Tester to Congress: ‘You’re either for jobs or against jobs’
Senator shares Montana photo on Senate floor as lawmakers negotiate final Jobs Bill
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Saying it’s worth much more than a thousand words, Senator Jon Tester today shared a hard-hitting photo from Montana while urging his colleagues to support the final version of the Jobs Bill.
Tester yesterday voted to pass the Jobs Bill, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Now Republicans and Democrats from the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives are negotiating a final version of the bill.
Today on the Senate floor, Tester shared a photo that recently appeared in the Whitefish Pilot newspaper. The picture shows a man on a street corner holding a cardboard sign that reads: WORK NEEDED.
“He is someone I represent in the United States Senate,” Tester said. “He is one of the 950,000 Montanans that I am proud to call my boss. And his story is the story of millions of Americans right now.”
Tester noted that Montana’s unemployment rate rose from 4.9 percent in December to 5.4 percent in January. Numerous Montana businesses are laying off employees or are “being forced to call it quits.”
Tester said the millions Americans who are looking for work are “paying a tough price for the failed economic policies of the past.”
“The word ‘stimulus’ is a Washington, D.C., word that doesn’t mean much in my book,” Tester said. “That’s why—from day one—I have called this the Jobs Bill. Because that’s exactly what it is. You’re either for jobs. Or you’re against jobs… Now some D.C. politicians say we don’t need to pass a Jobs Bill because the current recession is only temporary. I ask you to tell that to this guy standing on the street in Whitefish, Montana.”
As a member of the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester played a key role in focusing the Jobs Bill on investment in long-term infrastructure such as highway projects, water systems, energy facilities and health care facilities to win bipartisan support.
Updated “Frequently Asked Questions” about the Jobs Bill are now online at tester.senate.gov/Legislation/jobsbill.cfm. Tester’s floor speech follows.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester
February 11, 2009
Madame President, we’ve made some difficult decisions over the past few months. And after years of failed policies that dragged our economy into the ditch, we still have many more difficult decisions ahead.
The next big decision will be for Republicans and Democrats working together on a final version of the Jobs Bill. Now we have an opportunity to really focus on a bill that will rebuild our economy from the ground up by putting Americans back to work, right now.
The Jobs Bill we passed yesterday creates jobs—up to four million of them. And saves many, many more, by investing in our roads – and our bridges – our water systems – energy facilities – and our schools. This is long-term infrastructure that will support our economy for generations to come.
The Jobs Bill also invests in what matters—people. By investing in health Care. And in education. By putting cops on the street.
Madame President, where I come from, we call things as we see them. The word “stimulus” is a Washington, D.C., word that doesn’t mean much in my book. That’s why—from day one—I have called this the Jobs Bill. Because that’s exactly what it is. A jobs bill.
You’re either for jobs. Or you’re against jobs.
And every day, we hear of layoffs by the tens of thousands. Unemployment numbers are skyrocketing. Businesses—even entire industries—are being forced to call it quits.
The national housing slump is taking its toll on Montana’s timber industry. The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company is at risk of closing its doors after decades of being a major driver in the economy in the Flathead Valley. And the Stillwater Mine has laid off hundreds of its employees.
Montana’s unemployment rate jumped from 4.9 percent in December to 5.4 percent last month. That’s an increase—in one month—of a half-percent.
Madame President, the numbers are grim. And they are real. Now is the time for Congress to vote for jobs.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
This picture is worth much more than that. It’s a picture that I came across in the Whitefish Pilot the other day. It was taken by a guy by the name of David Erickson.
The man in this picture is standing on the street corner in Whitefish, Montana. He’s holding up a cardboard sign that reads: WORK NEEDED. He is someone that I represent in the United States Senate. He is one of the 950,000 Montanans that I am proud to call my boss. And his story is the story of millions of Americans right now.
Millions of Americans who either don’t have a job. Or who went to work today, wondering if this will be their last day on the job.
Millions of Americans are wondering how they’re going to be able to continue to put food on the table for their families. Or pay the mortgage. Or pay for medicine. Or pay for child care.
Madame President, we’re not talking about a few folks who drew a short stick. We’re talking about millions of Americans who are in the same boat as this guy in the picture. Folks who are paying a tough price for the failed economic policies of the past.
Now, some D.C. politicians say we don’t need to pass a Jobs Bill because the current recession is only temporary. I ask you to tell that to this guy standing on the street in Whitefish, Montana. Tell that to the unemployed woman who wrote me to say she’s willing to sweep the streets with a broom if we’ll give her a job.
These are proud folks. They don’t want unemployment checks. They want paychecks. Madame President, right now, work is needed.
That’s the task ahead for my friends in the House and the Senate, who are working on the final version of the Jobs Bill.
We need jobs. Jobs. And more Jobs.
Not politics as usual.
Now is not the time for Congress to be against jobs. It’s time for Congress to work together to put folks to work by investing in America.
Madame President, I yield the floor.