House Passes Hearth Act, Senate May Address Soon
By: Jared King | The Navajo Post | May 16
Washington, DC - On May 16, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 400 to 0, passed HR 205 the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act. U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., originally sponsored the bill. One of the key provisions allows tribes to exercise the ability to create business and agricultural leases up to 25 years in length without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. The Navajo Nation has had the authority to create such leases since 2000.
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed S 676, their version of the HEARTH Act. When the SCIA passed S 676, it was amended by Chairman Akaka to include a legislative fix to the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. The “Carcieri fix” reaffirms the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take lands into trust for all federally recognized Indian tribes, and not only those recognized prior to the enactment of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
Any legislative action taken to address the Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri is highly controversial. Several attempts have been made by Congress to address the Carcieri case, but have failed to move it forward.