The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s just-released National Tribal Strategy is supposedly designed to better aid Native American tribal lands with FEMA-related assistance. In reality, this strategy aims to do one thing: use the guise of “inclusion” to funnel more federal funds to climate initiatives and further the Biden-Harris administration’s climate agenda.
President Joe Biden’s take on the ‘climate crisis’ is not a secret. The White House’s website lists the topic as one of the administration’s top priorities, along with COVID-19, while critical issues like immigration are at the bottom of the list.
Two days prior to introducing the National Tribal Strategy, Mr. Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which allots $369 billion to “Energy Security and Climate Change,” and announced that FEMA would get more than $3 billion in funds to “increase climate resilience nationwide” via the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, grant and the Flood Mitigation Assistance, or FMA, program.
BRIC will double its funding to $2.3 billion, while FMA will see a five-fold increase to $800 million.
Clearly, when it comes to throwing away taxpayers’ money, there is a theme. Funds won’t be used to secure the border, and they won’t be used for school choice, but the government will give you a tax rebate for buying a Prius or investing in windmills or solar panels.
For its part, the National Tribal Strategy directly states that tribes must prioritize the White House Council on Native American Affairs committee that deals with climate-related initiatives, called the Committee on Climate Change, Tribal Homelands, and Treaties.
On top of using a purportedly marginalized population to further its leftist agenda, FEMA’s strategy is riddled with deceit. Tribal populations were already able to access federal emergency grant money by applying through the states they reside in, and President Barack Obama’s Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 allowed tribal governments to request disaster declarations and presidential declarations of emergencies directly, in lieu of going through their states.
Executive Order 13985 on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and the DHS (Department of Homeland Security)” Equity Action Plan were introduced during Mr. Biden’s first month in office. The policies state that climate-related events only exacerbate the inequities minority populations face. In actuality, these policies, along with FEMA’s National Tribal Strategy, are just examples of how the left uses concepts like “cultural competence” and “integrated equity” as guises for forcing its green narrative.
FEMA has long used tribal terminology to allocate funds, provide access to resources, and acknowledge the sovereignty of Native American populations. The National Tribal Strategy’s proposed concepts are no different, which proves that this strategy is simply a vehicle for Mr. Biden’s other top priority: pushing the left’s version of “equity” through the use of identity politics when these tribal communities already receive FEMA assistance.
While this strategy would make one think that tribal populations had no ability, desire, or know-how when it comes to obtaining federal grant funds, FEMA has allocated funds toward tribal-related grants and resources for years.
Likely, as stated in the strategy, taxpayers’ money will be used to translate FEMA documents into upwards of 150 different Native American languages. Are these going to be mass-produced and handed out to different tribes? Not very green, if you ask me.
All this begs the question: Does the Biden administration actually care about Native American populations, or is it using them simply to find a way to allocate more federal funds to climate-related initiatives? Does the Biden administration assume that all Native American tribes will agree with its climate-based strategy? By tying climate initiatives to FEMA funding, will FEMA deny emergency resources to those who dissent from the administration’s leftist ideology?
Currently, FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund has spent over $31 billion. That’s more than several other Department of Homeland Security agencies—U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard—have spent, combined. The DHS avoids allocating funds to highly critical areas and funnels it directly toward FEMA’s climate schemes.
Tribal communities should not be used by the Biden administration as political pawns to further drive leftist ideologies such as climate change and identity politics. It’s an insult to both Native Americans and to American taxpayers as a whole.
• Hannah Davis is a researcher in the Border Security & Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation.