Senate Bill 943, the Johnson-O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act was introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) on April 26, 2017. It passed the Senate on March 22, 2018, and House on December 12, 2018, by voice votes.

The following is a transcript of Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ3) speech from the floor of the House on December 11, 2018, in favor of the bill:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I also rise in support of S. 943, the Johnson-O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act.

The abysmal conditions and status of education attainment and achievement of American Indian children and students continues.

This educational gap for American Indian students continues to lag behind all other students in this country.

This bill would require the Department of Interior to annually update the count of American Indian and Alaska Native students so that Department can more accurately distribute Johnson-O’Malley funds, which supplement Indian education.

The bill would also require grantees to report how funds are being used, helping to ensure federal dollars support Native students’ education.

The federal government has a responsibility to provide parity in resources to Native education.

Currently, the Department is prevented from updating the count because of an effort from over 20 years ago to cut spending through the use of block grants.

Congress at the time determined one way to reduce funding for Indian education was to freeze efforts to count the number of Native students. As a result, the Department of Interior continues to use the 1994 number of 272,000 Native students even though it is estimated based on census reports that there are now more than 750,000 Native students.

This policy is just another in a long list of second-class treatment to American Indians by our government.

I want to thank my colleague, Betty McCullum, for introducing this version of the legislation. My Republican colleagues, Tom Cole and Don Young for providing bipartisan support.

My hope is that the passage of this bill is a first step, however small it may be, to righting a wrong to American Indian students. I urge my colleagues to support S. 943 and yield the remainder of my time.