This was a vote on legislation to ratify a water rights settlement between the Taos Pueblo Indian tribe, the state of New Mexico, and the town of Taos. The bill was one of three water settlement measures considered by the House as a package. This agreement -- signed in May 2006 -- settles the tribe's claim to water rights in the state. The bill would establish a trust fund to help the Pueblo maintain its water infrastructure.
Democrats praised the bill, citing its support from both tribal and non-tribal communities in New Mexico. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) praised the bill, arguing it save money over the long term by reducing the costs of litigation involved in water rights disputes: "Under this settlement agreement, funds would be authorized for the Taos Settlement Fund, the Taos Infrastructure and Watershed Fund, and for various projects that are mutually beneficial to the pueblo and non-pueblo parties. I would note that the Taos Pueblo has settled for a water right that is far less than what the claims asserted in litigation by the United States and the pueblo. This potential value is much more than the amount that is authorized to be appropriated in H.R. 3254, a clear financial benefit to all taxpayers."
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) criticized the bill as fiscally irresponsible: "While I applaud the idea that local groups are working it out in their best interests, which I think is a positive statement, these do have to be paid for by the American taxpayers. So we must be able to answer this question: Is this the best deal that can be reached and is it in the interest of the parties to the settlement, as well as to the taxpayers of this country?…The American people are highly concerned about the spending that's gone on in this Congress. Whether it's the stimulus spending that has failed to create the promised jobs or the government takeover of health care with a price tag of well over a trillion dollars, the spending in this Congress is out of control. Congress needs to get serious about the record debt being run up during President Obama's first year in office."
The House passed the bill by a vote of 254-158. 240 Democrats and 14 Republicans voted "yea." 153 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted "nay." As a results, the House passed legislation to ratify a water rights settlement between the Taos Pueblo Indian tribe and the state of New Mexico.