Senate-Passed Infrastructure Bill Includes More Than $11 Billion for Indian Country

Aug 16, 2021Congressional Legislation, News

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, broad legislation to rebuild America’s infrastructure as well as fund climate resilience and broadband initiatives. Included in the $1 trillion legislation is more than $11 billion in funding for Tribal communities to address water and sanitation, transportation, new energy technology, drought mitigation, and more.

“Native communities’ critical infrastructure needs, such as sanitation, transportation, water settlements, and broadband, have been well documented—yet underfunded—for decades,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “After COVID hit, it became clear that robust federal investment to build new and update existing infrastructure in Native communities was essential.”

The investment in Indian Country includes $3.5 billion for the Indian Health Service Sanitation Facilities Construction Program to construct and develop safe water infrastructure. $3 billion would go to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Tribal Transportation Program, and $2.5 billion is allocated to address approved Indian water rights settlements.

Additionally, $2 billion would go to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which would increase broadband access on Tribal lands and Hawaiian home lands.

“Through this bipartisan legislation, many Native communities will be able to address the long-standing needs that many Americans take for granted,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), vice chairman of the Indian Affairs committee. “I appreciate the input received from the many Tribal leaders, organizations, and stakeholders over the last several months—your voices helped shape this legislation.”

The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives, where the majority Democratic party is divided on how to proceed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she will not bring the legislation before the House until the Senate passes a second infrastructure bill—which faces Republican opposition—that would fund a number of Democratic priorities included in President Biden’s economic agenda.

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