Senate Committee Advances Padilla, Lankford Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Tribal Parity in Federal Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works advanced Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and James Lankford’s (R-Okla.) bipartisan legislation to strengthen tribal parity for the transfer of surplus federal property. The GSA Disposal Process Tribal Parity Act of 2024 would allow tribal governments to participate in an existing process that allows the General Services Administration (GSA) to transfer surplus federal property to state and local governments below market value if those properties will be used for specified public purposes.

This bill would ensure that federal law and the GSA treat tribal governments on an equal basis with state and local governments, and would allow tribal governments to benefit from the same opportunities for land acquisition as state and local governments.

“As our nation works to strengthen tribal sovereignty and self-determination, we must ensure parity with tribal governments in our laws,” said Senator Padilla. “It’s long past time we fix this stark omission and allow tribal governments the same opportunities as state and local governments to acquire surplus federal property, which will help provide additional housing, schools, and recreational opportunities for their citizens. Today’s Committee passage represents an important step toward enacting this commonsense bill as quickly as possible.”

Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) are cosponsoring the bill. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.-AL) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.-03) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“This bipartisan bill gives tribal governments access to the bidding process to purchase unused federal property, putting them on a level playing field with state and local governments. Allowing more competitiveness and equity to all when purchasing surplus federal properties will prevent waste, increase oversight, and ultimately save taxpayers money,” said Senator Lankford.

Full text of the bill is available here.

Last Congress, Senator Padilla, along with the late Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.-01), enacted a similar law to advance tribal parity in an existing public lands disposal law. Prior to enactment of their legislation, the Bureau of Land Management was able to sell and lease certain public lands to state and local governments, but not tribal governments, below market value if those lands were to be used for recreational or public purposes. Following passage of the legislation, tribal governments are now able to participate and are treated equally as state and local governments. The first land transfer under that program occurred last year when 88 acres of land were transferred back to Susanville Indian Rancheria in California.


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