‘Iraq, it’s a mess’ says Tester

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

In a response to a question from I-O Editor Buck Traxler during a conference call on Thursday, Senator Jon Tester referred to the Middle East situation as, “A mess over there.”

In a statement released earlier and on the phone Montana’s senior senator commented, “American politicians rushed into the Iraq War with little thought to the long-term impact it would have. Montanans made great sacrifices to give the Iraqi people a chance to govern themselves.”

He went on to say, “But the heroism by our military has been let down by the failure of the Iraqi government to govern the country. This is not the time to involve ourselves in their fight.”

Following the conference call with reporters and editors from around Montana the senator was scheduled to go to the Senate floor where he said he was going to take issue with the U.S. Supreme Court for continuing to grant corporations the Constitutional rights guaranteed to individual Americans, calling the trend a, “slippery slope to granting corporations greater power over our daily lives.”

Tester said, “Affording corporations the same Constitutional rights to speech—and now religion—that Montanans and all American people cherish is the exact opposite of what our Founding Fathers envisioned.”

He went on to say, “This is not freedom, and it is un-American.”

This was in reference to the court’s decision on Hobby Lobby. Tester said that he will fight back with a Constitutional amendment that would clarify that corporations are not people and therefore not protected by the same Constitutional rights as individual Americans. 

He noted his amendment has seen increased support since the Hobby Lobby decision, which allows corporations to hold religious-based objections to providing insurance coverage for certain medical care.

It was the Senator’s week to go after the Supreme Court, as he also blasted the members of its McCutcheon that struck down contribution limits that had prevented individuals from giving political organizations more than $123,000 each election cycle.

Tester’s campaign finance reform provision is one step closer to becoming law he noted,

His provision was included in a broader measure that funds Congress for the coming year. The bill also prohibits members of Congress from receiving a pay increase and prohibits the federal government from spending money on official portraits of members of Congress.

On news closer to home, the Senator has successfully pushed Korea and the U.S. to reach an agreement on organic certification.

This will make it easier for Montana organic farmers to export their products to South Korea, he said.

The Republic of Korea has now adopted U.S. organic standards and will allow U.S. organically certified products to be sold in their markets.

Tester also noted that he worked hard to ensure this Farm Bill included Country-of-Origin Labeling so American consumers knew where their meat was born, raised and processed.

He also touched on the Keystone Pipeline saying he was sorry to say no decision has been made on its construction. He had seen the president earlier and asked him to make a decision. “Nothing happened,” he said.

The Senator said that rural water projects (six in the state), which are very significant to their respective areas, need to be funded. What started out as $100 million projects has now been inflated to over $300 million and are only about half done.

He said that $31 million was allocated to go to the six projects. “that’s not enough,” Tester said.

Other topics included building in floodplains around Glendive, the roll of the federal government in local schools, and funding and the immigration problem along the southern borders of the U.S.

And finally, his Sportsmen’s Act was going to reach the floor of the Senate.

His bill has provisions to increase public land access for hunters and anglers, protect places to hunt, fish and recreate.

The bill had 45 co-sponsors and is supported by over 30 outdoor sporting groups.

While he was chairman of the Congressional sportsmen’s Caucus, he introduced a similar sportsmen’s package in 2012, but it was blocked due to political gamesmanship.

This time it should go through.

 

The Senator holds a conference call with editors and reporters once a month. There are no restrictions on topics to be brought up and discussed.