Thune Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Improve and Maintain Tribal Infrastructure

Thune, Sinema Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve and Maintain Tribal Infrastructure

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today reintroduced the Tribal Transportation Equity and Transparency Improvement Act, legislation to increase tribal transportation funding flexibility and improve the transparency and consistency of the Tribal Transportation Program’s administration and data collection practices.

“This bill takes several important steps to ensure that South Dakota tribes get their fair share of funding to maintain and improve their transportation infrastructure,” said Thune. “South Dakota’s tribes continue to help craft and improve this legislation, and I am thankful for their input. I look forward to seeing infrastructure improvements become a reality in tribal areas throughout South Dakota.”

“Strengthening transparency and funding of the Tribal Transportation Program will increase infrastructure investment and improve road safety, fueling jobs and opportunities for tribal communities,” said Sinema.

“The Oglala Sioux Tribe is glad to see this bipartisan effort of Senator Thune and Senator Sinema move forward for better roads for some of the most vulnerable populations that are in need of reliable and safe roads,” said Kevin Killer, president of the Ogala Sioux Tribe. “Improving the quality of our Reservation’s roads is one our Tribe’s utmost priorities. The Senators’ Tribal Transportation Equity and Transparency Improvement Act will improve our roads, which will help improve the lives of our citizens.”

“On behalf of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, I want to thank you for your leadership and your staff’s hard work in preparing the Tribal Transportation Equity and Transparency Improvement Act to serve as an adjunct to the FAST Act by improving the Tribal Transportation Program,” said Rodney Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

“Funding for transportation and safety projects is critically important to Tribal Nations in Arizona and throughout Indian Country,” said Shan Lewis, vice chairman, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, and president, Inter Tribal Association of Arizona. “However, this funding is often constrained by red tape and a lack of transparency in how the government administers the programs. We support Senator Sinema in her leadership for bringing transparency and flexibility to tribal transportation programs within the Federal government and ensuring that Tribal Nations are able to rely on these resources through accountable and accessible systems.”

The Tribal Transportation Equity and Transparency Improvement Act would:

Improve the Accuracy and Transparency of the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP): The bill requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to use updated information when making funding allocations, and it requires that new data for certain facilities be updated and submitted. The bill also requires independent audits by the inspectors general of the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Interior, as well as the Government Accountability Office, to examine the program’s administration and its adequacy in addressing tribal infrastructure needs.

Improve Cooperation for Tribal Transportation Planning and Safety: The bill codifies a joint federal-tribal advisory committee currently established in regulation, which is tasked with gathering tribal input and providing recommendations to BIA for changes to the TTP. The bill also makes it easier for tribes to form cooperative agreements with state and local governments on highway planning, design, and safety.

Increase Tribal Access to Funding: The bill makes several changes to increase tribal funding flexibility and access, including by increasing the federal share for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program for tribes and allowing tribes to use planning funds for grant applications.

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