Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2014

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 2, 2014
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Moore) for her great work on this legislation and her kind words, as well as Ranking Member Waters, and to Mr. Pearce who has pursued this legislation relentlessly, Mr. Young, and others, I think this is a fine moment for us. It is an exercise in bipartisanship which we don't see enough of around here.

This is important legislation that has taken too long for Congress to bring to the floor. I think we all agree that it is long overdue. Our responsibilities, our trust relationships to the tribes has to be adhered to.

I will say no bill is perfect, and I do support this legislation with some concerns primarily around, as I voiced in committee, the demonstration project that is included in this bill which is, by some, viewed as a step toward privatization of the NAHASDA program.

I know most don't feel that way, but some feel it might lead to that. Tribes already have the ability to contract with nonprofit or for-profit private developers in building and rehabilitating tribal housing.

This particular program, the demonstration program, is not included in the National American Indian Housing Council's NAHASDA recommendations, and I think it is important that we listen to Indian Country and those in the tribal communities because the very name of this bill has to do with self-determination, and I think it is important that we adhere to the interests of those sovereign tribes that will be administering this program.

There are other provisions that will be exempt from the NAHASDA requirements if in fact the privatization effort goes forward, so I would just be cautioning those tribal organizations and housing authorities that will be implementing under this law to take care to examine those relationships that they might enter into before pursuing the pilot program.

I will finish by saying that it is important that this legislation move forward. No bill is perfect. This is a very good step forward. I commend leaders on both sides of the aisle for bringing this to the floor, and I look forward to it becoming law very soon.

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Speaker, again, I appreciate the observations by the gentleman. We had time to discuss after the hearing and after the markup, and at that time, it was pointed out that the pilot project is completely voluntary, easy to opt into and easy to opt out of.

It is not our intent to trap or entrap anyone, but instead open a door if they desire to go through it. I think there will be tribes that can go in and build all of houses that they need in a very short period of time. That is what we are looking for, but again, I take his observations very seriously, and we have looked for flaws in the program that might be hooks or have unintended consequences.

I reserve the balance of my time.