Union of Native American tribes and representatives call for protection of federal aid dollars
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National Tribal Organizations Respond to Sen. McCain’s Amendment to Eliminate Funding for the Indian Incentive Program
The leaders of Native American groups representing the rights and interests of the indigenous populations in this country are shocked and dismayed at Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) amendment that would eliminate the funding for the “Indian Incentive Program.” The program was authorized by Congress many years ago to boost economic development in Indian Country, and has been consistently funded each year. Under the program, prime contractors awarded procurements of $500,000 or more that contain a provision recognizing the program, receive a 5% rebate on the value of a subcontract awarded to an Indian-owned economic enterprise or Native American organization. Currently, a total of $15 million dollars is budgeted for the funding of such rebates. The total funding for this program does not go to any one entity, but is issued to dozens of contractors who satisfy the terms of the program.
“The Indian Incentive Program keeps congressional recognition of the value Native contractors provide to the federal government as the suppliers of quality goods and services, as well as being entities that create jobs, build tribal economies, and contribute significantly to the overall national economy. The elimination of this program is unwarranted, and does not align with the need to maintain a healthy economy by creating the jobs necessary to sustain our nation’s economy in difficult times. In short, this is devastating news,” stated Kevin Allis, the Executive Director for the Washington D.C. based Native American Contractors Association.
“This is confusing and questionable legislation,” stated Jackie Johnson-Pata, the Executive Director for the National Congress of American Indians. “This program has proven to be successful in helping to build some of the poorest Native communities in this country and has achieved this success in a way that maximizes the value of precious taxpayer dollars. The benefits that result from businesses utilizing this program flow into Native, rural and urban communities — supporting education, community development, jobs, cultural heritage and financial security for Native citizens and businesses.”
Senator McCain introduced the amendment this week by incorrectly representing that the funding for this program is a waste of taxpayer dollars, and allows for a Native Hawaiian Organization to receive a windfall of $15 million dollars. “Senator McCain misrepresents the program in support of his cut, by wrongfully suggesting that one company can receive the total funding amount,” stated Mr. Allis. Mr. Allis further stated, “Appropriated funding is dispersed among dozens of contractors, most often large federal prime contractors, and not the small Native community-owned business.”