I take great pride in working with, representing, and defending the sovereignty of American Indian communities. As a member of the House of Representatives, I served as a Vice-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus and today I serve on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. My aim is to help Indian Country build sustainable economies and vibrant businesses. I am working to ensure that Native communities have access to increased educational opportunities, dependable health care, adequate housing, and access to clean water, electricity and basic telephone and Internet service.
I have always been - and will continue to be -- a strong supporter of Native American rights, working in Congress to bring attention to the most critical and endemic problems facing Native communities.
Increasing Water Access
After a decade-long effort, in 2009 we finally enacted the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Settlement as part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. This settlement is vital to providing a quarter of a million people living on the Navajo Nation, the City of Gallup and the Jicarilla Apache Nation access to clean, safe and reliable water. The Aamodt and Abeyta water settlements also passed in 2010. Today, I am working on the implementation of these settlements and to insure that federal funds are in place.
Improving Indian Health Services
In order to ensure that the needs of Native communities were considered as part of the larger debate on healthcare reform, I am proud to have supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010. As a part of this new law, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act was permanently reauthorized. This reauthorization was more than a decade overdue, and represents a major victory for Native people.
I will continue to fight for improved resources and services to advance the health of all Native Americans, and to focus on turning around the tragic epidemic of teen suicide and the growing prevalence of diabetes.
Improving Public Safety
It's essential that every tribal community in New Mexico be a safe environment for the next generation of Native children to grow up in. Through improved coordination between the federal and tribal governments, we can work to guarantee federal obligations to improve public safety.
The Violence Against Women Re-authorization Act of 2012 included important tribal provisions that I helped craft in the Indian Affairs Committee. The new law allows tribes to combat domestic violence in their own communities and through their own courts. VAWA sends a strong message that violence against women of any color or creed will not be tolerated.