Washington Update: Unusual Politics

“Stranger Things” have happened in Washington but is hard to remember when. Usually the fall is about completion of a legislative year, and budget – appropriations drama. But this year, with President Trump on tape as offering a quid pro quo to a foreign leader for information on former Vice President Biden son’s business dealings in the Ukraine, news here in Washington took a turn, and most say for the worse with an impeachment investigation and questions about the direction of foreign policy over the withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Syria. Nonetheless, every day it seems some news is breaking. Whether it is testimony from the impeachment inquiry or news of war atrocities committed against the Kurds by the Turkish army. No one could have predicted most of these events six months ago. And it all leaves the Democratic Presidential debates looking boring compared to what maybe potentially happening next in the National and World news.

Just this week (and it is only Wednesday), this is the top news off Capitol Hill:

-A former Pompeo (Sec. of State) aide exposes the lack of respect for career diplomats as he testified before the impeachment inquiry.

-Fiona Hill (former top White House foreign policy advisor) said that the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. was a potential national security risk because he was so unprepared for his job.

-Kurt Volker (who served as Trump’s envoy to the Ukraine) returned to the Capitol to review his testimony of two weeks ago.

-One of the men indicted along with two Rudy Giuliani associates is now in custody (arrested at Kennedy airport on 10/16/2019).

-Trump sees a weak Democratic field with “no choice” but to pursue impeachment.

-Controversy on the Hill builds about the invasion of Turks in northern Syria and how to protect the small number of U.S. Troops left behind to ensure ISIS is defeated.

It is not the normal fall congressional season, and it is difficult to predict what will happen next. Will the impeachment inquiry hurt Trump’s Presidential Campaign or help it? Will the drama around Troops withdrawing from Syria, alienate the U.S. from allies in NATO, or later be seen as necessary to balance the power in the region and avoid further loss of U.S. lives? The only good news in Washington it seems is the Nationals baseball team is off to the World Series. Everyone in Washington supports the Nationals.

Impeachment Timeline: LA Times

NY Times

Washington Update: Tribal Transportation – Self Governance Rules

A short update on the long awaited completion of the negotiated rule making on the Self Governance Program for Tribal Transportation funding as it was authorized by Section 1121 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The Program would provide Tribes control and decision-making authority over their use of DOT funding and reduce many administrative burdens. The proposed regulations include: eligibility criteria, describe the contents of and process for negotiating self-governance compacts and funding agreements with DOT setting forth the roles, responsibilities, and limitations on DOT and the Tribes that participate in the program (“TTSGP”).

A rule has been published in the federal register, that explains the process many tribes awaited allowing funding to go directly to Tribes to spend more easily and with more Tribal control. Click to review Federal Register Notice

Written comments on this notice must be received on or before December 2, 2019.

The DOT will hold meetings on the rule on the following dates and locations. Click for more information:

1. October 21, 2019, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. MDT, National Congress of American Indians Annual Convention, Albuquerque, NM.

2. November 5, 2019, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. CST, United Southrn and Eastern Tribes Annual Meeting, Choctaw, MS.

3. November 19, 2019, Seattle, WA

4. November 21, 2019, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. EST, Virtual Listening Session by Webinar, Telephone 800-683-4564; Access Code: 027757.

Thank you for reading our Fall Washington Update. It has been an unusual congressional season; Presidential debates, impeachment inquiries, and unexpected withdrawal of Troops from Syria. Despite the unusual politics, Indian Country issues continue, and we follow most all of them.

Hope this report provides you a glimpse of the fast breaking news and unusual political atmosphere in Washington this season. We are planning to attend the Annual Conference of NCAI in Albuquerque, NM next week. This is an election year for the NCAI Board and we hope to see many of you there.

Please let us know if we can assist you on issues in Washington that may be affecting your business or Tribal Community.

Best Wishes,