In Wake of Supreme Court Decision, Senators Send Letter to President Urging Payment of Contract Support
In a Supreme Court decision on June 18th, justices decided 5-4 in favor of tribes in the Salazarv. Ramah Navajo Chapter case.
The justices determined that the United States government short-changed the Ramah Navajo Chapter and other tribes millions of dollars in public service contracts.
Native tribes were given contracts under the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975. The contracts were to run public services such as police, schools, hospitals, environmental services among others. According to the ruling, the government began to shortchange payments for these services by implementing a payment 'ceiling', which capped the amount of money allotted to the tribes for their services, no longer paying for each contract in full.
As a result, tribes were forced to pay contract costs that the government should have been paying. The U.S. Congress has long been aware of the shortfall to tribes, but it has never legislated a comprehensive appropriations remedy. The high court now says that the executive branch must make up the difference.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the majority in the case, “Consistent with longstanding principles of government contracting law, we hold that the government must pay each tribe’s contract support costs in full.”
On August 1st, Alaska's Senator Mark Begich, along with Senator Mike Crapo, wrote a letter to President Obama, the letter was also co-signed by Senator Lisa Murkowski, ALaska's Senior Senator, as well as five others. Co-signing were Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Senator James Risch (R-ID), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The letter requested that the president act on bringing closure to tribes from Alaska and the lower 48 in the wake of the court's decision.