Washington, D.C. – Today,
Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Senator Tom Udall
(D-N.M.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, issued the
following statement on the Republican coronavirus proposal, which shortchanges
Tribal governments and Native American communities:
“It is unacceptable that the
coronavirus relief package put forward by Senate Republicans sidelines the needs
of Tribal governments and Native communities. As Senate Republicans and the
Trump administration have dragged their feet, Tribes have been forced to face
down a disproportionate toll from the COVID-19 pandemic without the federal
resources and support they need.
“Just as we saw with the Republicans'
first CARES Act pitch, this latest Republican proposal fails to uphold the
federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities. It does not invest any
funds to support Tribal governments or essential Tribal government programs. It
threatens to exacerbate Native educational inequalities by woefully
underfunding Tribal schools and colleges, offering less than one quarter of the
budget that Tribes are seeking to prepare their schools for the coming school year.
And, in a disturbing reflection of just what is and isn’t important to this
administration, the Republican proposal would provide less funding to support
COVID-19 prevention and treatment efforts in the Indian Health Service than the
White House proposed for renovating the FBI headquarters. Once again, it is
clear that Indian Country is not a priority for this administration or Senate
Majority Leader McConnell. And, once again, Senate Democrats are standing with
Tribal leaders to say that is unacceptable.
“As we move forward, we will stay in
close communication with Tribal leaders to push for essential priorities to
safeguard the health and economic security of Native communities. We must
ensure that Tribal governments have the resources they need to support their
COVID-19 response efforts in their own communities. Our obligations, both moral
and treaty-bound, demand no less.”