Tribal Covid $ spending flexibility, behavioral health & infrastructure provisions included in new budget law
IHS advance appropriations received the spotlight last week, but there's more for tribes in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
WASHINGTON — Signed, sealed, soon to be delivered.
There’s much more included for Indian Country in the $1.7 trillion federal budget omnibus than the widely-celebrated $5 billion in advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service.
Signed into law by President Joe Biden today, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 also contains provisions to support Native behavioral health (including that of veterans), as well as new flexibility for tribes for Covid-19 relief monies, per an amendment offered by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Alex Padilla (D-CA), which passed the Senate by voice vote last week.
The bipartisan amendment, which tribes had been urging — especially after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had worked earlier this year to claw black some tribal relief aid — makes several categories of infrastructure investments and disaster relief eligible for unspent tribal Covid-19 relief dollars. It also extends the deadline for tribes to utilize relief funding if budgeted for eligible infrastructure projects.
Given that the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) made water, wastewater, and broadband infrastructure eligible for pandemic funding, the Cornyn-Padilla Amendment (labeled the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act) provides additional flexibility for states, tribes and localities to spend their allocations of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
In short, the amendment offers tribal officials additional flexibility to responsibly spend their own funds.
Note: there is a cap — the greater of $10 million or 30 percent of the funds — on how much Covid money can be spent on these new purposes, though the previous ARPA monies set asides for water, wastewater, and broadband remain unrestricted.
The amendment does not place spending mandates on recipients of Covid funding, and it does not reclaim any distributed funding.
Also important, the total tribal spending in this law combined with the previous Covid relief funds to tribes still falls far short of the $105 billion tribes had been requesting in the Inflation Reduction Act alone and remains far from the $205 billion top Native leaders are advocating for yearly federal spending to address Indian Country inequities.
Below is an outline courtesy of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Brian Schatz (D-HI) highlighting the Native provisions in the law he believes are most noteworthy:
Advance Appropriations for IHS
· Protects IHS programs from essential service disruptions due to funding uncertainty and government shutdowns
· Brings IHS into parity with other federal health care providers, all of which either receive advance appropriations or mandatory funding
· Prevents other impacts of IHS funding uncertainty, including risk of downgraded credit ratings on commercial loans secured by Tribes and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs), challenges related to recruitment and retention of healthcare providers, and increased administrative burdens and costs
· Enables long-term planning to maintain orderly and continuous operations of critical health programs
· Helps fulfil the federal government’s trust responsibility to provide Native Americans with quality health care
New Native Behavioral Health Resources
· Authorizes $80 million in annual appropriations for four fiscal years to support Native communities’ behavioral health needs
· Ensures the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) consults with Tribes, confers with UIOs, and engages with the Native Hawaiian community on administration of this new non-competitive funding
· Opens the door to delivery of funds through Indian Self-Determination Act contracts or compacts
FUNDING FOR NATIVE PROGRAMS
$12.1+ billion for Native health programs at HHS
· $6.9 billion for IHS programs – including $217.6 million for electronic health records modernization and $90.4 million for Urban Indian Health programs – plus $5.1 billion in advance appropriations for IHS
· $46.4 million for Tribal Behavioral Health Grants at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
· $27 million for Health Resource and Services Administration grants to the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems
· $14.5 million for SAMHSA’s Tribal Opioid Response grant program
· $4 million from the Office of Minority Health for the Center for Indigenous Innovation and Equity
· $2 million for a Tribal set-aside within the Minority HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment program
$1.6+ billion for Native American education and workforce development programs at the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) at DOI, the Department of Education (ED), and the Department of Labor (DOL)
· $1.4 billion for BIE education programs and construction, including $481.6 million in Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP) formula funds and $70 million for student transportation
· $60 million for Native American workforce programs at DOL
· $51.5 million for Tribal Colleges and Universities at ED
· $45.9 million for the Native Hawaiian Education Program at ED
· $44.9 million for the Alaska Native Education Program at ED
· $24.4 million for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions of Higher Education at ED
· $11.4 million for Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions of Higher Education at ED
$1+ billion for Native American housing programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development
· $937 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant Program
· $75 million for the Indian Community Development Block Grant Program
· $22.3 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program
· $1 million for Native community development capacity building
$656.5+ million to address violence against Native women and public safety needs of Native communities
· $579 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) public safety and justice programs
· $60 million for the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Office of Justice Programs assistance to Indian Tribes
· $11 million for DOJ’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) Tribal VAWA implementation grant program
· $3 million for a DOJ initiative to support cross-designation of Tribal prosecutors as Tribal Special Assistant United States Attorneys
· $2 million to support establishment of a Native Hawaiian Resource Center on Domestic Violence
· $1 million for DOJ - OVW to conduct analysis & research on violence against Indian women
· $500,000 for a national Training and Technical Assistance clearinghouse on issues relating to sexual assault of American Indian & Alaska Native women
· 5 percent set-aside for Indian Tribes to receive direct funding from the Crime Victims Fund
$349+ million for programs to support Native American languages and cultures
· $23 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
· $295 million for Native American/Hawaiian museum services
· $15 million for HHS’s Administration for Native Americans Native language grant programs
· $12.4 million for Native American language immersion schools and programs
· $2.75 million for Native Hawaiian/Alaska Native culture and arts development
· $1.5 million for ED to fund establishment of a Native American Language Resource Center
$74+ million in Tribal water funding to support the delivery of clean drinking water and control water pollution
· $4 million for the Indian Reservation Drinking Water Program
· $800,000 for rural water systems for Tribal communities
· 1.5% increase in set-aside for Tribes from the Federal Water Pollution Control Act
· $70 million for tribes for rural water and water disposal
$289+ million in Tribal climate and environmental resiliency funding to help Tribal communities address and prepare for the effects of climate change
· $35 million for DOI’s Tribal Climate Resilience program, inclusive of $750 thousand for climate adaptation grants
· $1.5 million for DOI’s Tribal climate relocation grants
· $20 million for Alaskan contaminated lands inventory, assessment, and remediation
· $11.74 million for reclamation of abandoned mines on Tribal lands
· $70 million for EPA water and wastewater disposal grants
· $6.2 million for tribal wildlife grants
· $16.4 million for tribal air quality management
· $44.5 million for BIA operations costs related to the consequences of wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters occurring prior to 2023
· $2.5 million for BIA construction costs related to the consequences of wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters occurring prior to 2023
· Removes matching requirement for Tribes accessing the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund
· $2 million for the Army Corps to update its climate change response polices to enhance consideration of tribal and other communities. statement
· $500,000 to NOAA to increase staffing and strengthen outreach to tribal governments, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians
· $500,000 to expand drought prediction outreach to Tribal communities through the National Integrated Drought Information System
· $75 million for Indian Energy policy and programs
· $4 million for Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program administration and loan costs
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