Udall applauds passage of tribal funding for COVID-19 response, Tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension, and Indian Country priorities in end-of-year spending bill
Office of U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Also incorporates robust funding for critical federal Indian programs, Udall-championed programs supporting Native languages and culture, and provisions to combat the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis
Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, applauded the investments in tribal public health and funding for Indian Country priorities that he helped secure in the end-of-year spending and coronavirus relief package that passed Congress.
Udall successfully fought to secure $3.3 billion in dedicated COVID-19 relief for tribes and the Native Hawaiian community in the package. He also worked to include a one-year extension to the $8 billion Tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund he helped author in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March. In addition to ensuring tribes will retain access to the funds they need to maintain essential safety net programs, this extension is especially important to address the administration’s significant delay in allocating the funding after the CARES Act passed while approximately $300 million remains unobligated due to litigation.
“Native Americans across the country continue to demonstrate incredible strength and resilience in the face of a pandemic that is disproportionately hurting their communities,” Udall said. “Tribal governments are doing everything in their power to protect their communities and elders from this pandemic. The federal government must step up to support these efforts and live up to its trust and treaty obligations. I fought alongside tribal leaders to include some of their most urgent priorities in this long-awaited additional federal COVID-19 relief so they have greater flexibility in spending CARES Act relief funds, robust funding for lifesaving public health measures and COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and enhanced resources for housing, education and broadband access.”
This bipartisan funding package will make a real difference for Native communities in New Mexico and throughout Indian Country – both in their fight against COVID-19 and for years to come,” Udall continued. “Working alongside tribes to advance Indian Country’s priorities has been one of the highest honors of my life, and I am proud to have secured so many priorities in my final days here in the Senate.”
COVID-19 Relief for Indian Country and Native communities in the COVID-19 funding package includes:
Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension
- Provides a one-year extension to December 31, 2021, for tribal governments to use funds appropriated through the CARES Act; and
- Ensures tribes will continue to have access to the funds they need to maintain essential safety net services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Broadband ($1 billion)
- Sets aside $1 billion for direct support to Native American communities, including tribal colleges and universities and Native Hawaiian communities, for access to broadband through the Department of Commerce.
Vaccines, Testing and Tracing, and Community health ($1 billion)
- Provides a $1 billion direct transfer to the Indian Health Service to distribute to federal, tribal, and urban health programs for vaccine distribution and testing, tracing, and mitigation for COVID-19 – including:
- $210 million will ensure Indian Health Service facilities, tribes, and urban Native communities have the resources they need for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration, and
- $790 million will be available to support testing, contact tracing, and other COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Mental Health ($125 million)
- Sets aside $125 million in additional funding for tribes and urban Indian health organizations within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to address the mental health needs of Native communities.
- Telehealth ($25 million)
- Provides a $25 million direct transfer to the Indian Health Service from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enhance telehealth access at federal, tribal, and urban health programs
Housing Assistance ($800 million)
- Sets aside $800 million in funding for tribally Designated Housing Entities and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to address housing stability issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Low-Income Household Water Emergency Assistance Program ($19 million)
- Sets aside approximately $19 million for tribes to carry out activities under a Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Emergency Assistance Program.
Education ($552+ million)
- Provides a $409 million dollars transfer to the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) from the Department of Education to distribute to Bureau of Indian Education K-12 schools and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) for COVID-19 mitigation and distance learning costs; and
- Directs $143 million to tribal colleges and universities, Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions, Alaska Native-Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions, and Asian American-Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions.
Fisheries ($30 million)
- Provides $30 million for tribal fisheries across the U.S.
- Provides $10 billion in supplemental funding for the Department of Health and Human Services early childhood programs, from which participating tribes will receive allocations to cover operating costs, reopening costs, personnel costs, and COVID-19 mitigation costs.
New FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Benefit
- Provides financial aid to those who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. Tribal governments with COVID-19 emergency or major disaster emergency declaration will not have to pay a cost-share to carry-out this provision.
CDFIs and Minority Depository Institutions:
- Provides $12 billion in targeted emergency investments to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) to help borrowers and communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Directs $3 billion in emergency assistance to Community Development Financial Institutions through the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, of which $1.2 billion will be targeted to minority lending institutions.
The Fiscal Year 2021 funding package reauthorized two critical tribal health and safety-net program and provided funding for important federal Indian programs, including:
Special Diabetes Program for Indians
- Reauthorizes the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) through FY2023, the longest Special Diabetes Program for Indians reauthorization in a decade.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Reauthorizes the Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through FY2021.
Indian Health Service (S6.2 billion)
- Provides $6.236 billion for the Indian Health Service, a 3 percent increase above last year.
- Includes new funding to staff tribal health facilities and to increase mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, preventive care and purchased and referred care programs.
Public Health ($22 million)
- Rejects the Trump Administration’s attempt to defund the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s largest annual investment in tribal public health; and
- Increases funding for the program to $22 million; and
- Requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director to develop – in consultation with tribes – written guidelines on best practices for delivery of technical assistance to tribes and improve tribal access to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention programs.
Behavioral Health & Substance Use Disorder Treatment Resources ($87 million)
- Includes $2.5 million for Indian Health Service’ Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program, an increase of $500,000 above last year;
- Provides $21 million to continue Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program;
- Sets aside $50 million within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for Indian tribes or tribal organizations to address opioid and substance use disorders in their communities; and
- Provides $11 million to support tribal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grants for medication-assisted treatment.
Department of the Interior tribal programs ($3.4 billion)
- Provides $3.397 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education, a 5 percent increase above last year;
- Includes $1.7 million in new funding within the budgets of Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Park Service for the Indian Youth Service Corps; and
- Includes $500,000 in new funding for Bureau of Indian Affairs to implement Udall’s newly enacted Native American Business Incubators Act to support Native entrepreneurs.
Indian Arts and Crafts Act enforcement ($3.5 million)
- Provides $3.5 million within Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement to work with the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to combat international trafficking of counterfeit arts and crafts and to conduct criminal investigations of alleged violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.
Native Languages ($16+ million)
- Continues $3 million in Department of Interior funding to support Native language instruction and immersion;
- Increases funding for Native American language programs to $13 million for the Administration for Native American’s Native American Language programs, including no less than $5 million for the Esther Martinez programs; and
- Increases funding by $500,000 for Native language grants at the Department of Education.
Higher Education ($208+ million)
- Increases Department of the Interior funding to support tribal colleges and universities to $153.5 million;
- Increases Department of Education funding to support tribal colleges and universities to $38 million;
- Increases funding to $16.5 million for the National Science Foundation’s tribal college and university program; and
- Continues strong tribal college and university 1994 Land Grant Institution programs at the United States Department of Agriculture.
Education Construction ($284 million)
- Continues strong support for addressing construction and maintenance backlogs at the Bureau of Indian Education by providing over $264 million; and
- Includes $15 million in new funding to address facilities needs at tribal colleges and universities.
VAWA, MMIW, & Public Safety ($541 million)
- Provides $449 million for tribal public safety and justice programs at the Department of the Interior, including—
- $3 million to support tribal implementation of the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction authorities restored to them in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization,
- $2 million specifically dedicated to investigation of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) cold cases,
- $2.5 million to improve Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and human trafficking response training, and
- $4.77 million for special initiatives to improve Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women evidence collection and investigations; and
- Provides $92+ million within the Department of Justice to support tribal public safety efforts, including—
- $3 million to support tribal access to federal law enforcement databases, and
- $4 million to support tribal implementation of the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction authorities restored to tribes in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.
Victim Resources ($100+ million)
- Continues to support direct tribal access to federal funding for victims of crime by including a 5% set-aside for tribes within the Crime Victim Fund allocation, resulting in $100+ million for victim services going directly to Native communities.
Housing programs ($825 million)
- Provides $825 million in total for Native American Housing programs, $225 million above the president’s budget request; and
- Includes $5 million for the tribal HUD-VASH Program for rental assistance for Native American veterans that are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“638” Contracting & Compacting
- Fully funds contract support cost requirements;
- Includes new indefinite appropriations for Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs to fully fund requirements for tribal leases as authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act; and
- Requires the Secretaries of the Interior and Health and Human Services to undertake tribal consultation to develop long term solutions to ensure full funding of tribal leases and improve budget certainty for tribes.
- Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to update Congress on its efforts to engage with tribes to kickstart participation in the tribal Self-Determination demonstration program for food procurement for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), a provision Udall championed in the 2018 Farm Bill; and
- Requires a report detailing United States Department of Agriculture’s plans to increase the amount and variety of traditional foods including wild salmon, caribou, reindeer and elk for Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.