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McCollum Statement on Administration's Delayed Distribution of Coronavirus Relief to Native American Tribes

May 5, 2020
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, released the following statement today in response to the Department of the Treasury and Department of Interior’s announced plan for distributing $4.8 billion of the $8 billion in emergency response funds allocated to Native American tribal governments by the CARES Act:

“I have heard from the leaders of Minnesota’s eleven sovereign tribal nations and tribal leaders throughout the country about the social and economic hardship their communities face during this pandemic. Congress created the Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide desperately-needed support for state, local, and tribal governments; these funds will help protect Native Americans’ health and allow tribal governments to continue providing essential services.

“It is inexcusable that it’s taken the Treasury Department more than five weeks to begin distributing this vital, Congressionally-directed funding to tribal governments. I am deeply disappointed that the Trump administration still insists on withholding $3.2 billion – a full 40 percent of the $8 billion designated for tribes ignoring the clear, bipartisan Congressional intent that these funds be distributed to governing bodies of federally-recognized Indian Tribes.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues to urge this administration to uphold the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of our Native American brothers and sisters and respect our government-to-government relationships with sovereign tribal nations. As tribal governments work diligently to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and serve their communities, the federal government owes them better than this.”

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