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Senator Lankford Applauds Senate Passage of Bill to Modernize the Johnson-O’Malley (JOM) Program

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK)  today applauded the Senate passage of S. 943, the Johnson-O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act, which now heads to the President’s desk for signature. The bill Amends the Johnson-O’Malley Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Director of the Bureau of Indian Education, to take initial steps to ensure full participation of all qualified and eligible Indian students in the JOM program. The bill also clarifies current contracting and reporting practices that address challenges in serving eligible students and obtaining accurate student counts.

“I am glad the Senate finally passed the bipartisan Johnson O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act,” said Lankford. “I appreciate the Committee’s work, particularly Senator Heitkamp, to bring this bill to the finish line. The bill solves an issue with this important Native education program by correcting a decades-old problem of using severely outdated data to calculate its funding needs. The bill helps ensure the program operates with an accurate count of eligible Indian students attending public schools. We should keep our promises to our nation’s Tribes, and where we see that the federal program is not holding up its end of the agreement, we should address those inefficiencies as soon as possible. Our bill does just that, and I’m pleased the Senate unanimously agreed.”

“This legislation will ensure an accurate and updated count of students participating in the JOM program,” said Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John Hoeven (R-ND). “A yearly JOM count better enables the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide needed supplemental educational services and assistance to many Indian students across the country.”

“Studies have indicated that culturally relevant learning programs help Native students perform better in the classroom” said Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). “But too often, these federal programs meant to address the specific needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students are underfunded or poorly implemented. It’s a huge deal that my bipartisan bill — that just passed in Congress and should soon be signed into law — will require that accurate counts of Native American students are performed, so that these underserved students and schools can receive the support they deserve. This important and needed legislation continues my decades-long work to stand up for Native children and families, and it comes soon after my bill, Savanna’s Act also passed in Senate and we’re trying to get it across the finish line in the U.S. House to help address the crisis of missing and murdered Native women. Congress must continue to pass critical legislation to support tribal communities and I’ll continue to advocate to help make that happen.”

“Just like every other student in America, Native American students deserve every educational resource available,” said Senator Steve Daines (D-MT). “This program provides Native American students with additional educational services and assistance that will better prepare them for the future. I’m glad to see this important bill heading to the president’s desk and look forward to it being signed into law.”

S. 943 was introduced by Heitkamp, Lankford, and Daines on April 26, 2017. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a Legislative Hearing to receive testimony on the bill on July 12, 2017. On October 4, 2017, the Committee held a Business Meeting on the bill. On March 22, 2018 it passed the Senate by voice vote. The bill, as amended in the House, returned to the Senate for consideration. It will now go to the President to be signed into law.