A statement released by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) revealed that the Senate has concluded negotiations for the CARES Act, with a unanimous vote of 96-0 passing the bill.
As a result, it was predicted that the U.S. House of Representatives would pass the CARES Act, which would include a $2 trillion relief to tackle the urgent emergency of public health affecting all communities around the world, by vote on Friday.
In addition, the act is also expected to provide funds to mitigate the increasing economic impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals and families, enterprises, as well as federal, state, and local governments.
A detailed summary of the provisions targeting indigenous communities and tribal governments was provided by NIGA: One centerpiece of the package for Indian Country is the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CVF). The CARES Act establishes a $150 billion CVF for tribal, state, local and territorial governments to help address the added stress on government budgets.
“The tribal portion of the fund is $8 billion (5.33%). While NIGA and other Indian Organisations had pushed for a far larger amount, this set-aside for Tribal governments is historic recognition of the governmental status of Indian tribes.
“However, the program as written will provide both opportunities and challenges for tribes to fully utilise the fund to address tribal government-owned operation closures.”
CVF ‘payment amounts’ to tribal governments are expected to be focused on ‘increased expenditures’ by tribes and tribal government-owned agencies relative to tribal budgets for 2019.
In addition, the treasury secretary will now have 30 days to improve the funding formula, in collaboration with the Interior and Indian tribes, to ensure that ‘all amounts available are distributed to tribal governments.’
The statement continued: “The National Indian Gaming Association will assist Tribes with model comments and examples of how Tribal Governments may structure their programs to apply under the CVF relief fund.
“We urge all of our Member Tribes to call on the Trump Administration for immediate consultations with the Treasury and Interior to take steps to develop a model that is flexible, fair, and will help address the impacts of tribal government-owned operation closures—which have reduced tribal government incoming revenue to zero for the duration of these closures.
“We want to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of our Member Tribes and Congressional offices for the tireless work to provide critical resources for Indian Country to combat this pandemic. We will provide a model letter for Member Tribes to thank their Congressional Representatives and the hard-working staff in their offices.”