Udall Statement on Treasury Announcement on Tribal Relief Fund
Nearly six weeks after passage of CARES Act, Trump Administration to release 60 percent of desperately needed Tribal government relief funds
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Treasury announced that, nearly six weeks after the CARES Act was signed into law, it is beginning to distribute $4.8 billion of the $8 billion Congress allocated for Tribal Governments for a Coronavirus Relief Fund.
“Treasury’s announcement is the definition of ‘too little, too late.’ It comes weeks after the deadline and billions of dollars short.
“I am relieved that the Trump administration is finally beginning to get these dollars Congress provided out the door, especially after the White House and Senate Republican leadership tried to leave Tribes out of the CARES Act altogether. But Native communities needed these resources for their health and economic recovery plans weeks ago. The full fund should have been distributed by now.
“This announcement also comes just a day after the administration announced that it would severely limit access to the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund for the Indian Health Service and exclude Native communities – despite the fact that some parts of Indian Country, like the Navajo Nation, have some of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the U.S. Native communities are on the front lines of this crisis. Tribes have been clear that they cannot wait any longer. But, the actions of the administration suggest they either don’t understand that or they don’t care.
“All $8 billion of the Tribal relief fund— and not a dollar less — needs to get out the door, on the ground, and into the right hands immediately. And the administration must stop deploying COVID-19 resources in a way that systemically excludes Tribes and Native communities.
“It is a change to see that the White House is touting funding for Tribes that they and Republican leadership fought tooth and nail against during CARES Act negotiations, and that we Democrats had to fight to deliver. Hopefully, the Trump administration and Senate Republican leadership have come to appreciate why this funding is so urgent for Native communities, and it will not be so difficult in the future to secure needed relief for Indian Country. In the meantime, Treasury must immediately release the rest of the Treasury funding, and the Trump administration needs to show it has learned lessons about how to better serve Indian Country. I’ll be watching closely given the White House’s failure to uphold its obligations to Tribes thus far.”
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