Fischer, Rounds unveil bipartisan bill to empower Tribal Colleges and Universities

U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) recently introduced a bipartisan bill to give Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) greater input over federal funding discussions that impact them.

“For too long, Tribal Colleges and Universities have been left out of the conversation when it comes to federal education resources,” Sen. Fischer said on Wednesday. “Our bipartisan bill will ensure that the Departments of Education and Interior hear directly from TCU leaders about their challenges and funding needs.” 

Sen. Fischer on March 9 sponsored the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) Improvement Act, S. 749, along with six original cosponsors, including Sen. Rounds and U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

If enacted, S. 749 would require at least one of NACIE’s members to be the president of a TCU, and to require that the secretaries of the U.S. Education Department and the U.S. Department of the Interior consider NACIE’s annual report when preparing their budgets each year, according to the text of the bill.

“Leaders of TCUs know the needs of their organizations, faculty and students better than anyone else,” said Sen. Rounds. “This common-sense legislation will enable TCUs to have a voice for how to meet those needs, and it will improve the effectiveness of federal resources.”

Sen. Rounds also pointed out that the inclusion of TCU partners will help support the work of the NACIE, as well. “I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this bipartisan legislation, which will have a positive impact on the growth of TCUs for years to come,” he said.

The legislation has garnered support from the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, the National Indian Education Association, Little Priest Tribal College, and Nebraska Indian Community College.

“I’m glad to see the strong, bipartisan support for this legislation, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to get this across the finish line,” said Sen. Fischer.