AIANTA Applauds Senate Passage of Infrastructure Bill
Legislation calls for $550 billion in upgrades to airports, roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure widely required by a healthy visitor industry.
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (August 12, 2021) — The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) applauds the U.S. Senate on the passage of the historic $1 trillion, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate on August 10, by a vote of 69-30, calls for $550 billion to modernize and upgrade American airports, roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure assets, facilitating better access between Native communities and the traveling public.
“We congratulate the United States Senate in coming together to pass this historic bill,” said Sherry L. Rupert, AIANTA CEO. “Many of America’s 574 federally recognized tribes offer distinctive cultural experiences but require a modern transportation system to deliver the visitors needed to support jobs growth in those communities.”
President Biden has likened the passage of the bill with the building of the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway system.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a key negotiator who worked alongside a bi-partisan group of nine colleagues, called the bill “one of the most consequential” she has worked on in her 19-year career as a Senator.
Murkowski’s State of Alaska is home to 229 federally recognized Alaska Native tribes, most of which are not connected by roads. The $550 billion legislation calls for $1 billion to fund new ferry service supporting those communities as well as additional funding to upgrade the existing Alaska Marine Highway System.”
“There are 35 different ports along the Alaska Marine Highway System,” said Murkowski in a Senate floor speech. “In so many parts of Alaska, the Marine Highway System is the only highway…so it is truly an essential mode of transportation.”
Tourism industry leaders agree the legislation will create jobs, increase productivity, and lead to renewed economic prosperity.
“The funding levels and investments in the bill will help revolutionize the way people move and travel throughout the U.S.,” said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association in a press release.
The bill now heads to U.S. House of Representatives for their vote.
“We encourage Congress to work together to support and pass these much-needed and long-overdue upgrades to America’s infrastructure,” said Rupert.
For nearly two decades, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) has served as the national center for providing tourism and recreational travel technical assistance, training and capacity building to American Indian nations. AIANTA is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit association of Native American tribes and tribal businesses and was incorporated in 2002 to advance Indian Country tourism. AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values.
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