WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is criticizing the Trump administration for its delay in distributing critical relief funds to Tribal governments. Nearly six weeks after the CARES Act was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Treasury today announced that it would begin to distribute only $4.8 of the $8 billion Congress allocated for a Coronavirus Relief Fund.
"There is no excuse for the Trump administration to slow walk these funds when lives are on the line," said Heinrich. "Indian Country is seeing some of the most devastating and deadly outbreaks of the coronavirus. Tribal governments in New Mexico and across the country are taking on enormous costs to protect the health and safety of their communities. It is outrageous that Tribes are still waiting more than a month after Congress passed the CARES Act for the Trump administration to deliver all of the urgently needed federal funding assistance they need."
Last week, Senator Heinrich joined U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and a number of other senators in urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to immediately disburse the $8 billion in critical relief funds to eligible federally recognized Tribal governments.
Senator Heinrich is also leading the effort to eliminate the non-federal cost share for emergency protective measures undertaken by Tribal governments in response to the pandemic. The cost share for public assistance under the Stafford Act is 75 percent for federal and 25 percent for non-federal entities. Senator Heinrich's bill, the Tribal COVID-19 Disaster Assistance Cost Share Relief Act, would waive the cost-sharing requirement and grant 100 percent funding for all Indian Tribal governments.