00:51 GMT +315 December 2019
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    US Native American Groups Oppose Congress' Tax Bills

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    A joint statement by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) says that draft tax reform bills in the US Senate and House of Representatives disregard the priorities of Native Americans.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Draft tax reform bills in the US Senate and House of Representatives disregard the priorities of Native Americans by swelling the budget deficit in a prelude to future cuts in programs that are extremely important to tribal communities, according to a joint statement by the NCAI and the NAFOA.

    "With respect to tribal nations, unless tribal provisions are included, the current tax reform legislation amounts to little more than a $1.5 trillion increase in the federal deficit over the next ten years," the statement said on Thursday. "This deficit increase will inevitably create pressure to cut federal programs and services that are extremely important to tribal communities."

    The statement called on tribal governments to oppose the tax bills and urged members to contact congressional delegations to ask them to vote against the measures.

    "Deficit-financed tax cuts that lead to austerity budget cuts would affect all Americans, but would disproportionately impact American Indians and Alaska Natives who rely on federal funding of the trust responsibility as well as social programs," the statement said.

    Earlier on Thursday, the US House of Representatives voted to pass a Republican tax reform bill. The measure passed with a 227-205 vote and now heads to the US Senate for consideration.

    The plan would lower the corporate tax rate by 15 points to 20 percent, according to a summary document from the House Ways and Means Committee.

    Both chambers of Congress have unveiled two different draft bills on reforming the national tax system, which must be melded in to a single piece of legislation and sent to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature to become law.

    "NCAI and NAFOA view it as deeply regrettable that neither the House nor the Senate bill takes seriously Indian Country’s priorities for tax reform," the statement said.

    The Senate and House measures envisage softening the tax burden for wealthy Americans, but have been criticized by opponents for doing so at the expense of middle class taxpayers.

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