Sidney Herald: Sen. Tester talks military COLA increases, veteran benefits

by Greg Hitchcock

Sen. Jon Tester said this year was the biggest military pay increase in two decades with a 5.2 percent cost of living increase (COLA) on Thursday.

The COLA increase, Sen. Tester said, will have a positive effect on military recruitment and retention.

“I am concerned by the lack of numbers,” Sen. Tester said. “We are below numbers in our military besides the Marines.”

He admitted that the COLA increase was not at the same level as civilian pay, but said his work with the military and veterans will have a huge impact on them.

Sen. Tester explained his support of veterans by helping pass a VA construction bill, staffing VA hospitals with medical providers and administrative professionals, and passing the PACT Act, the largest increase of veteran benefits.

The federal government funded the National Guard at $30 million.

Tester said he supports overturning Paraguayan beef imports, saying Montana’s agricultural sector is number one in the nation.

“Montana produces the best beef in the world,” he said.

He also argued for securing the country’s borders thereby combatting fentanyl and stopping criminals, and supporting law enforcement at the borders to keep citizens safe.

“There must be more urgency in D.C. We must put pressure on the White House.It is too important to kick the can down the road,” he said about partisan politics.

We are resilient if we ever do have a recession, said Sen. Tester. He said the government has put caps on pharmaceuticals and prescription medications.

“That is a big deal. It is the first time it has ever been done,” he said.

“If we have a government shutdown, this only empowers our foes like China, Iran, and Russia,” Sen. Tester said.