Special Watchdog for Pandemic Recovery Will Oversee $2 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package after Tester Efforts

Senator successfully pushed for guardrails for corporate loans and to ensure taxpayer dollars are allocated responsibly in record-breaking stimulus package

After taking to the Senate floor to demand stronger accountability and transparency for the $2 trillion coronavirus relief stimulus package that was signed into law last week, U.S. Senator Jon Tester successfully ensured the package includes a special watchdog to oversee the distribution of $500 billion in taxpayer dollars to corporations to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

Tester’s proposals to establish guardrails on corporate loans, prevent “secret bailouts,” and create a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to oversee the Treasury Department’s allocation of funds were incorporated into the final version of the legislation, which was signed into law by President Trump on Friday.

“This is the largest stimulus package Congress has ever passed-we’re talking trillions of taxpayer dollars-so it’s absolutely critical that relief makes its way into the pockets of small businesses, workers, and other folks who keep our economy running,” said Tester. “A bill of this size without transparency or accountability would have been a slap in the face to the hardworking Montanans whose livelihoods are on the line. So while this bill is far from perfect, the special watchdog tasked with ensuring these funds will be spent more responsibly will help give Montana taxpayers some piece of mind.”

Last week, Tester called out Mitch McConnell’s proposal for not doing enough to prevent unprecedented bailouts for large corporations and failing to meet Montana’s priorities. He demanded that Senate Leadership impose guardrails on the bill that would prevent funding from being used irresponsibly, and requested the creation of a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery within the Treasury Department to ensure that taxpayer dollars are allocated efficiently and effectively-a provision that was included in the final version of the bill.

Tester successfully pushed to eliminate a “secret bailout” provision from Senator McConnell’s original proposal that would have allowed corporate bailouts to be concealed for six months. He also worked to establish a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to oversee loans to businesses, prohibit businesses controlled by members of Congress and the Executive branch from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs, and ban stock buybacks for the term of government assistance plus one year on any company receiving a government loan as a result of the legislation.

As Congress worked to provide aid to Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tester repeatedly went to bat to ensure that the legislation was crafted in line with Montana values and priorities. As part of the coronavirus relief stimulus package, he successfully secured $1.25 billion for Montana’s efforts to combat COVID-19, and pushed to set aside $10 billion in critical funding to strengthen Indian Country’s response to the pandemic. These funds came after he urged Senate Leadership to ensure that Washington does not leave Montana behind in its response to the outbreak by pressing for this legislative package to include key priorities for Montana workers, schools, small businesses, Tribes and local governments.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak