Udall Applauds Senate Passage of Legislation to Increase Access to Drinking Water in Indian Country, Health Care for Native Veterans and Teachers

Udall-sponsored package of much-needed Tribal legislation will now head to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration
Jun 8, 2020

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For Immediate Release

June 8, 2020

Contact: Ned Adriance

202.228.6870 | news@tomudall.senate.gov| @SenatorTomUdall

 

Udall Applauds Senate Passage of Legislation to Increase Access to Drinking Water in Indian Country, Health Care for Native Veterans and Teachers

 

Udall-sponsored package of much-needed Tribal legislation will now head to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration

 

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, released the following statement on Senate passage of a Udall-led Senate Committee on Indian Affairs package including the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act, sponsored by Udall; the Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act, co-sponsored by Udall; and the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Completion Act, sponsored by Udall. The Senate package that passed unanimously last week also included the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act and other Tribal water settlement-related provisions.

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disheartening reminder that basic needs remain unmet for far too many in Indian Country,” Udall said. “These bills will provide Native communities with more tools, including improved health care access and safe, reliable sanitation infrastructure, to address this unprecedented public health crisis.”

 

“I am pleased that the Senate was able to work in a bipartisan manner to pass my bills that ensure the United States meets its obligation to provide benefits to those teachers and veterans who serve their communities, recognizes Tribal water rights, and lives up to our trust and treaty obligations,” Udall continued. “While much more work needs to be done to address the chronically underfunded Indian health system, ensure Native schools can recruit and retain world-class educators, and secure the water rights of Indian tribes, the passage of these bills is an important step forward. I look forward to working with the House of Representatives to make sure this package is enacted into law as soon as possible.”

 

The package of bills includes:

 

Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act, sponsored by Udall

  • Improves access to culturally-competent health care services for Native American Veterans by providing Department of Veterans Affairs coverage for care that Native American veterans receive at urban Indian health centers funded by the Indian Health Service.

 

Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act, sponsored by U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.)

  • Creates equitable access to Federal Employee Health Benefits and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance programs for Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Tribally-operated grant schools, bringing them into parity with federally-operated BIE schools and other BIE schools operated by Tribes.

 

Aamodt Litigation Settlement Completion Act, sponsored by Udall and co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)

  • Allows for the completion of the Pojoaque Basin Regional Water System, in order to fully implement the Settlement Agreement among the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque, the State of New Mexico, City of Santa Fe, and Santa Fe County.
  • Increases the federal cost ceiling of the underlying settlement by $137 million and extends the substantial completion date by four years (2028), consistent with the “611(g) Agreement” reached between the U.S. and the Aamodt settlement parties.

 

Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, sponsored by Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah)

  • Approves a settlement resolving water rights claims of the Navajo Nation on the San Juan River in the Upper Colorado River Basin in Utah.
  • Authorizes $209 million towards major water infrastructure pipelines and water treatment facilities to provide safe, clean drinking water.

 

Kickapoo Tribe Water Project Study

  • Directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct a study of the Upper Delaware and Tributaries Watershed Plan, in order to advance discussions involving the settlement of water rights involving the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas.

 

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