U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces Senate Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Housing, Health Care and Self-Governance in Native Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.20.23] – This week, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), announced three pieces of her bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing key issues in Native communities passed the Senate. The bills would improve health care for urban Indigenous communities, strengthen self-governance agreements, and help increase homeownership in Native communities. All three pieces of legislation will now move to the House of Representatives for a vote.

“Whenever I meet with Native leaders, three of the top issues I hear about are inadequate housing and health care and the importance of self-governance,” said Smith. “I worked with my Republican colleagues to introduce these pieces of legislation to take on these challenges and address the needs of Tribes in Minnesota and around the country. These bills would create easier pathways for homeownership in Native communities, improve the Indian Health System, and bolster self-governance agreements. I’m thrilled to see them pass the Senate and get one step closer to becoming law.”

Senator Smith’s bills include:

  • Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act: This bipartisan legislation, which was co-led by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-M,T,), would accelerate the review and processing of mortgages on trust land. Additionally, it would enhance the ability of certain federal agencies to operate their Tribal housing programs and improve communication between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Tribes, Tribal members, and lenders through the establishment of a realty ombudsman who can communicate with relevant parties.
  • Urban Indian Health Confer Act: Bipartisan bill co-led by Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to confer with urban Indian organizations regarding health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living in urban areas – a critical step that will improve care for Indigenous communities.
  • PROGRESS Act extension: Bipartisan legislation led by Senator John Hoeven (N.D.) to amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act and extend the statutory deadlines for the rulemaking committee established by the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act, which became law in 2020. This committee is responsible for issuing a final rule, but their authority to do so expired.