After Pressure from Tester, More Than $200 Million in Coronavirus Economic Relief Finally Headed to Montana Tribes

Treasury begins disbursing critical funding Tester secured in CARES Act

Following weeks of pressure from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the U.S. Department of Treasury is finally disbursing the $8 billion in coronavirus economic relief funds for Tribal governments that Tester secured in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

More than $200 million of these funds will be allocated to all eight of Montana’s Tribes—including the recently-recognized Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians—and will help Tribal governments continue operations and keep Native American families safe during the pandemic. These funds were originally left out of Senator Mitch McConnell’s pandemic response package.

“During this unprecedented time, our Tribes are among the most at-risk, and the resources allocated by the federal government should reflect that,” Tester said. “This funding is critical to the health and wellbeing of everyone living in Indian Country, and while it took some time to pry loose, I’m glad these tools will finally help Tribal governments provide the economic relief Native American families need as we confront this crisis together.”

Tester called on the Administration three separate times to expedite essential Tribal government funds to keep Tribal members healthy and safe. Tribes rely on such governance funding as well as Tribal businesses to generate revenue to fund essential services including health care, education, public safety, housing and social services—and in light of the outbreak, those services are now at risk.

Tester has led the charge to make sure Native American communities are not left out of the COVID-19 response. He called on the Trump Administration to engage with Tribal leaders to make sure that the CARES Act resources are directed quickly to where they are most needed, and that the federal government lives up to its trust and treaty responsibilities. Tester also demanded U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar release $80 million Congress appropriated as a part of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act after a nearly two week delay, and has pressed the Administration to work with Native American communities and Tribal leaders in coordinating their response to the outbreak.

Visit for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak