Tester and Appropriations Committee take first stab at Jobs Bill

Montana has ‘a seat at the table’ as Committee decides funding to rebuild economy from ground up

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today helped piece together a major part of the Senate’s upcoming Jobs Bill during his first official meeting on the influential Senate Appropriations Committee.

Tester said the Senate bill, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, will help rebuild the economy from the ground up by creating new jobs and investing in long-term infrastructure across Montana and the country.

“We’re still in the early innings on the Jobs Bill, but today we made good progress in the Appropriations Committee,” Tester said.  “Montana now has a seat at the table.  And I’ll use that seat to make sure taxpayers get the most bang for their buck, and that we invest only in infrastructure projects with rock-solid merit that will create millions of new jobs and keep the jobs we have.”

During today’s meeting, Tester and the Senate Appropriations Committee put together a framework funding plan for the Jobs Bill.  The bill passed by the Committee today includes several of Tester’s top priorities, including:

  • $27 billion to upgrade America’s highways and bridges.
  • $12.375 billion to improve water projects across the country, which will create more than 180,000 direct and indirect jobs nationwide.
  • $10 billion to guarantee loans for energy transmission projects like the Montana-Alberta Tie Line (MATL), which will connect power lines between Canada and Great Falls.
  • $5.8 billion to undertake energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at schools and hospitals nationwide.
  • $5 billion to improve housing and quality of life for members of the military and for improvements at Veterans Administration (VA) facilities.
  • $2 billion to create jobs and improve conditions in Indian Country.
  • $800 million to lower the risk of wildfire through forest management.

In addition, Tester said the Jobs Bill will create a new Accountability and Transparency Board to oversee spending and warn of problems.  It will also create a new accountability website that will post information about government spending, including grants, contracts, and all oversight activities.

The bill also requires that all infrastructure projects funded by the jobs bill must use American-made materials.