Rep. Greg Stanton continues to push for COVID-related relief for the Navajo Nation, speaking in favor of the FEMA Assistance Relief Act – legislation he’s co-sponsored to increase the federal cost share of FEMA public assistance funding for COVID-related declarations – at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday.
Navajo Nation leadership asked the Trump Administration to make the FEMA cost-share change in April, which the Administration has the authority to do on its own, but the Navajo request has been ignored.
After the Navajos did not hear from the federal government, Stanton urged the President to grant the request a month later, writing: “In this time of extraordinary need, it is vital the federal government meet its obligation to tribal nations and leverage the full weight of its resources to allow the Navajo Nation to direct more of its limited resources to combatting the virus and other response efforts.”
Yesterday, Stanton said Congress is taking action because the Administration has refused, and reminded the Committee of the urgency of the situation.
“This pandemic has been difficult for so many – but few have been hit harder than the Navajo Nation,” he said. More than 10,000 tribal members have tested positive for the virus, and 555 have died. “Many tribal communities, just like the Navajo, need the federal government to step up. [This bill] would provide much-needed relief to communities and tribal nations whose budgets are stretched thin in response to this unprecedented public health emergency.”
Video of Stanton’s full remarks in support of the bill is available here.
The bill passed the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and now heads to the House floor.
The proposed legislation also addresses FEMA’s recent policy that discontinues reimbursement to schools, courthouses, election agencies, and other government entities for Personal Protective Equipment and sanitation supplies needed for coronavirus containment.