Congress urged to expand COVID resources to tribal governments

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U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – led a group of 11 Senators in urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to include priorities for tribal governments in a future COVID-19 relief package, especially providing flexibility for tribal governments in how they use funds provided in the CARES Act.

“As you continue negotiations on the next relief package, we want to express our continued support for resources to help Indian Country address the unique challenges they face in this difficult time,” the Senators wrote. “As you know, Indian Country has suffered particularly high rates of coronavirus with complicating factors such as obesity, diabetes, and other preexisting conditions. Tribal governments deserve greater flexibility to spend these funds in a manner that meets the individual needs of each tribe. Allowing greater flexibility would enable tribal governments to use their resources in the most efficient manner.”

This letter was signed by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.).

 The full letter can be found below: 

August 21, 2020
Dear Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy: We wish to thank you for all your efforts in addressing the COVID-19 virus that has so deeply impacted our country. As you continue negotiations on the next relief package, we want to express our continued support for resources to help Indian Country address the unique challenges they face in this difficult time. As you know, Indian Country has suffered particularly high rates of coronavirus with complicating factors such as obesity, diabetes, and other preexisting conditions.
If funding is provided to state and local governments, we strongly encourage the inclusion of funding for tribal governments, as well. There remain tremendous obligations in Indian Country for health care, social programs, housing assistance, and other direct service programs, and additional support is critical to help tribal governments address the needs of their citizens.  
Additionally, tribal governments deserve greater flexibility to spend these funds in a manner that meets the individual needs of each tribe. Allowing greater flexibility would enable tribal governments to use their resources in the most efficient manner. Further, we ask that tribes be given additional time beyond the December 30, 2020, deadline to spend any funds provided by the Coronavirus Relief Fund established by Title V of the CARES Act.
Again, these issues are critical to Indian Country as tribal governments continue to provide services to their citizens as they struggle to combat this virus. We appreciate you taking the time to consider our views on this important issue.