Updated: May 12, 2020 06:53 PM
Created: May 12, 2020 06:06 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Navajo Nation is crafting a proposal on how to spend $600 million in Coronavirus relief funds.
The money is part of the CARES Act, which was recently distributed to the Navajo Nation after being delayed for more than a month.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is proposing a bold plan to address the lack of access to running water on the Navajo Nation.
“Your president sitting right here where I live— no running water still. We still haul water. We need to get water to all our citizens just in case of another bug, another pandemic in the future,” said President Nez.
More than 30% of the people living on the Navajo Nation do not have access to running water, making it tougher to wash hands and prevent the spread of the virus.
“Half of $600 million could be put into water infrastructure projects. We all want running water. We all know that water is important. Half of $600 million for water infrastructure—man we could get ourselves caught up with the rest of society,” Nez said.
The money must be spent by the end of the calendar year, which is why the president is proposing swift action.
“$50 million right away if this bill gets passed, $50 million will be used for purchasing personal protective equipment,” he said.
President Nez also wants quick distribution of food and water, and hazard pay for frontline workers. The president said all of the spending should be closely tracked by an oversight board.
“This 12-member board should also package an exit report to the Navajo people, so the Navajo people and the federal government know how each penny was spent,” he said.
The Navajo council is set to hold a special session Friday. President Nez hopes all branches of the Navajo government can work together on a single bill instead of pushing several different spending bills that compete with each other.
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