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Senate unanimously passes Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act, MBA applauds

The act would expedite the timeline for business and residential mortgages on tribal lands

The United States Senate on Tuesday passed the Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act of 2023 via unanimous consent, and will now make its way to the House of Representatives for deliberation. In response, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) applauded the move.

The bill, introduced in January by a bipartisan coalition of five senators, would “require the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to process and complete all mortgage packages associated with residential and business mortgages on Indian land by certain deadlines,” according to the text of the bill.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), released a joint statement with his fellow South Dakota senator John Thune (D).

“Affordable housing opportunities on tribal trust land can be hard to come by in South Dakota and across the nation due in part to the BIA’s challenging mortgage approval process, which can complicate lenders’ ability to provide financing to prospective homebuyers and participate in federal tribal housing programs,” said the senators.

The bill they explained, would “expedite this mortgage approval process, hold the BIA accountable, and encourage more lenders to provide mortgages across Indian Country. This would expand tribal members’ access to homeownership. We applaud the Senate’s passage of our bill, and we hope the House of Representatives considers it in short order.”

MBA Senior Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Bill Killmer also praised the passage of the bill, saying it will improve the pace and accessibility of mortgage financing on tribal lands.

“This important legislation will reduce or eliminate [BIA] processing delays, improving access to credit by encouraging more lenders to participate in trust land mortgage lending,” he said. “Addressing these processing delays and improving credit availability will go a long way in helping more Indigenous and Native families buy a home.”

MBA commended Sens. Thune and Rounds, as well as co-sponsors Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) “for reintroducing this bipartisan bill during this Congress and for their work in helping it pass by unanimous consent,” Killmer said. “We urge the House to vote on the bill as soon as possible so that it can be signed into law by President Joe Biden.”

The bill has yet to be delivered to the House of Representatives but is expected to be in short order.

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