Line-item vetoes ‘send wrong message’: Nez nixes CARES Act funds for chapters, Hataalii group

WINDOW ROCK

In the ongoing battle between the president’s office and the Navajo Nation Council over how to spend more than $700 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act monies, accusations of political brinksmanship flew over the 4th of July weekend in an exchange of fiery letters and press releases.

On July 4, the Nez-Lizer administration line-item vetoed $73 million in coronavirus response spending that was approved in June by the Council as amendments in two bills (No. 132 and 116).

Included in the vetoed amount was $55 million in direct relief to the 110 chapters, proposed by Delegate Vince James in an amendment to No. 116, that would have funded the COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts at the local level.

“We had a comprehensive plan proposed, but again, certain members of Council put politics over the needs of our frontline warriors and the Navajo people,” stated President Jonathan Nez. “Instead, we have Council members introducing multiple pieces of legislation that create a chaotic process and attempting to include pet projects and frivolous spending.”

Nez-Lizer also eliminated COVID-19 relief amendments for the Judicial Branch ($10 million), burnout assistance for families without shelter ($7 million), and the Diné Hataalii Association ($1 million) to support the work of traditional practitioners and provide cultural and educational outreach during the pandemic.

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