On COVID-19 response, Daines pushing payroll tax cut, paid leave

(KPAX) In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is pushing for a payroll tax-cut, paid leave for sick workers or their families and steps to make the testing for the disease more affordable.

Daines unveiled his proposals late Monday, and said he plans to work closely with President Trump and the White House on enacting the plans.

President Trump met Tuesday with congressional Republicans to promote economic-stimulus plans, as the stock market has plunged in recent weeks and many industries have been hard hit by impacts from the virus outbreak.

National publications are reporting that some members of Trump’s cabinet are cool to the idea of the tax suspension – and that congressional Democrats, and some Republicans, aren’t wild about it, either.

Daines’ office said the senator mentioned the tax-cut idea to the president several weeks ago.

“Montanans and Americans shouldn’t have to choose between their paycheck, their personal health and the health and safety of others,” Daines said in a statement.

He also wrote a letter Tuesday to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, urging him to take steps to classify coronavirus testing as “preventive care,” so it would be more affordable for those with high-deductible health coverage of health savings accounts.

Daines said he supports a payroll tax suspension, so employees “can keep more money in their pocket,” and that the cut would be covered by the general treasury.

He also said he wants to ensure families have 14 days of paid leave.

Daines, however, offered no details on how long the tax suspension should last or how much it would cost, or how the paid leave would be financed.