Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune yesterday joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues in sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius requesting an update on the status of an emergency plan to allocate the $2 billion authorized for the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health by a foreign aid bill enacted last year. The legislation requires these agencies to establish a plan on how to allocate the funding with a deadline of July 30, 2009.

"Congress took an important step forward in establishing the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health last year, but there is still work that must be done," said Thune. "A comprehensive strategy for how to disburse the money is essential. I look forward to the report from the Justice, Interior, and Health and Human Services Departments as the next step in this important process."

Senator Thune authored the amendment creating the $2 billion Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health on a foreign assistance bill last year, but Congress must now act to appropriate money into the fund. Unfortunately, the Senate defeated a measure offered by Senator Thune earlier this year that would have appropriated an initial $400 million into the fund.

Senator Thune is an original cosponsor of the Tribal Law and Order Act, which would increase prosecutions of violent crime in Indian Country, improve training and education for reservation police, empower tribal courts, and foster cooperation between federal, state, and tribal authorities. Senator Thune has been active in working with tribal leaders and members to gather comments and suggestions about the bill.

The full text of the letter is below.

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20530

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder, Secretary Sebelius, and Secretary Salazar:

In July 2008, Congress passed the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global
Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (P.L.
110-293) (the "Act"). Title VI of the Act established the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and
Health and authorized $2,000,000,000 for desperately needed law enforcement, health care, and
water projects benefitting American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, Attorney General, and the Secretary of
Health and Human Service to jointly establish an emergency plan by no later than July 30, 2009.
The emergency plan, which would be developed in consultation with Indian tribes, would
determine how to allocate the $2,000,000,000 authorization for the Emergency Fund for Indian
Safety and Health. Please provide our offices with the status of the emergency plan and
confirmation that the plan will be completed as required by the Act.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Senators Jon Kyle, Byron Dorgan, John Thune, and Tim Johnson