Bill offered by Hoeven, McSally would increase U.S. transportation funds for Indian lands

U.S. Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) on April 11 offered legislation that would increase federal funding to improve transportation facilities and transportation safety on America’s tribal lands.

“With a backlog of at least $280 million of deferred maintenance, many tribal roads are in dire condition and need to be improved in a timely manner,” said Sen. Hoeven, chairman of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “That’s why we’ve introduced this legislation, which would help accelerate repairs for the many communities that use these roads and bridges on a daily basis.”

The Addressing Underdeveloped and Tribally Operated Streets (AUTOS) Act, S. 1211, which Sen. Hoeven sponsored and Sen. McSally cosponsored, would streamline existing federal procedures and funding processes for the repair of these roads and bridges.

“As Congress considers legislation to reauthorize America’s surface transportation programs, we will work to ensure this priority is addressed,” Sen. Hoeven said.

If enacted, S. 1211 would authorize $46 million for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Road Maintenance Program, with increases of $2 million per year, according to a summary of the bill, and would raise funding for the Tribal Safety Transportation Program Safety Fund from 2 percent to 4 percent.

Additionally, S. 1211 would reinstate the Tribal Transportation Bridge Program as a standalone program separate from the Tribal Transportation Program and would direct the secretaries of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Transportation to work with Indian tribes in developing a standard and uniform crash report form, among other provisions in the bill.

“Native Americans’ tribal infrastructure has been stifled under the red tape of the bureaucracy for too long,” said Sen. McSally. “I am proud to join the effort to streamline the process for tribal road repairs, increase safety, and provide additional funding for backlogged projects.”

S. 1211 is now under review by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.