HOUSE VOTE TODAY!! H.R. 3043 Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, on the House floor under suspension of the rules, which means the bill will need 2/3rds majority of the vote to gain approval.  While we continue to work to secure votes in the House, we are confident that H.R. 3043 will received the required 2/3rs vote to move out of the House.
 
On a parallel track, and in anticipation of gaining House approval, Indian Country has begun outreach to move the bill in the U.S. Senate.  The strategy would be to have the Senate Finance Committee waive jurisdiction over H.R. 3043 (S. 1507 is the identical companion bill), hold the House-passed H.R. 3043 at the desk, and approve the bill by "unanimous consent" a Senate procedure that would require no debate or formal vote on the bill.   To further educate members of the Senate, we ask that you e-mail the attached draft letter to your Senate delegation and certain members of Senate leadership, urging them to move H.R. 3043 by unanimous consent in the September work period and prior to the November 4, 2014 election.
 
House Republicans have informally whipped the vote, and are confident that a large majority of the Republican caucus will vote YES.  The top Democrat on the House Ways & Means Committee (with jurisdiction over the bill) has indicated he also supports the bill.  As a result, we are confident (but cautious) that we have the votes to move the bill in the House. While working to confirm votes in the House, we also urge you to consider contacting the Senate to immediately move the bill by holding it at the desk and approving it by unanimous consent.  This will require the Senate Finance Committee to waive jurisdiction (Chairman is Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) / Ranking Member is Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)) and it will take Senate leadership (D Leader is Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and R Leader is Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)).
 
Attached is a draft letter for your use. Please contact Danielle Her Many Horses, Deputy Executive Director with any questions you may have at dhermanyhorses@indiangaming.org.


 [TRIBAL LETTERHEAD]
 
September 16, 2014
 
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
E-mail:             David_Krone@Reid.senate.gov
 
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Republican Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
E-mail:             John_Abegg@mcconnell.senate.gov 
 
The Honorable Ron Wyden, Chairman
United States Senate
Senate Committee on Finance
Washington, DC 20510
E-mail:             Jeff_Michels@wyden.senate.gov
                        Michael_Evans@finance.senate.gov
 
The Honorable Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member
United States Senate
Senate Committee on Finance
Washington, DC 20510
E-mail:             Chris_Campbell@finance.senate.gov
                        Nick_Wyatt@finance.senate.gov
 
Re:         Reform the IRS in Indian Country - Support Passage of S.1507/H.R. 3043 in
               Senate by Unanimous Consent
 
Dear Leader Reid, Leader McConnell, Chairman Wyden, and Ranking Member Hatch:
 
I write to respectfully urge you to hold H.R. 3043, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, at the desk and pass the bill by unanimous consent.  Today, the House is expected to advance H.R. 3043 by voice vote under suspension of the rules.  S. 1507 is the companion bill to H.R. 3043.  Both bills have strong bipartisan co-sponsors, including Members of the Committees of Finance and Ways & Means.  The Joint Committee on Taxation submitted two revenue estimates finding that the bill "would have a negligible effect on Federal fiscal revenues."
 
Federal Indian affairs policy is grounded in the history and course of dealings between the U.S. and Indian tribes. Tribes ceded or had taken hundreds of millions of acres of our homelands to help build this Nation. In return, the U.S. made solemn promises to provide for the health, education, and general welfare of Indian people. Sadly, federal programs and services designed to meet these promises have been unfunded or under-funded for decades. As a result, tribal governments are stepping in to meet these shortfalls by directly providing programs and services to our tribal citizens. Instead of fostering these acts of Indian self-determination, the IRS has targeted Indian tribes for audits, seeking to impose federal income taxes on tribal government programs and services. 
 
Tribal leaders nationwide raised concerns with these targeted IRS intrusions of Indian self-determination. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) responded to tribal leader concerns by introducing S.1507. The bill has 22 bipartisan co-sponsors, including 6 members of the Senate Finance Committee. In the House, H.R. 3043, introduced by Representatives Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ron Kind (D-WI), has 58 bi-partisan co-sponsors, including 15 members of the House Ways and Means Committee.
 
Passage of this critical legislation will implement long-needed reforms of the work of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Indian Country, and establish a Tribal Advisory Committee within the Treasury Department to advise the Secretary on federal-tribal tax matters, among other needed reforms.  Overall, this bill makes significant steps towards helping align federal tax laws with federal Indian law and policy, strengthening Indian self-determination, and respecting the local decisions of tribal governments to improve our communities. 
 
The legislation enjoys broad support from tribes and tribal organizations across the country. For these reasons, I again urge you to hold H.R. 3043 at the desk and support passage of this legislation in the Senate by unanimous consent. I appreciate your consideration of this important request.
 
Sincerely, 
 
[ Tribal Leader ]