Dear Chairman Grijalva and Ranking Member Bishop:
Thank you for holding the recent hearing on important legislation to resolve issues surrounding the Carcieri decision and H.R. 375. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges you to mark up and report this legislation expeditiously, and we look forward to working with you on this effort.
The impacts of the Carcieri decision are significant and affect tribes across the country. The inability under the Indian Reorganization Act for the Secretary to acquire land in trust for all tribes in the contiguous United States is stalling, and potentially denying, Indian Country and surrounding communities the benefits of economic development projects whose viability depends on trust land as a necessary element. This inconstancy over trust status is hindering business development decisions in financing and planning, preventing the critical flow of investment, and promoting unnecessary, acrimonious and expensive litigation. These are unsustainable burdens for tribes seeking to improve the standards of living of their members and surrounding communities.
The Chamber appreciates the bipartisan and bicameral work of many Members of Congress to address the economic drag and uncertainty—not to mention the significant expending of resources related to litigation—in Indian Country regarding the status of trust land. The Chamber also anticipates that the most favorable path for this legislation is for the House to pass a bill that the Senate can pass by unanimous consent. Realistically, in order for that to happen, the House version will need to reflect a compromise that can be broadly supported.
The Chamber strongly supports your efforts to reach a compromise solution to this decade-old problem. The Chamber also believes that H.R. 375 is an important starting point for additional work on this issue.
Neil L. Bradley
cc: Members of the Committee on Natural Resources