Tester urges President Bush to sign funding bill

Bill funds troops, veterans, farmers and ranchers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana Senator Jon Tester is calling on President Bush to sign into law a bill funding U.S. troops in Iraq and other national priorities including veterans, farmers and ranchers.

President Bush has said he will veto the bill, which passed the Senate Thursday.

During a speech on the Senate Floor, Tester, a Big Sandy farmer, said the bill provides desperately needed assistance for farmers and ranchers struggling with drought.  He also shared several stories about Montana farmers who need help.

"Farmers and ranchers in Montana and throughout this country have suffered long enough," Tester said during his speech.  "They have dedicated their lives to feeding the world.  And it's the very least we can do to provide the assistance they need to keep going."

The supplemental appropriations bill provides:

  • $96 billion for the Department of Defense
  • $3.5 billion for agriculture assistance
  • $1.8 billion for veterans' health care
  • $7 billion for clean up and recovery in the wake of Hurricane Katrina

"This bill needs to be signed by the President. It will do a lot of good for a lot of people in this great country," Tester told his colleagues.  "It will not only help our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also millions of Americans who have suffered over the last year due to drought and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."

The supplemental appropriations bill also sets a goal of removing U.S. troops from Iraq by next spring.

"It provides a plan to get our troops out of the middle of the civil war and back to fighting terrorism," Tester said.  "It allows our troops to continue to train the Iraqi security forces, to conduct operations against terrorist groups and to protect U.S. assets. That is hardly handcuffing the President."

Tester has repeatedly called for called for a new course of action in Iraq.