Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune released the following statement after the Senate today voted on procedural grounds to block his amendment to the $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations bill that would have directed $400 million to the Emergency Fund for Indian Health and Safety:

"I am disappointed that the Senate turned a blind eye to the tremendous needs that exist in Indian Country. The lack of funding for law enforcement, health care, and water resource development continually puts tribes in South Dakota and across the nation at a serious disadvantage. At a time when Congress is spending money at a record pace, the inability to address some of the greatest needs in our own country is unacceptable."

Last year, President Bush signed into law a $50 billion foreign assistance bill that included Senator Thune's amendment creating the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health. The fund is authorized to spend $2 billion over the next five years for critical public safety, health care, and water needs in Indian Country, but Congress must appropriate the money into the fund.

Senator Thune's amendment would have reduced all programs in the Omnibus Appropriations bill by one-tenth of one percent to pay for the $400 million infusion into the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health. Overall, the $410 Billion Omnibus Spending Bill is more than eight percent higher than last year's funding levels, not counting the $1 trillion in stimulus spending that was recently signed into law.

"The message from South Dakota's tribes is clear: measures like my amendment, which increase funding for public safety, health care, and water projects are critical, and they understand the kind of improvement that can be achieved with adequate funding," added Thune. "The amount of money my amendment requested pales in comparison to the size of the Omnibus Bill, but those funds would have been greatly appreciated in some of the poorest communities in America. The Senate erred greatly in rejecting this amendment."