A bill that would repeal 11 federal laws that are discriminatory to Native Americans unanimously passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 789, entitled the Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act, was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.
The RESPECT Act would repeal laws that allow for the forced removal of Native American children from their homes to be sent to boarding schools and laws subjecting Native Americans to forced labor, among others. Rounds said the discriminatory measures are no longer enforced and are an embarrassment that they are still in codified law.
“It’s long past time to remove federal laws that are discriminatory to Native Americans from our books,” Rounds said in a statement. “While these laws are no longer enforced, they are a reminder of a painful part of our nation’s past. I thank my colleagues on the Committee on Indian Affairs for their overwhelming support of this legislation. I look forward to working across the aisle to get this bill onto the Senate floor.”
The RESPECT Act is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of Sens. Tina Smith, D-Minn.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; and Kysten Sinema, D-Ariz. The legislation is supported by the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association and the National Congress of American Indians.