ICYMI: Haaland, Gallego Press CDC, FEMA to Deliver Funds, Services to Indian Country Immediately

May 22, 2020
Press Release

Albuquerque, N.M. – In a letter to the CDC and FEMA, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus Deb Haaland (NM-01) and Chair of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States Ruben Gallego (Ariz.-07) pressed for services and funds be delivered to Indian Country immediately. The letter comes after several Tribes and organizations raised concerns about delays and lack of consultation from both agencies occurred amidst the national public health emergency. 

 In their letter, which was delivered to the agencies Wednesday, Haaland and Gallego write, “We have been made aware of tribal FEMA requests for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other critical mission assignments that have gone unanswered, unprocessed, or been denied by FEMA…We find this extremely concerning especially in rural tribal communities in Arizona and New Mexico where many lack access to running water and where contact tracing teams are essential to prevent further outbreak.

 “Of further concern are the severe delays in administering CDC funding that Congress specifically directed for allocation to Tribes, urban Indian organizations, and tribal health providers in the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074), signed into law on March 6, 2020.” 

 The congressional leaders noted that this funding was passed more than two months ago and it still remains unclear how many tribes have received the resources that Congress specifically allocated to tribal governments struggling to address the pandemic.

 Full letter to the CDC and FEMA is available here. 

 Due to chronic underfunding and failure of the federal government to fulfill its trust responsibility, Native American communities have suffered disproportionate impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, the Administration has been slow to provide adequate assistance. Earlier this month, after Haaland and Gallego led the call for the Department of Treasury to immediately release CARES Act funding to Tribes, the Department of Treasury announced it would release a portion of the $8 billion included for sovereign tribal governments in the CARES Act. The administration continues to withhold $3.2 billion of the remaining amount of coronavirus relief funds leaving tribal governments further behind to combat the disastrous impacts of the virus.