A $900-billion stimulus package that includes vital aid for Indian Country is finally on its way. President Trump signed the COVID-19 relief bill late on Sunday, December 27 after appearing ready to derail it for almost a week. However, the legislation arrived after two critical unemployment programs lapsed, guaranteeing a delay in benefits for millions of the unemployed. It also came less than 48 hours before the government would have shut down and just days before an eviction moratorium and other critical pandemic relief provisions were set to expire.
Here are the highlights of the relief legislation that especially impact tribes and tribal members:
- An extension until December 31, 2021 to make eligible Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) expenses for tribal governments from payments received as part of the CARES Act. (The extension does not provide extra funding or changes to the definition of eligible expenses.)
- A second stimulus check to individuals earning less than $75,000 a year for a maximum of $600 for qualifying adults and their child dependents. The Internal Revenue Service is expected to start sending the wave of second stimulus checks, which the agency calls economic impact payments, in about a week through a mix of mailed physical checks, direct deposits, and provisions of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) cards.
- Continued funding of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with an additional $284 billion for hardest hit businesses to receive more funding.
- $300 in enhanced unemployment insurance benefits through March 14, 2021.
- $1 billion for the Indian Health Service to support tribes with testing and tracing activities, as well as distributing COVID-19 vaccines directly to tribes. In addition, at least $125 million has been set aside to help support mental and behavioral health.
- $1 billion for tribal broadband land connectivity, which includes a $75 subsidy to help those on tribal lands who are already eligible for the Federal Communications Commissionâ€™s Lifeline program.
- $12 billion in funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) with targeted support for Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and CDFIs supporting low-income and minority communities.
- $998,000 for the Food Distribution Program on reservations.
- $68 million for loans and grants for water and wastewater projectsâ€™ rural water supply and federally recognized Indian tribes and other entities.
- $25 billion in rental assistance to states and local governments, with $800 million set aside for tribes and tribally designated housing entities.
- $818.8 million in education funding for outlying areas and the Bureau of Indian Education.
REDW is committed to assisting tribes and their commercial entities with all aspects of coronavirus relief, as well as the myriad aspects of tribal financial management. For more information, contact Corrine Wilson, Principal and REDW Tribal Practice Leader.
Additionally, learn about REDWâ€™s comprehensive COVID-19 training program, designed to help tribes address and make the most of the COVID-19 relief benefits offered by the Federal Government.
REDW is committed to keeping you informed at all times, and especially through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.Â Stay connected with us onÂ LinkedInÂ andÂ @REDWLLC on Twitter. Access some of our other updates on our COVID-19 Resource Hub.