03.18.20

Daines Votes for Coronavirus Relief Bill

Package waives costs for Coronavirus testing, includes paid and sick family leave

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today voted for a Coronavirus relief bill which requires free testing for the Coronavirus, ensures paid and sick family leave for Montana’s families and workers and provides emergency nutritional assistance for seniors, women, children and low income families. This bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, is Phase Two of Congress’ response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

“My top priority is protecting the health and finances for Montanans during the Coronavirus outbreak,” Daines said. “This bill ensures Montana families don’t have to choose between their health and a paycheck, waives costs for testing and protects some of our most vulnerable during this hard time. We’re already working hard on next steps in the Senate on a major economic recovery package which will provide additional relief for our working families, workers and small businesses. We will get through this. Montanans are strong.”

Daines has been working with local and state officials and leaders on the ground in Montana as the Coronavirus outbreak develops, including speaking with leaders of Montana Hospitals, small businesses, MT Chamber of Commerce, MT Lodging and Hospitality groups, Tribal leaders, Montana’s military leaders and more.

Phase 2: Public Health and Safety Component  

  • Waives testing fee for Coronavirus.
  • $1.25 billion to provide emergency nutritional assistance for senior citizens, women, children, and low-income families. Ensures low-income students continue to have access to meals if schools are closed, and provides $15 million for the Internal Revenue Service to administer tax credits.                
  • Provides two weeks paid sick leave for workers impacted by the Coronavirus. (Small businesses will be reimbursed)
  • Provides an additional family leave at two-thirds for up to three months.  (Small businesses will be reimbursed)
  • $1 billion for emergency administration unemployment insurance grants to states.

Phase 1: Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental (Passed on 3/5, signed into law on 3/6)

  • More than $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available; to support treatments; to invest in vaccine development; to protect the integrity of medical products manufactured overseas and identify and prevent potential shortages; as well as provide support for community health centers.
  • $2.2 billion for the CDC, including nearly $1 billion for state and local preparedness grants.
  • $1.25 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development for diplomatic emergency preparedness, global health programs, international disaster assistance, and economic support.
  • $20 million for disaster assistance loans for small businesses.
  • Waives certain telehealth requirements during the coronavirus outbreak, ensuring Medicare beneficiaries can receive care at home to avoid placing themselves at greater risk. 

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 18th, 2020, Daines sponsored legislation to delay the impact of the recent accounting rule change for current expected credit losses (CECL) during the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 17th, 2020, Daines introduced legislation to require private health insurance plans to cover treatments or vaccines for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, with no cost sharing.

On March 17th, 2020, Daines announced the Trump administration will be expanding access to Medicare telehealth services during the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 17th, 2020, Daines 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.   

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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