Kilili: $36M now available to CNMI Government from CARES Act

Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (file photo)

Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan reports that $36,284,217.70 is now available to the Commonwealth, as the government’s share of the Coronavirus Relief Fund that Congress appropriated last month in the CARES Act. A special $3 billion set-aside for the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia was distributed by population with each territory receiving $702 per capita. States received an average of $424 per capita.

“Congress gave the U.S. Treasury 30 days to get this money out to state and territorial governments,” Sablan said. “And today Treasury launched a new web portal where each eligible government can register to get the money sent electronically to its designated bank account. I understand that transfer takes about 24 hours.”

Treasury will release about half of the money immediately and the rest by April 24 to meet the deadline set by Congress in the CARES Act, Public Law 116-136.

Treasury has also set its own deadline for state and territorial governments to register for the Coronavirus Relief Fund grants. To ensure it can make payments within the 30-day period specified by the CARES Act, the Department is requiring that those governments register and submit supporting documents by 11:59 EDT, April 17, or risk losing the money.

“It is also important to note that this is not a slush fund for state and territorial governors,” Congressman Sablan said. “The money has to be used for coronavirus-related expenses that occurred after March 1 and that were unbudgeted.

“Congress intends that this money is used to keep people healthy and safe from the disease and help medical workers at the frontline.”

Sablan has been at work in Washington since early March to be on hand for negotiations on legislation addressing the coronavirus crisis and ensure the Marianas participates fully in the massive relief packages that Congress is passing. Direct aid to territorial governments was one of the four key priorities he identified for the CARES Act. He was also able to make those priorities the bipartisan consensus among all the island Delegates.

Congressman Kilili said that Democrats have already put forward a new proposal to double the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund and allow state and territorial governments to use the money to replace lost revenues. But Senate Republicans blocked that additional aid on Thursday.