U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today issued the following statement after Senate Minority Leader Schumer and Senate Democrats blocked a targeted COVID-19 relief package that would have provided relief for Montanans and millions of American workers, families, schools, small businesses and expanded access to testing and promoted vaccine development.
“This targeted relief package would have provided critical support for Montana families, workers and small businesses, as well as support our schools and provide strong funding for the development and manufacturing of a COVID-19 vaccine,” Daines said. “It’s beyond disappointing to see Schumer block this bill when there are Montanans who are in need of targeted relief right now. We must put politics aside and work together to get this done for Montana families—the stakes are too high.”
Several stakeholders across Montana came out in support of this targeted relief package, stressing the need for additional support:
“As Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, I encourage the U.S. Congress to work in a bipartisan way to deliver immediate COVID-19 relief to Montana’s families and schools. This week, the U.S. Senate is considering the “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools, and Small Businesses Act” which would allocate $105 billion in additional education stabilization funds, provide flexible education funding to families in various education systems, and limit liability for school districts during the COVID-19 outbreak. Montana was one of the first states in the nation to get CARES Act funding out to schools which has allowed them to begin safely reopening. Additional aid from this Act will help schools stay open and help Montana’s economy to open back up.” – Elsie Arntzen, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction
“We appreciate that Senator Daines continues to respond to the needs of Montana agriculture. The additional assistance this bill provides to farmers who are still struggling due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic is especially appreciated, along with updates and additions to the Paycheck Protection Program and other provisions that will help all Montana business owners.” – Hans McPherson, President, Montana Farm Bureau Federation
“The Montana Stockgrowers is incredibly appreciative of Senator Daines’ leadership on the issue of Coronavirus relief. This virus continues to have lasting impacts on Montana’s ranching families, so the relief he’s proposing couldn’t come at a better time. We’re hopeful it will have a positive impact for livestock producers throughout Montana.” – Fred Wacker, President, Montana Stockgrowers Association
“S. 178 is vitally important to us because it extends the time for us to utilize the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund monies we received months after the CARES Act was passed. Tribes’ inclusion and parity in the CARES Act was historic and we are deeply grateful for it because it is helping us keep our citizens safe, provide critical healthcare support, and allowing us to reopen our economy responsibly. But these historic resources should not be rushed. Tribes desperately need the S. 178’s extension of time to responsibly spend our CRF monies.” – Andrew Werk, President, Fort Belknap Indian Community
“I urge the Senate to pass S. 178 (the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act). While not perfect in the Crow Tribe’s view, the bill is still very good—and importantly provides relief to Indian tribes that is absolutely critical. In particular, Section 8001, which extends the time for tribes to utilize their Coronavirus Relief Fund “CRF” monies through the end of the 2021 fiscal year. That relief is important to the Crow Tribe and many others because we receive our CRF monies months later than our state counterparts and at moments when the pandemic was hitting our communities hard. We need time to plan and be prudent stewards of the CRF monies, to ensure the best use and maximum positive impact of the historic relief Congress passed in the CARES Act.” – A.J. Not Afraid, Chairman, Crow Tribe
“Montana Independent Bankers appreciates Senator Daines’ efforts to secure expedited forgiveness for PPP loans below $150,000 in the “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools, and Small Businesses Act”. PPP borrowers and their lending partners want to focus on helping businesses sustain long-term recovery not wading through complicated paperwork. We encourage all of Montana’s congressional delegation to come together in support of an accelerated PPP forgiveness process.” – Kenny Martin, First Montana Bank
The Targeted COVID-19 Relief Package had provisions that:
Supports Montana Small Businesses, Provides More Funding for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- Includes $257.7 billion to replenish the PPP which helps keep Montana small businesses open and workers on the payroll.
- Expands PPP eligibility to include certain 501(c)(6)
- Montana local organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, Destination Marketing Organizations, and Outdoor Recreation Organizations with 300 or fewer employees will be eligible for PPP loans. This is something Daines specifically worked to include.
- Streamlined forgiveness for loans below $150,000.
- Montana small business owners who borrowed below $150,000 will not be required to submit to the lender documentation required by the CARES Act, if the borrower submits a simple, one-page attestation form to their lender. This is consistent with the Paycheck Protection Small Business Expense Forgiveness Act, which Daines cosponsored.
- Includes liability protections for Montana businesses, hospitals, schools, non-profits, and others
- Allows Montana businesses to reopen without fear of frivolous lawsuits
- Promotes nationwide uniformity in COVID-related medical malpractice and personal injury cases.
Supports Montana Workers and Jobs
- Provides supplemental Unemployment Insurance payments for Montanans who lost their jobs
- Continues the unemployment insurance payments for Montanans who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 at $300 per week through December 27th.
- Extends the authorization for unemployment benefits for those covered under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act through December 27th.
- Streamlines and expedites permitting of critical minerals to accelerate American manufacturing and support good paying jobs
Prioritizes Public Health and Safety, Provides Significant Funding for Testing
- Includes $16 billion to expand access to testing for COVID-19, including covering costs for testing equipment and testing supplies and personal protective equipment needed to administer tests.
Provides Funding for the Manufacturing and Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines & Treatments
- Provides $31 billion for vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic development; vaccine distribution; the Strategic National Stockpile and grants for the establishment of state stockpiles.
- Specifically, $20 billion is included for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to support the manufacturing, production, and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics that will help to restore confidence in our communities to continue safely reopening – something Daines was instrumental in securing.
- Reminder: Daines has been instrumental in securing funding for a COVID-19 vaccine and his work has been publicly praised by President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Anand Shah and former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
- $6 billion is included for the CDC to support the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that Montanans and Americans will have access to a safe and effective vaccine as soon as one becomes available.
Support for Montana Schools, Education, Child Care
- Provides $105 billion to schools across the country as the academic year kicks off.
- Provides $15 billion for child care services and providers.
- Includes Daines’ bill, the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020.
- Provide grants to child care provider facilities to ensure Montana parents can continue to work to put food on the table.
- Includes Daines’ bill, the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020.
Supports Bringing Jobs Back to America and Holds China Accountable
- Strengthens U.S. medical supply chain, ending our reliance on China by enacting a domestic purchasing requirement of PPE for the Strategic National Stockpile and supporting Made in America manufacturing and job creation.
- Protects critical U.S. minerals whose supply chain is vulnerable to disruption and serve an essential function to the manufacturing of energy, defense, currency, agriculture, health care, electronic products. Will streamline and expedite permitting of these minerals to accelerate American manufacturing.
Support for the United States Postal Service
- This relief package makes the $10 billion loan extended to the United States Postal Service (USPS) in the CARES Act a forgivable grant.
- Daines will continue working to pass his bill to provide $25 billion to USPS to help cover revenue loss from COVID-19.
- Daines also will continue to push his USPS Fairness Act which would lift the unfair financial burden of “pre-funding” retiree health benefits, which no other federal agency or private company is required to do, and would save the USPS $33.9 billion.
Supports Montana Farmers and Ranchers
- Provides $20 billion of additional farm assistance to assist farmers and ranchers negatively impacted by low commodity prices and supply chain challenges due to the pandemic.
Supports Montana Tribal Communities
- Extends the use for the Coronavirus Relief Fund until the fall of 2021 to ensure our tribal members have the time to get access to the critical resources needs to keep their communities safe.
- Provides $605 million to Indian Health Services to support preventing and stopping the spread of COVID-19 through Indian Health Service, Tribal, and Urban Indian health programs.
- Provides $1 billion for Indian Health Facilities to assist with sanitation, isolation or quarantine space, and other medical equipment needs to keep tribal communities healthy and safe.
Daines announced earlier this week the major Montana priorities that were included in the targeted relief package.
Daines will continue to work to build bipartisan consensus to get relief into the hands of Montanans struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. To read about Daines’ COVID-19 related efforts, click HERE.