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Young, O’Halleran Introduce Bill to Extend Deadline for Tribes to Utilize CARES Act Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Don Young (R-AK-AL) and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) introduced bipartisan legislation that would extend the coverage of Coronavirus Relief Fund payments allocated under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to tribal governments from December 30, 2021 to December 30, 2022.

The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, allocating $8 billion for tribal governments under the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Tribes across America did not receive any funds until May 5, 2020, well after the bill’s statutory deadline.

“The CARES Act was an essential piece of legislation that came at a critical time. But for all assistance it provided for Alaska Native and Native American communities, bureaucratic red tape has delayed the disbursement of these critically needed funds,” said Young. “It has been nearly a year and a half since the CARES Act became law. Time is running out both to dispense relief funding, and for tribal organizations to utilize it. I am proud to introduce legislation with my friend, Congressman Tom O’Halleran, to extend the deadline by which relief money must be spent. Our First Peoples were hit hard by the pandemic, and without adequate time to utilize these funds, their recovery becomes more difficult. We cannot allow this to become a reality; I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important legislation.”

“The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) commends the bipartisan leadership of Congressman Young and Congressman O'Halleran in introducing this absolutely critical legislation,” said AFN President Julie Kitka. “The pandemic has been especially hard on our people. This extension would allow Alaska Natives the time we need to allocate these crucial funds, and to continue forward on the long road to health and economic recovery.”

“Bureaucratic red tape and disorganization by federal agencies left tribes across Arizona’s First District with no aid for over a month while elders, friends, and neighbors succumbed to COVID-19,” said O’Halleran. “The deadline by which tribal governments must spend Coronavirus Relief Fund payments must be extended so that each sovereign nation has adequate time to allocate the monies they are owed to most effectively address and recover from this pandemic that hit tribal communities so hard.”

Support for the legislation:

Dante Desiderio, CEO, National Congress of American Indians:

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is essential that tribal governments have more time to provide support to protect the health and well-being of their citizens. This extension would allow tribal governments to have the ability to further plan, coordinate, and allocate resources in response to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. We thank Representative Tom O'Halleran and Representative Don Young for introducing this important bill."

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