April 28 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled against the Trump administration, blocking stimulus funds set aside for tribal governments from going to corporations owned by Alaska Natives.
In the preliminary injunction issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said the $8 billion approved for tribal governments was not intended to go to for-profit corporations. The funding was approved as part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act signed by President Donald Trump on March 27.
Tribal governments brought the lawsuit in response to the forms used to apply for the stimulus funding. The forms asked the applicants to list their tribal population or the number of shareholders -- implying Alaska Native corporations would be allowed to apply for the money.
Tribal governments feared the Treasury Department, responsible for dispersing the funds, will give a significant portion of the aid to corporations. The Trump administration was planning to disperse the funds Tuesday.
Mehta granted the preliminary inunction because he said the plaintiffs -- multiple associated with the Chehalis Reservation in Washington -- are likely to succeed in their case.
"The court is persuaded that, presently, no [Alaska Native Corporation] satisfies the definition of 'tribal government' under the CARES Act and therefore no ANC is eligible for any share of the $8 billion allocated by Congress for tribal governments," Mehta wrote.