Murray's Work

Over the past several years, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has released several reports highlighting the “quiet crisis” facing Native Americans. These reports collectively document how the federal government has failed to meet its trust responsibility to tribes and has repeatedly failed to fund tribal programs and services at their level of need. To Senator Murray, these reports have only confirmed what tribal leaders have been telling her and what she has witnessed first-hand for many years. 

As a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees, Senator Murray has consistently worked to increase funding for treaty-guaranteed services, such as education and health care, ensure tribes have equal access to federal grant programs and other services, and promote economic development in tribal communities. 

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Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund 

The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) provides Federal funds to states and tribes of the Pacific Coast region, including Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, and Alaska. Since it was established in fiscal year 2000, Senator Murray has fought for PCSRF funding each year. She works each year with the Administration and her colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to make sure that this funding – the first line of defense in restoring critical salmon habitat – is protected. 

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Hoh Indian Tribe Safe Homelands Act 

Senator Murray introduced the Hoh Indian Tribe Safe Homelands Act in 2009 to transfer approximately 37 acres of land owned by the National Park Service to the Tribe in order to allow them to move out of a tsunami zone and flood plain. On December 22, 2010, the bill was signed into law. This legislation ensures the Hoh Tribe has safe land, outside of the tsunami zone, to move into.

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Mitchell Act Funding 

The Mitchell Act, passed in the 1930s, is intended to minimize the effects of Columbia River dams, pollution, and other impacts on salmon and steelhead populations. Today, ten hatcheries in Washington state are operated with Mitchell Act funding and are operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Yakama Nation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Juvenile salmon and steelhead released from Mitchell Act hatcheries play an important role in the commercial salmon harvests of the Oregon and Washington coasts, including the treaty-protected harvests of Northwest tribes. 

Senator Murray recognizes the importance of healthy salmon and steelhead runs to the culture and identity of many Northwest tribes. She has made funding for the Mitchell Act a priority throughout her tenure and supported efforts in 2010 to increase funding in order to address salmon and steelhead populations that continue to struggle. The increased funding in 2010 has gone to conserving wild salmon runs and maintaining of hatchery fish harvests.

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Tribal Law and Order Act 

Senator Murray cosponsored the Tribal Law and Order Act, signed into law by President Obama in July 2010. This law increases collaboration among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to decrease crime on reservations. Additionally, it reauthorizes tribal law and justice programs to fight gangs, drug smuggling, and violence. This law established accountability measures for the Federal government’s legal and treaty obligations to investigate and prosecute reservation crime and enhance tribal government authority to reduce violence locally. Since this law was enacted, Senator Murray has supported legislation to strengthen provisions and extend tribal authority.