Bipartisan COVID Supplemental Bill Threatens Tribal Relief Funds

Apr 27, 2022 | Insights

U.S. Senators returned to Washington, D.C. on April 25, and resumed consideration of a proposed COVID-19 Supplemental Appropriations Bill. The bill would provide $10 billion in funding for additional vaccines, testing, and therapeutics. However, the Senate would pay for this new funding, in part, by rescinding millions of dollars already authorized for tribal governments under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Senator Mitt Romney led the bipartisan group of Senators proposing to rescind $887 million from the $2 billion Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund authorized as a part of ARPA. Under ARPA, the Department of Treasury plans to distribute $500 million of the $2 billion to Indian tribes for “any governmental purpose.” Senator Romney’s proposal would cut this funding by roughly 44 percent leaving just $280 million for tribes. 

Senator Romney would also rescind more than $2.5 billion from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which tribes can access under ARPA. The SSBCI allows tribes to establish small business financing programs for their members and tribal businesses. Senator Romney’s proposal would limit the capital available to tribes and cut funding for technical assistance to help tribes develop these programs.

Indian tribes can voice opposition to the bill by contacting Members of Congress to inform them that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionally impacts tribes and tribal members in part because of chronic underfunding of tribal infrastructure and healthcare facilities by the federal government. Tribes can tell Congress that more funding is needed to address the impacts of the COVID-19, not less.  

An Overview of the Bipartisan COVID Supplemental Appropriations Act is available here

Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP works with the White House, members of Congress, and federal officials to advance the interests of its clients. To learn more about how we can assist your tribe in Washington D.C., contact attorney Rollie Wilson in our D.C. office at (202) 340-8232.