President and Congress approve Covid-related funding bill that includes millions for US territories and Freely Associated States

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WASHINGTON (Press Release) — U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Douglas W. Domenech announced that President Trump and Congress have approved millions in economic and pandemic aid.

Douglas Domenech

Fifty-five million dollars have been made directly available to the U.S. territories and the freely associated states in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on Friday, March 27.

The $55 million in funding provided under the CARES Act will address impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic in the islands through the Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program. The island jurisdictions eligible for funding will include the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the Freely Associated States of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

“Secretary Bernhardt and I are thankful for this funding from Congress and President Trump to help the island areas prepare, prevent, and respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “The islands are especially vulnerable with healthcare systems that could be overwhelmed quickly and limited healthcare workers. Additionally, some areas are still recovering from recent natural disasters which put them in already fragile economic states,” continued Domenech. “We will continue to support the island areas and wish the island leadership all the best as they execute plans to protect and defend their communities.”

The CARES Act, along with the previously passed Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act, will also provide substantial assistance to the insular areas through other federal departments. Hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance will be provided for financial relief to the insular governments, businesses, school systems, workers, and families, while also protecting the health of the communities. Some examples include set asides of up to $154 million to the Department of Education for insular schools; $200 million in nutrition assistance funding through the Department of Agriculture; and potentially $272 million from the Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief Fund. The Office of Insular Affairs is committed to working with our interagency and island partners to best deploy all available resources to combat the Coronavirus and its impacts on our territories and freely associated states.

Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Office of Insular Affairs has also extended the previously announced grant application deadline for fiscal year FY 2020 funding under the Technical Assistance Program, the Maintenance Assistance Program and the Coral Reef and Natural Resources Initiative from April 1 to May 1, 2020. New funding provided under the CARES Act will be available until September 30, 2021.

For guidelines on how to apply for OIA Technical Assistance Program funding,visit the OIA website at https://www.doi.gov/oia/financial-assistance.

For more information about the work of the Office of Insular Affairs, visit http://www.doi.gov/oia or follow on Twitter @ASIIADomenech.

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