Senate finalises CARES Act with unanimous vote

A statement released by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) has revealed that the Senate has finalized negotiations for the CARES Act, with the measure having been passed with a unanimous vote of 96-0.

As a result, the US House of Representatives is now expected to approve the CARES Act, which will provide a $2 trillion relief to address the immediate public health emergency facing all communities nationwide, by voice vote later today. 

In addition to this, the act is also set to provide funding to alleviate the growing economic impacts on individuals and families, businesses, as well as tribal, state, and local governments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Providing a detailed summary on the provisions that target Native communities and tribal governments, NIGA stated:” One centerpiece of the package for Indian Country is the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CVF). The CARES Act establishes a $150 billion CVF for tribal, state, local and territorial governments to help address the added stress on government budgets. 

“The tribal portion of the fund is $8 billion (5.33%). While NIGA and other Indian Organizations had pushed for a far larger amount, this set-aside for Tribal governments is historic recognition of the governmental status of Indian tribes. 

“However, the program as written will provide both opportunities and challenges for tribes to fully utilize the fund to address tribal government-owned operation closures.”

CVF ‘payment amounts’ to Tribal Governments are set to be based on ‘increased expenditures’ of tribes and tribal government-owned entities relative to 2019 tribal budgets. 

Moreover the treasury secretary, in consultation with Interior and Indian tribes, will now have 30 days to develop the funding model to ensure that ‘all amounts available are distributed to tribal governments.’

The statement continued: “The National Indian Gaming Association will assist Tribes with model comments and examples of how Tribal Governments may structure their programs to apply under the CVF relief fund. 

“We urge all of our Member Tribes to call on the Trump Administration for immediate consultations with the Treasury and Interior to take steps to develop a model that is flexible, fair, and will help address the impacts of tribal government-owned operation closures—which have reduced tribal government incoming revenue to zero for the duration of these closures. 

“We want to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of our Member Tribes and Congressional offices for the tireless work to provide critical resources for Indian Country to combat this pandemic. We will provide a model letter for Member Tribes to thank their Congressional Representatives and the hard-working staff in their offices.”