Statement on Signing a Bill Amending the Indian Judgment Funds Act

January 12, 1983

I am signing into law today H.R. 3731, a bill which amends the Indian Judgment Funds Act to change the procedures that are used in distributing judgment awards made to Indian tribes by the Indian Claims Commission or the Court of Claims. H.R. 3731 will provide a more workable and flexible procedural framework for the Secretary of the Interior to use in carrying out this program.

Section 3 of the bill would eliminate the unconstitutional procedure in existing law by which one House of Congress could veto the Secretary of the Interior's plan for the use or distribution of judgment funds awarded to Indian tribes or groups. In its place, the bill provides for disapproval of such a plan by a joint resolution, which is adopted by both Houses of Congress and presented to the President for approval or veto. I applaud the Congress for making this change.

However, in one respect, section 3 does not go far enough. Under this section, the introduction in either House of Congress of a joint resolution disapproving the Secretary's plan would have the effect of recommencing the 60-day period during which Congress may decide whether to adopt a joint resolution disapproving the plan. However, action purporting to alter otherwise established statutory requirements may not be taken by one House of Congress without the concurrence of the other House and presentation to the President. Accordingly, an extension of the statutorily mandated 60-day period would have to be accomplished by legislation.

This same objection applies to section 1. This provision purports to empower committees of Congress to extend the period in which the Secretary of the Interior shall prepare and submit to Congress a plan for the use and distribution of judgment funds. Again, such an extension would have to be accomplished by legislation.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 3731 is Public Law 97 - 458, approved January 12.