WASHINGTON – Prospects for passage of the Native American Capital Formation and Economic Development Act dimmed considerably April 30, as Indian organizational representatives across the board offered conditional support or asked for more funding in the bill than the national treasury is going to yield.
The National Congress of American Indians, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, the Native American Bank, the Alaska Federation of Natives – representatives of each qualified their support with cautions on the competitiveness of the bill’s provisions with other programs serving Indian country and other agencies of the federal government, or they suggested solutions of their own if more funding can be found.
All also agreed with the broad intent of the bill to provide more equity capital in Indian country, to define more focused uses for it and to enhance Indian access to credit.
Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., chairing a hearing of the Senate Committee on Indian affairs, flatly stated that the federal budget, currently running a $300 billion deficit, won’t hold $200 and $300 million in new funding for anyone, let alone the BIA’s loan guarantee program.
He gave a more favorable hearing to a request from Alaska Federation of Natives for an Alaska Native demonstration program in the bill.
But at a reception later that evening, he said he wasn’t sure how far S. 519 would get, adding that any new bill risks being weighed down by amendments.