Tester takes ‘front-row seat’ in appropriations

Havre Daily News

Montana's U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has taken five new subcommittee assignments the senator says will give Montana a strong voice in the appropriations process, including on issues directly impacting north-central Montana.

Senate Majority Leader Harrry Reid, D-Nev., appointed Tester to the Senate Appropriations Committee this session, two years after Tester took office. Tester announced this week he was assigned to the subcommittees on Energy and Water Development, Interior and Environment, Homeland Security, Financial Services, and General Government and Legislative Branch.

"These assignments mean Montana has a front-row seat when it comes to investing in priority infrastructure projects and creating jobs," Tester said. "Now we'll move forward with responsibility, accountability and transparency to make sure Montana taxpayers get their fair share, and that we invest their money effectively."

Montana's Congressional delegation is strongly positioned in the federal government. As well as Tester's positions — he also serves on the Senate's Veterans' Affairs, Banking, Homeland Security and Indian Affairs committees — Montana's senior Sen. Max Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee and sits on the Agriculture Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and is a senior member of the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Montana's Rep. Denny Rehberg sits on the House Committee on Appropriations and serves on its Labor, Health and Human Service and Education; Energy and Water; and the Foreign Operations subcommittees.

The subcommittees to which Tester was assigned — Appropriation's 12 subcommittees set where the government will spend taxpayer money, and how much it spends — cover issues and agencies including the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Department of Energy, and fund water infrastructure projects such as the St. Mary's Diversion which provides much of the water that flows through the Milk River each year.

Other projects would include the Fort Peck/Dry Prairie Rural Water System and the Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Regional Water System, which when completed will provide drinking water to large regions in Montana. The Rocky Boy's/North Central regional system will treat Water from Tiber Reservoir south of Chester to provide drinking water to some 29,000 people on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and people off the reservation including Havre and communities south and west of Havre.

Other areas covered include funding for agencies such as the U. S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service and funding the entire Department of Homeland Security, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to the Transportation Security Administration, which Tester said will allow him to continue efforts to ensure that DHS secures the northern border efficiently and effectively.

The Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee has jurisdiction over a wide range of federal agencies, including the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Small Business Administration.

Tester said he will be better positioned to promote Montana businesses on this subcommittee The Legislative Branch Subcommittee determines how to fund Congress and the Government Accountability Office, which is the non-partisan audits and investigative arm of Congress.