CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
S. 39 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage, on April 21, 2009. This legislation was introduced by Sen. McCain (R-AZ) on January 6, 2009, and passed the Senate by unanimous consent on March 12, 2009.
S. 39 would repeal the so-called "Bennett Freeze," which prohibits land or property development or improvements on land in Arizona on the western edge of the Navajo Nation. The prohibition was passed into law in 1966, while the Hopi and Navajo tribes were in a dispute over the ownership of the land.
The Bennett Freeze was enacted in 1966, during a decades long land dispute between the Hopi and Navajo Indian Tribes. The freeze was originally enacted by the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Robert Bennett, in an effort to keep the tribes from altering land that was under dispute. As a result of the freeze, the tribes were banned from building on their property, constructing new homes, schools, or hospitals, or building new roads. In 2006, the two tribes came to an agreement to settle all outstanding litigation in the disagreement and end the land dispute. Both tribes agreed to lift the Bennett Freeze, but legislative action is required to remove the restriction from U.S. code.
A CBO score for S. 39 was not available, but the legislation does not authorize any new appropriations or spending.