Letters: Thank you, Sen. Tester, for backing the American Rescue Plan

Thank you, Senator Jon Tester, for standing up for Montanans by voting for the American Rescue Plan. We are so grateful for your steadfast leadership in Congress. 

The American Rescue Plan provides each American a $1,400 cash payment to help us get our feet back under us and begin to recover from the pandemic. It also makes health insurance more affordable, provides assistance to families with children, extends unemployment benefits, and provides states and cities with resources for vaccinations, safely reopening schools, and economic recovery. Sadly, Senator Tester was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to support the bill.  

Montanans are struggling. Over 100,000 Montanans were sickened by COVID. More than 1,392 Montanans died from the virus. Then there are the terrible effects of the economic crisis the pandemic caused.  

Montana’s economy was devastated. Compared to a year ago, Montana’s employment rates among workers in the service industry decreased by 26.7% and many lost health insurance along with their jobs. More than 140,000 Montana struggled to find food for their families. Many had to choose between paying utilities or rent. 

Congress passed President Biden’s American Rescue Plan in the nick of time. The plan is massive, but it needs to be to bring our country and state back from the brink of disaster. We are disappointed that Senator Steve Daines and Representative Matt Rosedale voted against the relief bill. They voted against ordinary Montanans and the middle class. Why?

Despite the pandemic, the wealthy are doing obscenely well. Over the first ten months of COVID, the 660 billionaires in the United States increased their wealth by $1.1 trillion. That’s nearly a 40% increase in less than a year, while most people have been struggling to afford healthcare, prescriptions, childcare, rent, and food. It’s time for the wealthy to pay their fair share and invest in the well-being of the rest of us.  

The American Rescue Plan is not perfect. Many of its parts are temporary, including the pieces that make health insurance more affordable. The American Rescue Plan will get us through the next few months, but Montana — and the country — needs the federal government to do more to rebuild a thriving economy on the other side of this pandemic. We need Congress and President Biden to invest in our people, our communities, and our infrastructure so that we can rebuild.

Our sincere gratitude to you, Senator Tester, for voting for the American Rescue Plan. It was the right thing to do. Now we can begin stabilizing our economy and start down the road to recovery. Thank you, Senator Tester, for putting Montanans first.

Terry Minow, vice chair, Big Sky 55+ and Quint Nyman, retired Corporal from the Marines.