House bill with key tribal provisions under consideration this week
Office of U.S. Representative Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09)
A bill with several key tribal provisions is being considered in the House this week. H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, is a big, bold $1.5 trillion proposal to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges, transit, rail, schools, housing, broadband, drinking and wastewater systems, postal service, clean energy sector, health care infrastructure and much, much more.
Representative Greg Stanton (AZ-09), the only Arizona member to serve on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, championed a few key investments in Indian Country transportation infrastructure:
Funding for tribal road construction and infrastructure improvement: The proposed bill provides increased funding for the Tribal Transportation Program, providing $800 million a year. It also transforms the Nationally Significant Federal and Tribal Projects Program, which provides funding for the construction and rehabilitation of nationally significant projects within tribal lands and that create access to tribal lands. The bill makes important changes to allow more tribes to access the program by lowering the minimum project cost threshold to $5 million and increasing the federal cost share to 100 percent. The program would be funded at $400 million annually, an increase of $300 million over current levels and dedicates half of the funds to tribal projects. Improving infrastructure in tribal lands has been a priority of Stanton’s. He visited the Navajo Nation last summer to survey the vast number of unpaved roadways and has advocated for these investments during Committee hearings.
Tribal High Priority Projects: To assist tribes whose annual transportation funding is insufficient to undertake their high priority transportation projects, the bill provides $50 million to reestablish a grant program to award grants for these projects.
Office of Tribal Government Affairs: The bill establishes an Office of Tribal Government Affairs within the U.S. Department of Transportation and creates a new Assistant Secretary for Tribal Government Affairs that will be responsible for overseeing the administration of the Tribal Transportation Self Governance Program, policies, and programs serving Indian tribes. Stanton advocated for this office with Republican Don Young of Alaska in a letter to DOT Secretary Chao earlier this year.
Another Stanton amendment was included during the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee markup:
A New Tribal Funding Reporting Requirement: The amendment requires the Department of Transportation to submit an annual report to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works on funding allocated to Indian tribes. The report will provide important information on highway, transit and safety dollars reaching tribal communities in order to help inform whether additional program changes are needed to ensure tribes get their fair share of transportation dollars through competitive and formula programs; and it will provide information on state funding provided to tribal communities.
Full text of the Moving Forward Act is here.
A Section by Section is here.
A Fact Sheet is here.