O’Halleran Details AZ-01 Needs in Next Coronavirus Aid Package

July 22, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging the inclusion of targeted funding to ensure that we can continue to build and implement a national testing and contact tracing strategy and expand laboratory capacity to decrease testing-turnaround time in the next coronavirus aid package. He also advocated for the inclusion of three pieces of legislation he introduced to address the coronavirus pandemic by providing flexibility to tribal communities who were forced to wait months for CARES Act funding to arrive, connecting rural and underserved kids and families with broadband-capable devices as distance learning and work continues, and funding long-overdue, critical water and sanitation projects in Indian Country, the lack of which currently hamper public health.

“Every branch of government has a responsibility to the American people to do all that is in our power to ensure the health and safety of our citizens. That is why our next coronavirus package must include full funding for COVID-19 testing and tracing operations,” said O’Halleran. “Scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, and experts across the board agree that these two key pieces are critical in tracking and eventually overcoming this virus. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I have been advocating for this kind of national strategy; America cannot wait any longer for action.”

In the next coronavirus aid package, O’Halleran urged House leadership to include:

  • H.R. 7557: his bipartisan legislation that would extend the coverage of Coronavirus Relief Fund payments allocated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to tribal governments from December 30, 2020 to December 30, 2022;
    • Tribes across America did not receive any funds until May 5, 2020, well after the bill’s statutory deadline. During this time, the Navajo Nation in Arizona’s First Congressional District became the most concentrated COVID-19 hotspot in the nation.
  • H.R. 7494: his bipartisan legislation to leverage public-private partnerships to refurbish internet-capable devices for students and underserved families through donation, lending, or low-cost purchasing programs;
  • and H.R. 7056: his bipartisan legislation to allocate $2.67 billion for fiscal years 2020 through 2024 for the Indian Health Services Sanitation Facilities Construction Program to construct and improve critical sanitation projects across Indian Country.
    • It is estimated that over 100,000 homes on tribal lands lack access to running water and adequate sanitation infrastructure, and, on the Navajo Nation, roughly 30 percent of the population lacks access to running water at all. 

View O’Halleran’s full letter to House leadership, HERE.

Below is a list of letters O’Halleran has sent to Vice President Pence, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, regarding COVID-19, all of which remain unanswered:

Sent May 6 

Sent April 12 

Sent March 29

Sent March 20

Sent March 10

In April, O’Halleran joined the House Problem Solvers Caucus—a bipartisan group comprised of 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats—to release their Recovery and Back to Work Checklist, a multi-prong, data-driven proposal for reopening America that focuses first on health care needs and then on reigniting the economy safely.