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Tribal agencies, programs receive increase in federal spending bill
FARMINGTON — Agencies and programs that provide services to tribes received a financial boost in the $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by President Trump on March 23.
A joint press release from U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich on Monday stated the spending bill provided $3 billion to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, which is a 7 percent increase from the previous budget.
Indian Health Service received approximately $5.5 billion from the overall amount allocated to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to the National Indian Health Board.
The National Indian Health Board is a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. that advocates for the fulfillment of health and public health services for federally recognized tribes.
According to the health board, the break out for IHS is $3.9 billion for services, $867 million for facilities and $718 million for contract support costs.
The amount for IHS is an increase of $500 million from fiscal year 2017, the health board stated.
At the local level, the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project received $5.5 million for operations and maintenance costs.
The NIIP is a system of canals and laterals that deliver water from Navajo Lake to Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, which has a contract with the BIA to manage federal funding for NIIP's operations and maintenance.
Out of the $5.5 million allocation, $1.5 million will cover the cost for operations and maintenance of the Gallegos Pumping Plant.
The pumping plant is located about nine miles south of NAPI headquarters and it delivers water to Blocks 8 and 9.
Lionel Haskie, operations and maintenance manager at NAPI, said operational expenses include labor, equipment and utilities while maintenance costs are related to repairs to the facility, equipment and the electrical system.
"Blocks 8 and 9 are our most prime acres," Haskie said adding high value crops are grown there and the area is a favorite among NAPI's agricultural contractors.
He added this is the first time the operations and maintenance allocation for NIIP has been more than $4 million, which has been the amount provided since the 1990s.
Navajo Housing Authority stated in a press release the spending bill allocated $755 million to the Indian Housing Block Grant under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The allocation includes $100 million for distribution under a competitive basis for new construction and rehabilitation of housing units on tribal lands, according to the NHA release.
It also states that competitive funding has not been included in any appropriations bill since the start of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, which created the Indian Housing Block Grant.
"We are extremely pleased that Congress has included additional funding to the IHBG program," NHA interim CEO Roberta Roberts said in the release.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.