Reps. Lead Push for Tribal Small Businesses to Access Relief During Coronavirus

Rep. Sharice Davids, Vice-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, said: “It’s essential that Tribal small businesses can access these critical loan programs as Congress intended so they can pay their employees, keep their businesses afloat, and to help preserve their economy. The Small Business Administration needs to reverse this rule immediately.”

Representative Sharice Davids (Kansas-03) and Representative Ruben Gallego (Arizona-07) are leading an effort to make CARES Act, and specifically Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), funding available to Tribal gaming businesses and Tribal financial enterprises. 

READ MORE: Tribal Gaming Excluded From SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program 

Today, the representatives sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, signed by 38 bipartisan members of Congress, calling for Tribal small businesses to have access to these critical relief programs. 

While the CARES Act provides for Tribal small businesses to access Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, the Small Business Administration released an interim rule last week that excludes Tribally operated gaming and financial operations from accessing this critical assistance. The letter called on the Small Business Administration and Department of Treasury to reverse this harmful rule.

The letter states: “Tribal businesses, including tribal gaming enterprises and tribal financial enterprises, are significant employers for Tribal Reservations and their surrounding communities, especially in rural areas. While tribal businesses are closed to protect their employees and the public from the spread of the pandemic, it is essential that all tribal businesses under 500 employees have access to PPP loans to be able to continue to pay their employees and to help preserve their tribal economy and the surrounding communities’ economy.” 

Rep. Sharice Davids, Vice-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, said in a statement: “We should be doing everything we can to support our small businesses right now, including our tribal businesses, which are vital employers for Tribal Reservations and their surrounding communities. It’s essential that tribal small businesses can access these critical loan programs as Congress intended so they can pay their employees, keep their businesses afloat, and to help preserve their economy. The Small Business Administration needs to reverse this rule immediately.” 

“Congress clearly intended for the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program to apply to all Tribal businesses under 500 employees. These small Tribal businesses, including gaming operations, are essential to Tribal sovereignty and are often critical not only to the wellbeing of a Tribal Nation, but to the economy of surrounding communities,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, Chairman of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples. “SBA must immediately clarify its eligibility criteria to make all small Tribal businesses eligible for this relief. Anything less could result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, millions in lost wages, and further economic devastation in Indian Country.”

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