Saturday, February 24, 2018

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester

Sen. Tester outlines goals for Montana in 2018

Guest column
At the start of the New Year, many Montanans make New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it’s to spend time with family, put more money into savings or enjoy our world-class public lands a little more. As your senator, my resolution is to continue to bring your input back from the Treasure State to the U.S. Senate.
 
This year, I joined the Senate Commerce Committee to fight for Montana small businesses. Along with my spots on the Banking, Veterans’ Affairs, Indian Affairs and Appropriations Committees, I will have a strong voice for Montana’s priorities.
 
Since President Trump came into office, I have been working with him to get 10 bills signed into law. These laws improved accountability and accessibility at the VA, cracked down on government waste and fraud, and gave local fire departments across Montana the resources they need to keep communities safe.
 
In 2018, I hope to build on our success and continue to deliver for Montana. Whether that means protecting Social Security and Medicare, getting a Farm Bill that works for Montana’s family farmers and ranchers, protecting our public lands, cutting red tape for our community banks and credit unions, or replacing the broken VA Choice Program, I am ready to work with anyone to get things done.
 
As Congress looks for responsible ways to rein in our spending, I will defend Social Security and Medicare from draconian cuts that would hurt Hardin’s seniors. Montana seniors have paid into Social Security and Medicare all their lives and I will not allow Washington politicians to raid these important safety nets. We need to get our debt under control and I will not let politicians leave Montana’s seniors out in the cold.
 
Social Security and Medicare aren’t the only safety net Montanans need access to. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and we need a strong Farm Bill that prevents consolidation, invests in our rural communities and helps families maintain profitability. As a dirt farmer from Big Sandy, I know how important the Farm Bill is to the rancher, farmer or logger in Big Horn County. That’s why I’ve held Farm Bill listening sessions across the state to find out what’s working and what can be improved in the next Farm Bill.
 
Outside of agriculture, Montana relies on access to public land and clean air and water to drive our $7 billion outdoor economy. That’s why in 2018, I hope to get my Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act across the finish line. These made-in-Montana solutions are the result of on the ground collaboration and I will fight to ensure Montana’s public lands and the jobs that come with them are protected.
 
From the Bighorn River to Montana’s Main Streets, I’ll be holding Washington accountable to deliver high paying jobs and stronger economies. The community bankers across Montana are more familiar with walleye than a Wall Street boardroom, so they shouldn’t be facing the same regulations as the big banks in New York City. That’s why I worked with local Montana banks and credit unions to write a bipartisan bill to spur economic growth, increase access to capital, protect consumers and cut red tape for Main Street businesses. In the coming months, I will work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to get this to the president’s desk.
 
Finally in 2018, I hope to get rid of the disastrous VA Choice program and replace it with a solution that works for Montana’s veterans. I’ve heard from veterans across Montana that Choice is just not working. As Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve written a bipartisan plan to scrap the Choice Program and improve access to care for our veterans. My Caring for Our Veterans Act will end the Choice program as we know it and help get veterans in front of doctors quicker and in their communities. Our veterans earned these benefits and Congress needs to live up to our promises.
 
It’s an ambitious agenda, but with 10 bills already signed into law by President Trump, I am hopeful we can continue to get things done. In 2018, I hope to bring Big Horn County’s voice back with me to the Senate.
 
Jon Tester is a third generation farmer from Big Sandy and the senior senator from Montana.
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