Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Courtesy of Milken Institute)
Well past 6 p.m. EST on Friday, May 1st, the U.S. Treasury finally submitted its joint status report as ordered due today by the judge assigned to the fourth CARES Act lawsuit, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Mnuchin.
“Defendant has not yet arrived at a determination as to the amounts to be paid to Tribal governments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund under Title V of the CARES Act,” the Treasury’s report states regarding how to distribute $8 billion in coronavirus relief owed to Tribal governments.
The new lawsuit, filed April 30, claims the Treasury has violated its “peremptory duty” to disburse funds within 30 days of the March 27, 2020, enactment of the CARES Act.
The six Tribal plaintiffs include the Agua Caliente Band and Yurok Tribe in California, Ak-Chin Indian Community in Arizona, Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming, Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and Snoqualmie Tribe in Washington.
When the day waned on Friday and the Treasury had yet to send its report, the six Tribes followed up with an order for the Defendant, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to immediately comply with his mandatory, non-discretionary statutory duty to disburse congressionally appropriate pandemic relief funding to plaintiffs. “Defendant’s continuing, unreasonable delay in performing his clear duty has caused and is continuing to cause irreparable harm to Plaintiffs that can only be remedied by the immediate entry of the requested relief,” the Tribes wrote in a May 1 temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and emergency writ of mandamus.
The Tribal plaintiffs seek immediate relief to stem this “irreparable harm.”
“Any further delay in funding will force Plaintiffs to curtail essential governmental services and furlough or lay off a substantial number of employees,” states their original 10-page complaint filed yesterday.
But U.S. government attorneys are requesting “a consolidated answer deadline of Monday, June 22, 2020.” Meanwhile, the Treasury said it will be “working diligently to process initial payments” to Tribes.