Tribal leaders see social security fairness with new law

President Donald Trump signed the Tribal Social Security Fairness Act of 2018 into law last week.

President Donald Trump on Sept. 20 signed House Resolution 6124 into law allowing local tribal leaders to pay into the social security system.

Known as the Tribal Social Security Fairness Act of 2018, the law will allow tribal leaders to pay into the federal social security system, for the first time, giving local tribal leaders the same right as any other U.S. elected leader or employee of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe. The members of tribal councils will be provided with Social Security and Medicare coverage.

“This will give elected leaders parity with other elected officials in qualifying for federal retirement benefits,” said Robert M. de los Angeles, chairman of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, in a press release. “It is long overdue, and another important step allowing tribes to exercise their sovereignty and allow their leaders to opt-in to this system.”

The resolution passed unanimously through the U.S. House of Representatives on July 24, and through the U.S. Senate on Sept. 6.

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), who represents parts of Snoqualmie and North Bend in Washington’s 8th Congressional District, sponsored the bill and spoke out in support of it on the House floor.

“I’m proud to rise today in support of my bill,” Reichert said on the floor. “This bi-partisan bill supports our communities’ tribal leaders and their fair access to the Social Security system.”

A Social Security administration policy issued in 2006 prevented tribal leaders from paying into the social security system. The Tribal Social Security Fairness Act changes that policy.

“In Washington state, many tribal leaders have been paying into the Social Security system with the expectation of future benefits,” Reichert said. “We discovered other tribal leaders in Washington and across the country face [the same] challenges, including the Snoqualmie Tribe… Thanks to the dedicated advocacy of the Muckleshoot and the Snoqualmie tribes, the leadership of fellow Washingtonian’s representatives DelBene, Kilmer, and reps Cole and Schweikert, we were able to find a bi-partisan comprehensive solution to the problem.”

The local tribal leaders commended the lawmakers for their work.

“We would like to thank Senator Cantwell, Congressman Reichert, Congresswoman DelBene and Congressman Kilmer for their bi-partisan efforts on this legislation,” de los Angeles said in a press release. “We know that without their hard work, this would not have become law.”

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is a federally recognized tribe in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Known as the People of the Moon, Snoqualmie tribal members were signatories to the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855. The Tribe owns and operates the Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualmie. For more information, locals can visit www.snoqualmietribe.us.

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