U.S. Senator Steve Daines, R-Montana, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to work with our allies around the world and fully investigate China’s response to the emergence of the virus causing COVID-19.
“I write to you today to urge the State Department to work with our allies around the world and fully investigate China’s response to the emergence of the virus causing COVID-19," Daines wrote. "As you are well aware, China’s initial response to reports of an atypical pneumonia being detected by medical personnel in Hubei province in late 2019 were ham-fisted with government officials hiding cases, punishing doctors who dared to speak-up, and resulted in delays that worsened the impact of COVID-19 on public health and the economies of countries around the world."
Daines has been leading the efforts in Congress to respond to the coronavirus outbreak impacting the country. By his own accounting:
- In early March, Daines brought his proposal and ideas to President Trump at a meeting in the White House.
- On April 3rd, 2020, Daines sent a letter to Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma encouraging both the U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to consider solutions to protect Medicare beneficiaries and ensure they receive the care they need in the safest possible setting during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- On April 3rd, 2020, Daines urged U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen to provide immediate relief to folks in the outdoor recreation industry amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
- On April 3rd, 2020, Daines urged the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan to consider the impact of the proposed temporary reduction of hours at a number of Montana Ports of Entry on Montana ag and Montana’s rural communities.
- On April 3rd, 2020, Daines announced that SNAP benefits will be increased for Montana families during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- On April 2nd, 2020, Daines urged the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure that agricultural businesses are eligible for Coronavirus relief programs.
- On April 2nd, 2020, Daines announced that $48,935,981 will be made available for Montana transit during the Coronavirus pandemic
- On April 2nd, 2020, Daines announced that $7,976,265 will be made available for critical housing assistance for Montana during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- On April 1st, 2020, Daines urged President Trump to permit National Guard members responding to the Coronavirus pandemic in our communities to be eligible for TRICARE coverage.
- On April 1st, 2020, Daines announced that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment. This news follows Daines’ request to the Department of the Treasury to ensure Social Security beneficiaries automatically receive direct checks.
- On April 1st, 2020, Daines announced that $4,759,829 will be made available to Montana law enforcement for grants to assist in responding to Coronavirus.
- On April 1st, 2020, Daines announced that preliminary estimates of $10,039,330 will be made available for child care and development for Montana families during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- On April 1st, 2020, Daines sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting immediate assistance to cattle producers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- On March 31st, 2020, Daines announced that the State of Montana was approved for major disaster declaration funding to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.
- On March 31st, 2020, Daines announced that preliminary estimates of over $50,000,000 will be made available for Montana schools during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- On March 30th, 2020, Daines urged President Trump to support the State of Montana’s major disaster declaration request and urge its immediate approval.
- On March 30th, 2020, Daines sent a letter to USDA Secretary Perdue to support the wood products industry during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- On March 25th, 2020, Daines voted and advanced a Coronavirus economic relief package that would provide Montana workers, small business, hospitals, and state and local governments more than one billion dollars in emergency relief to handle the Coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 25th, 2020, Daines announced that he was able to successfully secure stronger provisions and critical funding for tribal communities in the Coronavirus Economic Recovery Package.
- On March 25th, 2020, Daines announced that the final Coronavirus Economic Recovery Package will have an additional $23.5 billion for agriculture assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- On March 24th, 2020, Senator Daines took to the floor of the United States Senate with Senator Lindsey Graham to urge an immediate Senate vote to pass the Coronavirus Economic Recovery Package that would provide relief for Montana workers, families, small businesses and healthcare professionals.
- On March 23rd, 2020, Daines announced that President Trump announced he will be extending the REAL ID requirements during the coronavirus outbreak, a top priority of Daines.
- On March 23rd, 2020, Senator Daines sent a bipartisan letter with Senate colleagues to Vice President Pence asking the administration to create two temporary Coronavirus task forces.
- On March 23rd, 2020, Daines issued a statement after the Senate voted a second time against the CARES Act, a Coronavirus economic recovery package that would deliver major relief for millions of workers, working families and small businesses in Montana and across the country.
- On March 23rd, 2020, Daines sponsored the Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act, to address the impending crisis facing our health care system as the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) increasingly strains hospitals and providers across the country.
- On March 22nd, 2020, Daines announced a plan and over $10 billion in funding for accelerated drug development and manufacturing to treat and prevent the Coronavirus.
- On March 21st, 2020, Daines announced that President Trump signed his bipartisan bill, the Emergency GI Fix for Coronavirus School Closures, into law. This legislation will stop veterans, and those who depend on them, from losing GI Bill education benefits during the Coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 21st, 2020, Daines sent a letter to Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging inclusion of expanded and robust federal unemployment insurance in the Coronavirus economic relief package in negotiations today.
- On March 20th, 2020, Daines urged President Trump to prioritize the shipment of essential goods such as medical supplies, agricultural commodities, and energy, which will help local Montana businesses and border communities, during ongoing negotiations with Canada over travel restrictions in response to the Coronavirus pandemic
- On March 20th, 2020, Daines cosponsored a bipartisan bill that provides relief to Montana ranchers during the Coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 20th, 2020, President Trump extended the tax filing deadline three months, from April 15th 2020 to July 15th, 2020. Earlier this week, Daines introduced a bipartisan bill urging the administration do so.
- On March 20th, 2020, Daines cosponsored a bipartisan bill that provides relief to Montana ranchers during the Coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 19th, 2020, Daines sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Wilkie stressing the need to care for veterans in Montana who struggle with mental health and who may be found to have increased stress during the coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 19th, 2020, Daines introduced legislation to extend the tax filing deadline from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020 to provide additional relief to Montanans during the coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 19th, 2020, Daines cosponsored a bill to appropriate $17 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make payments on all 7a, 504, and microloans for the next six months.
- On March 18th, 2020, Daines voted for a Coronavirus relief bill which requires free testing for the Coronavirus, ensures paid and sick family leave for Montana’s families and workers and provides emergency nutritional assistance for seniors, women, children and low income families. This bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, is Phase Two of Congress’ response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 18th, 2020, Daines sponsored legislation to delay the impact of the recent accounting rule change for current expected credit losses (CECL) during the coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 17th, 2020, Daines introduced legislation to require private health insurance plans to cover treatments or vaccines for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, with no cost sharing.
- On March 17th, 2020, Daines announced the Trump administration will be expanding access to Medicare telehealth services during the coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 17th, 2020, Daines called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to enable thousands of federal civil servants, who have experience with rapid emergency response, to assist rural communities that are increasingly overwhelmed by the challenge of responding to the Coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 17th, 2020, Daines announced the Small Business Administration (SBA) declared that Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula, Sheridan, Silver Bow, Wheatland, Beaverhead, Broadwater, Daniels, Deer Lodge, Fergus, Glacier, Golden Valley, Granite, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Meagher, Mineral, Park, Pondera, Powell, Ravalli, Roosevelt, Sanders, Sweet Grass, and Teton counties will be eligible to apply for additional funding under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Declaration.
- On March 17th, 2020, Daines introduced a bipartisan bill that directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to delay enforcement of REAL ID for at least one year in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Daines has been proactively working with the Trump administration on a delay of REAL ID for Montana.
- On March 17th, 2020, Daines unveiled three more major proposals that will help protect Montana’s workers, families, first responders and small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 16th, 2020, Daines announced that the Senate passed his bipartisan bill that protects veterans and their dependents from losing GI Bill education benefits during the Coronavirus outbreak while they take part in online classes.
- On March 16th, 2020, Daines announced $4.5 million awarded to Montana to help support the coronavirus response and protect public health.
- On March 16th, 2020, Daines urged President Trump to ensure Montana tribal communities have access to federal assistance during coronavirus outbreak.
- On March 14th, 2020, Daines urged Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Azar and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Gaynor to ensure Indian Health Service (IHS) has the resources needed to provide coronavirus testing for tribal communities.
- On March 13th, 2020, Daines issued a statement yesterday on President Trump declaring a national emergency for coronavirus.
- On March 12th, 2020, Daines introduced bipartisan legislation to provide disaster unemployment assistance to people who are unable to work due to the current coronavirus outbreak. Assistance would be available to individuals, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors, who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, or whose family circumstances keep them from working or reduce their pay as a result of the coronavirus outbreak or government containment efforts.
- On March 9th, 2020, Daines unveiled a slate of proposals and priorities he’s working to advance that will help protect Montana families and their finances during the Coronavirus outbreak including paid leave, temporarily waiving payroll taxes, providing relief from tariffs, and ensuring access to affordable testing.
- On March 9th, 2020, Daines sent a letter urging the Trump administration to take swift action to make testing for the Coronavirus affordable.
The following day the IRS immediately announced it would adopt Daines’ proposal to remove financial barriers to testing and treatment for the Coronavirus by allowing high deductible health plans to cover Coronavirus-related testing and treatment before a patient has met their deductible.
Congress passed the Coronavirus emergency supplemental earlier this month which included $8.3 billion to combat this crisis, including nearly $1 billion for state and local preparedness and response.
"As you know, prior to China locking down Wuhan and Hubei Province on January 23, 2020, there were early indications that a SARS-type virus had jumped from an animal host and had begun to infect humans," hias letter continued. "What is more alarming was that despite official denials, indications of human-to-human transmission were clearly evident by early January. The suppression of this critical piece of information alone significantly delayed any early international response. The well-publicized punishment, by local government officials, of the now deceased doctor Li Wenliang for posting about the presence of a new illness among his patients is a chilling reminder of official Chinese government attempts to hide and distort the truth. China’s difficulties with the truth are continuing even now with its diplomats spreading baseless conspiracy theories of US military culpability in a simplistic attempt to muddy the waters for those that are easily swayed or misinformed.
"Americans are suffering from both the effects of the disease and from the real harm to our economy as public health officials are forced to implement restrictions to control this pandemic. The American people deserve to have the information to truly understand why they are making the sacrifices that they are. Additionally, we must discover the truth about the origins of this disease in order to better prepare ourselves against another future pandemic. That is why I urge you to lead efforts with international partners to investigate China’s initial response and culpability related to the COVID-19 pandemic and consider any appropriate punitive actions necessary to hold China accountable.
"Thank you for your consideration of this request and for your commitment to discover the truth about China’s obfuscation of this pandemic."