Tester Presses Biden Administration on Threats from China, Blasts Colleagues for Threatening to Default on the Nation’s Debt

At Appropriations Committee hearing, Senator calls out his colleagues for playing politics with the national debt and putting national security at risk;

Presses Biden Administration officials on foreign ownership of farmland

U.S. Senator Jon Tester this week blasted his colleagues for jeopardizing American national security by threatening to default on the nation’s debt, and pressed Biden officials on the national security risk posed by foreign ownership of farmland.

During the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Tester called out his colleagues in Congress who have expressed a willingness to default on the nation’s debt, and underscored that failing to come to an agreement on the debt ceiling would only strengthen China’s position on the world stage.

“The folks here in Congress I think forgot what our mission is,” said Tester. “We’re dealing with the debt ceiling – money that we’ve already spent, which will cause us to go into default, which will cause us to go into a depression if not remedied. Folks will lose retirement. We could even lose our reserve currency…We’ve got a situation where we’re probably on the cusp of going to a [Continuing Resolution], which I know the Chairman and the Ranking Member of this Committee despise, as do I. But if we don’t get our act together, that’s where we’re headed. That doesn’t make us stronger. That makes China stronger…so we need to wake up because this is a real threat.”

Tester also pressed the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Commerce on the growing threat of foreign farmland ownership, especially by our nation’s adversaries China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. 

“Look, I’ve heard directly from folks in Montana about the impression that the Chinese are buying land in our great state. We’ve seen some reports out of North Dakota, and I think it’s not only about food security, it’s actually more even about national security, and both are pretty damn important.” 

Tester has led the charge to combat Chinese aggression and protect America’s place as the world’s leading economic power. As Chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Tester continues to lead oversight efforts around the Chinese spy balloon and is committed to securing a budget that will ensure the Department of Defense has the tools it needs to better prevent these evolving threats.

The hearing culminates Tester’s week of Senate action to counter China through a series of public and classified briefings and Senate hearings to evaluate the U.S.’ competitiveness with China, assess the adequacy of the proposed defense budget, receive updates on the Chinese spy balloon, and evaluate a path ahead for the U.S.-China relationship.

In February, the Senate unanimously passed Tester’s bipartisan resolution condemning the Chinese spy balloon. Tester also led the first public briefing with Administration officials on the Chinese spy balloon where he demanded answers from Biden Administration officials on the actions that were taken and on what the plan is for addressing future unidentified objects that enter U.S. airspace.

In April, Tester brought Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and top Air Force leadership to Malmstrom Air Force Base and the Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Airlift Wing to meet directly with servicemembers and receive updates on Malmstrom’s response to the Chinese spy balloon.

Tester has been sounding the alarm on Chinese aggression long before the spy balloon was first reported. Tester has introduced two bipartisan bills — the Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act and the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act — to prohibit America’s foreign adversaries including China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from purchasing or leasing U.S. farmland.