On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a Nationwide COVID-19 Emergency. On March 27, 2020, Congress enacted and President Trump signed the CARES Act dedicating $2.2 Trillion to the National response to COVID-19, including $1200 checks for individual relief, $600 per week for unemployed workers, $350 Billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and $150 Billion for Coronavirus Relief for State-Local-Tribal Governments (CRF), with an $8 Billion set-aside for Tribal Governments.
At the time, the President, many in Congress, and Public Health Agencies expected that the COVID-19 Emergency would abate through a shelter-in-place policy in a matter of weeks. Across the Country, as responsible Governments, Indian tribes closed our gaming facilities to protect the public, our employees and our communities.
By now, many of our National Indian Gaming Association Member Tribes have re-opened our gaming facilities with COVID-19 safeguards: limited patron capacity, social distancing, masks, hand sanitizers, temperature checks, etc. Yet, the economic recovery has been slow and halting while the Coronavirus has resurfaced during the summer months.
On May 15, 2020, the House of Representatives in the HEROES Act proposed $3 Trillion in further Federal Government relief to address the National COVID-19 Pandemic and Economic Crisis, including individual $1200 checks, extension of PPP, $989 Billion for State-Local and Tribal Government CRF, including a $20 Billion set-aside for Tribal Governments.
This week, Senate Republican Leadership is planning a vote on a “Skinny” Coronavirus Bill, which provides funds for Education and School Re-Opening, $300 for unemployed workers, includes liability protections for businesses and health-care facilities, more money for health-care funding and a second round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. The “Skinny” Bill is very “Skinny” and provides no funding for individual checks and no funding for State-Local-Tribal Government CRF monies.
For Tribal Governments, the State-Local-Tribal Government CRF monies are critically important, especially given the fact that there will be little time to provide further relief prior to the end of the calendar year because Congress will be going out of session for the November elections. Many of our Friends in Congress have advocated for continuing funding for Tribal Governments. For example, attached is the “Dear Colleague” Letter from Senator Moran and other Republican Senators urging inclusion of relief funds for Tribal Governments. On the Democratic side of the aisle, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer have advocated for full and fair funding for Tribal Governments as well.
We have included a draft template letter for Tribal Government use to urge Congress to provide full and fair funding for Tribal Governments to address the National COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Economic Crisis in accord with our treaties, agreements and Executive Orders and the Federal trust responsibility to assist us with the health and welfare of Indian Country. Please blind carbon copy to Dhermanyhorses@indiangaming.org