The 24th Navajo Nation Council - Office of the Speaker
Navajo families from Tselani-Cottonwood Chapter that have been waiting countless years for electricity will not be receiving basic infrastructure after President Jonathan Nez executed his line item veto authority on Resolution No. CD-46-19 Jan. 6.
“The use of the Sihasin Fund is becoming murky and untenable for all those involved,” President Nez stated in his letter to Speaker Seth Damon (Baahaali, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Red Rock, Rock Springs, Tsayatoh). He cited limited pre-planning and evaluation, and the need for a proper fund expenditure plan as reasons behind his veto of the project.
Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay Jr. (Low Mountain, Many Farms, Nazlini, Tachee-Blue Gap, Tselani-Cottonwood) said the line item veto of CD-46-19 has no solid justification. “To justify the lack of Executive Branch planning for our community, I have sought assistance and progress reports from the Division of Community Development, Capital Projects and Management Department and other offices, but I have received no response,” he said.
As a last resort, the chapter officials of Tselani-Cottonwood pleaded with the Office of the President and Vice President Jan. 6 to keep the legislation intact. Their effort was not successful.
Delegate Begay said he will provide the Tselani-Cottonwood Chapter a full detailed report on the line item veto. The resolution, approved by Council during the Dec. 19, 2019 special session by a vote of 16-7, requested $1,203,253.15 for Phase I of powerline extension to provide power to eight homes. The project entailed construction of 9.49 miles of main trunk lines connecting to 2.31 miles of line extensions to eight homes located in the Tsebanizini area.
“The majority of the chapters I represent lack basic infrastructure and these communities are in dire need of improvement,” Delegate Begay said. “I believe this is just pure political action that the president is playing, but hanging in the balance are the lives of Navajo families seeking basic infrastructure.”
Delegate Begay said he will continue to advocate for funding to improve infrastructure. “The action by the president will not stop me from continuing to advocate for the five chapters that have elected me to represent them on the Navajo Nation Council. I’m here for another three years and let this be notice that I will not stop fighting for our Navajo people and children living in the rural areas of the Navajo Nation. They are continuously overlooked,” he said.
Line item vetoes cannot be considered for veto override.