In Kalispell, Tester Talks Benefits of COVID Relief with Small Business Owners & Community Leaders, Stops By Kalispell VA Vaccine Clinic

Senator: “The American Rescue Plan provides critical resources that’ll get Montana businesses, schools, and communities reopened as quickly as possible.”

While in Kalispell today, U.S. Senator Jon Tester visited Kalispell Brewing Company to discuss how the American Rescue Plan-the recent COVID relief package-will directly benefit small businesses, schools, and the local Flathead community. He also stopped by the Kalispell Veterans’ Administration (VA) vaccine clinic to speak to volunteers and staff administering life-saving COVID-19 vaccines to Montana veterans.

Tester joined Kalispell Brewing Company owners Maggie Doherty and Cole Schneider, Flathead County Public Health Officer Joe Russell, and the Kalispell School District Superintendent Micah Hill to highlight how the American Rescue Plan is providing critical relief to Flathead County by bringing in targeted support for small businesses and other critical services in Kalispell, increasing available vaccines, and helping schools stay open safely. Following their discussion, the group opened the floor for questions from the media.

“As we continue rolling out these life-saving vaccines across Montana, the end of this pandemic and a return to normal is in sight,” said Tester. “But communities across our state are in critical need of relief to help them recover from the economic fallout of this crisis. I worked to ensure that the American Rescue Plan provides targeted, direct relief to Montana cities like Kalispell, which could receive nearly $6 million to plug revenue gaps and keep critical services like cops and firefighters on the beat. And it’ll help small businesses like Kalispell Brewing-and other hospitality, tourism, or entertainment venues-keep the lights on so they can continue being the critical gathering places of our communities.”

Tester continued: “Bottom line: The American Rescue Plan provides critical resources that’ll get Montana businesses, schools, and communities reopened as quickly as possible. It’ll help revive our economy, and we’re already seeing the benefits.”

Tester also visited the Kalispell VA vaccine clinic event where he spoke with volunteers, staff administering doses, and veterans about Montana’s vaccine distribution. As Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has been fighting to increase vaccines for VA and ensure that they are made available to veterans and VA personnel. For months, he has been fighting to ensure Montana’s veterans and VA staff-especially those in rural areas-get their fair share of the COVID-19 vaccine supply. He has continually announced vaccine distributions across Montana, with hundreds of vaccines expected to be administered to eligible veterans in other cities in the coming weeks. Last month, he also successfully secured billions in the COVID-19 relief package to vaccinate, support and protect veterans in Montana and across the country.

“It was great visiting with veterans and staff in Kalispell and seeing firsthand VA’s top-notch ability to get shots into arms,” said Tester. “With folks seeking care and services from VA more than ever, I was proud to secure additional resources in the American Rescue Plan to increase vaccine distribution efforts and expand health care options, employment assistance, and supportive services to meet the urgent needs of veterans and families. These vaccines-and the frontline workers administering them-are helping us put this pandemic behind us and move our country forward.”

Tester was the only member of the Montana delegation to support the American Rescue Plan. He worked tirelessly to ensure the COVID relief bill provided targeted resources that will have a tangible impact on Montana’s economy and ensure that anyone who wants a vaccine can get one-especially those who bravely served our country.

The American Rescue Plan includes:

  • A projected $5.95 million directly to the city of Kalispell to cover the costs of the pandemic, including plugging revenue gaps and keeping cops and firefighters on the beat;
  • $63 billion for existing and new COVID relief programs to aid a wider range of small businesses, particularly in the hospitality and entertainment industries, including:
    • Around $50 million projected for Montana Economic Development Organizations to provide credit to small businesses that would not otherwise receive it;
    • $750 million in dedicated funding for the hardest hit travel, tourism, or outdoor recreation businesses; and,
    • $28.6 billion for a new grant program tailored to local restaurants.
  • $17 billion for VA to bolster COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, address deferred health care needs, tackle the claims backlog, provide job training opportunities, assist State Veterans Homes by mitigating funding gaps, and waive health care copayments for veterans during the economic crisis;
  • $382 million for Montana’s K-12 schools, to ensure every student can safely resume learning full-time in person, and to help address learning challenges from the last year;
  • Tester’s legislation to fully restore Amtrak daily passenger service to the Hi-Line, which is critical to the economy of the Flathead; and,
  • Fulfills former President Trump’s promise of $2,000 in direct payments for every American making less than $75,000.