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Domenici cites spending hike for reservation roads
Thursday, February 12, 2004

The following is a press release from Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

Washington, D.C., February 11 - Senator Pete Domenici today endorsed increased funding levels in new federal highway legislation that authorizes a nearly 36 percent increase in resources to improve transportation on American Indian reservations.

Domenici, who in 1982 authored the law that created the federal Indian Reservation Roads program, on Wednesday agreed to support the funding levels currently included in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (S.1072). The Senate is attempting this week to complete S.1072, or SAFTEA, the new six-year federal highway authorization bill.

As presented to the Senate, S.1072 would authorize $300 million for the IRR in FY2004 and increase by $25 million annually for the next five years. By FY2009, the IRR would be authorized at $425 million. Over six years, the program would received $2.17 billion-an increase of 35.9 percent over the current funding level.

"If there was any chance that we could increase the authorization, I would support it. Because we are under incredible pressure to contain the size of this huge highway bill, I am supporting the current growth level outlined in this bill for the Indian Reservation Roads program," Domenici said.

"Too many reservation roads are in deplorable condition. So much so that public safety and any change for economic development are limited. The SAFETEA bill authorizes a steady increase in federal resources to help our tribes and pueblos improve their roadways," he said.

The IRR program was launched in 1982 when Domenici, working with the Navajo Nation Tribal Council Committee on Transportation, won Senate approval of legislation he drafted to authorize Indian tribal participation in the U.S. Department of Transportation highway construction. It was the first time in U.S. history that tribes were made a part of this program.

Domenici, a Senate Indian Affairs Committee member, has worked to see the program steadily grow from its initial funding level of about $100 million annually to its current $275 million level. Domenici supported the committee-passed IRR bill (S.281) that would provide $2.61 billion over six years.

Get the Bill:
S.1072 (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003)

Relevant Links:
TEA-21 Reauthorization - http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reauthorization
Tribal Transportation, DOT - http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/natvamrc/index.htm

Related Stories:
Senate committee approves reservation roads bill (06/27)
Editorial: Congress needs to fund reservation roads (06/05)
Senate committee to take up reservation roads (6/3)
BIA delaying distribution of federal road money (05/30)
Alaska's Young wants $375B for transportation (05/16)
New federal highway funds bill introduced (05/15)
Advocates seek boost for Indian Country roads (03/28)
Rahall: The Indian agenda in the 108th Congress (01/08)
State disputes 'illegal jurisdiction' of tribe (10/10)
Bill to double reservation road funds (09/24)
Federal appeals court affirms tribal authority (8/15)
McCaleb tussles with tribal leaders over roads (11/8)

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