Representatives Gallego and O’Halleran lead Arizona delegation in urging immediate relief for Arizona tribes
Office of Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07)
Friday, Representative Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) and Representation Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) led a bipartisan letter signed by every Member of the Arizona delegation to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt urging them to quickly and fairly distribute $8 billion of economic relief for Tribal governments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The CARES Act, signed into law March 27, set aside $8 billion in a Coronavirus Relief Fund to help Tribal governments which are struggling in the midst of this crisis to provide adequate health care, continue essential government services, and pay employees of shuttered Tribal businesses. The letter points out the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic will likely have on Arizona Tribes, demonstrated already by the outbreak that has reached over 200 confirmed cases and resulted in seven deaths and severe resource shortages on the Navajo Nation.
“Our country is waging a war with this new virus, and we need to ensure no community is left behind without the resources they need in that fight,” the Members wrote. “We must also protect our workers and keep them paid so they can purchase the food and supplies they need to get their families through this crisis safely. This is true of all our communities, including Tribal Nations, who are uniquely vulnerable to this health and economic crisis.”
“Arizona Tribes know best how to lead their communities through this crisis, and we need to move quickly to ensure they have the resources to do so,” said Representative Ruben Gallego, Chairman of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the U.S. “Indian Country cannot afford the delays in the distribution of this relief that have plagued this administration. Arizona Tribes are already feeling the consequences of this crisis, and every day counts. While we push for the swift implementation of the CARES Act, we will continue to advocate for Tribes to receive the help they need to combat this pandemic in future bills.”
“Since we first learned of the serious threat the coronavirus poses to our communities, I have been concerned with the lack of attention the Navajo Nation has received from state and federal agencies responsible for COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts,” said Representative O’Halleran, a member of Congressional Native American Caucus. “As the number of cases on Navajo has doubled, then tripled, my colleagues and I have made call after call on the federal entities charged with disbursing the dedicated funding for Tribes we fought for across three legislative packages. Thus far, we have seen delay and confusion from federal agencies, which has led to an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths on the Navajo Nation. Tribal Governments are best equipped to respond to the needs of their members and the Treasury Department must move swiftly to make sure tribal governments have the funds they need to do so. The United States has treaty and trust obligations to care for the health and welfare of Tribes across the country; we will not stop fighting for Indian Country.”