Tester says he will vote against budget deal

by Phil Drake

Sen. Jon Tester on Thursday said he would vote against the budget deal now before Congress, saying it would burden future generations with debt.

“There was no effort to be fiscally responsible in this bill whatsoever,” he said during a conference call, adding it was not an easy vote.

“There are many things in the bill I like very much,” he said, but added there was also “crap” and “garbage.”

But he said it would saddle future generations with nearly $680 billion in debt.

He said the bill included increased funding for Montana veterans such as vet centers. It included rural water projects to provide rural communities with access to clean water.

It also included some funding for Malmstrom Air Force Base, such as upgrades of C130s, ICBM modernization and a tactical response facility.

And the bill includes $450 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Tester and other members of the Montana’s congressional delegation struggled to restore after the program expired in October.

“It contains a lot, but it is missing a lot, too,” he said. “When a handful of members in Washington strike a back room deal, the deal is always less than perfect.”

The vote is expected Friday morning.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said he was still reviewing the bill.
But he did release a statement.

“I’m disappointed that this budget deal significantly increases spending and does nothing to address our nation’s debt crisis. It fails to address critical wildfire funding challenges facing the Forest Service and lacks much-needed forest management reforms. And it includes CISA – a controversial cybersecurity bill that threatens Montanans’ privacy and civil liberties,” he said.

He said he was to see a three-year reauthorization of LWCF, the lifting the oil export ban, and permanent tax relief for Montana families, farmers, tribes and small businesses.

On Thursday, Republicans overwhelmed divided Democrats to whisk tax breaks for businesses, families and special interests through the House as Congress sped toward final votes on a year-crowning budget accord that will also bankroll the government in 2016.

The tax measure, approved 318-109, includes political coups for both parties. More than 50 expiring tax cuts will be extended with more than 20 becoming permanent, including credits for companies’ expenditures for research and equipment purchases and reductions for lower-earning families and households with children and college students.

Both chambers also planned Friday votes on the second leg of the budget compromise, a $1.1 trillion measure financing government, after which Congress was ready to adjourn until January.