March 30, 2020

Key Takeaways for Indian Country From the Coronavirus Relief Package

On March 25, 2020, the Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which the House passed and President Trump signed into law on March 27, 2020.

The Act appropriates $8 billion in relief funds in fiscal year 2020 specifically for tribal governments, which are defined as the governing body of an Indian tribe. The amount paid to each tribal government from the relief funds will be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and each Indian tribe, based on the increased expenditures of each tribal government (or a tribally-owned entity of such tribal government) in 2020 compared to those in 2019. The expenditures must have been previously un-budgeted and incurred between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Several Indian Country-focused lobbying efforts are working to ensure that the Treasury will treat tribally-owned and operated gaming facilities as essential governmental functions for purposes of eligibility for the relief funds.

The Act earmarks up to $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees and investments for states (which, as defined, include Indian tribes) to purchase obligations directly from issuers thereof and make loans, including loans or other advances secured by collateral. The Secretary of the Treasury has broad discretion over the form of loans authorized by this part of the Act.

Additionally, the Act provides relief for small businesses (including those of qualified Indian tribes) in the form of a $349 billion paycheck protection program. A qualifying tribally-owned small business with fewer than 500 employees is eligible for business loans to cover payroll and other employee-related costs. The Faegre Drinker Indian law team is closely monitoring developments and working with clients to navigate access to funds under the Act.

As the number of cases around the world grows, Faegre Drinker’s Coronavirus Resource Center is available to help you understand and assess the legal, regulatory and commercial implications of COVID-19.

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