Tester Urges Senate Leadership to Pass Bill with More Funding, Flexibility in Paycheck Protection Program for Montana Businesses

With news Senate may consider new funding for program, Senator pushes for more flexibility for small businesses shut out of program on technicalities & for inclusion of outdoor industry, Tribal businesses & taverns

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today urged Senate leadership to pass a bill with more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as an expansion of the program to Montana businesses currently ineligible-including outdoor industries with seasonal workers, taverns with income from gaming, and Tribal businesses.

“Montanans have shared with me their concern that the [Paycheck Protection Program] will run out of funding before all lenders are able to process loans or small businesses are able to apply,” Tester wrote. “This is unacceptable and must be addressed. I find it particularly frustrating that businesses may miss the current opportunity for support for reasons outside of their control as there continue to be problems with the website and insufficient guidance for lenders.”

With news the Senate plans to consider legislation to help shore up Paycheck Protection Program loans before they run out of funding, Tester urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer widen flexibility in the program that has created confusion or shut too many Montana businesses out.

Tester also addressed issues with the current program structure, writing: “Since the Small Business Administration started implementing the Paycheck Protection Program, I am hearing from constituents that there are many Montana organizations this initiative does not work for as currently structured. While it is positive that resources are getting to many businesses, there is still insufficient guidance to lenders working to facilitate the program. There are also unnecessary burdens and limitations for small businesses, particularly pertaining to their structure or general eligibility.”

And Tester urged that a number of Montana businesses be deemed eligible in the next bill: “Montana’s locally owned taverns that receive more than one third of their revenue from gaming have been shut out of this initiative… Congress also explicitly included Tribal businesses broadly as eligible…In addition, Montana has a significant outdoor economy with seasonal workers who are facing unique challenges as the crisis continues that Congress and the SBA did not adequately address in the CARES Act.”

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.

Full text of Tester’s letter HERE.

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