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Obama's Stimulus Plan Benefits Tribes

Indianz.Com, New Report , Indianz.Com Posted: Feb 19, 2009

President Barack Obama will sign the national economic recovery bill that includes $2.5 billion in stimulus funds for Indian Country.

Congress finalized the bill on Friday after cutting some of the funds from the massive package. But most of the money for Indian health, education, water, transportation and other projects remained intact.

"It is important that we honor the government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes in this bill and that the funds intended for reservation economies be provided directly to Indian tribes so that they may begin to address their dire economic conditions," said Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Michigan), the co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

In addition to the $2.5 billion, the legislation includes provisions to expand tax bonding authority for tribes. Supporters said it would spur $2.2 billion in economic development and construction on reservations.

"This funding will go a long way toward providing jobs to Native communities while addressing the most basic and pressing health care, infrastructure, housing, education and safety needs," said. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over Indian issues.

With Obama set to sign the bill at an event in Denver, Colorado, on Tuesday, tribes and their advocates are poring over the package to find out how they will benefit. Two blogs run by Indian law practitioners -- Turtle Talk and American Indian Policy -- provide the most detailed information about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Based on the blogs and information provided by Congressional Democrats, the bill contains the following amounts:
Indian Health Facilities $415 million
New construction - $227 million
Maintenance and improvements - $100 million
Sanitation Facilities - $68 million
Medical Equipment - $20 million
Indian Health Services - Health Information Technology - $85 million
BIA Office of Indian Programs - $40 million (housing improvement and workforce & training)
BIA Construction - $450 million (schools, roads repair, jails, irrigation, dams)
Department of Justice Grants (DOJ) - Indian Jails construction - $225 million (coordinate with BIA, consider violent crime rates and detention space needs)
DOJ Community Oriented Policing Services tribes eligible to compete - $1 billion program
DOJ Violence Against Women Prosecution Grants - $22.5 million (result of a 10% tribal set-aside)
Indian Reservation Roads (DOT) $310 million
Tribal Transit Set-Aside (DOT) $17.25 million
Indian Housing block grants (HUD) $510 million (conference note to use funding to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency in houses maintained by Native American housing programs)
Head Start - $10 million (tribal set-aside)
Early Head Start - tribes eligible for a portion of the $1.1 billion program
Special Education (IDEA) tribes eligible for a portion of the $12.2 billion program
Impact Aid language urges targeted funding to military and Indian reservations from the $100 million program
Bureau of Reclamation Tribal Water Projects $60 million for water intake and treatment facilities
Safe Drinking and Clean Water Revolving Funds $120 million (permissive set-aside)
Tribal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Black Grants - $56 million (result of a 2% tribal set-aside)
Weatherization Assistance Program tribes are eligible to compete for competitive grants under the $5 billion program
Indian Reservation Food Distribution (USDA) $5 million
Native Elder Nutrition (DHHS) - $3 million (Older Americans Act, Title IV)
BIA Indian Loan Guarantee Program - $10 million
Tribal Community Development Financial Institutions (Treasury) $10 million
Tribal economic development tax-exempt bonds - $2 billion in bonding authority
Qualified Indian school construction bonds - $400 million in bonding authority
Bill language permits Indian Tribes to contract and compact to build projects and create reservation jobs pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Self-Governance Acts
Includes $5 billion for the Emergency Contingency Fund for State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Tribes are treated as states in this section of the bill
The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall include a representative of a national urban Indian health organization and a representative of the Indian Health Service on the Tribal Advocacy Group within the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare Services
Tribes are eligible for the broadband technology opportunities program at the Department of Commerce

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