3/5/2013 11:10:00 AM Navajo reps meet with Congress members on budget cuts
Chairman Lorenzo Bates (T'iistoh Sikaad, Nenahnezad, Upper Fruitland, Tse' Daa' Kaan, Newcomb, San Juan) and councilman Mel Begay (Coyote Canyon, Mexican Springs, Naschitti, Tohatchi, Bahastl'a'a') met last week with key congressional members and staff to share the Navajo Nation's concerns regarding across-the-board cuts and their subsequent human impact.
"These cuts will hurt everyone nationwide but the impact will be more dramatic on the Navajo Nation where we face already astronomical unemployment rates, subpar infrastructure, and severe historic federal underfunding," Bates said.
President Ben Shelly joined the delegates voicing his concern for programs that provide direct services to the elderly, children and veterans.
"It is unacceptable to me that partisanship should mean that our most vulnerable citizens be put at risk of losing services such as food distribution, clinical services, and energy assistance during harsh winter months. Congress must act to protect these people," Shelly said.
The delegation also shared with members of Congress the Navajo Nation's plans to improve internal processes to improve expenditure rates and efficiencies.
"We can't control Congress' timeline and the issues of receiving federal money well into the fiscal year that but where we can make things better and more efficient we are committed to do that," Bates said.
Council delegate Mel Begay shared statistics regarding potential cuts to the Navajo Nation.
"A $23 million shortfall for the Navajo people, many in rural and remote areas, would be devastating," Begay said.