Tester Vows “we cannot allow terror and enemies of democracy to win” During Senate Hearing on National Security Package
Emphasizing support for Israel and countering Russia, Senator says: “I happen to believe that America is the greatest country that’s ever existed on the face of the earth… I think we’re able to walk and chew gum at the same time”
Speaking today at a key U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Administration’s national security supplemental funding request, U.S. Senator Jon Tester emphasized the importance of delivering a defense package that replenishes American weapons stocks, supports our democratic allies, and sends a clear message to enemies of freedom and democracy that they will not prevail.
Tester opened his remarks by forcefully condemning the October 7th Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel: “I want to start by saying the attack on October 7th by Hamas on Israel was horrific, and it is critical that we provide our ally with the necessary tools to defeat Hamas… because we cannot allow terror and enemies of democracy to win.”
Tester then emphasized his belief that as the greatest country in the world, America can take on Hamas and Vladimir Putin simultaneously: “That is why it is critical that this Committee shows leadership so that Congress can deliver a package that supports Israel and counters Vladimir Putin. I happen to believe that America is the greatest country that’s ever existed on the face of the earth. And we need to support Israel. We need to make sure we’re standing up to Russia, and I think we’re able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Tester pledged to work to secure a bipartisan package: “I want to be very clear today: as Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee that sets the Defense Department’s budget, I’ll be working with Republicans and Democrats and colleagues to deliver a package that replenishes America’s weapons stock, supports our democratic allies, and sends a clear message to the enemies of freedom and democracy that they will not prevail.”
During his questioning, Tester asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, “How much of [the Ukraine funding request] is staying here to resupply our industrial base in this country?” Secretary Austin explained that in part, “this money is going right back into the coffers of America. And it is going to create jobs, it’s going to sustain jobs, it’s going to provide opportunities for Americans.” Tester followed up by asking,“In the end, this supplemental will make the United States stronger, correct?” Secretary Austin replied, “That’s correct, Senator.”
Tester concluded his questioning by asking, “If we don’t pass supplemental [funding] that includes Ukraine, how long before Putin becomes successful?” Secretary Austin responded that Russia would prevail without U.S. support, stating: “I can guarantee you that without our support, Putin will be successful.”
Immediately after Hamas launched terrorist attacks against Israel on October 7th, Tester issued a statement strongly condemning the attacks and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself. Tester became one of the first U.S. Senators to call on the Biden Administration to immediately freeze $6 billion in Iranian assets and has called on the Administration to make it the official policy of the United States. Additionally, Tester joined a group of more than thirty of his Senate colleagues in calling for humanitarian aid to be delivered into Gaza.
As the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Tester is responsible for crafting the annual Defense Appropriations bill and determines funding for the Department of Defense (DOD).