Congress Releases Legislative Text of the FY 21 Omnibus Appropriations and COVID Relief Bill

CONGRESS RELEASES LEGISLATIVE TEXT OF THE FY 21 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS AND COVID RELIEF BILL

This afternoon, the House released the legislative text for the FY 21 Omnibus Appropriations and COVID Relief Bill as well as the Joint Explanatory Statements for the appropriations bills. The bill and joint explanatory statements can be found HERE.

In addition, House Democrats have released a number of summaries to go along with the bill which can be found at the House Appropriations Committee Website
HERE.

The House is expected to pass the legislation tonight as well as a seven-day continuing resolution (CR) in order to ensure time for the Senate to consider the bill and for the bill to be printed and sent to the White House for the President’s signature. The Senate may be able to take up and pass the bill as early as tonight if there are no objections.

Mapetsi is beginning to review the nearly 5,600 page bill and the over thousand pages of Joint Explanatory Statements. As we go through the bill we will provide a more detailed summary for you, but here is a short summary of some of the key provisions:

COVID Relief Provisions

  • CRF Extension – Although there are no new funds for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the bill extends the deadline to spend CRF payments received by tribal, state, local and territorial governments under the CARES Act to December 31, 2021.
  • Rescission of Federal Reserve Lending Facility Funding – Rescinds $429 billion in Federal Reserve lending authority for the Main Street and Municipal Lending Facilities for corporations and governments.
  • Enhanced Unemployment Assistance – Extends pandemic unemployment assistance to March 31, 2021. The enhanced unemployment assistance is reduced from $600/week to $300/week.
  • Tax Exempt Stimulus Checks – Provides for $600 tax-exempt payments to individuals earning less than $75,000 ($150,000 for joint filers).
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – Provides for an additional $285 billion for PPP loans for small businesses.
  • Vaccine Distribution – $210M from CDC to be transferred to IHS.
  • Testing, Equipment, Contact Tracing – $790M from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to IHS.
  • SAMHSA – Not less than $125M in additional funding for tribal behavioral health programs.
  • Education Stabilization Fund – BIE receives a 0.5% set aside from the fund, totaling approximately $409M with 60% allocated to Elementary and Secondary Schools and 40% to Tribal Colleges and Universities.
  • Tribal Transportation Program – An additional $114.6M is allocated for the Tribal Transportation Program.
  • Indian Housing – provides $800 million in additional funding to tribal governments and tribal housing authorities as defined in NAHASDA.
  • CDFIs in Indian Country – provides for not less than $25 million for Community Development Financial Institutions in Indian Country.
  • Tribal Broadband – $1 billion for “Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants” to expand access to and adoption of broadband service on Tribal land; and remote learning, telework, or telehealth resources during the COVID–19 pandemic. The grant program will be administered by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

FY 21 Omnibus Appropriations

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs – $2.16B, an increase of $127.3M over FY 20 levels.
  • Bureau of Indian Education – $1.24B, an increase of $46M over FY 20 levels.
  • Indian Health Service – $6.24B, an increase of $189.2M over FY 20 levels.
  • Housing – $647M for formula IHBG, $100M for competitive IHBG, and $70M for ICDBG, the same as FY 20 levels.
  • FDPIR – $162M for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
  • Department of Justice – $92.5M for Tribal grants; $52.6M for Tribal VAWA; and 5% set aside from the Crime Victims Fund.
  • EPA Tribal General Assistance Program – $66.3M for the Tribal GAP, an increase of $774k over FY 20 levels.
  • Department of Education – $181.2M for Indian Education programs at the Department of Education.
  • SAMHSA – $20.75M for Tribal Behavioral Grants for Mental Health; $20.75M for Tribal Behavioral Grants for Substance Abuse Prevention.

Other Legislative Provisions Authorized

  • 3-year Reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) – SDPI is reauthorized through 2023.
  • TANF Reauthorization – The TANF program is reauthorized through September 30, 2021.
  • Homeless Assistance Grants – Authorizes tribal eligibility for McKinney-Vento Homeless AssistanceGrants.
  • Tax Extenders – The Indian Employment Tax Credit and Accelerated Depreciation for Business Property on Indian Reservation are extended through 2021.

Congress Reaches Deal on FY 21 Omnibus Appropriations and COVID Relief Bill; Includes CRF Extension to Dec. 31, 2021; Passes One-Day CR

Congress Reaches Deal on FY 21 Omnibus Appropriations and COVID Relief Bill; Includes CRF Extension to Dec. 31, 2021; Passes One-Day CR

With federal government funding set to expire again tonight, House and Senate Leaders have reached a deal on the $1.4T FY 21 Omnibus Appropriations and the approximately $900B COVID Relief Bill. At present, the House and Senate have not released the legislative text to the bill. However, the bill does include an extension for using the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) until December 31, 2021. We have also heard that the bill does not include any new flexibilities on the use of the funds, but that this may be something that the next administration could address. In addition, as reported by multiple news outlets, the bill will not contain any new funding for state, local, or tribal governments.

Although no specific legislative text has been released, House Democrats have released a summary of some key provisions. According to the summary, the bill also provides direct payments of $600 for individuals making less than $75,000 and $600 for each child dependent; an extension of unemployment insurance through March 14 with an increase of $300 per week; over $280B for additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans; $69B for Vaccines, Testing, and Contact Tracing; $82B for schools (including over $800M for BIE schools); $25B for rental assistance (including $800M for tribal housing); $13B for nutrition assistance; $10B for childcare; $7B for broadband; and an extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit among other programs.

In order to provide time for both the House and Senate to go through their legislative process, Congress is passing a one-day continuing resolution (CR) tonight. It is expected that the House will pass the FY 21 Omnibus Appropriations and COVID Relief Bill tomorrow as well as a seven-day CR to allow more time for the Senate to consider the bill and to have the bill printed for the President to sign.

House Natural Resources Committee Majority Staff Releases New Report: “Repairing the Trump Administration’s Damage to U.S. Indigenous Communities & Charting a Better Way Forward”

House Natural Resources Committee Majority Staff Releases New Report: “Repairing the Trump Administration’s Damage to U.S. Indigenous Communities & Charting a Better Way Forward”

A day after the announcement that President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as the first Native American Secretary of the Interior, Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and the Democratic majority staff of the House Natural Resources Committee released a new report titled “Repairing the Trump Administration’s Damage to U.S. Indigenous Communities & Charting a Better Way Forward”, offering the incoming administration and the 117th Congress a broad overview of how federal policy in Indian Country can be improved.

The report includes four major sections:

  • A history of President Trump’s racism toward and intentional disrespect of Native Americans, and the policy impacts his attitudes have had during his tenure;
  • The desecration and destruction of sacred tribal sites;
  • The Trump administration’s negligent failures in responding to the coronavirus pandemic throughout Indian Country; and
  • Recommendations for the incoming Biden administration.

Chair Grijalva championed Rep. Haaland’s candidacy for the Interior position. He has said he looks forward to having an Interior secretary who prioritizes tribal input rather than following the demands of extractive industries, as the Trump administration has done.

Key recommendations include the creation of a White House Office of Native American Affairs, establishing a deputy secretary of Native American affairs position under the secretary of the Interior, and reestablishing and restructuring the Obama administration’s White House Council on Native American Affairs. One of the main problems identified in the report is the lack of advocacy on behalf of Indian Country within the executive branch and the White House itself, where tribal equities are often sidelined or subsumed into other, sometimes conflicting portfolios.

“With Secretary Haaland at the helm, the Interior Department can help end centuries of discrimination and live up to the best ideals of our country,” Grijalva said today. “The Biden administration has more than a historic opportunity – it has a mandate to follow a more inclusive policy process and rebuild the relationship between the federal government and the American people. This report is a road map to help get that process started. I’m excited to work with Rep. Haaland and the entire Biden administration to center our environmental policies around community welfare and stakeholder input, which have been sorely lacking over the past four years.”

Biden Selects Rep. Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior

Biden Selects Rep. Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior

Today, President-elect Joe Biden indicated he will nominate Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) for Secretary of the Interior. Her selection is historic. If confirmed, she will become the first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary.

Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo. Elected in 2016, Haaland was one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Congresswoman Haaland grew up in a military family; her father was a 30-year combat Marine who was awarded the Silver Star Medal for saving six lives during Vietnam, and her mother is a Navy veteran who was a federal employee for 25 years in Indian education. She began her career in politics as a volunteer, working to increase voter turnout among Native Americans in her spare time. That work led to a job with the Obama campaign in 2012 and taking the step to run for Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico in 2014. After an unsuccessful campaign, she took over as Chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party. Haaland was also the first Chairwoman elected to the Laguna Development Corporation.

Rep. Haaland has served in key leadership positions during her time in Congress. She is the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources (HNR) and serves as Chair of the HNR Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. She is also Co-chair of the Native American Caucus and was elected the Freshman Class Representative to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Haaland, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, is “one of the most respected and one of the best members of Congress” and would be an “excellent choice” to lead Interior.