CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, December 31, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider the Senate amendment to H.R. 443, a bill to provide for the conveyance of certain property from the United States to the Maniilaq Association located in Kotzebue, Alaska, under suspension of the rules. The House passed H.R. 443 by a vote of 407-4 (Roll No. 936). The Senate passed the bill with an amendment by unanimous consent on December 20, 2012.
H.R. 443 provides for the conveyance of certain property from the United States to the Maniilaq Association located in Kotzebue, Alaska for use in connection with health care and social services facilities operated by the Association.
According to H. Report 112-318 Part I, “the Maniilaq Association is a non-profit corporation that provides a range of health care and social services for the benefit of rural residents in remote northwest Alaska under the self governance provisions of the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450 et seq.). Under this arrangement, Maniilaq is basically a contractor for the Indian Health Service, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for providing health care benefits to Native Americans.
H.R. 443 requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to transfer by warranty deed three parcels of land (totaling 14.6 acres) and appurtenances to Maniilaq. One parcel is the site of the existing health care facility, and the other two will host future expansion of related facilities including employee housing.
The subject lands have already been conveyed by the Secretary to Maniilaq through a quit claim deed; however, this method of transferring land does not guarantee clear title that a warranty deed provides. Moreover, Maniilaq argues that under its Indian Self-Determination contracts with the Indian Health Service, transfer of government land using a quit claim deed creates certain obstacles on the Association's use and management of the property.
Under H.R. 443, the Indian Health Service properties are conveyed to Maniilaq without consideration. Property valued at more than $5000 reverts to the United States if the contract through which Maniilaq provides health services is withdrawn or reassumed by the Secretary. The legislation also: provides that Maniilaq shall not be liable for costs relating to contamination or pollution on the properties as of the date of the conveyance; permits the Secretary to reserve easements on the land for retained federal obligations and liability; and requires the Secretary to comply with section 120(h)(3)(A) and (B) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9620(h)(3)(A)).”
According to CBO, H.R. 443 would convey three Indian Health Service (IHS) properties in Kotzebue, Alaska, to the Maniilaq Association, a tribal nonprofit organization. Based on information from the IHS, CBO estimates that the conveyances would not have a significant impact on the federal budget. According to the agency, it does not currently receive any lease payments or other receipts from the properties. Enacting H.R. 443 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.