WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, will join Committee Chairman John Hoeven (R-N.D.) in leading a legislative hearing to receive testimony on two bills related to tribal water rights settlements, including Udall’s S. 3168, the Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act. The committee will also receive testimony on a bill that would repeal an 1834 law that prohibits operation of distilleries on Indian lands.
Udall will highlight the importance of a steady federal funding source to fund water rights settlements. S.3168, introduced by Udall in June of this year, amends the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 to make the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund permanent—stabilizing an essential funding source for Indian water rights settlements.
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has a backlog of over $1.6 billion in authorized Indian water rights settlements that remain unfunded. Udall has led efforts to permanently extend the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund past its 2029 expiration date, which would enable BOR to meet its fiduciary duty to tribes and address its backlog of unfunded settlements.
Mr. Allen Mikkelsen, Deputy Director, Bureau of Reclamation, Dept. of the Interior
The Honorable Lester Randall, Chairman, Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas
The Honorable Harry Pickernell Sr., Chairman, Chehalis Tribe of Washington
Mr. John Tubbs, Director, Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation