Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso recently joined Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and 10 other senators in calling for greater flexibility and additional resources for tribal governments to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the United States, tribal communities have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic. In Wyoming, a substantial amount of COVID-19 cases and deaths have been members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes on the Wind River Reservation.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the senators urge the congressional leaders to include priorities for tribal governments in a future COVID-19 relief package. They also highlight the need for increased flexibility for tribal governments in how they use funds provided in the CARES Act.
“As you continue negotiations on the next relief package, we want to express our continued support for resources to help Indian Country address the unique challenges they face in this difficult time,” the senators wrote. “As you know, Indian Country has suffered particularly high rates of coronavirus with complicating factors such as obesity, diabetes, and other preexisting conditions. Tribal governments deserve greater flexibility to spend these funds in a manner that meets the individual needs of each tribe. Allowing greater flexibility would enable tribal governments to use their resources in the most efficient manner.”
The Coronavirus Relief Fund, created in Section 601 of the CARES Act, provides tribes and each state funding to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Wyoming, the Eastern Shoshone Tribe received more than $12.3 million in funding and the Northern Arapaho Tribe received more than $27 million in funding.
Click here to read the letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.