Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly thanked Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., for his outstanding service to the people of New Mexico and to the Navajo Nation. Sen. Bingaman will retire at the end of this legislative session after 30 years of public service in the Senate that began in 1983.
"Senator Bingaman is a champion for the Navajo people and supporter of Navajo water rights and the development of its infrastructure. We are grateful for his leadership to bring tens of thousands of Navajos water through the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project and other important projects throughout the Navajo Nation," Shelly said.
The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is currently under construction and on track and will bring water to Navajo communities in New Mexico. The project also includes a pipeline to Window Rock.
President Shelly also thanked Sen. Bingaman for his support of the Navajo Electrification Project that provides money to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to deliver individual solar and wind powered generators to people living off the power grid.
Sen. Bingaman also supported the Indian Energy Title of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, and is a co-sponsor of the Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA legislation contains provisions essential to protecting Native women from Indian and non-Indian men who hurt them.
Senator Bingaman worked to ensure that the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Reauthorization passed. The act includes protections for Navajo elders who were not born in hospitals to participate in Medicare and Medicaid by relaxing the citizenship proof requirements. Otherwise, without birth certificates, Navajo elders would not be able to participate in these programs.
Speaking from the Senate floor yesterday, Sen. Bingaman delivered his farewell speech.
"I consider it an honor and a privilege to have represented the people of New Mexico in the Senate for the last 30 years," he said. "I thank the people of my state for their confidence in electing me and supporting me during the time I have served here. I thank the very capable and committed men and women who have worked on my staff both in Washington and in New Mexico during these 30 years."