Treasury and Interior Secretaries Announce Distribution of Coronavirus Relief Funds to Tribes

May 8, 2020Congressional Legislation, News

United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin and Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt recently announced that they had agreed upon a path forward to immediately provide nearly $5 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds to Native American Tribes.

“We are pleased to begin making $4.8 billion in critical funds available to Tribal governments in all states,” Secretary Mnuchin said in a statement following the decision. “Our approach is based on the fair balancing of tribal needs.”

The agreed-upon direction will distribute 60 percent of the total allocated $8 billion based on population data from the allocation of the Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG). This data is already familiar to Tribal governments, as it is based on the U.S. Census figures.

The remaining 40 percent of the funds will be distributed based on the number of people employed by tribes and tribally-owned entities.

Payments based on population data began on May 5, 2020, while payments based on employment and expenditure data will begin at a later date, pending the collection of additional data. The Treasury will continue to work with Tribes to gain accurate employment numbers and obtain any necessary information about high expenses caused by the pandemic.

Though pending litigation has caused some uncertainty about how the payments will be made to Tribes, the statement notes that Treasury is striving to make payments expeditiously, so as to comply with their obligation to make allocations justly and appropriately.

“Historic financial support will now begin to be disbursed to Native Americans battling the COVID-19 health crisis,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “I appreciate the Secretary of the Treasury’s determination in providing a clear pathway to get these resources promptly delivered.”

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