In The News


Groundbreaking ceremony held for new V.A. clinic in Missoula

MISSOULA -- A crowd gathered on Friday to celebrate the start of construction on the new David J. Thatcher Veterans Affairs clinic. The event brought together Montana's U.S. senators, veterans, the Salish-Kootenai tribe and more. The facility will be 60,000 square feet, covering eight acres. That's about a 40,000 square foot increase from the current clinic. The $48 million dollar clinic is named after Montana veteran, David J. Thatcher, who received the silver star for his service in the Dool… Continue Reading


VA Breaks Ground On Missoula Veterans Clinic

Critics have complained that Western Montana's veterans have had to make do with an undersized clinic, but that's about to change. Friday in Missoula was the groundbreaking for a vastly updated outpatient veteran's clinic in Missoula. At over 52,000 energy efficient square feet, Missoula's brand-new VA facility will be a much larger upgrade over the existing Community Based Outpatient Clinic, or CBOC. The new David J. Thatcher VA Clinic, named for the decorated Montanan who participated in the … Continue Reading


Tillis, Daines bill aims to create more effective federal regulation process

U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Steve Daines (R-MT) on July 2 introduced a bill that would streamline regulations for federal government agencies. "While some regulation is necessary, there is too much red tape that is outdated, redundant and irrelevant to the task at hand," Sen. Tillis said. "This bill will create a more conducive environment for small businesses, companies and organizations across the country to succeed by streamlining agencies and organizing a more effective process." Sen… Continue Reading


David J. Thatcher VA Clinic Groundbreaking in Missoula

Two thirds of Montana's Congressional delegation, along with the Lieutenant Governor were all in Missoula on Friday for the groundbreaking ceremony of the David J. Thatcher VA Clinic on West Broadway near the Missoula International Airport. Dr. Judy Haman is the Executive Director of the VA Montana Healthcare System. Dr. Haman said this clinic will offer state of the art care for Western Montana's veterans. "We're very excited to announce our new, expanded David J. Thatcher VA Clinic," said D… Continue Reading


Working to ban funding for cities/states allowing anarchy in their streets

U.S. Senator Steve Daines, R-Montana, this week sponsored the "Ending Taxpayer Funding of Anarchy Act," which would restrict federal funding to cities and states that allow "anarchist jurisdictions" when local or city governments give up their duty to protect its citizens from non-governmental actors and protesters and no longer provide police, fire or emergency medical services. "We cannot let mob rule dominate our cities and communities," Daines said. "Our tax dollars should go towards restor… Continue Reading


BOR declares emergency funding for St. Mary Diversion repairs

With repairs ongoing on parts of the St. Mary Diversion and Conveyance Works that supplies much of the water in the Milk River, the water users found out they are getting a break on the repairs. Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., announced Wednesday that U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees operation of the system, has determined the repairs qualify as emergency work, reducing the cost to the users. Tester and Daines each had sent letters requesting the designation. T… Continue Reading


Grassley Bill Would Require Retroactive COVID-19 Reporting for Nursing Homes, Fund Strike Teams

A trio of Republican U.S. senators, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, introduced a bill this week that would establish regional strike teams to respond to outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities and extend reporting requirements related to COVID-19 - both for the rest of the year and retrospective to the start of 2020. The Emergency Support for Nursing Homes and Elder Justice Reform Act of 2020 was introduced by Sens. Grassley of Iowa, Steve Daines of Montana, and Mart… Continue Reading


DOI declares repairs to St. Mary Diversion emergency work

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., announced today that the U.S. Department of the Interior has ruled that repairs to two drop structures on the St. Mary Diversion and Conveyance Works that transports water to the Milk River qualify as emergency work, which will reduce the cost to the users of the system. "I'm glad the administration responded to the St. Mary's Joint Board and my request to make this decision and do everything in their power to lessen the burden on water-users," said Daines said. "The… Continue Reading


Daines introduces bill to provide federal emergency relief for nation’s nursing homes

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) on July 2 introduced legislation that would provide nursing homes with resources to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and would reauthorize funding for programs under the Elder Justice Act of 2009. "This bill is critical to ensuring that our senior care facilities have the resources necessary to continue serving and keeping Montana's seniors safe especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," said Sen. Daines. The Emergency Support for Nursing Homes and Elder J… Continue Reading


Congress pressed to rescue struggling Black-owned businesses

Lawmakers negotiating the next small-business rescue package are facing mounting pressure to direct more aid to minority employers who are hurting the most during the pandemic but have struggled to access hundreds of billions of federal dollars unleashed since March. Business groups and consumer advocates are lobbying Congress to rethink a model that has leaned heavily on distributing funds via private lenders because of concerns that the smallest businesses lack relationships with traditional … Continue Reading


Yellowstone County officials ask Daines to protect public health resources

Yellowstone County officials asked Sen. Steve Daines to protect public health resources, especially in light of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the county. On Sunday, 45 new confirmed coronavirus cases were reported, 16 of which were reported in Yellowstone County. The county has the highest number of active cases, topping at 149. Last Thursday, Montana added 67 new cases of coronavirus, the highest number recorded in one day in the state. "The truth of the matter is that as of today, … Continue Reading


Is Amtrak leveraging the pandemic to permanently cut train service?

Amtrak is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021. The celebration may be muted, however, due to the animosity Amtrak faces and, indeed, has faced throughout the 49 years since the agency took over most of the privately operated U.S. passenger train operation on May 1, 1971. Essentially, Amtrak was formed to relieve ailing railroads from the burden of operating unprofitable passenger trains. Sadly, Amtrak has been funded by annual Congressional appropriations since the beginning. No trust… Continue Reading


Senator Steve Daines meets with Billings health leaders after surge of COVID-19 cases in Yellowstone County

BILLINGS, Mont. - The number of active cases in Yellowstone County prompted Senator Steve Daines to host a virtual roundtable with county medical leaders. According to Mayor Bill Cole, Yellowstone County is the epicenter for coronavirus, with 16 out of the 45 new cases reported Sunday coming out of Yellowstone County. City health leaders met with Senator Steve Daines using Zoom, to discuss what this surge means for the county and hospitals. CEO for RiverStone Health, John Felton, says an incr… Continue Reading


Local governments receive over $514M for 'critical services'

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced more than 1,900 local governments around the country will receive more than $514 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding for 2020. "This year's distribution of $514.7 million to more than 1,900 counties will help small towns pay for critical needs like emergency response, public safety, public schools, housing, social services, and infrastructure," said Secretary Bernhardt. Bernhardt in a separate press release announced t… Continue Reading


‘Lost and found’ 401(k) bill resurfaces

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is again pressing for a retirement account "lost and found" system that would help workers keep track of their savings in plans sponsored by former employers. Last week the Democratic senator from Massachusetts introduced the bill, the Bipartisan Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act of 2020, which is similar to legislation she and other members of Congress have co-sponsored in the past. The bill tasks the Treasury Department with building an online system to track account… Continue Reading


Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Provide $25 Billion to Postal Service

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for emergency funding for the financially-strapped U.S. Postal Service, which has cautioned the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic has deeply exacerbated its ongoing fiscal crisis. The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act (S. 4174), introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and cosponsored by Sens. Diane Fienstein, D-Calif., Steve Daines, R-Mt., Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Jon Tester, D-Mt., would provide $25 billion to the mailing agency… Continue Reading


Montana wheat receives modest gains in USMCA trade deal

Montana farmers selling grain into Canada made small gains in the U.S., Mexico, Canada trade agreement launched Wednesday. Canadian elevators starting Wednesday were to fairly grade a handful of U.S. wheat varieties planted in Montana. For years, U.S. wheat varieties unrecognized in Canada were downgraded to animal feed status and discounted in price, regardless of whether the grain was of high milling quality. "It allows Montana grains to be treated on an equal basis with Canadian grains when… Continue Reading


Washington Briefs

The following are condensed from press releases and compiled by Sidney Herald staff: U.S. Sen. Steve Daines announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is distributing additional relief funds to assist vulnerable Montanans. Specifically, HHS will distribute approximately $15 billion to eligible providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs. HHS is also distributing $10 billion in Provider Relief Funds for safety net hospitals. "I'm glad to have helped secur… Continue Reading


Kalispell Moms Win Lawsuit Settled by U.S. Supreme Court

A legal challenge that began in Northwest Montana was resolved in the country's highest court on Tuesday, June 30, when a 5-4 decision restored a state law that allows donors to a private school scholarship fund to receive a tax credit even if those scholarships are awarded to students at religious schools. The ruling in Espinoza vs. Montana Department of Revenue had been highly anticipated by proponents of religious education and the decision, with the U.S. Supreme Court's five conservative ju… Continue Reading


Senate committee reviews water compact

The Montana Water Rights Protection Act received a favorable review from Interior officials last week as the Senate Indian Affairs Committee took a first look at the proposed legislation. Introduced last year by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., the act offers the framework for a settlement between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the federal government on water-rights claims in Western Montana. It has received bipartisan support, including a favorable nod from Sen. Jon Tester, D-… Continue Reading

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