Tribes Lobbying Congress: Who Wins and Why Kirsten Matoy Carlson, PhD, JD 13th Annual Indigenous Law Conference, Michigan State University NSF #SES 1353255
Questions • How frequently do tribes engage in legislative advocacy? • What kinds of legislative advocacy do they engage in? • How can tribes use legislative advocacy to change the law?
Uncovering Tribal Legislative Advocacy: Lobbying Disclosure Reports • Lobbying Disclosure Reports provide information on who lobbied by year, including name of the organized interest • But they have several limits: • Only include reported lobbying so may underrepresent who lobbies and how often • Only report spending amounts after 1997 • Provide very little information on issues lobbied on, making it difficult to determine the influence of the lobbying because it is not tied to an issue or legislative proposal
Amount of Money Spent on Lobbying by American Indian Organizations, 1997-2012
Amount of Money Spent on Lobbying by Tribes, 1997-2012 • Indian nations spent an average of $109,408 on lobbying per year • 25% of tribes report spending no money on lobbying • 50% report spending $40k per year or less • 25% report spending over $120k per year
Amount of Money Spent on Lobbying by Gaming and Nongaming Tribes, 1997-2012 • Gaming tribes reported spending 2x as much as nongaming tribes • Gaming tribes reported spending an average of $135k on lobbying per year • Nongaming tribes reported spending an average ~ $52k on lobbying per year
Determining Whether Indian Legislative Advocacy Contributes to Legislative Success • Congressional hearings on Indian-related bills allow for evaluation of the influence of Indian testimony on a specific legislative proposal on the bill’s enactment. • Committee hearings may reflect more the preferences of the committee than the advocacy of the witnessso both solicited and unsolicited testimony was included. • Data limited to 97th, 103rd, and 109th Congresses.
Indian Advocacy Before the 97th, 103rd, and 109th Congresses • Indian witnesses testify at 48% and tribal witnesses at 85% of hearings held on Indian-related bills • 203 tribes testified before Congress • Each tribe testified at an average of 3.2 hearings • Tribes were most likely to testify on pan-tribal bills and in favor of the legislative proposal
Issues Indians Advocate on Before the 97th, 103rd, and 109th Congress • Indian witnesses testified on legislative proposals covering a wide range of issues • Tribes most frequently testified on bills on claims, housing, federal recognition, gaming, lands, and natural resources • Gaming tribes were more likely to testify on bills related to gaming, employment, and health care • Tribes most frequently testified for and against bills related to claims, federal recognition, and culture
Tribal Advocacy and Legislative Success Tribal testimony on a specific legislative proposal increased the likelihood of legislative enactment in the 97th, 103rd, and 109th Congresses.
Preliminary Conclusions: How Do Indians Advocate Legislatively? • Legislative advocacy reported by Indians has increased sixfold since 1978. • Indian nations report engaging in different advocacy strategies. • Top spenders are not necessarily the tribes most frequently reporting lobbying or testifying before Congress. • Gaming tribes report spending more than nongaming tribes.
Preliminary Conclusions: How Can Tribes Use Legislative Advocacy to Change the Law? • Tribal testimony on a specific legislative proposal increased the likelihood of legislative enactment in the 97th, 103rd, and 109th Congresses. • Tribal testimony may be influential but need to know more about how, when, and why.