MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON
President Bush signed legislation Wednesday that calls for $2 billion for tribal law enforcement, health care and water projects. The money for American Indian tribes is included with $48 billion designed to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis around the world. South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a Republican, pushed to add the money to the AIDS bill, saying that it would be an appropriate part of legislation designed to help poor communities. "There are reservations in this country where conditions are as dire as any place in the world," Thune said. The agreement will include $1 billion for water projects on Indian reservations, $750 million for tribal law enforcement and $250 million for Indian health care services. Now that the dollars are approved by Congress and signed by Bush, it is up to congressional spending committees to distribute it through annual spending bills. Among other funding, the new law calls for: $370 million for detention facilities; $310 million for tribal police and tribal courts; $30 million for federal investigations and prosecution of crimes in Indian Country; $250 million for contract health services, health Facilities and safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, worked with Thune on the amendment to the AIDS bill when it was on the Senate floor earlier this month. He pushed to add the health care money, saying that there is a health care crisis on reservations. Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and a supporter of the AIDS bill, also praised the Indian money. "The global AIDS bill is the first of its kind," he said.