Tester Statement on President Signing Coronavirus Relief Package for Montana Small Businesses and Hospitals Into Law

$480 billion bipartisan deal includes $370 billion for small businesses, $100 billion for health care

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement as the President signed into law the $480 billion interim package to shore up critical pandemic relief programs for Montana small businesses and health care workers:

“I’m glad the President quickly signed into law this bipartisan bill to get more resources to our small businesses and our brave nurses and doctors on the front lines protecting our communities. Now we need to make sure that these resources get out the door quickly to the Montanans who need them, and I’ll keep holding Washington accountable to make sure that happens. We must continue to be laser-focused on slowing the spread of the virus while providing support to the main street businesses that are the backbone of our economy.”

Senator Mitch McConnell’s initial legislation proposed only $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, with no money for health care providers and workers. After bipartisan negotiations, today’s package includes:

  • $370 billion for small-business relief, including $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program through the Small Business Administration (SBA), and $10 billion for the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant Program.
    • Creates a $60 billion set-aside for Community Financial Institutions for the Paycheck Protection Program, including $30 billion for entities focused on rural areas like Community Development Financial Institutions and the smallest community banks and credit unions.
  • $75 billion for hospitals and other providers.
  • $25 billion to establish a COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program.
    • Including $825 million for Community Health Centers and rural health clinics.
    • Including $750 million for tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian health organizations in coordination with IHS.

This package also includes an expansion of the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Relief Loan and Emergency Economic Injury Grant Programs—pushed for by Tester—to include ag businesses, farms, and ranches with fewer than 500 employees.

Tester fought to improve the Paycheck Protection Program included in the CARES Act—a critical lifeline intended to help small businesses keep the lights on, and he recently secured an expansion of the program to ensure that Montana’s rural hospitals, as well as main street taverns and Tribal gaming enterprises recently secured will be eligible for relief through the program.

He has also been personally urging Vice President Mike Pence to ensure the federal government fulfills its obligation to address the shortages of badly-needed medical supplies, test kits, and protective equipment for Montana’s frontline health workers and urging the Administration to prioritize rural providers in allocating resources for health providers. He has led the charge in pushing the federal government to make full use of its powers under the Defense Production Act to centralize supply chains of critical resources.

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.

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