Tester demands housing bill that prioritizes working families

Senator questions Administration's bank bailout while ordinary families struggle

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – On the floor of the U.S. Senate, Jon Tester today asked Democrats and Republicans to come together to pass a housing measure that prioritizes ordinary Montanans struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s about time that our national leadership went to bat for struggling working families instead of just looking out for the fat cats,” Tester said, referring to the government’s recent $30 billion bailout of troubled investment bank Bear Stearns.

The Senate is currently crafting a bipartisan housing opportunity bill to counteract the slump in the national housing market—widely considered to be the worst since the Great Depression.

“Unfortunately, the Administration has put a larger priority in taking care of Wall Street’s big bankers than the millions of folks who are struggling to pay the bills, make their mortgages, save for their children’s college tuition or invest some money for a secure retirement,” Tester said.

Tester today told his colleagues about a forum for Montana investors he hosted in Kalispell two weeks ago. After hearing concerns about the Bear Stearns bailout during that meeting, Tester asked the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee to hold a hearing. Tester is a member of the Banking Committee.

At Tester’s request, Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., agreed to hold a hearing tomorrow on Capitol Hill to “shine a spotlight” on the Bear Stearns bailout.

“I do not believe in a government bailout of the undeserving,” Tester said. “But I do believe in aiding those families who face unfair foreclosures through no fault of their own. This Congress must pass legislation that can make that distinction and help families and communities adversely affected by this slowing economy.”

Tester said that the national housing slump has yet to hit Montana as hard as other states, but warned the housing market affects all sectors of the economy.  He noted the recent closure of the Stimson Lumber mill in Bonner—a move blamed on a national slowdown in the building industry.