WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate Democratic leadership announced that U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., will assume the position of cice chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the 115th Congress.
Udall will keep his seats on the Appropriations, Commerce, Foreign Relations and Rules committees. The new leadership post gives him an even stronger position to fight for Native communities in New Mexico and across the country, especially combined with his role as Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which determines funding for the Interior Department’s Indian Affairs programs.
Udall has served on the U.S. House and Senate committees overseeing Indian Affairs and the Interior Department since he came to Washington, and his work on Indian Affairs continues that of generations of Udalls who have fought for Native American rights. He issued the following statement:
“I am enormously proud to represent and defend the sovereignty of New Mexico’s 23 Tribes and all Native American communities. Throughout my career, I have been committed to working alongside Indian Country to uphold our Trust responsibility and support Tribal communities in their work to build sustainable economies, provide good schools and quality health care, maintain access to clean air and water, and strengthen their connection to culture and tradition. Over my lifetime, I have witnessed the struggles and injustices that Native Americans have faced. And while we have made progress, we have seen — even this year — that we must continue to improve how we work with Tribes to ensure meaningful consultation with Native communities and environmental justice. In the next year, we will see what direction the new administration will take with regard to Indian Country. I have always been — and will continue to be — a strong defender of Native American rights. I’m pleased to take this new position to work more closely with Tribal communities in New Mexico and across our country, and I will fight to improve our government-to-government relationship and for progress on responsible energy development, environmental protection, health care, education and many other important issues.”