Tester Fights for Rural Co-Ops, Works to Keep Lights On in Rural America During COVID-19 Crisis

Senator urges Small Business Administration to make sure rural electric co-ops are eligible for critical coronavirus relief programs

U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to make sure Montana’s rural electric co-ops can keep the lights on in rural America during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter today to Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, Tester urged the agency to make sure electric co-ops are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program that Congress included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“In Montana, these small cooperatives are literally keeping the lights on in our rural communities, and they need assistance to retain their workforce,” Tester wrote. “…Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help protect those on the front lines of this emergency… now, as these small utilities work to keep the power flowing to rural communities and their employees perform essential work, we need to ensure that these cooperatives have the financial assistance they need to continue operating.”

Tester fought to ensure the CARES Act included the Paycheck Protection Program-a critical lifeline intended to help small businesses stay afloat.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Senate last week, after 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak. This funding includes $1.25 billion for the state of Montana.

Last fall Tester fought to reverse a provision of the hastily-written 2017 Republican tax bill that penalized electric co-ops for applying for federal grants, putting their tax-exempt status at risk and jeopardizing jobs and affordable power for thousands of Montanans.

Tester’s letter to the SBA is available HERE

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