Recent Press Releases

Senate to Vote on $2 Billion Thune Indian Country Amendment

--Legislation Would Authorize $1 billion to Fight Crime in Indian Country--

July 14, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  Late last week the U.S. Senate agreed to proceed to a vote on Senator John Thune's amendment to S. 2731, a bill that seeks to provide $50 billion to foreign countries to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Thune amendment would redirect $1 billion in funding for law enforcement in Indian Country and $1 billion for water projects on reservations across the nation. The vote on Senator Thune's amendment is expected to take place later this week.

"Tribal, state, and federal leaders face a host of challenges in Indian Country, and many of them have roots in inadequate funding and infrastructure for law enforcement," said Thune. "My amendment calls for a substantial increase in funding that would address detention facility shortages, shortfalls in the tribal court and prosecution systems, and barriers to cooperation between tribal governments and other authorities. While I applaud U.S. leadership when it comes to combating HIV/AIDS overseas, my amendment seeks to ensure we don't turn our backs on some of the most critical issues here at home.

"The Senate has an opportunity to send a message to all of our nation's tribes that we are committed to fighting crime. Establishing law and order will allow tribal leaders and others to move forward to create more economic opportunity and improve education."

Senator Thune's amendment calls for the $1 billion in public safety authorizations to be divided as follows:

  • 50% for detention facility construction, rehabilitation, and placement through the Department of Justice;

  • 40% for the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Public Safety and Justice Account, which funds tribal police and tribal courts;

  • 5% for investigations and prosecution of crimes in Indian Country by the FBI and U.S. Attorneys;

  • 3% for the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Program for Indian and Alaska Native Programs; and,

  • 2% for cross-deputization or other cooperative agreements between state, local, and tribal governments.
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In March, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved Senator Thune's legislation to provide an additional $200 million over the next five years to improve tribal law enforcement and allow for more prosecution of violent crime in Indian Country. The Senate also passed Senator Thune's budget amendment to provide an additional $99 million in funding for the COPS Meth Hot Spots Program.

Also earlier this year, the Senate passed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which included Senator Thune's amendment to require a Government Accountability Office study of the tribal justice systems of North and South Dakota. Senator Thune has also been soliciting comments from constituents on a draft Indian Crime bill that he is circulating with Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and others.