Homes at Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico. Photo: Kathy Knorr

Senate approves water bill for one tribe and land bill for two others

Legislation to benefit tribes in Arizona and New Mexico is moving forward on Capitol Hill.

By unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate approved S.140 on Monday. The bill ensures that the White Mountain Apache Tribe to move forward with a critical drinking water project in Arizona.

A second bill also was approved by unanimous consent. S.249 clarifies that Santa Clara Pueblo and Ohkay Owingeh can lease their lands in New Mexico for up 99 years for economic development and other purposes.

“These bills strengthen the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Pueblo of Santa Clara’s control over tribal water and land resources, respectively,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a press release on Tuesday. “The swift action on these measures demonstrates our commitment to quickly move good legislation with tribal support.” amends the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act.

The bills have yet to be considered in the U.S. House but Hoeven urged the chamber to act "expeditiously." Both measures have bipartisan support and are considered non-controversial.

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