Recent Press Releases

Thune Amendment Providing $2 Billion for Indian Country Signed into Law

--Measure Authorizes $1 billion to Fight Crime and Improve Health Care in Indian Country--

July 30, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  President Bush signed into law S. 2731 today, a $50 billion foreign assistance bill, which includes Senator John Thune's amendment directing $2 billion to address tribal issues. The Thune amendment authorizes $1 billion in authorization for law enforcement and improved health care in Indian Country and authorizes $1 billion for water projects on reservations across the nation. This is the largest specific dollar amount authorized specifically for Indian Country in an authorization bill in recent memory.

"There are reservations in this country where conditions are as dire as any place in the world," said Thune. "My amendment is designed to empower tribal governments by giving them the necessary resources to maintain stronger police forces, expand detention facilities, improve tribal court systems, and improve the ability of federal authorities to prosecute crime in Indian Country.

"Many of the challenges our tribes face are rooted in the lack of a private economy on reservations, but without basic public safety or legal protection, businesses cannot exist. This legislation signifies our national commitment to addressing the crime problem in Indian Country and improving quality of life on reservations."

Senator Thune's amendment authorizes $1 billion in public safety and health care funding to be divided as follows:

$750 million for Public Safety
  • $370 million for detention facility construction, rehabilitation, and placement through the Department of Justice;

  • $310 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Public Safety and Justice Account, which funds tribal police and tribal courts;

  • $30 million for investigations and prosecution of crimes in Indian Country by the FBI and U.S. Attorneys;

  • $30 million for the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Program for Indian and Alaska Native Programs; and,

  • $10 million for cross-deputization or other cooperative agreements between state, local, and tribal governments.

$250 million for Health Care - Divided as the Director of Indian Health Services determines between contract health service, construction and rehabilitation of Indian health facilities, and domestic and community sanitation facilities serving Indian tribes.

Senator Thune also included funding for reservation policing in this year's budget request and has promoted legislation to improve tribal courts.

Senator Thune is an original cosponsor the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2008, which attempts to improve law enforcement efforts in Indian Country.