FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge says the U.S. Treasury Department must release $679 million in coronavirus relief to tribes that it intended to withhold over a court challenge.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled late Monday that the department doesn't have discretion to hold back the money.

The funding is part of a federal relief package that included $8 billion for tribes and was supposed to go out by late April.

Mehta ordered the Treasury Department to disburse it among tribal governments by Wednesday.

He says continued delay in the face of an exceptional public health crisis no longer is acceptable.

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