Senator’s bipartisan legislation boosts funding to Sanitation Facilities Construction Program to support Navajo Nation during COVID-19 pandemic
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator Mitt Romney (Utah) introduced bipartisan legislation that authorizes $1.335 billion for the Sanitation Facilities Construction Program to support water and sanitation projects for tribal communities. Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) also introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House.
“Strengthening the Sanitation Facilities Construction Program ensures Tribal communities have access to safe running water and adequate sanitation to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Sinema.
In May, Sinema urged Congressional leaders to include increased resources for water and sanitation projects for Tribal communities in future coronavirus relief legislation.
An estimated 130,000 homes on Indian reservations lack access to running water and adequate sanitation. Additionally, the Navajo Nation, where 30 percent of the reservation population lacks access to running water, has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections per capita when compared to states throughout the country. Sinema underscored that this deficiency makes Tribal residents more susceptible to COVID-19 and other illnesses due to their inability to take basic preventative measures like handwashing. Sinema called on Congressional leaders to provide additional funding for the Indian Health Service’s Sanitation Facilities Construction Program to address drinking water and sanitation deficiencies on Indian reservations.
Sinema holds regular calls with Tribal leaders on the coronavirus outbreak in their communities and needed coronavirus relief. Sinema, along with a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers, urged the administration to swiftly implement the bipartisan CARES Act law and ensure resources are deployed quickly to support Tribal communities in Arizona. Sinema also asked the administration to make a stronger effort in consulting with Native Nations in order to truly reduce the spread of coronavirus throughout Arizona. Following Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez’s request that the non-federal cost-share portion of the FEMA-Tribal Agreement be waived, Sinema urged the Director of FEMA to waive tribal governments’ portion of costs of FEMA’s coronavirus response efforts to protect the health and safety of tribal communities.
Sinema has a resources page on her website, www.sinema.senate.gov/corona, for Arizonans looking for updated information in English and Spanish on the coronavirus.