Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of H.R. 545, the Native American Methamphetamine Enforcement and Treatment Act of 2007. This legislation establishes the clear intent of Members of Congress to assist Native Americans in combating the threat of methamphetamine.
This threat looms great in our country, and nowhere greater than in Native American communities. Studies have shown that Native American communities have more than double the methamphetamine use rates of other communities. According to surveys performed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, over 70 percent of Indian tribes identified methamphetamine as the drug that poses the greatest threat to their reservation, and also estimated that at least 40 percent of violent crime cases investigated in Indian
country involved methamphetamine in some capacity.
From hearings in the House and from other reports, we learn that current Federal laws and programs designed to prevent the spread of methamphetamine use have proven to be reasonably effective, but we identified serious gaps with respect to protecting our Native American communities from this dangerous drug. Unfortunately, the attempt to fix these gaps in the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, passed in the last Congress as part of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act
of 2005, inadvertently left out tribal organizations, as well as territories, as eligible applicants for certain grants.
H.R. 545, the Native American Methamphetamine Enforcement and Treatment Act of 2007, corrects that oversight.
Included in the Combat Meth Act were provisions that authorized funding for three important grant programs within the Department of Justice: first, the COPS Hot Spots program; second, the Drug-Endangered Children program; and third, the Pregnant and Parenting Women Offenders program.
Although Native American tribes and territories were included as eligible grant recipients under the Pregnant and Parenting Women Offenders program, they were unintentionally left out as possible grant recipients under the COPS Hot Spots program and the Drug-Endangered Children program.
To correct this oversight, H.R. 545 ensures that territories and Indian tribes are included as eligible grant recipients under programs to, one, address the manufacture, sale and use of methamphetamine; two, aid children in homes in which methamphetamine or other drugs are unlawfully manufactured, distributed, dispensed or used; and three, address methamphetamine use by pregnant and parenting women offenders.
I strongly support this important legislation and urge its adoption by the House.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 545, the Native American Methamphetamine Enforcement and Treatment Act of 2007, which provides urgently needed funds to Native American communities for the enforcement and treatment of methamphetamine addiction.
The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 was enacted last year as part of the U.S. PATRIOT Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act. It included three critical grant programs to assist States with America's escalating methamphetamine problem: the COPS Meth Hot Spots program, the Drug-Endangered Children program and the Pregnant and Parenting Women Offenders program. However, the act inadvertently omitted Native American communities from participation in two of these grant programs.
At a hearing before the Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee in February, Mr. Ben Shelly, vice president of the Navajo Nation, stated that methamphetamine is the drug of choice in Indian country.
In 2005, 40 percent of all calls seeking police assistance on the Navajo Nation were meth-related. Even more troubling is that 40 percent of all violent crimes committed on the Navajo Nation are directly related to methamphetamine use trafficking.
Mr. Udall of New Mexico, the sponsor of H.R. 545, testified at the hearing that 74 percent of Native Americans surveyed in a recent study say that meth is the single biggest threat to Native American communities today. The Native American Meth Enforcement and Treatment Act corrects this oversight and gives Native Americans full access to all three meth grants. This legislation is critical to our continuing fight to eliminate the meth epidemic in America.
Mr. Speaker, I support this bipartisan legislation and urge my colleagues to do so as well.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.