Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > Sen. Martha McSally (R-Arizona)
Posted: July 2, 2020


July 1, 2020

McSally Pushes FEMA to Reduce COVID-19 Cost-Sharing Burden on Tribes

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) today advocated for a reduced cost-sharing burden for Arizona’s tribes hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

During a U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing, McSally asked Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region 9 Administrator why Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez had not received a response to his letter requesting a waiver of the 25 percent cost-share burden.

“This pandemic has devastated Native American communities and economies,” McSally said. “While FEMA aid has been flowing to the Navajo Nation since the early days of the pandemic, the 25 percent cost-share requirement has proven to be burdensome and seems to unwisely divert funds away from where they are needed most locally. On April 2, the Navajo Nation formally requested a waiver for the 25 percent tribal cost-share requirement. FEMA acknowledged receipt of the letter and reported that the request was under review at FEMA Region 9 Headquarters.”

“Mr. Fenton, since nearly three months have passed since the Nation submitted their request, when can President Nez expect a response?”

Mr. Robert J. Fenton, Jr., FEMA’s Region 9 Administrator said: “So there’s a couple different ways the cost-share can be changed … In the interim, the Administration has made CARES Act funding available to be used as a cost-share match so that could be used that 25 percent along with our 75 percent to cover the whole 100 percent … So no state, tribal nation, or territory has received a cost-share change primarily because of all the funding that’s out there now and trying to leverage that together to provide the need. I talked to President Nez yesterday and he understands that there hasn’t been a response yet, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be one.”

Senator McSally pressed Mr. Fenton further to secure a commitment that FEMA will provide a formal response to the Navajo Nation’s request promptly.

McSally also asked Administrator Fenton to focus on improving FEMA’s working relationship with tribes in a way that respects tribal sovereignty and also improves efficiency, and asked the Indian Health Services director to increase mobile COVID-19 testing for rural tribes such as the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

“I’m concerned the White Mountain Apache Tribe now has the highest infection rate per capita in Arizona and are in need of mobile testing sites,” McSally told Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, the director of Indian Health Services.


  • On April 24, Sen. McSally secured inclusion of tribal gaming facilities in the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • On April 20, Sen. McSally spoke over-the-phone with SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza advocating for the inclusion of small tribal gaming enterprises in PPP.
  • On April 18, Sen. McSally spoke over-the-phone with Treasury Deputy Secretary Justin Muzinich advocating for the inclusion of small tribal gaming enterprises in PPP.
  • On April 18, Sen. McSally participated in the Navajo Nation’s virtual town hall to discuss coronavirus relief for tribes.
  • On April 14, Sen. McSally met with Region 9 Administrator Fenton in Phoenix to discuss FEMA’s COVID-19 modeling in Arizona, assistance for native communities, and testing efforts across the state.
  • On April 7, Sen. McSally sent a letter to the SBA and the Treasury urging them to issue updated guidance that would allow small tribal gaming enterprises under 500 employees to apply for assistance through the PPP.
  • On April 1, Sen. McSally sent a letter urging the Administration to expedite federal resources for tribal communities.
  • On March 26, Sen. McSally secured billions in financial relief for tribes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On March 20, McSally was the first Senator to call for a tribal government stabilization fund and sent a letter with Sen. Daines to Senate leadership insisting that tribal-specific relief provisions be included in COVID-19 legislation.
  • On March 19, Sen. McSally held a conference call with Arizona tribal leaders to hear directly from them what their most critical needs were.
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