On Tuesday, May 5, the Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and the Secretary of Interior David L. Bernhardt announced how billions of dollars in Coronavirus Relief Fund money will be distributed to Native American tribal governments throughout the country.
The CARES Act, which passed on March 25, included a set aside of $8 billion for tribal governments to cover the costs of combating the coronavirus. However, due to court battles over whether corporations affiliated with tribes should receive funds, funds were delayed. Last week, the federal court sided with tribes, blocking the Trump Administration’s actions and enforcing that the purpose of the funds was intended for emergency needs for governments during the pandemic.
Secretary Mnuchin said that “$4.8 billion of the $8 billion (60 percent of the funds) will be made available through the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) based on the fair balancing of tribal needs. The remaining 40 percent of the $8 billion will be dispersed based on the total number of persons employed by the tribes and tribal-owned entity.” According to the joint statement, “amounts calculated for Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act regional and village corporations will be held back until pending litigation relating to their eligibility is resolved.”
In addition, the Treasury Department posted a document regarding its Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) methodology titled “Allocations to Tribal Governments” and on May 4, 2020, the Treasury Department updated its Frequently Asked Questions on use of CRF funds.