Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Sen. Tester votes no on bill to fund government

Montana U.S. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester was one of 18 no votes in the U.S. Senate Monday on a bill to reopen the federal government and fund it through mid-February.

Democratic and Republican senators in Congress disagreed over spending and immigration on Friday, which forced the shutdown over the weekend. The Senate advanced a bill Monday to reopen the government with a temporary budget. The bill passed 81-18 in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed to negotiate on immigration and spending matters during that time.

During a press call on Monday, Tester said some Senate Democrats are making this about immigration, but that wasn’t what it was about for him. This was about fighting for Montana, he said, and getting a long-term budget that funds rural health clinics, strengthens border security and our military.

“A 17-day budget is no way to run a household or business, and it certainly isn’t an acceptable way to run a government,” Tester said.

Last week, Tester was in favor of a bill that would keep the government open through the weekend.

Tester said he was hoping to include some of his priorities to fund programs that he called critical to Montana. He said he thought the three-day period would have put pressure on both party’s leadership to get things done, and, in turn, include some of Tester’s provisions in the bill.

U.S. Republican Sen. Steve Daines, in a statement released by his office Monday, said reopening the government ensured national security needs are met and provided access to health care for 24,000 Montana kids.

“However, this was avoidable,” Daines said. “The Democrat shutdown was pointless.”

In a call Monday, U.S. Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte agreed that the shutdown was avoidable. The U.S. House passed a bill to continue government funding last week after an outline for immigration reform was agreed upon, he said.

Gianforte said there were four components discussed in that outline: dealing with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA; securing the border; fixing chain migration; and providing for a merit-based visa plan. There’s legislation in the House to get that framed up, he said, but those discussions came to a halt “when the Democrats shut down the government.”

“I was really disappointed that the Senate Democrats took this ridiculous position of prioritizing illegal immigration ahead of the American people,” Gianforte said. “But here we are.”