Daines says he’s seeking relief for people in wake of coronavirus outbreak

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines said Thursday he offered several proposals in the congressional pipeline he said will help the country during the coronavirus outbreak and said the Senate needs to remain in session next week despite some scheduled time off to deal with the pandemic.

The Montana Republican said via telephone that his proposals are to ensure impacted families and businesses have paid leave, temporarily waive payroll taxes, provide relief from tariffs and guarantee access to affordable testing.

Daines said he has made proposals that include temporarily suspending the payroll tax so employees can keep more money in their pocket. The Social Security Trust Fund would be reimbursed through a transfer from the General Fund. Daines said this is consistent with historical precedent.

He also calls for families to have 14 days of paid leave, temporarily suspending tariffs to help stabilize markets and removing barriers for testing. This includes making a coronavirus test a preventative service so patients aren’t faced with high costs or deductibles.

He said he met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier Thursday and urged him to cancel the state work period next week and to keep the Senate in session until legislation was passed to address the pandemic.

He said Thursday he is working with the Trump administration, congressional leadership, and Republicans and Democrats.