Congress Sends $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Package to President’s Desk

Mar 10, 2021Congressional Legislation, News, Tribal Sovereignty

This afternoon, Congress passed its $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, which now heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature. That means millions of Americans will soon see $1,400 economic relief payments in their bank accounts. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said that Biden will sign the legislation into law on Friday. 

In addition to stimulus checks, the bill also extends the existing $300 weekly unemployment boost, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs until September 6. The legislation also includes temporary enhancements to child tax credit subsidies, as well as new health insurance subsidies. 

Moreover, the relief bill secures more than $31.2 billion in dedicated funding for Native communities and Tribal governments, the largest investment in Native programs in history. 

“This historic funding is a down payment on the federal government’s trust responsibility to Native communities and will empower American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians to tackle COVID-19’s impacts on their communities,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

The investment in Native communities includes $20 billion for Tribal governments to stabilize safety programs to combat COVID-19. It also allocates more than $6 billion for Native health systems, including funding for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, facility construction and sanitation, and IT and telehealth access. 

Additionally, funding will be spent on HUD Tribal & Native Hawaiian housing programs like the Indian Housing and the Indian Community Development Block Grants. More than $1.1 billion will go toward Native education programs, including Bureau of Indian Education schools, Tribal Colleges, and Tribal education agencies.

More than $1 billion of the investment will be spent on child care and Tribal TANF support for Native families, as well as $19 million for efforts to fight against domestic violence in Native communities.

“Native communities need relief. We listened and we took action,” Schatz said. “With more than $31 billion for Tribal governments and Native programs, the American Rescue Plan delivers the largest one-time investment to Native communities in history.”

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