American Indians

Boston Radio Host Tried to Test Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s DNA in 2012
Warren has defied calls to get DNA tested to prove Native American ancestry

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., holds a news conference in the Capitol on banking deregulation legislation on March 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As liberals and conservatives alike call for Sen. Elizabeth Warren to test her DNA for Native American heritage, one man has already tried.

Six years ago, conservative Boston radio host Howie Carr obtained the cap of a pen Warren chewed on at a book signing and submitted it to a lab for testing.

Democrats Look to Dan Sena to Secure House Majority
Veteran operative is the first Latino to direct a party campaign committee

Dan Sena, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is interviewed in his Washington office on August 14, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Armed with a Nokia cellphone and a couple of semesters of graduate school, Dan Sena was ready for battle.

It was 1998, and the future executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was going to be a key cog in his party’s effort to take over a House seat in New Mexico, even though at the time his previous professional highlights included teaching tennis at a country club, washing dishes on his college campus and selling CDs at the Villa Linda Mall.

The Never-Ending Crisis at the Indian Health Service
As the chronically under-funded agency struggles, American Indians are getting sicker and dying sooner

Patients wait at an Indian Health Service clinic on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. (Will Kincaid/AP)

The health disparities between American Indians and the rest of the United States population are stark. American Indians are 50 percent more likely than others to have a substance use disorder, 60 percent more likely to commit suicide, twice as likely to smoke, twice as likely to die during childbirth, three times more likely to die from diabetes and five times more likely to die from tuberculosis. They die on average five years sooner than other Americans.

The Trump administration has pledged to make tribal health care systems more effective. During one of his confirmation hearings, new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told senators the administration would welcome opportunities to improve the $5 billion Indian Health Service, which provides care for 2.2 million American Indians. “It’s unacceptable for us to not be providing high-quality service,” Azar said.

Supreme Court Backs Congressional Power to Affect Lawsuits
Chief Justice Roberts, Gorsuch dissent in the decision

The Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not overstep into the power of federal courts. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday backed the power of Congress to pass legislation that would affect ongoing litigation, ruling that a law about Michigan land and its use as a Native American casino did not violate the Constitution.

In a 6-3 opinion, the court found that Congress did not overstep into the power of federal courts with a law to end a lengthy court battle over the Interior Department’s decision to take that tract into trust for the Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians.

Warren Rebukes Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ Nickname in Speech to National Congress of American Indians

Sen. Elizabeth Warren responded to President Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” nickname for her in a speech to the National Congress of American Indians Wednesday afternoon.

“…Now we have a president who can’t make it through a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes without reducing native history, native culture, native people to be the butt of a joke,” Warren said.

Anger Management in the 2018 Midterms
Who will turn out to vote? Depends on who is angry

Midterms getting you down? Let Stu Rothenberg and Bridget Bowman provide some context. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Howdy from Political Theater, Roll Call’s newsletter and podcast on the spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

“Voters who are angry tend to vote in midterms,” Roll Call political analyst Stu Rothenberg says in the latest “Political Theater” podcast. “In bad times, everybody’s angry and everybody wants to send a message,” he continues.

Warren Responds to Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ Nickname, Defends Family History
Massachusetts Democrat spoke about her family’s Oklahoma background

Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke at the National Congress of American Indians on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren directly confronted Trump’s nickname for her Wednesday.

The president has a habit, on Twitter and elsewhere, of referring to the liberal senator as “Pocahontas.” It’s directed at Warren’s claim of Native American heritage in her family tree, among the campaign flashpoints when she first ran for Senate.

Kentucky Colleges Get a Boost From Budget Deal
Host of tax code goodies tucked into bipartisan agreement

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., make their way to the Senate floor after announcing a two-year deal on the budget earlier in the day on February 7, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At least two colleges in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky would come out winners under the sweeping budget accord unveiled Wednesday.

For starters, the budget legislation would amend the brand new tax code overhaul to help out Kentucky’s Berea College, which would otherwise be subject to a new 1.4 percent tax on private college and university endowments. GOP leaders’ intent had been to exempt Berea and others that provide free tuition, but they ran into a sticky procedural thicket in the Senate that cost the Kentucky school in the final bill.

Some 2017 Tax Filers May Lose Key Tax Breaks
Tax ‘extenders’ package remains in limbo as spending talks drag on

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch filed a bill in December to renew most of the expired tax breaks for two years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With tax filing season getting underway this week, certain industries and taxpayers are still waiting for Congress to act on a slate of expired tax breaks, left out of last year’s sweeping tax code overhaul and now mired in a sticky debate over spending and immigration.

The result is that affected stakeholders, ranging from homeowners upside down on their mortgages to biodiesel fuel producers, can’t fully share in the $1.5 trillion tax cut’s largesse touted by President Donald Trump in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address as “tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.”

Questions Could Derail Confirmation of Trump’s Indian Health Nominee
Robert Weaver was already under scrutiny over his qualifications

Participants in a “Rock Your Mocs” fun walk/run in Shiprock, New Mexico, sponsored by the local Indian Health Service facility. (Courtesy Indian Health Service/Facebook)

President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee health care services for two million Native Americans — who already faces questions about whether he is qualified — failed to disclose donations to the Trump campaign in his official Senate questionnaire, Roll Call has learned.

Robert Weaver, a health insurance salesman and consultant who was nominated in October to lead the $6.1-billion Indian Health Service, has been touted by the administration as “a staunch advocate of innovative programs to improve Native American health.” But some lawmakers are concerned that the administration inflated his qualifications. The questions surrounding his nomination raise the possibility that he might not have the votes to win confirmation.