The U.S. House of Representatives approved a water rights settlement with Montana’s Blackfeet Tribe on Thursday as part of a broader bill addressing water projects across the nation.  The 360-61 vote ensures passage and sends the measure back to the U.S. Senate.
The bill proposes to rehabilitate the Four Horns Dam and Blackfeet Irrigation Project and make other improvements on the Blackfeet tribe’s northwestern Montana reservation.  The Senate has already passed the measure once.  Yet the success of the broader bill that the Blackfeet settlement is attached to remains uncertain.  Retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has vowed to defeat it because of a disagreement on provisions that apply to California’s ongoing drought.
The water rights settlement has a $422 million price tag, according to the U.S. Department of Interior.  Money for the settlement was authorized but not appropriated in Thursday’s bill and will have to be addressed separately.