Tribal Gaming Enterprises Allowed Access to Paycheck Protection Program after Hoeven and Udall Push Treasury to Reverse Decision
Last week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an interim final rule that removed restrictions excluding Tribal casinos from accessing Paycheck Protection Program funds included in congressional coronavirus relief legislation (the CARES Act). The decision came after Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chairman and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, sent letters asking the Treasury Department to correct the exclusions.
“We appreciate the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration for working with us to allow Indian gaming enterprises to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program,” said Hoeven in a press release announcing the decision. “When we drafted the tribal provision of the CARES Act, we intended that all tribally owned businesses be eligible for PPP.”
“Today’s announcement by Treasury aligns the execution of the program with congressional intent,” Hoeven continued. “Indian gaming enterprises are uniquely situated economic drivers for their local communities and the majority of these tribal businesses are located in rural areas where they are the primary employers. Treasury’s decision to include more tribally owned businesses as eligible for PPP protects jobs in rural America from the negative economic impacts of COVID-19.”
“I am relieved that the SBA is correcting its harmful initial guidance which unfairly excluded a significant number of Tribally-owned businesses from the Paycheck Protection Program,” said Udall. “I personally urged Secretary Mnuchin to change this policy, and I am glad that Treasury is listening to our calls and adhering to Congress’ unambiguous intent.”
“Tribal businesses are some of the biggest employers and income generators for both the Tribal and non-Tribal communities they serve, and these government-owned enterprises fund essential services to their communities, like health care, education, and public safety needs. Because Tribes do not have a traditional tax base to generate government revenue for essential services, it is absolutely critical that all Tribal businesses under 500 employees—including gaming enterprises—are deemed eligible for PPP loans.”
The PPP is a federally secured loan program operated by the SBA, designed to provide funds for small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. It is intended to ensure that small businesses, mostly with 500 employees or fewer, can cover operating costs and keep employees on the payroll.