Tester slams D.C. politics

Havre Daily News

by Tim Leeds

In an interview Friday, Montana’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Jon Tester, said partisanship still is clogging the hallways in the nation’s capital.

“It’s not good. It hasn’t been good for a while,” Tester said. “I put it on the amount of money being spent on these campaigns and the length of the campaign. …

“I think it’s going to change. I say this every time I talk to you and you ask the question and it hasn’t but I think it will,” he said.

He said he asked Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, before he died in 2012, if he’d ever seen Washington this partisan and Inouye said it was in the mid-1960s. Inouye said he didn’t know why it changed, but when it did it so immediately.

“I think there’s getting to be more and more of a nucleus of people working together and I think that will expand over time … I think that’s the kind of stuff we need to start doing and there is a group of people on the Democratic side and the Republican side that are willing to work together. …

“We always look for opportunities to work with the other side of the aisle. Always,” Tester said. “I think it’s very, very important.”

He said several issues are likely to be at the top of the plate when Congress resumes in September, including the issue on the southern border. That is not an issue about more border guards, these people are coming to the border and turning themselves in – it’s about processing time, Tester said.

“That’s still going to be around,” he said.

Issues with the conflict in Iraq, and the situation in the Ukraine, will be major issues, he said. Tester said he does not think the president can continue to bomb targets in Iraq without some approval by Congress.

“But we will see. We will see,” he said. “I am not, I am just not a big fan of continuing our presence there because I do not think we have made it more stable. It’s become less stable. I don’t think we have reduced terrorism I think that it’s grown. And it’s happened on Bush’s watch and Obama’s watch both. We’ve got to be smarter about what we’re doing. We can’t fight every war in the world.”

He said he thinks what Russia is doing in the Ukraine and its refusing to accept products from countries that have imposed sanctions is a big mistake.

“Once again, I think if we get some folks together and start talking about what’s really going on over there we could probably get this thing alleviated, but maybe I’m oversimplifying,” Tester said.

He said a bill he sponsored to change Border Patrol overtime pay is out of committee and ready for action on the floor.

“It’s ready for prime-time. … It gives more certainty, more accountability and it more accurately reflects the hours they work,” he said.

“They, by the way, it’s not all roses for them,” Tester added. “They negotiated in good faith on this thing because they know the old system just didn’t work.

“This is a situation where the Border Patrol agents and unions want to see this go forth and so does (the U.S. Department of) Homeland Security, so it can be a win-win for everybody. The taxpayers win too, it saves a hundred (million dollars),” he said.

He said he also is working on some bills to increase transparency on the actions of Congress where people could access more information online.