Tester: Montanans Out of Work ‘don’t have time to wait for a check’

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today called on the U.S. Department of Labor to provide critically needed assistance to Montana and other states to aid in administering the expanded Unemployment Insurance program and benefits to the more than 6.6 million Americans who are now out of work due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“In this time of national crisis, it is critical that the Department of Labor does everything in its power to support states in administering the Unemployment Insurance program and distributing benefits,” Tester wrote to Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia with 36 of his colleagues. “Over 6.6 million Americans filed an unemployment claim in the last week of March. As coronavirus continues to spread, we expect that this number will only get higher.”

They continued, “The Department and state workforce agencies have a monumental task ahead in processing these claims. But, Americans who have lost their jobs don’t have time to wait for a check. People need unemployment compensation now so that they can buy groceries, pay rent, and keep up on their bills. Without it, many Americans won’t be able to make ends meet.”

Senator Tester has led the charge to make sure that relief is going to working Montanans who need it, and not to large corporations. He and his colleagues pushed to extend Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to four months instead of three, and he fought to make sure maximum UI benefits are increased by $600 per week to ensure laid-off workers, on average, receive their full pay. Additionally, Tester’s legislation to ensure that those working to qualify for Public Student Loan Forgiveness will not lose eligibility if they miss payments due to the pandemic was recently signed into law.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.

Read Tester’s full letter to Secretary Scalia HERE.

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