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Utah Sen. Mike Lee blocks vote on Montana tribe's recognition

Utah Sen. Mike Lee blocks vote on Montana tribe's recognition

(Win McNamee, Pool Photo via AP, File)


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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Republican U.S. Senator from Utah blocked a vote on a bill to grant federal recognition to Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The U.S. House passed a bill in September that would have required the federal government to set aside a small amount of land for the tribe and make its 6,000 members eligible for government benefits.

Sen. Mike Lee on Thursday objected to passing the bill without debate, arguing the Bureau of Indian Affairs denied the tribe's petition for recognition in 2009.

Little Shell Tribal Chairman Gerald Gray called it a "disheartening outcome."

If the bill does not pass the Senate by the end of the year, it will have to be re-introduced in the next Congress.

All three members of Montana's congressional delegation support the bill. The state of Montana recognized the tribe in 2000.

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