Dec. 20—A proposal to allow Maine tribes to benefit from future federal Indian laws has failed to advance in Congress after the Senate stripped it from the final version of the omnibus federal spending bill during negotiations on the package this week.
To prevent any future attempts to change the results of a presidential electoral election, provisions have been added to the huge bill that totals 4,155 pages.
Key roles were played by Maine’s congressional delegation in both of these efforts.
Rep. Jared Golden (D-2nd District) introduced the proposal for tribal sovereignty. This was also supported by Rep. Chellie Peingree (1st District). Governor Janet Mills opposed the legislation. Janet Mills was opposed to the legislation, which did not receive support from Maine’s senators.
Republican Senator Susan Collins was a key negotiator for the Electoral Count Act reforms. These reforms were supported by the entire delegation.
The federal spending bill must be passed. It includes funding for the federal government to operate until next fall. However, it has many measures attached so that they have a last chance at passage before the narrowly divided Republican caucus gains control of the House of Representatives. The compromise bill negotiated between Senate and House leaders includes continued emergency aid for Ukraine — which some of former President Donald Trump’s allies in the House Republican caucus oppose.
The spending bill also includes funding that has been earmarked by Maine’s delegation for projects in Maine.
Golden championed the tribal bill as an amendment for the annual defense spending authorization bill. However, the House passed it on July 14, but Sen. Angus King opposed it. King is an independent who caucuses along with Democrats and who was a former lawyer before entering politics. Collins did not support Golden’s bill.
King stated that “any significant change should be achieved through negotiations between the states and the tribes,” the Press Herald reported last month. He was echoing Mills’ position, who rejected a wider range of reforms adopted by the Maine Legislature this past year.
The provision would have allowed any future federal laws to apply automatically to Maine’s tribes. This effectively amended one of the provisions from the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act. This federal law, 42 years old, has exempted Maine tribal governments from numerous laws. These include the Indian Gaming Act allowing the regulation of tribal casinos, the Stafford Act allowing the tribes to apply for federal disaster relief funds, Indian Health Improvement Act allowing tribes licenses in another state, the Violence Against Women Act allowing tribes prosecute non Indian defendants for domestic violence on their reservations. None of the other 570 federally recognized tribes in America faces similar encumbrances.
Pingree, who is chair of an influential appropriations committee, stated that Collins and King intervened in order to eliminate the tribal provision.
Pingree said Tuesday that the House approved it, but the Maine senators didn’t like it. “It was attached to the House when it arrived, but they opposed its inclusion. We couldn’t agree on this one.”
Golden gave a written statement Tuesday.
“I am disappointed that this provision which we passed in Congress on a bipartisan basis, was removed from the Omnibus spending bill during negotiations between the Senate and the House,” he stated. “This issue is not resolved and I look forward working with the tribes on this important issue.”
Interview requests for King and Collins were not returned Tuesday afternoon by Collins.
The huge spending bill did include a bipartisan congressional effort that prevented anyone from trying to overturn former President Donald Trump’s attempt to change the results of a presidential campaign during the ceremonial count of Electoral College votes.
King and Collins were both at the forefront in the efforts to rectify the flaws in the 1887 Electoral Count Act. Trump used this Act on Jan. 6, 2021 to try to stay in power despite losing 2020. Collins and Sen. Joe Manchin (D.W.Va.) reached a bipartisan deal in July. Despite having been co-sponsored by Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., Senate Minority Lead Mitch McConnell, R.Ky. and 20 other Democrats, the bill was not submitted for a final vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Schumer said last week that he planned to attach the provisions to the federal budget bill.
The federal spending bill first will need to pass the Senate — which requires at least 10 Republicans to support it — before going on to the House.
It includes provisions to allow Maine lobstermen more time and resources in order to comply with federal fishing regulations.
Pingree said, “Everybody knows there are going to be many compromises in this bill. But I am happy about it and will feel the most fulfilled when this bill hits President’s desk.” “Because it is important to get a bill passed right now, especially considering that we’re likely to experience two years of gridlock in Congress.”