Tester votes against spending billions of taxpayer dollars overseas

Senator: We can’t pay for conflicts abroad at the expense of our own country’s needs

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester today voted against a funding bill that spends tens of billions of taxpayer dollars overseas at the expense of domestic investments in veterans’ care, education and infrastructure.

In an Appropriations Committee hearing on the Defense Department spending bill, Tester criticized the bill’s reliance on a budget gimmick that hides approximately $40 billion in an off-the-books spending account, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations Account. The 2016 Defense Appropriations bill totals $576 billion, an increase of $30 billion when compared to fiscal year 2015. Under a 2011 bipartisan law designed to help reduce the deficit, defense spending is supposed to be capped at $523 billion.

“We can’t continue to spend an obscene amount of taxpayer dollars in futile attempts to resolve centuries-old conflicts at the expense of our own country’s needs,” Tester said. “I have a real problem with our allies spending less and less on defense, even when it comes to addressing threats on their doorstep, because we’ll pick up the bill.”

Tester pointed out the Majority’s misguided priorities as they increase Defense spending while gutting investment in domestic infrastructure and education.

Tester, who criticized the President yesterday for committing over 400 additional American military advisors to Iraq, voted for an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill to bar the Pentagon from sending ground troops to the Middle East to combat ISIS. That amendment, which was opposed by every Republican on the committee, failed. Audio of Tester speaking on record about the amendment is available HERE.

Noting that caring for veterans is a cost of war, the Senator also recently introduced an amendment to the VA Appropriations bill to increase VA funding by $857 million so the department would have the resources it needs to care for veterans. His amendment was defeated on a party line vote.