Group of AGs pushes for CARES Act deadline extension

MISSOULA, Mont. — Time is running out to use the $1.25 billion Montana received in CARES Act money. Now, the majority of the country’s attorneys general signed on to a letter pushing for an extension.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox signed on to the letter, along with 42 other attorneys general, urging Congress to extend the deadline to use the funds until the end of next year.

“We now know that, you know, things may not be back to normal until some time next year,” Fox said. “We felt like that deadline was somewhat artificial and inappropriate and that we should give the states and the territories the opportunity to continue to use those funds in a wise and appropriate manner after the first of the year.”

Fox says despite division in Washington, there seems to be a more collective sentiment that not only should the deadline be extended but that another round of stimulus relief is appropriate.

Sen. Steve Daines signed on to a bill that would extend the deadline. He also sent a letter in October to the secretary of the Treasury and the White House asking to clarify guidance that would allow CRF-eligible entities, including tribal nations, to complete projects in 2021. A spokesperson for Daines says he fully supports getting another round of relief passed, saying he’s voted several times in the recent months for targeted COVID-19 relief.

“Daines voted to provide relief for Montana workers, families and small businesses, farmers and ranchers, schools, Tribes, the USPS and more. Senator Daines is once again urging his colleagues across the aisle to come to the table, reach a compromise and pass targeted relief,” the spokesperson said.

On Monday, Sen. Jon Tester sent a letter to Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also urging compromise and asking them to bring COVID-19 relief legislation to the floor to be debated.

“Instead of continuing to trade proposals back and forth in the press and point fingers at each other for failing to get a COVID-19 relief package done, it is time to come together and find a path forward to get meaningful relief across the finish line,” Tester wrote.

Whether both sides can come to an agreement before the end of the year remains unclear.