Navajo Nation Council approves more hardship aid payments


FARMINGTON – The Council of the Navajo Nation has approved an emergency bill to help eligible tribal members with additional aid payments in the event of hardship.

The council also increased the payment amounts from $ 600 for each beneficiary to $ 2,000 for each adult and $ 600 for each child. Payments would go to those who have previously received checks under the Navajo Nation CARES hardship assistance program.

The council voted 18-2 in favor of the measure on December 29. Although the council has approved the legislation, it has yet to be submitted to Tribal President Jonathan Nez for review.

Jared Touchin, spokesperson for the president’s office, said the office had not received the council’s resolution by December 30.

Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, sponsor of the bill, told the special session: “This will not require an additional application process, so there will be no delay in awarding these dollars. And people who have never applied before will still have the option to apply and go through the process.

Delegate Jamie Henio, who opposed the bill along with Delegate Raymond Smith, expressed concern over money being taken from infrastructure projects needed to cover the increase.

“I wonder which project would be eliminated,” said Henio. “Is this the Tóhajiilee-Albuquerque water pipe project?” Could this be the Western Wildlife Project? Could this be the Many Mules project? Could it be all these other projects? … This is the concern I have. “

The majority of delegates spoke in favor of the proposal as it would provide some financial relief to tribal members struggling to pay their bills and cover the costs of rent, food and fuel.

The hardship aid would be funded by the $ 2 billion the tribal government received from the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal coronavirus relief program to provide economic aid for the pandemic.

The Navajo Nation Council Chamber is pictured in 2016 in Window Rock, Arizona.  During a special session on December 29, delegates approved additional aid payments to eligible tribal members.

The US Department of the Treasury used a three-part formula, which included the tribal population, to distribute the $ 20 billion allocated to tribes under the law.

The tribe received its amount in May and August. The proceeds were placed in the Navajo Nation Tax Recovery Fund and were offered for use on infrastructure projects on tribal lands and hardship assistance payments.

Delegate Nathaniel Brown introduced a motion to amend the legislation to increase the amount allocated for hardship assistance from $ 207 million to $ 557 million and for higher payment amounts.

Brown reminded delegates that the comptroller’s office reported the tribe had around $ 14 million in another coronavirus relief program that may need to be returned to the federal government as it had not been used in the December 30.

He said he didn’t want the same to happen with ARPA funding.

“Yes, we want our projects funded. However, that way our people can help us spend. It’s their money,” Brown said.

In order to adjust the amount allocated to aid in the event of hardship, the council had to waive the provisions set out in a previous council resolution and in a resolution of the budget and finance committee.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for the Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at [email protected]

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