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Senator Jon Tester

Omnibus / Tax Extenders Press Conference
December 17, 2015

Thank you for being on todays call.

For the past couple of weeks, Congress has been working on an omnibus spending bill and tax
While I joined in on some of the early negotiations, I havent been in the smoke filled room where
McConnell, Reid, Ryan, Pelosi, and the President have hatched the final deal behind closed doors.
Early Wednesday morning, they released a 680 billion dollar package.
Since then, Ive been combing through it, and the Senate will likely be voting on it tomorrow.
This is not an easy vote.
There are many things in this bill that I like, many things that I fought for and even wrote myself.
Then there are things that arent in this bill that should have been, but instead they got sidelined.
Then there is also some crap in here, garbage that should have been tossed out and wasnt.
But when I look at the whole package, my biggest concern is the fact that this bill saddles our kids
and grandkids with over 680 billion dollars in additional debt.
That ought to give us all some pause.
As I said, many things in this bill have merit, and many of them I wrote using my seat on the
Appropriations Committee.
As Ranking Member of the committee that funds the VA, I was proud to write a big portion of this bill
and there are a lot of good things in here for our veterans.
It increases funding for State Veterans Homes, so hopefully we will be able to build the Southwest
Montana Veterans Home in Butte.
It provides critical funding levels for veterans health care allowing the VA to address workforce
shortages, expand access to care for more veterans and provide more Hepatitis C treatments.
And it provides additional funding for Vet Centers, which provide critical mental health services.
I also fought to include funding for a Tactical Response Force Alert Facility at Malmstrom, avionic
upgrades for MANGs C130s and to modernize Malmstroms ICBM fleet. Those are all in here.
This omnibus includes important provisions from my bipartisan Visa Waiver bill, which I said
Congress must pass so we can make it harder for terrorists to enter our country.
It also includes my language that will boost funding for critical rural water projects.
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These rural water infrastructure projects provide communities across Montana with access to clean
And at my request, it has another years worth of PILT for Montana counties who need budgetary
And finally, it funds Title Ten family planning services which Montana women use to access primary
health care, something the House of Representatives proposed zero-ing out earlier this year.
While I support many of the provisions in this bill and fully understand their positive impact in
Montana, this bill adds 680 billion dollars to our nations debt, and that doesnt even include the
interest, which some reports say will bring us to over 800 billion dollars in additional debt.
It contains too many corporate giveaways and too much credit card debt. I just cant support this.
And it leaves too much off the table.
It doesnt fix the Forest Service budget so the agency will continue to run out of money in the face of
catastrophic wildfires.
This bill doesnt include permanent reauthorization and full funding for the Land and Water
Conservation Fund. The provisions in here are well short of what me and many Montanans have
called for
It also doesnt include campaign finance reform.
My bill requiring Senate candidates to file their campaign donations electronically, didnt make the
So, yes. While this deal contains a lot, its also missing a lot too.
When a handful of members back in Washington strike backroom deals, the result is always far from
And what we have here are some glaring missed opportunities.
This package includes ridiculous giveaways and tax breaks for corporations, racehorse owners, and
NASCAR track owners, while also carving out exemptions for Hollywood filmmakers.
And the worst part is that were asking future generations to pay for it.
Like I said, there are things in the bill that I truly want to see passed, which makes this a difficult vote
for me.
But at the end of the day, I cant say Im looking out for the next generation if I add to our nations

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