(H.Res. 490)Legislation extending federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribe - - on the resolution setting the terms for debate of the bill
H.R. 31 and H.R. 1385 were bills that extended federal recognition to a number of Indian tribes that were based partly or fully in Virginia. This was a vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for consideration of those bills. The rule allowed only certain designated amendments to be offered to one of the bills, and did not permit any amendments to be offered to the other. Rep. Cardoza (D-CA), who was leading the effort on behalf of the rule, referred to the bills which the rule covered and said that their passage “will right several wrongs in our country's history and bring closure to the issue of full Federal recognition of (these) tribes.” He noted that the tribes had been trying to obtain federal recognition since the 19th century, but various bills to recognize them “failed due to opposition from the Department of the Interior.”
Cardoza also said that “the circumstances surrounding all of these tribes are certainly unique and warrant special attention by Congress.” He supported this statement by noting that:“(D)uring the Civil War, most local records and tribal documentation were destroyed in fires at government buildings. . . In addition, Virginia's 1924 Racial Integrity Act--pushed by a noted white supremacist--was responsible for the deliberate and systematic destruction of over 46 years of any records that traced and recorded the existence of vast Indian tribes. . . But despite the wealth of documentation that exists for each tribe, it is not clear whether they could obtain proper documentation to be acknowledged by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.” Cardoza also noted that all of the tribes covered by the legislation have been recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia where they are located.
Rep. Dreier (R-CA), who was leading the debate on the rule for the Republicans, opposed both the rule and the bill for which it provided consideration. He said he opposed the rule because of its limitations on the amendments that could be offered to the bill. Dreier said these limitations did not provide for “an open process which would have allowed the House to address many . . . issues . . . “, including an amendment that Rep. Shuler (D-NC) wanted to offer. Dreier argued:“(I)t's very sad that I have to stand here as a minority Member fighting for the rights of a majority Member of this institution.”
Dealing with the substance of the two bills, Dreier said the question of tribe recognition “demands clarity, fairness and transparency. The two underlying bills, unfortunately, deliver just the opposite. . . These tribes have sought legislative action because they lack the proper documentation to complete the regular administrative process . . . (and) we need to consider the overall fairness of our actions.” Dreier noted that “there are currently nine other tribes . . . that have fully completed their application processes and are awaiting final determinations. They have done their due diligence and deserve to have their cases addressed in the proper order. While the six tribes covered in H.R. 1385 may deserve special dispensation from the normal BIA process, questions have been raised regarding the fairness of penalizing the nine other tribes who fully completed the process and are patiently waiting in line for the determination. The process serves a purpose:ensuring that tribal determination is fair, consistent and fully vetted. We need to think very, very carefully before upending that regime.”
Dreier also expressed concern about the estimated $786 million cost that would result from the passage of the bills and the recognition of the tribes. He concluded by claiming that “these bills have problems but this rule has a bigger problem. As happens all too often in this Democratic majority, this debate will be closed rather than open, and Members will be shut out of the process.”
The resolution passed by a vote of 231-174.Two hundred and twenty-nine Democrats and two Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and sixty-six Republicans and eight Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to begin debate on the bills extending federal recognition to a number of Indian tribes.