March 20, 2020

Udall Statement on Indian Country Priorities for Coronavirus Phase 3 Package

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, issued the following statement on priorities for Indian Country he is calling for to be included in the third coronavirus response legislation:

“We need to act urgently to ensure that Indian Country does not bear the worst costs of COVID-19. Historically, Native communities are among the most at risk during public health and economic crises.  

“Tribes have been very clear that they need further health, community service, and economic recovery resources. Congress must put the needs of Native communities front and center. Our legislative response must close the unacceptable funding gaps and lift the institutional barriers facing Indian Tribes. And, to uphold our trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribes and respond to the unique circumstances in Indian Country, our next response package must include a Tribal-specific title and inclusion of Tribal eligibility for all appropriate federal resources. 

“As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I will continue to push Congress and the Trump administration to make sure Indian Country has access to federal coronavirus resources and that there is meaningful engagement with Native communities and Tribal leaders in our response to COVID-19.” 

In addition to working with Senate Democratic Leadership to prepare a number of Tribal health and economic proposals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Udall has introduced the CDC Tribal Public Health Security and Preparedness Act, legislation to allow Tribes to apply directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health emergency preparedness (PHEP) program and authorize the CDC to make any necessary modifications to the program to fit the needs of Tribal applicants. Udall has also joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in introducing the Tribal Medical Supplies Stockpile Access Act, legislation that would guarantee that the Indian Health Service (IHS), Tribal health authorities, and urban Indian organizations have access to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).