WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate tonight passed a $50 billion global AIDS bill that would make Alaska Native organizations eligible for a slice of $290 million in new federal funding to meet urgent health, public safety and sanitation infrastructure needs, announced Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Murkowski, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, cosponsored amendments to the five-year AIDS spending bill that would create an “Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health”.


“I am pleased that the Senate has proposed a substantial new investment in alleviating the third world conditions that afflict our American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” Murkowski said. “We are well on our way to putting the honey bucket in the museum, but we will not reach this goal without continued federal financial support.”


      The amendments designate $250 million for the Indian Health Service that could be used to construct Native hospitals and clinics, build water and wastewater infrastructure in Alaska Native villages, and make it possible for Alaska Natives to receive health services from community hospitals in Alaska when Native health facilities cannot provide the care. 


      The construction of new Native hospitals in Barrow and Nome -- to replace aging and outdated facilities – is at the top of the Indian Health Service’s national health facilities priority list.  Alaska ranks at the top of the Indian Health Service sanitation deficiencies list and is the Nation’s top recipient of Indian Health Service sanitation facilities construction funds.


      Another $30 million would be set aside for Department of Justice grants to tribes and Alaska Native organizations to support tribal courts, domestic violence prosecution and community violence prevention activities. Ten million dollars would be allocated for  partnerships between Native organizations and state and local law enforcement agencies, such as Alaska’s Village Public Safety Officer program.  These funds could also help support state and municipal law enforcement activities on Alaska Native lands.


The legislation now moves to a Senate-House conference committee where lawmakers will iron out differences before sending it to President Bush, who supports the proposal. The legislation would replace and expand a $15 billion AIDS plan that Congress passed in 2003.