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S. 1790 – passed [out of committee]

December 3, 2009

This afternoon I went to a business meeting of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. I didn’t realize that my senator, Senator Franken, was on the committee — very cool. The main item of business they discussed was the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which we’ve been working for. A number of amendments were approved, including one introduced by by Sen. Franken proposing to create the position of Director of HIV/AIDS Prevention of Treatment.

As a someone whose main reference for how business is done is the Quaker model, watching the Senate Indian Affairs Committee conduct business felt like watching a fast-moving tennis match. I did my best to follow concerns and responses raised by the various members, but inevitably I was taken by surprise several times when Sen. Dorgan (Chair of the committee) said “If there are no objections, the Committee passes this bill” — and then, without waiting to see if anyone had an objection that hadn’t quite made it to the surface yet, proclaimed it done.

Considering this, I almost missed when the committee passed the ICHIA. Let me say this again: the committee passed the IHCIA! Senator Dorgan called for a voice vote, several ayes rang out, no nays were heard, and the committee passed the IHCIA. It happened so quickly I had to look over at my neighbors notes, where she had kindly written “S. 1790 – passed.”

So what does this mean? I’m not quite sure. Dorgan has stated that he would introduce the IHCIA as an amendment in whatever health care bill the Senate produced, so we’re waiting to see if that happens. In the mean time, I’m walking around with a grin on my face, because the Senate Indian Affairs passed the IHCIA.


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