Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after his amendment cutting funds from the EPA’s Program and Management account and redirecting a portion of those revenues to the Bureau of Indian Education System Operations and Maintenance account passed the House of Representatives and was successfully attached to the Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016:
“Over the past 6 years, the EPA, at the behest of the Obama Administration, has taken unprecedented actions to defy the rule of law and enact far-left, extremist policies by executive fiat. In response, I am more than happy to remind this out-of-control, rogue agency about our Constitution and system of checks and balances which includes ‘the power of the purse’ granted to the House of Representatives. As long as the EPA continues forcing unlawful, job killing polices on the American people, I will continue defunding this agency’s ability to impose further harm.
“Furthermore, there is no question that money spent funding the EPA would be put to better use supporting the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), ensuring these schools have the necessary resources to provide gainful education and quality facilities at a level on par with their peers in other non-bureau funded schools. I am proud to see bipartisan support by my colleagues in the House for this commonsense amendment.”
Specifically, Congressman Gosar’s bipartisan amendment cut $61,304,000 from administrative accounts within the EPA and redirected $50,304,000 to the Operation of Indian Programs Account in order to bring that account up to the budget request level, with the intent of those funds going to the BIE and being evenly allocated between the Education Construction, Replacement Facilities Construction account and the Elementary and Secondary Programs, Facilities Operations account. The funds that weren’t transferred went towards deficit reduction.
Whether it is breaking the law to lobby for the agency’s overreaching WOTUS rule, seeking to put coal companies out of business or imposing silly regulations like Regional Haze, the EPA has shown contempt for American citizens and that the agency will stop at nothing to impose its ideological driven agenda that is not based on sound science.
There are 22 federally recognized tribes in Arizona and many have voiced concerns about the need for better tribal education.
While BIE has made efforts to improve on its delivery of this mission, several recent studies have raised concern regarding student achievement at BIE schools compared to Indian students in public schools. Currently, more than one-third of Bureau funded facilities are in substandard or poor condition. A sizeable volume of research, including investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), have established direct correlation between facility conditions and poor student outcomes within the BIE.
BIE schools face much more extensive operational costs than most public schools due to the fact that many are located in remote areas far from utility and infrastructure services traditionally provided by municipalities. Many BIE schools are responsible for operating their own water and sewer systems, electricity generation, road maintenance, snow management and other large infrastructure needs. Such operational costs can be a considerable drain on resources. The GAO has issued reports as well as testimony to Congress documenting their concerns of the harmful effect these burdens have on learning conditions and student achievement.
The United States Government has trust responsibilities to Indian tribes and Indian education which are firmly established through historical treaties, court decisions and federal statute. This amendment assists with supporting the trust responsibility by helping to provide high quality education for native American students in an environment that is safe, healthy and conducive for learning.
Sponsors and Cosponsors of the Gosar amendment include: Kevin Cramer, Todd Rokita, Kristi Noem, Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema.