Recent Press Releases

Thune Amendment Providing $2 Billion for Indian Country Expected to Pass House

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

July 24, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass today S. 2731, 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. The bill was passed by the U.S. Senate on July 16, 2008.

"While the poverty and disease that afflict Africa and other parts of the world is heartbreaking, we cannot ignore the conditions that have lead to desperate conditions on our Indian reservations in this country," 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.

"The level of crime that occurs on our nation's Indian reservations today has reached alarming proportions and is a matter that should be of national concern. By including my amendment, Congress has demonstrated that addressing the crime problem in Indian Country is just as important as addressing poverty and disease around the world. There will never be significant economic development on reservations in South Dakota or across the nation without businesses, which cannot exist in an atmosphere of violence and lawlessness."

Thune also advocated the recent policing surge on Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

"The success of the surge on Standing Rock has demonstrated how much of a difference additional law enforcement can make in a short period of time," Thune added.

In recent weeks, Thune toured Standing Rock and received a first-hand view of the successful policing effort.

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.

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

Assuming passage in the House of Representatives, S. 2731 will be sent to the President who has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.