Amid Tainted Beef Scandal, Tester Renews Call for Brazilian Beef Ban

Senator Turns up the Heat on USDA to Protect Montana Producers, Consumers, and Barbeques

Following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s removal of five Brazilian meat packing plants from its approved exporter list due to safety concerns, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is once again calling on Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to ban imports of Brazilian meat until safety concerns can be adequately addressed.

“Our ranchers raise the best beef and pork products in the world,” Tester wrote.  “They adhere to extremely high safety standards and make extraordinary efforts to provide consumers with desirable and safe products.  I believe it is unwise to risk the public’s trust in domestic meat products by potentially allowing harmful imports to make it into our marketplace.”

The Brazilian beef market was rocked by scandal in March as news reports confirmed that Brazilian meat packers were using a cancer-causing acid in their meat.  This led to several nations temporarily halting the importation of Brazilian meat.

As a result, Tester immediately introduced a bill to ban Brazilian beef for 120 days until safety concerns could be addressed.

Just last week, Tester questioned Secretary Perdue about the Department’s plan to inspect Brazilian beef.

In 2015, Tester successfully blocked the importation of Brazilian beef from regions where foot-and-mouth disease was prevalent.

Tester’s full letter to Secretary Perdue can be found HERE.

Tester Demands Transparency and Accountability During Health Care Debate

Senator Introduces Resolution as 13 Senators Draft Secret Health Care Bill Behind Closed Doors

Saying democracy “requires full transparency in the legislative process,” U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to shine more light on the secret Senate health care bill.

Tester today introduced a Senate Resolution demanding a transparent, bipartisan debate from the 13 Senators who are drafting the secret health care bill behind closed doors.  Tester is specifically demanding a public hearing and an opportunity for Montanans to provide input on any legislation that will impact access and affordability to health care. 

“13 Senators are drafting a secret bill that could kick thousands of Montanans off health insurance, put Montana’s rural hospitals at risk, and force folks approaching retirement to pay more for health care,” Tester said.  “Montanans deserve accountability and transparency, and it is time to take this bill out from behind closed doors and give Montanans an open debate about the future of our health care system so we can bring down costs and increase access to health care.”

The lawmakers in control of the Senate have held no public hearings or debate on their secret, partisan health care bill, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated the bill will go directly to the Senate floor for a vote without receiving a single committee hearing, or input from those affected by the legislation.

Tester’s Senate Resolution reads as follows:

Whereas the people of the United States deserve and demand that legislation be created through a transparent, bipartisan process to ensure that they can hold their elected representatives accountable;

Whereas the proper functioning of representative democracy requires full transparency in the legislative process;

Whereas it has been widely reported that a group of Senators is working privately in a partisan fashion to craft national health care legislation in the Senate;

Whereas this group is secretly gathering in closed-door meetings that exclude the public and press;

Whereas Senate leadership has refused to commit to holding a single public hearing on this legislation before going directly to the Senate floor for a vote;

Whereas the draft health care legislation under consideration by a secretive group is one of the largest public policy reforms taken up by Congress in generations;

Whereas this legislation will affect the lives of all people in the United States;

Whereas health care constitutes 1/6 of the gross domestic product of the United States; and

Whereas Congress is elected by the people to serve the people: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that the creation of any sweeping health care legislation must be done in a transparent, bipartisan manner in full view of the people of the United States and not behind closed doors.

Tester yesterday blasted the secret, partisan health care bill on the Senate Floor, and he has been sharing firsthand accounts from Montanans who could lose access to health insurance, pay higher costs for prescription drugs, and be forced to pay more because of pre-existing conditions because of this legislation.

YELLOWSTONE DEMOCRATIC CLUB DINNERS/FORUMS FOR CANDIDATES IN THE BILLINGS CITY ELECTIONS:

YELLOWSTONE DEMOCRATIC CLUB DINNERS/FORUMS FOR CANDIDATES IN THE BILLINGS CITY ELECTIONS:

1) Dinner/Forum for the Primary Election Candidates for Mayor – Tuesday, July 18th. RSVP before July 8th.
2) Dinner/Forum for the General Election Candidates for Billings City Council – Tuesday, September 19th. RSVP before September 9th.
3) Dinner/Forum for the General Election Candidates for Billings Mayor – Tuesday, October 17th. RSVP before October 7th.

Separate announcements with more details will be sent out before each dinner. These dinners/forums are designed solely to educate Club members and the general public about candidates in the Billings elections so they can make an informed vote.

The dinners will be at the Billings Food Bank/Fortin Culinary Center, 2112 4th Ave. North.

The evening starts with sign in/no host reception and net working at 5:15pm.
This reception is designed to allow people to talk individually with the candidates. All candidates in the Billings elections are welcome at any of the dinners including candidates who will not be speaking, e.g., candidates for City Council are welcome at the July 18th dinner; they will be introduced but not allowed to speak.

A buffet dinner starts at 6:00pm. The menus have not been decided. There will be a vegan option. Cost $10. Pay at the door by cash or check. If you wish you can bring a bottle of your favorite beverage or wine to share with your friends. The meals are excellent. Our chef, Ashley, loves to cook.

Speeches will start at 6:30pm. There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the speeches.

It is very important for people to RSVP at least 10 days before the scheduled dinner by emailing yellowstonedemocrat@mail.com .
Please state the number of people in your party and meal preference (vegan or regular). If your RSVP is received you will receive a “Thank You” in reply.

The Yellowstone Democratic Club is NOT the Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee. The Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee is a body created by Montana Law and as such is the legal Democratic Party for Yellowstone County. By law it is composed of two Precinct Committee Persons from each Precinct in Yellowstone County. Under the law it can do certain legal acts like nominate a replacement for Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy when he resigned. In contrast the Yellowstone Democratic Club is a simple social club of Democrats and Progressives from the entire Yellowstone Basin from Gardiner to the Missouri River. Its members meet to have fun socializing and net working with fellow Democrats and Progressives and hear presentations of a political nature. The Yellowstone Democratic Club WILL NOT be endorsing any Candidate in the Billings elections; it WILL NOT be giving any campaign contribution or other direct support for any Candidate in the Billings elections.

AGAIN, TO EAT AT THE DINNER YOU MUST RSVP BY EMAILING yellowstonedemocrat@mail.com at least 10 days before the date set for the dinner.

Paul Van Tricht, President
Yellowstone Democratic Club
Ph: 406-371-5350

Tester Introduces Bill to Address Chronic VA Workforce Shortages

Senator Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Delivery of Care for Veterans

 U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced a bipartisan bill to address the crippling workforce shortages at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve health care delivery for the nation’s veterans.

There are currently 45,000 staff vacancies at the VA. Approximately 38,000 of those positions are responsible for delivering front line care.  The VA also faces a high turnover rate of medical staff for higher-paying private sector positions and challenges recruiting qualified staff in rural areas.

Tester’s Better Workforce for Veterans Act will improve the VA’s ability to recruit qualified medical professionals while incentivizing employees to keep working at the VA.

“We must empower the VA to hire the very best doctors, nurses and front line medical staff so this nation can live up to the promises we made to those who served,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Workforce shortages have plagued the VA all across this nation and fixing it requires putting politics aside to do right by Montana’s veterans.”

The Better Workforce for Veterans Act will do the following:

  • Create a VA-wide database for vacant and hard-to-fill positions.
  • Expand successful partnerships that bring recent graduates, veterans and private-sector employees to the VA.
  • Cut red tape to allow the VA to hire Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists.
  • Provide funding and flexibility to hire dynamic regional and local VA leaders.
  • Survey why employees choose to leave the VA.

“The healthcare field is a highly competitive employment environment, and the Better Workforce for Veterans Act will ensure that the VA is able to go after and hire the best talent available,” said Matt Kuntz, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Montana Chapter. “We are deeply thankful for Senator Tester’s continue efforts to expand and improve the workforce serving Montana’s veterans.”

More information about the Better Workforce for Veterans Act can be found online HERE.