Proposal to set up fund for American Rescue Plan amount clears Navajo Nation Council

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

GALLUP — The Navajo Nation Council approved a bill during the summer session to create a fund to store the amount the tribe received from the American Rescue Plan.

In May, the Navajo Nation received approximately $1.86 billion from the federal coronavirus relief package. A second allocation is anticipated for release in August by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Tribes have until the end of 2024 to use the funds.

Delegate Carl Slater, who represents five chapters in Arizona, sponsored the bill.

"These allocations to the nation are in response to and to help us provide assistance to our people and our nation due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are specific regulations that govern what are applicable or eligible uses of the funding that the nation will have to follow," Slater said in his presentation on July 22 to the council.

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Additionally, the bill called on using a portion of the $1.86 billion to reimburse the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance and the Síhasin Fund, which have been used over the last year to respond to the pandemic.

It would also establish the financial process to allocate money to projects.

The bill would create a temporary office within the Office of the President and Vice President. This office would serve as a clearinghouse for the $1.86 billion and the office would be responsible for facilitate spending the amount and ensure projects that receive funding are completed.

Delegates voted 21 in favor and one opposed during the summer session on July 22.

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Slater commended the support the bill received from the council in a press release by the Office of the Speaker.

"I look forward to the council appropriating projects that will enhance the collective prosperity of the Navajo Nation in the coming months," Slater said.

The resolution was submitted on July 23 to the president's office. Nez has 10 calendar days to sign or veto the document.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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