MTN News: Daines and Tester hail elements of Covid-19 relief bill

by Mike Dennison

Montana’s two U.S. senators said they’ll be supporting the massive Covid-19 relief and government-spending package expected to pass Congress Monday evening – and that it contains many things benefiting Montanans.

“No one got everything they wanted in this package, but it’s a bipartisan compromise that provides targeted support for Montana small businesses and folks who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and it will help get vaccines to folks in rural America quickly and effectively,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said the package will help small businesses, workers, hospitals and health-care workers and farmers and ranchers.

“Glad to see a bipartisan compromise finally reached, to help support Montanans impacted by the pandemic,” he said in a statement.

Specific items that either senator emphasized include:

• An additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits, through mid-March.
• Almost $300 billion in loans to small businesses, and expansion of the eligibility for who can receives the money, including nonprofits, local media companies, and tourism-promotion groups.
• $1 billion for Amtrak.
• $15 billion for live-entertainment venues and independent movie theaters.
• Permanent tax relief for craft breweries and distilleries.
• $20 billion for vaccine procurement and distribution and grants to states to support contact tracing and Covid-19 testing.
• $65 million to update maps used to identify which areas of rural America need help expanding access to high-speed Internet.
• $25 billion for rental assistance for those affected by the pandemic’s economic fallout.

A spending package included with the Covid-19 relief bill also has $1.9 billion for the federal share of a water-rights compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in western Montana.

If passed, the bill would ratify the water compact, settle water rights of the tribes, and provide money for water infrastructure and economic development on the Flathead Indian Reservation. New forms of direct payments will be issued to millions Americans under the bill, assuming it passes and is signed by President Donald Trump.


The IRS will issue checks based on your AGI or adjusted gross income. The information will come from your latest tax return which for most Americans is the 2019 calendar year.

If you earn $75,000 a year or less, you’ll receive $600. If you earn between $75,001 but less than $87,000 a year, you’ll earn a bit less than $600. The more you make, the less you’ll get until you hit that $87,000 threshold. Earners over that amount will not receive any money.

Head of households can earn up to $112,000 a year to be eligible.

Couples who file their taxes jointly will earn similar levels to those who file individually. For instance, a couple who earns $150,000 or less will receive $1,200. Couples who earn between $150,000 and $174,000 will receive less than $1,200.

Those with dependents, such as a child, will earn $600 per child. That’s actually $100 more than what dependents received earlier this year.


Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said as soon as Congress approves the deal, he’ll be able to begin depositing checks within a week.

Those with direct deposit on file with the IRS will receive their money first. Paper checks will take longer.