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Begich Calls on President to Include Contract Support Costs to Tribes in 2014 Budget

Sen. Mark Begich reiterated to President Barack Obama his call on the federal government to pay in full the contract support costs owed to Alaska tribes to carry out critical community operations, including hospitals and clinics, police, departments, and numerous education and housing activities.

In a letter sent Wednesday to President Obama, Begich requests that he include full contract support and joint venture staff funding in his budget request to Congress:

“When these fixed costs are not paid in full tribes are compelled to divert resources by leaving positions vacant in the contracted programs serving their members in order to make up the difference.  The continued contract support cost funding shortfall means that health care professionals, public safety officials and other positions are not being filled because the U.S. government is failing to pay full contract support costs.  The U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed the binding nature of the federal government's duty to pay tribal contract support costs under Indian Self-Determination Act contracts.

The letter continues:

“I recognize that our country is facing difficult budget decisions, and that you are forced to make government spending cuts.  However, these contract obligations must be paid.  I request your FY 2014 proposed budget to Congress fully fund Indian Health Service (IHS) contract support costs at $617 million, and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) contract support costs at $234 million.”

Sen. Mark Begich, who sits on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, sent a similar letter this past November calling on the Indian Health Service to pay past support costs to health care contractors. Similarly, he spearheaded a bipartisan letter last August asking for swift action following the U.S. Supreme Court decision reaffirming the binding nature of the federal government’s obligation to pay these costs.

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