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Indian Country would see $12B from infrastructure bill

Broadband internet access is one of the priorities for Indian Country in the infrastructure package. (Image via Facebook).

The U.S. Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure package Aug. 10, known as the “Invest in America Act.” It is a major priority for President Joe Biden and one that has bipartisan support and broad public approval.

The bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote – set to arrive with a larger $3.5 trillion companion budget resolution for efforts toward health care, climate change and tuition-free community college. It will likely be months before either would reach Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Rehabilitating the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and waterways are the top goals in the infrastructure package, which has $12 billion set aside specifically for Indian Country needs.

It includes $6 billion for water, sewer and sanitation projects and $4 billion for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) roads and bridges. BIA roads and bridges are corridors that provide access to tribal communities (and often the general public) for medical, educational, commercial and recreational services.

The infrastructure bill also includes $2 billion for more tribal broadband access. Tribes recently received $1 billion for broadband expansion through Department of Commerce grants.

Indian Country has seen record levels of federal investment from the Biden administration so far this year – $44 billion in all. The American Rescue Plan accounts for $31 billion of the total, including investments in the Indian Health Service to help combat the effects of the pandemic and hundreds of millions of dollars for housing and housing assistance initiatives.

Much of Indian Country has been supportive of the Biden administration’s overall efforts as it applies to Native Americans. Highlights include restarting and increasing tribal consultations, and the nomination and confirmation of Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) as the first Native American to run the Department of the Interior. She is also the first Native American to hold any cabinet-level position.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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