HELENA — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, took questions on subjects ranging from voting rights to mental health services in Helena Friday.
More than 100 people attended a town hall with the senator at Helena College.
During the event, Tester touted Congress’s passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. He described negotiations on the $1.2 trillion bill, which centered on a group of ten senators – five Democrats and five Republicans.
“A month before that bill got to a point where we could agree on it, I would have told you there’s no way we were going to get infrastructure,” he said. “Then all of a sudden, something happened. I don’t know what it is, but the division ended – and God, I can’t wait till this happens for this country.”
Tester also criticized OPEC’s control over global oil prices, saying “all-of-the-above” energy development was the best way to counter it. He said more needs to be done to improve veterans’ wait times for health care, both through the VA and from private providers.
Tester also held a town hall in Bozeman last week. These were his first in-person town halls since 2019, before the start of the COVID pandemic.
“It’s a real positive – plus I get some really good ideas out of these town halls,” he told MTN after the event.
Tester told MTN he remains concerned about inflation, but he believes the Federal Reserve and Congress are taking the right steps to address it.
“This isn’t a phenomenon that’s just happening in this country; it’s happening throughout the world,” he said. “Until we get supply chains back to where they need to be, I think we can see some areas that are going to increase greatly inflationary-wise, some areas that’ll be static, potentially other areas that are going to go down, but it’s all about supply chains at this moment in time. That’s why we passed the CHIPS and Science Act, to get more chips built here so we don’t have to depend upon Taiwan or South Korea.”