Yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats introduced the HEROES Act, the House’s proposal for the 4 th COVID-19 legislation to provide $3 Trillion for testing and tracking, hospitals, Medicaid, medical workers, State-Local-Tribal Governments Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) flexibility, unemployment benefit extension to address the economic crisis resulting from this national pandemic. Specifically, for Indian Country the HEROES Act would:
- Tribal Government Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF): Provides an additional $20 billion to Tribal Governments for the CRF; ensures that only the governing bodies of federally recognized Indian tribes are eligible for the CRF by defining the term “Tribal Government” as defined in the 1994 Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act; mandates accountability and transparency in the Treasury Department’s implementation of the CRF; expands the use of CRF funds to include lost, delayed, or decreased revenues; and requires the Treasury Department to reissue recouped CRF funds to Tribal Governments.
- Direct Appropriations: Provides an additional $900 million to meet Tribal government needs to address the pandemic, including: $780 million in BIA-related programs and services to help Tribal government maintain the operation of tribal programs and services, including cleaning Tribal facilities; $100 million to address overcrowded housing, which is prohibiting social isolation and feeding the spread of the virus in Indian Country; $20 million for sanitation needs to provide for water hydration and hygiene issues to mitigate and respond to coronavirus.
- Indian Health Care: Provides an additional $2.1 billion to address Indian Country’s health care needs related to coronavirus, including: $1 billion to account for lost third party revenues as a result of reduced medical care; $64 million for Urban Indian Health Organizations; $10 million to assist with sanitation, hydration and hygiene needs in Indian Country; $500 million to provide health care, including telehealth services to Native Americans, and to purchase medical supplies and personal protective equipment; $140 million to expand broadband infrastructure technology for telehealth and electronic health records systems; among other provisions.
- Expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit: Increases the employee retention tax credit maximum percentage from 50 percent to 80 percent and modifies the definition of “larger employer.” Tribal governments and entities engaged in trade or business remain eligible for this tax credit.
- Municipal Liquidity Facility: Provides authority for the Federal Reserve Bank to purchase bills, notes, revenue bonds and warrants issued by governments, includes tribal governments in its municipal liquidity facility (MLF). Treasury did not permit Tribal Governments or tribally-owned entities to participate in the MLF under the CARES Act, and instead shoehorned tribes into the Main Street Lending Facility.
While the HEROES Act is expected to pass the House, its prospects in the U.S. Senate remain unclear. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has urged Congress to “take a pause” and evaluate the prior COVID-related relief bills before moving forward. For her part, Speaker Pelosi said “the rent doesn’t take a pause. The bills don’t take a pause.”
The House of Representatives plans to vote on the HEROES Act on Friday, May 15, 2020. Please write to your Senators and Congressmen to support the HEROES Act (4 th COVID-19 Relief Package). A model letter is attached for your consideration.
Please contact Danielle Her Many Horses at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns with this alert.