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Tribal coronavirus stimulus program overview

As a result of COVID-19, changes in our organizations and personal lives have proven disruptive in many ways. To help relieve some of the pressures, the federal government has established a series of programs to provide stimulus in areas that are most impacted, and many have specific guidance for tribes. Now is the time to be proactive and position your tribe to obtain the financial assistance you need.

Because these technical programs can be overwhelming, we’ve outlined each program to understand the unique impacts for you and your tribe. For more information, connect with our tribal team.

Government programs overview

1. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act was enacted on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act marks the largest economic relief package in our nation’s history. Under the CARES Act, tribes have more than $10 billion in direct allocations:

  • Department of Treasury: The set-aside funding for tribes under the Treasury program is $8 billion. Payment amounts will be determined by the Secretary of Treasury in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and tribes. Use of the funds are limited to the expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19, incurred from March 1, 2020, through Dec. 30, 2020, and were not accounted for in the tribal government’s most recently approved budget.
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HSS): A total of more than $1.2 billion is set aside for Indian Health Service (IHS), Administration for Community Living (ACL), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
  • Department of the Interior: A total set-aside of $522 million has been allocated to the Bureau of Indian Affairs ($453 million) and Bureau of Indian Education ($69 million). These funds will remain available until Sept. 30, 2021, to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19.
  • Department of Education: More than $153 million has been set aside to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19. The Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Interior are working together on the allocation of these funds.
  • Department of Agriculture: The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) set aside $100 million for tribes. Of the $100 million, $50 million is for the costs related to additional food purchases and the other $50 million is for facility improvements and upgrades.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development: A total of $305 million has been set aside for the Native American Programs ($300 million) and the Office of Public and Indian Housing ($5 million). These funds remain available until Sept. 30, 2024, to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19.

2. H.R. 6074 – Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act 2020

H.R. 6074 was signed into law on March 6, 2020, authorizing $8.3 billion in spending. HSS received $2.2 billion. Of that, not less than $950 million shall be used for grants to or cooperative agreements with states, localities, territories, tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations or health service providers to tribes, to carry out surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications, and other preparedness and response activities.

3. Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020. Through this program, specific tribal set-asides are $134 million through the IHS. An initial $64 million was set aside in the bill to be allocated to IHS federal health programs and to Urban Indian Organizations (UIO). An additional $70 million from the HHS Public Health Emergency Fund will be used to support the COVID-19 response. There is also $10 million set-aside for food and nutritional services as authorized by the Older Americans Act (OAA).

4. National emergency declaration

On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency pursuant to section 501(b) of the Stafford Act related to COVID-19. Under the president’s national declaration, tribes are not required to request individual emergency declarations. Under the declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with HHS, can assist state, local, tribal, territorial governments and other eligible entities with the health and safety actions they take on behalf of the American public. Tribes can choose to seek Stafford Act assistance: a) as a recipient by signing a FEMA tribe agreement; or b) as a subrecipient under a state. FEMA assistance will be provided at a 75% FEMA/25% tribal cost share.

Looking to the future

The need for additional tribal-specific bills has been an ongoing discussion, even while the CARES Act was being negotiated. Many tribal organizations are actively engaging in outreach with various advocacy groups to present a unified voice in influencing future bills.

What you may be wondering

  • What programs are available to tribes?
  • What do we qualify for, how do we apply and what are the deadlines?
  • Are we guaranteed assistance?
  • How do we best position our applications?
  • How do we maintain compliance if awarded?

We are here to help

Our tribal services team is ready and eager to help you navigate the many programs you may qualify for, and we’ve structured our services to advise you exactly where you need it most.

For more information on the outlined relief programs or how to best position your organization for eligibility, application and compliance, contact our tribal leadership team directly.

Joel M. Laubenstein
Neighborhood street leading to state and local government building
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