SANTA FE, N.M. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Treasury, Small Business Administration (SBA) reversed its initial CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility rule that excluded Tribally-owned small businesses with revenue from gaming operations.
Many Tribes depend on the businesses they own and operate to fund essential services in Indian Country because Tribal governments, unlike state and local governments, do not have a traditional tax base. Udall and Senate Democrats have pressed for Treasury and SBA to reverse this position: Udall sent a letter on April 8th to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, and spoke with Mnuchin by phone on April 18th, urging Treasury and SBA to adhere to congressional intent and include Tribally-owned businesses in the PPP.
“I am relieved that the SBA is correcting its harmful initial guidance which unfairly excluded a significant number of Tribally-owned businesses from the Paycheck Protection Program. I personally urged Secretary Mnuchin to change this policy, and I am glad that Treasury is listening to our calls and adhering to Congress’ unambiguous intent. Tribal businesses are some of the biggest employers and income generators for both the Tribal and non-Tribal communities they serve, and these government-owned enterprises fund essential services to their communities, like health care, education, and public safety needs. Because Tribes do not have a traditional tax base to generate government revenue for essential services, it is absolutely critical that all Tribal business under 500 employees – including gaming enterprises – are deemed eligible for PPP loans.
“Unfortunately, the delay in reversing SBA’s erroneous guidance has already put Tribal businesses at a disadvantage at a time of immense need. Once again, the Trump administration’s inability or unwillingness to understand the unique needs of Native communities has set Indian Country back. The entire Trump administration must make a greater effort to listen to and include Tribes in the COVID-19 response moving forward – and the administration must be more cognizant of congressional intent, more effective in distributing funding in an equitable and competent way to Native communities, and better-educated about our shared federal trust responsibility to Indian Country.”