The Roundup -

Tester Discusses Upcoming Issues for this Congressional Session


Senator Jon Tester held a press call on Wednesday Sept. 7th; he is back in Washington D.C. after a seven week recess,

“My colleagues called for a vote on a partisan bill they knew would not pass,” said Tester in regards to a bill addressing the Zika virus.

According to Tester, the bill would not provide adequate research funding for the virus, and restricts access to family planning services.

“It makes no sense considering this is a sexually transmitted disease,” Tester commented. “We need strong research to make sure that this health crisis doesn’t become an epidemic by this time next year.”

The Supreme Court continues to operate with only eight justices; Merrick Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court on March 16th of this year, however he has still not received a hearing or a vote.

“A six month vacancy wasn’t what our founding fathers had in mind when they demanded that the Senate advise and consent to a Supreme Court nominee. It’s time for Judge Garland to be publically vetted through a hearing and then receive a vote.”

Despite the Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously approving the Veterans First Act in May of 2016, the bipartisan, comprehensive VA reform bill has yet to be voted on. Tester commented that Montana Veterans are still struggling with the Choice Program, and that they can’t wait any longer to have increased access to the care they need and deserve.

Tester spent the last seven weeks traveling across the state. While visiting the Roaring Lion fire, the need to implement the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act was reiterated by those fighting the wildfire.

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would address wildfires as a natural disaster, so that emergency funds could be used for firefighting. Currently, the Forest Service uses the majority of it’s funding to fight fires, leaving little money left over to maintain trails and clear deadfall.

“This leaves Montana’s forests as kindling and just one act of God away from yet another wildfire,” Tester commented.

The Senator held a listening session to gain feedback about the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship project in western Montana, which has been in the works for the last decade. Montanans are seeking a lasting solution for public lands in the Blackfoot-Clearwater valley that address the three components of the project: timber, recreation and conservation.

Lastly, Tester discussed the need to keep health care costs down for Montanans.

“I heard from constituents across the state about the high cost of prescription drugs, premium increases, and the need to hold these health care corporations accountable. I sent letters to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and Mylan pharmaceuticals to call on them to stop the price gouging and find new and innovative ways to keep costs down for working families.”

Tester is hopeful that even with limited time, some of these issues can be addressed in the next congressional session.

“With a vote to avoid government shutdown on the horizon, I will look for any and all avenues to make sure the problems facing Montana can be addressed,” he said in closing.


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