allows American Indian tribes to lease restricted lands for residential, business, public, religious, educational, or recreational purposes without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
In these harsh times, the HEARTH legislation was introduced in a Democratic controlled Senate by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a Republican. In the House of Representatives, which is Republican controlled, the bill was introduced by a Democrat, Congressman Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.
The American Indian community keeps hearing all the doomsday news that the Republicans will kill any Indian bill the Democrats bring forward in the Republican controlled House. The same thing is said in a Democratic controlled Senate. But the passage of the HEARTH bill proved just the opposite.
While the House and Senate did their part, the HEARTH legislation doesn't appear to have been a highly lobbied bill by the White House because the President received the passed legislation on July 19 and didn't sign the Act until July 30.
Any high school student knows that the President has 10 days to sign any bill or it is vetoed. The excuse can be made that it sometimes takes a few days to get the bill to the White House legislative office, but it still appears this wasn't a bill that President Obama was anxiously waiting to sign.
This bill was passed in the House under unanimous consent and there were zero nay votes. The vote was 400-0-31 abstentions.
This is why no one political party should take credit for the new HEARTH Act. Both parties have said throughout the years that American Indian legislation is non-partisan.
This should be a learning moment for Indian Country that American Indian legislation has generally been supported by both parties and it shouldn't really matter which party controls the White House.
Ron Andrade is a tribal citizen of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians located in the county of San Diego, California and previously served on the tribal council. He is the executive director of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission. He served as the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, which is the largest and oldest tribal organization in the country. He has served as a specialist on Indian Affairs at the Department of Agriculture, Energy, Interior, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
posted August 2, 2012 6:10 am edt