September 10, 2020

House Energy and Commerce Committee Advances Luján Legislation to Address Challenges Facing Tribal Communities During COVID-19

Nambé, N.M. – Today, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce advanced bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, to ensure Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) can access lifesaving data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government health agencies, and to protect Tribes and Tribal members from scams. 

The Tribal Health Data Improvement Act reaffirms that Tribal public health authorities are entitled to access to public health data. Luján introduced the legislation after Politico reported earlier this summer that the federal government was withholding COVID-19 data from Tribal health authorities.

The Protecting Indian Tribes from Scams Act requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to conduct a study, in consultation with Tribes, on scams targeted at Tribes or Tribal members. It was included as an amendment to the Fraud and Scams Reduction Act, which was advanced by the Committee. 

“It’s unacceptable that, despite the urging of Tribal authorities and members of this Committee, TECs are still not receiving this vital public health data from CDC and state health departments…Just like any state health department, Tribal health authorities have a vital mission to protect the health of the people they serve. This legislation will help Tribal authorities succeed in this mission while ensuring that the federal government upholds its trust responsibility and lives up to obligations to be better partners in promoting health in Tribal communities,” said Luján. 

He continued: “Scammers have targeted the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment, offered false treatments for COVID-19, and attempted to sell defective personal protective equipment. This has to end…It is my hope that this effort will give Congress and the FTC a roadmap to better protect Tribes and Tribal members and hold scammers accountable.”

Video of Luján’s remarks on the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act can be found here, and video of his remarks on the Protecting Indian Tribes from Scams Act can be found here. 

BACKGROUND

The 38 bipartisan bills advanced today included several pieces of legislation co-sponsored by Congressman Luján. One of them, the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act, builds on the success of Luján’s Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act that was passed into law in 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.

Press Contact

Adán Serna (202) 225-6190