Tester Secures Commitment from Secretary of Commerce Nominee Gina Raimondo to Push for Montana Priorities

Senator spoke with the Rhode Island Governor about rural broadband, softwood lumber, the Census, and holding China accountable

At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing earlier today, U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured a commitment from Gina Raimondo-President Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Commerce and Governor of Rhode Island-to work to grow Montana’s economy and push for the state’s priorities.

“Today I urged Governor Raimondo to ensure Montana’s priorities are front and center in her agenda as we work to get our economy back on track,” said Tester. “If her nomination is confirmed, I’ll be working to ensure her focus is squarely on shoring up rural broadband, ensuring that the Census count is accurate in rural and Tribal areas, maintaining our softwood lumber industry, and working with our allies again to hold China accountable.”

During her confirmation hearing, Tester and Raimondo spoke about how they can collaborate to grow Montana’s economy by coordinating among agencies to bolster broadband in rural areas, ensure that Montana’s wood products industry can continue to provide jobs and grow the state’s economy, and work with allies that the previous Administration abandoned to hold China accountable for unfair trading practices.

Tester also emphasized the need to fix the mistakes made by the previous Administration to gather an accurate count in the 2020 Census, particularly in rural and Tribal areas.

“I want to talk about the Census, because it’s generally believed that because of the pandemic, and because of [the previous] Administration’s inability to get things right, the Census numbers aren’t right,” said Tester. “And I was wondering if you have any ideas on how to address that. I will tell you that I think it’s a challenge in rural America and it’s particularly a challenge in Indian Country where the pandemic hit them very, very hard.”

After the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau experts and Tribal partners requested attentional time to ensure an accurate count. However, the Trump Administration and Senate Republicans refused extend the 2020 Census, jeopardizing the accuracy of the data.

Tester continued: “Let me just give you a data point, in Blackfeet, the self-response rate was 29 percent. And I think it’s pretty similar all across the large land-based Tribes in this country so there’s a lot of work to do.”

Tester has been working diligently to ensure that President Biden’s cabinet nominees will be pushing for Montana priorities. Last week, he met with Interior Secretary Nominee Deb Haaland about creating jobs, protecting public lands, and upholding trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribes. He also secured a commitment from Transportation Secretary Nominee Pete Buttigieg to prioritize rural America and keep Montana connected.

Watch Tester’s full questioning of Governor Raimondo HERE.