After Tester Improvements, Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Now Includes $10 Billion in Critical Relief for Indian Country
Includes more than $7.6 million in Indian Housing funds for Montana Tribes
After 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to the Senate’s COVID-19 stimulus legislation, U.S. Senator Jon Tester voted to deliver $10 billion to strengthen Indian Country’s response to the COVID-19 crisis—relief that Tester successfully pushed to include after it was omitted from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s original bill offered over the weekend.
“This bill isn’t perfect, but it will help provide the most urgently needed relief for workers, small businesses, hospitals, and Tribal governments in Indian Country—home to an at-risk population and lacking the medical infrastructure and supplies to help folks who need it most,” Tester said. “The original bill would have left our Native American communities out in the cold at a time when relief cannot wait another minute. I’ll keep fighting to ensure Indian Country has the tools they need to effectively combat this crisis.”
Tester worked hand-in-hand with Tribal leaders and pushed over the nearly 72 hours of final, bipartisan negotiations to ensure the bill included funds targeted at relief for Indian Country, including:
- $8 billion in emergency funds to help Tribal governments and their enterprises recover from the effects of COVID-19
- More than $7.6 million in Indian Housing Block Grant funds for Montana Tribes:
- $750,004 for Crow
- $1.3 million for Fort Peck
- $1.9 million for Blackfeet
- $767,992 for Rocky Boy
- $603,669 for Fort Belknap
- $884,873 for Northern Cheyenne
- $1.4 million for Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
- $1 billion to the Indian Health Service to support Tribal health care system response efforts
- $453 million for operation of essential Tribal government services funded through the Bureau of Indian Affairs
- $100 million in additional funding for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- $69 million to help Tribal schools, colleges and universities through the Bureau of Indian Education
- $300 million in additional funding to the Indian Tribal Block Grant program
- Extension of funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians through November 30, 2020
In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Tester outlined his opposition to Senator McConnell’s original spending package—laying out why it did not address the urgent needs of the Montanans he has spoken to—while working around the clock to successfully craft a bipartisan compromise.
And last week, Tester urged Senate Leadership to ensure that Washington does not leave Montana behind in its response to the outbreak by pressing for this legislative package to include key priorities for Montana workers, schools, small businesses, Tribes, and local governments-feedback that he’s heard directly from folks on the ground.
Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresouces for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak