03.17.20

Daines Calls on FEMA to Coordinate with USDA, DOI on Emergency Response in Rural Communities

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to enable thousands of federal civil servants, who have experience with rapid emergency response, to assist rural communities that are increasingly overwhelmed by the challenge of responding to the Coronavirus outbreak. 

“We write to request your immediate assistance in mobilizing your agencies to offer coordinated support for rural counties, municipalities, and tribal communities as they respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” Daines wrote. “Rural communities are working to set up local emergency operation centers to help manage their response, but face challenges with limited staff capacity. Across many of our states, rural counties are experiencing outbreaks and some communities are already overwhelmed with the challenge.”

To read the full letter, click HERE.

Federal civil servants across the country at agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are uniquely qualified in emergency management. Many are Incident Command System qualified, have experience mobilizing resources, and coordinating communication and information flow to respond to and contain crises like forest fires. This expertise would bolster the response to Coronavirus in rural communities across America. 

Background:   

Daines has been leading the efforts in Congress to respond to the coronavirus outbreak impacting the country.    

Three weeks ago, Daines brought his proposal and ideas to President Trump at a meeting in the White House.   

On March 17th, 2020, Daines announced the Small Business Administration (SBA) declared that Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula, Sheridan, Silver Bow, Wheatland, Beaverhead, Broadwater, Daniels, Deer Lodge, Fergus, Glacier,  Golden Valley, Granite, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Meagher, Mineral, Park, Pondera, Powell, Ravalli, Roosevelt, Sanders, Sweet Grass, and Teton counties will be eligible to apply for additional funding under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Declaration.  

On March 17th, 2020, Daines introduced a bipartisan bill that directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to delay enforcement of REAL ID for at least one year in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Daines has been proactively working with the Trump administration on a delay of REAL ID for Montana.

On March 17th, 2020, Daines unveiled three more major proposals that will help protect Montana’s workers, families, first responders and small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 16th, 2020, Daines announced that the Senate passed his bipartisan bill that protects veterans and their dependents from losing GI Bill education benefits during the Coronavirus outbreak while they take part in online classes.

On March 16th, 2020, Daines announced $4.5 million awarded to Montana to help support the coronavirus response and protect public health. 

On March 16th, 2020, Daines urged President Trump to ensure Montana tribal communities have access to federal assistance during coronavirus outbreak.

On March 14th, 2020, Daines urged Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Azar and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Gaynor to ensure Indian Health Service (IHS) has the resources needed to provide coronavirus testing for tribal communities.

On March 13th, 2020, Daines issued a statement yesterday on President Trump declaring a national emergency for coronavirus.

On March 12th, 2020, Daines introduced bipartisan legislation to provide disaster unemployment assistance to people who are unable to work due to the current coronavirus outbreak. Assistance would be available to individuals, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors, who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, or whose family circumstances keep them from working or reduce their pay as a result of the coronavirus outbreak or government containment efforts

On March 9th, 2020, Daines unveiled a slate of proposals and priorities he’s working to advance that will help protect Montana families and their finances during the Coronavirus outbreak including paid leave, temporarily waiving payroll taxes, providing relief from tariffs, and ensuring access to affordable testing.

On March 9th, 2020, Daines sent a letter urging the Trump administration to take swift action to make testing for the Coronavirus affordable.

The following day the IRS immediately announced it would adopt Daines’ proposal to remove financial barriers to testing and treatment for the Coronavirus by allowing high deductible health plans to cover Coronavirus-related testing and treatment before a patient has met their deductible.   

Congress passed the Coronavirus emergency supplemental earlier this month which included $8.3 billion to combat this crisis, including nearly $1 billion for state and local preparedness and response.

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