Treasury to Disburse Remaining $679M in CRF Funds

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Treasury to Disburse Remaining $679M in CRF Funds

June 16, 2020

Last night, June 15, 2020 the D.C. District Court granted a renewed motion for a preliminary injunction in the case Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians et. al. v. Steven Mnuchin.

The Order requires the Department of the Treasury to disburse the $679 million it held back from the second tranche of Coronavirus Relief Fund payments ($3.2 billion) to tribal governments by June 17, 2020.

With this renewed motion, the Court conceded the delay at this point is significantly more egregious (50 days beyond the deadline) than in the initial motion and that delay in the face of a public health crisis is even less tolerable. The Court held that the CARES Act does not give Treasury the authority to hold back funding as it sees fit, only to determine an appropriate allocation and to disburse the funds. To withhold these funds further only invites more litigation and delays final distributions for months. The CRF was created by Congress to meet emergency needs and to further delay distribution will inhibit tribes' ability to effectively respond to the current public health crisis.

In light of the case brought forth by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation claiming the population formula used for the first tranche was inappropriate, Treasury held back $679 million from the second round of Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) disbursements to be used in adverse litigation brought forth by tribes. Treasury estimated that amount was the difference between the census-based population estimates actually used and the enrollment data reported by Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Court initially rejected the plaintiffs motion brought on May 11, 2020 that Treasury had delayed disbursement of the CRF for too long (16 days past statutorial deadline) and that the irreparable harm of further delay required the immediate disbursement of the funds.
For any other questions or concerns, please contact Dante Desiderio at Dante@nafoa.org or (202) 631-2003.

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