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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01)

October 2, 2020

Press Release

Washington, D.C. – This week, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) and Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus, are calling for the Department of Treasury to not allow for CARES Act funding for Tribes to expire while the funding continues to be litigated.

On Friday, September 25, 2020, a three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the lower court, and stated that Alaska Native Corporations (ANC) are not eligible for a share of the $8 billion dedicated to tribal governments in the CARES Act. According to the August 2020 Treasury Statement of Accounts, a total of $534 million has been held back by the  treasury and has yet to be disbursed to the tribes.

In the letter dated September 28, 2020, the members state, “We are concerned for over a half of a billion dollars that Congress dedicated to Indian Country has yet been released and is set to expire in only two short days. There is still the potential for this issue to stay in court through the appeals process, and possibly make its way to the Supreme Court. We request that this money does not return and be absorbed by the Treasury and wait for the funds to be released until this issue makes its way through the entire court process and receive a final court decision.”

The CARES Act included an $8 billion fund to ensure sovereign tribal governments have the resources needed during the coronavirus pandemic and cover expenditures associated with the public health emergency. However, the distribution of those funds was delayed because of litigation, and expired on September 30, 2020. The use of the already awarded funds expire on December 30, 2020. The Congressional Native American Caucus continues to advocate that Congress grants an extension for state, local, and tribal governments to use this money until the end of 2021.

The full letter to the Department of Treasury is available here. 

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