Message #354: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: Government Affairs Update from SAA Date: Tue, 29 Oct 96 14:08:00 MST Encoding: 281 TEXT From: Shereen Lerner SOCIETY FOR AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY Government Affairs Update Program END OF CONGRESS REPORT Donald Forsyth Craib Manager, Government Affairs, and Counsel In attitude and accomplishment, the second session of the 104th Congress stands in stark contrast to the first. In a less confrontational atmosphere, both the Republican Congress and President Clinton moved to the political center in search of accomplishment and to bolster their prospects at the polls in November. All of this resulted in a wave of bipartisan lawmaking, which bode well for archaeology and historic preservation. When the second session of Congress began in 1996, much of the government, including many of the agencies that support and protect our nation's archaeological resources, was shut down, and Congress and Clinton administration remained at loggerheads. Republicans vowed to persevere in their attempt to balance the budget on their own terms, while congressional Democrats were promising to thwart the conservative agenda with the help of the president's veto pen. Republicans did not anticipate, however, the change in political climate. Soon after the government shutdowns, public opinion turned sharply against the Republicans' take-no-prisoners approach, and the campaign season quickly proved the impetus for compromise. Soon the Republicans were retreating from their strategy of confrontation and moving toward conciliation. The way spending decisions were made during 1996 was evidence of the shift from confrontation to compromise. Declaring their determination to avoid another government shutdown, Republicans, with Democrats, completed the fiscal 1997 appropriations process on time; it was only the fourth time since 1948 that all work on appropriations legislation was finished before the start on the new fiscal year. Below are a few bills and issues considered during the last few weeks of the session. Appropriations Hours before the beginning of fiscal year 1997, Congress sent to the president an omnibus spending bill containing six separate appropriations measures, including one for the Department of the Interior. The $12.6 billion Interior bill funds the interior department, a variety of related agencies, such as the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The administration had threatened to veto the stand-alone version of the bill over funding levels as well as certain controversial provisions on environmental and Indian policy, which were dropped in the final bill. The bill provides $377 million less for Interior programs than requested by the White House, but $163 million more than the House-passed version and $133 million less than the Senate committee-approved figure. Programs that SAA had supported in its testimony before the House Appropriations Committee last spring remained at fiscal year 1996 levels. For example, the National Endowment for the Humanities was funded at last year's level of $110 million. Reauthorization of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation On the last day of the session the Senate cleared for the president's signature a revamped package of parks and lands bill, including language reauthorizing the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, after Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) reached a last-minute agreement with the administration on several contentious provisions benefiting Alaska. The Advisory Council is reauthorized until the year 2000 at a level of $4 million. Sen. Murkowski had introduced a stand-alone reauthorization bill for the Advisory Council earlier this year and was instrumental in adding it to the final omnibus bill. SAA supported the legislation. Utah Wilderness Republicans were unsuccessful in repeated attempts to pass legislation that would have designated 1.8 million acres of federal land in Utah as wilderness, while at the same time permanently releasing for potential development an additional 1.4 million acres that had been studied for possible wilderness protection since 1976. In the end, President Clinton stole the show by announcing, less than two months before the election, that he would order (under his authority in the Antiquities Act of 1906) the creation of a 1.7 million acre national monument in southern Utah. Within a few days after the announcement, Rep. James Hansen (R-Utah) introduced legislation to amend the Antiquities Act to limit the authority of the president in designating acreage areas in excess of 5,000 acres as national monuments. The amendment was to be retroactive to January 1, 1996. The bill did not receive consideration in the remaining days of the Congress. SAA opposed the bill. United Nations Heritage Areas Introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), H.R. 3752 would require international officials to get Congressional approval before including U.S. parks and other lands in worldwide environmental programs, such as the United Nations World Heritage list. Supporters of the bill said that the United Nations should not be allowed to block development in a designated area simply by placing it on an international list. Opponents argued that the legislation was moot because the only areas designated by the United Nations were lands that had already been set aside as a U.S. park or protected area. The measure was defeated on the floor of the House when it did not get the votes of two-thirds of the members a requirement for bills considered under suspension of the rules. The vote was 246-178. SAA opposed the bill. NAGPRA Amendments On July 23, 1996, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) introduced S. 1983 a bill to amend the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The bill was marked up a few days later by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and it passed the Senate in early September. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) on September 17. The amendment would add an additional requirement in instances where Native American human remains are intentionally excavated or removed for purposes of study by requiring written consent from lineal descendants, if known or readily ascertainable, or each appropriate Indian tribe on Native Hawaiian organization. The amendment would also require notification to Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations when human remains are inadvertently discovered on federal land (see page 4, Senate Report 104-356). In a letter to Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman John McCain (R-Arizona), Bill Lipe wrote, "SAA believes that the proposed amendment to NAGPRA may have unforeseen consequences for federal agency compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and may result in substantial delay or cancellation of federally funded, permitted, or assisted projects." Lipe stated further that "the implications of the proposed amendment should be further understood before it is presented to Congress" and suggested that the committee convene a hearing to take testimony from all interested parties. SAA government affairs coordinated a lobbying effort with industry during the last few days of the Congress to stall the bill until Congress could take a closer look at its ramifications. -------------------- LEGISLATION ISSUE: Interior Appropriations, Fiscal Year 1997 LEGISLATION: H.R. 3610 STATUS: Funds many programs of importance to the protection and preservation of archaeology. Passed the Congress and was signed into law by the President on September 30, 1996. SAA supported the legislation. -------------------- ISSUE: Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Reauthorization LEGISLATION: H.R. 1296 STATUS: Reauthorizes the Advisory Council until the year 2000 at $4 million. Passed the Congress and sent to the President. SAA supported the bill. -------------------- ISSUE: American Land Sovereignty Protection Act of 1996 LEGISLATION: H.R. 3752 STATUS: Bill would require congressional approval before any U.S. property could be designated a World Heritage Site or other such designation by an international organization. Bill failed to get votes of two-thirds of members required for passage under suspension of the rules. SAA opposed the legislation. -------------------- ISSUE: Utah Wilderness Act LEGISLATION: S. 884, S.Rpt. 104-192 ; H.R. 1745, H.Rpt. 104-396 STATUS: Measure would designate a wilderness 1.8 million acres of federally owned land and free up for development another 1.4 million acres that had been under study for wilderness protection. S. 884 rejected as part of Omnibus parks legislation that was signed into law. SAA opposed the bill. -------------------- ISSUE: Antiquities Act Amendments LEGISLATION: H.R. 4118 STATUS: Amends the Antiquities Act by limiting the authority of the president to designate areas in excess of 5,000 acres as national monuments. Measure died in committee. SAA opposed the bill. -------------------- ISSUE: NAGPRA Amendments LEGISLATION: S. 1983, S.Rpt. 104-356, H.R. 4084 STATUS: Bills would require written consent by lineal descendants, if known or readily ascertainable, or each appropriate Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization before Native American human remains are intentionally excavated or removed for purposes of study. S. 1983 passed the Senate, but was not acted upon by the House before adjournment. SAA opposed the legislation in its present form. -------------------- ISSUE: NHPA Amendments LEGISLATION: H.R. 563 STATUS: Legislation would amend the National Historic Preservation Act by requiring that traditional cultural properties be evidenced by human activity that has unique significance, and would remove Mt. Shasta from the National Register. Bill died in committee. SAA opposed the bill. -------------------- ISSUE: BLM Land Transfers to States LEGISLATION: S. 1031, H.R. 2032 STATUS: These bills would allow for the transfer of ownership of lands currently managed by BLM to the states. A hearing was held by a House Resources Committee Subcommittee, but the measures died in committee. SAA opposed the bill. -------------------- ISSUE: Fossil Protection Act of 1996 LEGISLATION: H.R. 2943 STATUS: The bill would allow surface collecting of fossils on public lands by the public without a permit and also allow for the excavation of fossils by collectors under a permit process. The bill died in committee. SAA opposed the bill. -------------------- REGULATORY ISSUES ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS' PROPOSAL SAA commented on the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers' proposal to issue, reissue, and modify nationwide permits under section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) and section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403). In its letter, SAA stated that it was concerned that the Corps' proposal to issue, reissue, and modify nationwide permits would needlessly put at risk this country's rich and diverse archaeological and cultural history that is often found in areas within the jurisdiction of the corps. Presently, the state historic preservation office (SHPO) is afforded an opportunity for 30 days to provide comments prior to the decision to authorize a project under the nationwide permit. Under the corps' proposal, however, the SHPO would "be held to the same time restraints as the other agencies." Currently, this "time restraint" is about 15 days and is too short a period of time for a SHPO to adequately review the project. SAA urged the corps to keep the 30-day review period, which had been found to be acceptable to the public and allows SHPO staffs to complete a substantive review of a project for its effects on archaeological and historic properties. The comment letter also pointed out that the proposal does not meet some of the basic legal requirements set forth in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470). SAA noted that the corps' proposal did not allow the comments of the SHPO or other interested parties in the public process to be taken into account, and this omission is in direct conflict with the requirement and spirit of the NHPA. SAA concluded by urging the corps to make the necessary changes to its proposal that would put the corps into compliance with the NHPA. ADVISORY COUNCIL'S SECTION 106 PROPOSED REGULATIONS Revised Section 106 regulations were published in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period that ends on November 12, 1996. SAA government affairs has organized an "issue team" to assist the Government Affairs Committee in preparing a response to the proposed regulations. Members on the team represent a wide array of interests within the membership of the SAA. The Advisory Council claims that the proposed regulations would significantly modify the current Section 106 process and provide a greater opportunity for federal agencies to resolve historic preservation issues with the SHPO and other involved parties, without direct council involvement. Consequently, the proposed regulations redefine the role of the council by limiting the council's involvement to controversial cases where the its unique perspective and expertise can facilitate effective solutions. The proposed regulations also provide new flexible methods of obtaining council comment on certain undertakings or effects. NAGPRA DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS Draft recommendations regarding the disposition of culturally unidentifiable human remains and associated funerary objects were published in the Federal Register on August 20, 1996. Section 8 (c)(5) of NAGPRA requires the review committee to recommend specific actions for developing a process for the disposition of culturally unidentifiable Native American human remains. The SAA Task Force on Repatriation has submitted comments. In addition, the review committee also seeks comments on draft recommendations for the disposition of human remains culturally affiliated with non-federally recognized Native American groups.