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Archive for December, 2010

Tracking Tim Johnson in media

Weekly Clips from November 25, 2010 to December 9, 2010

U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson – D-SD

Johnson: Senate Passes Bill to Strengthen Food Safety and Protect Small Farmers

November 30: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “I’m pleased that this bill brings our food safety system into the 21st century without placing overly burdensome costs and regulations on our small agricultural producers. This bill will help ensure that the wholesome, nutritious food our farmers and ranchers produce makes it safely to our dinner tables,” said Johnson.

“The recent spinach and peanut butter recalls were a sign that we needed to do something to modernize our food system, better prevent these illnesses and respond more effectively to them. I’m pleased that this bipartisan bill does this without jeopardizing the flexibility producers in South Dakota rely on,” continued Johnson. More…

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Johnson Cosponsors Bill to Reauthorize ANA Programs Through 2016

December 1: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, today cosponsored legislation to reauthorize funding for the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) through Fiscal Year 2016. The ANA, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services, oversees competitive grant programs that fund economic development, environmental and native language programs across Indian Country.

“The Administration for Native Americans provides funding for projects that improve the lives of many individuals in Indian Country,” said Johnson, a member of the Indian Affairs Committee. “This bill will make sure that funding for the ANA does not fall by the wayside and these competitive grant programs can continue to help American Indians in our state and across the country.” More…

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Conrad, Grassley: Renewable Fuel Tax Credits Must be a Top Priority

December 1: Kent Conrad–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Saying that ethanol offers the most effective alternative to foreign oil and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, Senators Kent Conrad and Charles Grassley (R-IA) have gathered signatures for a letter to Senate leaders urging action this year on legislation to extend renewable fuel tax and tariff provisions.

The senators said immediate action is warranted to “provide stability and certainty for producers and consumers of renewable fuels.”

“Our country is spending over $730 million a day on imported petroleum this year, money that often ended up in the hands of unstable or unfriendly governments,” Conrad and Grassley wrote. “This is not the time to reduce the supply of a domestic source of fuel and place at greater risk the thousands of well-paying jobs that the renewable fuels industry has created.”

The senators said that ethanol is the only renewable fuel that is working to reduce U.S. dependence on oil. Domestically produced ethanol displaces millions of barrels of imported oil every year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria and now accounts for almost 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply.

The bipartisan letter was also signed by Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD). More…

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Senate shoots down earmark elimination

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: December 1: Money for dozens of South Dakota projects and programs spelled out as part of a 2011 federal spending bill are safe – for now.

South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson joined most of his Democratic colleagues as well as a few Republicans on Tuesday to defeat a ban on all congressional pet projects, known as earmarks, for the next two years. The issue is expected to return when a new Congress – with Republicans in charge of the House – assumes office in January.

“I think that the clear will of the American people is that this issue be addressed,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who supports the ban, said after the vote. “That was the message coming out of the election and, at some point, this thing will get the requisite number of votes to pass.”

But Johnson and others who back earmarks said the failed ban missed the point because earmarking simply directs where already-approved money should be spent. More…

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US Sen. Johnson opposes repeal of health law

AP: Bloomberg: BusinessWeek: December 1: U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson says a move by Republicans to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law would be a huge mistake.

During a telephone press conference Wednesday, the South Dakota Democrat was asked what advice he would give Republican Gov.-elect Dennis Daugaard regarding the health law.

Johnson says he wishes Daugaard well, but Republicans should not seek to repeal the health measure.

South Dakota has joined with other states in a lawsuit that argues the health law is unconstitutional because it would require people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. More…

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State unemployed face end of line for federal benefits

Rapid City Journal: Congressional opponents of extending the benefits beyond this month insist fiscal responsibility should be a priority. Republicans in the House and Senate, along with a handful of conservative Democrats, said they are open to extending benefits, but not if it means adding to the $13.8 trillion national debt.

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., voted for a three-month extension of the program.

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., supports extending unemployment benefits, while Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has traditionally been open to extending unemployment benefits if the extension increased neither the deficit nor taxes. More…

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Johnson: Senate Passes Legislation to Rename Rapid City’s Federal Building

December 2: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “As one of the leading legal minds in our state, this is a fitting tribute to Judge Bogue,” Johnson said. “I was proud to honor a distinguished judge who served not only on the bench, but in both World War II and the Korean War.” More…

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Johnson Highlights USDA Initiative to Recognize Healthy Schools

December 2: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “Schools are a lifeline for students and families, and it’s more important than ever that they provide nutritious meals and physical exercise for our kids. It will take a partnership at the federal and local levels to address this issue, and I encourage South Dakota schools to take part in the HealthierUS School Challenge,” said Johnson. More…

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Johnson Statement Ahead of Senate Votes on Bush Tax Cuts

December 3: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “These proposals are another step in the process of addressing the expiring Bush tax cuts, and include important provisions like an extension of unemployment benefits and protecting families from the Alternative Minimum Tax.

This is a politically charged issue, and the Administration continues to work with Congressional leaders from both parties. My top priority is continuing the tax cuts for those making up to $250,000 a year. I am hopeful that we can reach consensus on this as we work to complete this session of Congress and prevent the middle class from seeing a tax increase next year.” More…

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Johnson Comments on President’s Tax Cut Proposal

December 8: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) released the following statement in regard to President Barack Obama’s tax cut proposal:

I am still waiting to learn more about the details of the President’s tax cut proposal as legislative language hasn’t been delivered to Congress yet.  I appreciate that the President is looking for compromise, but I need to see the final details.

Our initial goal was to pass a permanent extension of tax cuts for the middle class that would have even given the wealthiest Americans a tax cut up to the $250,000 limit, but Republicans held that plan hostage with a larger effort that will throw us deeper in debt during a recession and aid the richest of the rich.  That said, I don’t want to see a middle class tax hike during a recession.  The proposal will likely change in the coming days and I will be following developments closely. More…

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John Thune questions reversal of gay ban

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Sen. John Thune told Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday that he’s concerned that the Pentagon’s push to allow gays to serve openly in the armed forces could undermine combat readiness.

The South Dakota Republican, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, pointed to a survey of more than 115,000 active-duty military personnel and reservists in which 44 percent of those who’ve seen combat since Sept. 11, 2001, said that discarding the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would make completing their mission more difficult.

“You have nearly half of those who have been deployed who say it would be a negative or very negative effect, and to me, combat effectiveness and readiness is really the bottom-line issue here,” Thune told Gates.

South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson said he would like to see a change.

“Now that the Pentagon has determined that don’t ask, don’t tell can be repealed with limited disruption to unit cohesion and retention, I hope Congress will move forward with repeal,” he told reporters Wednesday. “I believe any individual who is willing and able to defend our country should be able to do so regardless of their sexual orientation.” More…

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And The Door Revolves . . .

Our Future: Zach Carter: December 9: Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.C., is almost certain to be chairman of the Senate Banking Committee next year, once current chair Chris Dodd, D-Conn., is out of office. Johnson has never had a good reputation with consumer advocates, in large part because he’s opposed nearly every piece of legislation designed to thwart predatory lending.

That perspective is not likely to change with his chairmanship. Johnson just hired a top bank lobbyist named Dwight Fettig to be a “senior policy adviser.” Fettig’s clients included some of the chief scumbags that wrecked the economy, secured epic bailouts, and opposed financial reform: the American Bankers Association, JPMorgan Chase, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and the Vanguard Group hedge fund. Prior to peddling influence on behalf of the too-big-to-fail gang, he was the top “government relations” man at Freddie Mac. During the housing bubble.

By hiring Fettig, Johnson is sending the clearest signal possible to Wall Street: I’ve got your back.

This isn’t Fettig’s first trip through the revolving door. Before entering the bank lobby, he worked as a Johnson aide in the House.

So the bad news is, Congress is totally corrupt. The good news? It already was. More…

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Tracking Ben Nelson in Media

Weekly Clips November 25, 2010 through December 9, 2010

U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE)

NEBRASKA AG PRODUCERS, SMALL BUSINESSES PROTECTED FROM IRS OVERREACH

November 29: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson issued this statement after voting for two proposals before the Senate seeking to eliminate a new tax burden on small businesses nationwide and across Nebraska. Both proposals would repeal additional IRS form 1099 reporting requirements approved under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“While the 1099 reporting requirement aims to collect unpaid taxes, it clearly goes way too far and instead imposes a heavy burden on our agricultural producers and Nebraska small businesses, the best job creators we have in our recovering economy,” Senator Nelson said. “In just the last week, I’ve heard from many Nebraskans calling for repeal of this misguided provision.

“Nebraska small business owners and others tell me this new 1099 reporting requirement will hit them with a paperwork nightmare that’ll stifle job creation. Instead of hiring someone new to produce goods and services, they’ll have to assign existing employees just to fill out IRS forms. That double whammy is bad for Nebraska’s economy and is exactly why we must repeal this onerous burden on our farmers, ranchers and small businesses as soon as possible.

“This is a responsible approach to health care reform that maintains its basic provisions that allow people to get insurance, while addressing a concern about how to enact it,” Senator Nelson said. More…

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Border Security Update

November 29: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: I’ve been pushing for a border security fence, augmented by unmanned aerial vehicles, for several years and am pleased to report that we are making progress. As of September 10, 2010, the U.S. has completed roughly 649 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing along the Southwest Border. A total of 350 miles of primary pedestrian fence has been constructed, while the final total of vehicle fence was officially completed in January.

Legislation also made available an additional 250 U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers who specialize in detecting the smuggling of illegal contraband as well as currency and weapons that are being brought over the U.S. border from Mexico.

The bill also provides $80 million for ICE to fill 225 positions to be placed in ICE’s five offices along the southwest border. It also increases the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems.

Anticipating more arrests, the administration has expanded the system to 437 jails and prisons, up from 14, and aims to extend it to “every law enforcement jurisdiction” by 2013.

During the lame duck session of Congress now underway there is talk about dealing with some immigration legislation known as the DREAM Act, which would give hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants a conditional path to legal residency.

I’m not going to support any legislation that I don’t think adds to jobs, or to the military or to the economy. Consequently, I won’t support any motion to proceed or any kind of cloture measure on the DREAM Act. In addition, I think that it must be part of an overall comprehensive solution to immigration once we have the border secured, and not until then. More…

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Nelson: Court decision vindicates on abortion funding

KVNO News: Fred Knapp, NET News: December 1: Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson says his position that the new health care law does not allow federal funding for abortion is supported by a recent court decision. But a leader of a Nebraska pro-life group remains skeptical.

Nelson had long been supported by pro-life groups before the health care law passed. But they reacted strongly when, after the Senate rejected anti-abortion language they favored, Nelson got his own language inserted into the bill. Now, Nelson says a federal court decision issued Tuesday vindicates the argument that his language also prohibits federal funds from going to abortion.

“With the various different special interest groups that raised a ruckus about the language,” he said, “and are out there scaring everybody saying that the bill and the new law will require federal money to be spent for abortions or permit it, they’re just wrong.” More…

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Conrad, Grassley: Renewable Fuel Tax Credits Must be a Top Priority

December 1: Kent Conrad–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Saying that ethanol offers the most effective alternative to foreign oil and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, Senators Kent Conrad and Charles Grassley (R-IA) have gathered signatures for a letter to Senate leaders urging action this year on legislation to extend renewable fuel tax and tariff provisions.
The senators said immediate action is warranted to “provide stability and certainty for producers and consumers of renewable fuels.”

“Our country is spending over $730 million a day on imported petroleum this year, money that often ended up in the hands of unstable or unfriendly governments,” Conrad and Grassley wrote. “This is not the time to reduce the supply of a domestic source of fuel and place at greater risk the thousands of well-paying jobs that the renewable fuels industry has created.”

The senators said that ethanol is the only renewable fuel that is working to reduce U.S. dependence on oil. Domestically produced ethanol displaces millions of barrels of imported oil every year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria and now accounts for almost 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply.

The letter was also signed by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE). More…

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DEBT PANEL STARTS THE DEBATE ON DEBT REDUCTION

December 2: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “The members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform are to be commended for outlining solutions to our debt problems not in generalities but with specific, tough proposals,” said Senator Nelson. “While not everyone will support all of them, and I don’t back all of them, I’m committed to working to slash the federal debt that jeopardizes Nebraska’s and all of America’s future. They’ve spotlighted one of three critical issues I’ve pushed for in the lame duck session: jobs, taxes and debt reduction. One down, two to go.” More…

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Four Democrats to Remember

Senate Conservatives Fund: U.S. Senator Jim DeMint: December 2: The United States Senate defeated an important proposal Tuesday that would have banned pork barrel earmark spending for both Republicans and Democrats over the next two years. The vote was 39 in favor and 56 opposed.

The vote Tuesday was noteworthy not just because of the number of senators who supported it, but also because of the vulnerable Democrats who opposed it. In fact, four Democrats voted against the earmark ban who are up in 2012 and who are from states President Obama lost in 2008.

Jon Tester (D-Montana), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

These senators are nice folks but they have ignored the will of the American people and they must be replaced with principled conservatives in 2012. That’s where the Senate Conservatives Fund comes in and it’s where you can help. We’ve already begun the process of building campaigns against these other liberals in the Senate who are driving our nation deeper and deeper into debt. But we can’t do it alone. More…

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COMMITTEE CONFIRMS GEN. KEHLER TO HEAD U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND

December 3: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed the nomination of General C. Robert Kehler to be the next commander of U.S. Strategic Command, located at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson, a member of the committee who supported Kehler’s nomination, said that he expects the full Senate will confirm Kehler, paving the way for him to assume command of U.S. Strategic Command. The current commander, Gen. Kevin Chilton, is retiring from that post.

“General Kehler is eminently qualified to lead America’s strategic forces, having led U.S. Space Command and as former deputy commander at STRATCOM. I’m pleased the Armed Services Committee strongly endorsed his nomination and I expect he’ll be confirmed soon by the full Senate,” Senator Nelson said. “A smooth transition is crucial for STRATCOM, which is preparing to build a new headquarters to help meet its 21st Century mission overseeing global security for America worldwide, in space and cyberspace.

“General Chilton has provided outstanding leadership at STRATCOM, which will continue when General Kehler takes over soon.” More…

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Ben Nelson Continues to Spin Lies About His Taxpayer Funding of Abortions

Congress.org: Letter to Sen. Ben Nelson: December 3: The latest from Judas Ben Nelson, the infamous Father of taxpayer funding for abortions in ObamaCare.

No pro-life group, Catholic Bishops, and even Bart Stupak agree that Nelson’s language DOES NOT stop abortions being paid for by taxpayers. They also agree that Stupak’s executive decree is no better. We have already caught several states trying to implement abortion coverage in their exchanges. Google it!

If Nelson decides to run again in 2012, he will be the MAIN TARGET for a massive onslaught of advertising for his pro-abortion flip-flop.

If you thought the Blue Dogs took it on the chin in the November elections for their abortion votes, I can’t wait to see the billboards go up along I-80 around Omaha and Lincoln against Judas Ben Nelson!!!

Ben had better stay out of those Omaha pizza parlors…

SOCIAL JUSTICE BEGINS IN THE WOMB More…

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RE:  Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3454)

BOLD Nebraska: December 3: On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we wanted to thank you for your continued support in repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy. The current language in the Senate Armed Services Committee-approved version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides those service members who are lesbian, gay or bisexual the opportunity to serve our country with honesty and integrity.

Since 1994, over 14,000 qualified and committed service members have been discharged under DADT simply on the basis of sexual orientation.  Several service men and women have shared their personal stories with you this past year.  The discrimination that DADT represents not only hurts the individual men and women whose military careers are brought to a sudden end, but also weakens the safety and security of other members of the armed forces and their shared mission. More…

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Taking Suggestions

PPP: December 3: We haven’t done a vote on where we poll for a while and we’ve gotten some requests for one. So let us know in the comments where you’d like us to poll next weekend, we’ll pick some finalists, and let you vote starting Monday.

Let us know what state(s) you want us to poll and what you think we should poll in them, including match ups if it’s for a Senate or Gubernatorial race.

Reader Comments include: Nebraska: Ben Nelson v. Jon Bruning, Nebraska: Nelson v. Bruning, Heineman, generic Tea Party, Ben Nelson vs. Pat Flynn. More…

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FARMERS BOOST THE ECONOMY

December 6: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: A proposal in the House Ways and Means Committee would only extend the ethanol tax credit for one-year and at a reduced rate, from 45 cents to 36 cents per gallon.

We need to continue the present tax credit which is why I am a sponsor of S. 3231, the GREEN Jobs Act of 2010 which would extend the current tax credit for another five years.

If this tax credit expires it would have a negative impact on Nebraska and our 25 production plants which makes us the second largest ethanol producing state in the nation. Studies show that expiration of the credit would ripple throughout Nebraska resulting in the loss of more than 13,700 jobs. Nationally, the job loss would total more than 100,000 and reduce ethanol production by nearly 40 percent.

Bipartisan efforts are underway to try and prevent the credit from expiring. I’ve joined with other senators in sending a letter to Senate leaders urging action this year on legislation to extend renewable fuel tax and tariff provisions. More…

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NEW TAX CUT PLAN MAY HAVE VOTES FOR SENATE PASSAGE

December 8: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Asked on his weekly conference call with Nebraska reporters whether there were 60 votes for the President’s proposal, the number needed to override any filibuster, Nelson responded, “Well, I think there probably are.”

The senator also called the new bipartisan tax cut proposal, “a move in the right direction.”

“What I’ve heard sounds promising and I’m still looking to see all of the details to determine for certain that it will be a good deal for Nebraska and our country,” he said. More…

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Senators Amy Klobuchar and Scott Brown Call on FDA to Streamline Innovation, Safety in Medical Device Industry

December 8: Amy Klobuchar–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: The senators focused on the 510(k) process and urged the FDA to enact reforms to the process that will protect patients without stifling new health care breakthroughs. Minnesota has over 400 medical device companies that employ tens of thousands of Minnesotans. In Massachusetts, there are more than 260 medical device companies that employ tens of thousands of Bay Staters and are an engine of growth and exports.

“Innovation and safety are vital to the success of the U.S. medical device industry,” Klobuchar said.  “Minnesota is a national leader in health care innovation and as the FDA begins to review reforms that will impact the medical device industry, it is critical that changes are made to allow our companies to continue to create jobs, develop innovative products, and maintain patient safety.”

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) also signed the letter. More…

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Tracking Jon Tester and Max Baucus in Media

Weekly Clips from November 25, 2010 through December 9, 2010

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester

Senate overwhelmingly passes Food Safety Bill with Tester’s amendment

November 30: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: “Today’s vote is a huge victory for all family farmers, growers and food processors, but more importantly, it’s a win for anyone who consumes food.  This bill as amended strengthens our food safety while protecting the jobs and livelihoods of folks who put good food on our tables.  Now it’s time to get this bill across the finish line and get it signed into law.” More…

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Baucus, Tester, Schweitzer hold Air Force accountable on MANG mission change

November 30: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester along with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer pressed the Air Force this week for answers on the proposed change from an F-15 to a C-27J flying mission for the Montana Air National Guard (MANG) station in Great Falls.  Baucus, Tester and Schweitzer sent a letter to the Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force yesterday thanking the Air Force for the new C-27J mission, but expressing concerns over potential job losses and unnecessary spending as a result of transferring the current F-15 mission.  Baucus and Tester hosted the Central Montana Defense Alliance in Washington for a meeting with Director of the Air National Guard, General Harry Wyatt, and express those same concerns today.

“The Air Force needs to understand that for Montana, MANG is not just a military mission.  MANG is part of the Great Falls community.  MANG provides jobs and supports families,” Baucus said.  “The new C-27J mission is a strong flying mission.  But, each and every job on Gore Hill is important to Montana, and the Air Force leadership in D.C. needs to explain why millions of tax dollars should be spent moving the F-15s to California.  That’s why we brought General Wyatt face-to-face with a room full of Montanans who care deeply about this issue today to show him we need a solution that will secure jobs for Great Falls.”

“I appreciate General Wyatt coming in to talk with us, because we’ve got some serious concerns,” Tester said.  “We were able to have a frank conversation about the critical role MANG plays in keeping our country safe.  I look forward to continuing to talk and make sure any decision made is the right one for MANG, and for Montana taxpayers.” More…

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Baucus, Tester announce palladium coin bill clears Senate

November 30: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today applauded the passage of the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act, which requires the government to examine the possibility of minting a palladium coin.  Such a coin would be composed of palladium from the Stillwater Mine in Montana—the only palladium mine in the U.S.—and would boost Montana’s economy and create good-paying mining jobs in the Treasure State.

“The passage of this coin legislation is great news for the folks at the Stillwater Mine and great news for Montana,” Baucus said. “A palladium coin made right here at home would help create good-paying jobs under the Big Sky and add another boost to our economy.”

“Thanks to Stillwater Mine and many folks who work there, palladium is a valuable part of Montana’s economy,” Tester said. “Passing this bill is a smart step toward boosting Montana jobs and strengthening the demand for palladium in the years ahead.” More…

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Tester statement on Debt Commission report

December 1: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: “It’s easy for some politicians to blow hot air about the national debt after years of running up the nation’s credit card without offering any solutions, or a willingness to make tough decisions. What’s difficult is achieving real results.

“As Chairmen Simpson and Bowles have said, this report has accomplished a first step: kick-starting an adult conversation on how to really tackle the national debt. I appreciate their hard work, and I’ll be taking a close look at this report. All ideas need to be on the table if we’re going to have a serious debate over how to rein in our national debt. And it’s time to have that debate.” More…

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Four Democrats to Remember

Senate Conservatives Fund: U.S. Senator Jim DeMint: December 2: The United States Senate defeated an important proposal Tuesday that would have banned pork barrel earmark spending for both Republicans and Democrats over the next two years. The vote was 39 in favor and 56 opposed.

The vote Tuesday was noteworthy not just because of the number of senators who supported it, but also because of the vulnerable Democrats who opposed it. In fact, four Democrats voted against the earmark ban who are up in 2012 and who are from states President Obama lost in 2008.

Jon Tester (D-Montana), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

These senators are nice folks but they have ignored the will of the American people and they must be replaced with principled conservatives in 2012. That’s where the Senate Conservatives Fund comes in and it’s where you can help. We’ve already begun the process of building campaigns against these other liberals in the Senate who are driving our nation deeper and deeper into debt. But we can’t do it alone. More…

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Banning earmarks gives Obama administration control of decisions

December 2: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Just this week, the bipartisan Debt Commission released a number of recommendations for cutting our national debt.  Even though I may not support every idea the commission put forward, I do support their “package deal” approach to making the tough choices we need to make, including reforming our tax code and entitlement programs.

One of the commission’s suggestions is to cut the one-third-of-one-percent of our budget dedicated to congressionally directed appropriations.  If that proposed cut remains part of a larger package deal that comes before the Senate, I will consider it.

Because a real commitment to cutting our debt, cutting spending and creating jobs means putting all options on the table—not just political stunts.

We ought to look at money we send overseas.  We ought to look at the billions we’re shelling out to private war contractors—who earn more than our own troops—with no accountability.  We ought to look at why we entered two wars in the past decade without paying for them.  And we ought to take a hard look at all the bipartisan ideas put forth by the various commissions examining real ways to address our deficit, spending cuts, changes to entitlement programs and tax reform.  And I will.

But simply banning smart, transparent appropriations will cost Montana jobs.  It will hurt Montana’s water systems and highways.  It will give all decisions about our federal funding to the Obama Administration.  And it won’t save us any money.  That’s not good government, and it’s not good for Montana. More…

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Tester: New Shiloh Road means more jobs, more business for Billings

December 3: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: “And, to those folks who’ve rejected investments in Billings’ physical infrastructure, or claimed the Recovery Act hasn’t created jobs or new opportunities—I challenge them to come drive this stretch of road, and see how business owners and families in Billings will benefit from the economic opportunities the new Shiloh Road has opened up.” More…

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Tester votes for estate tax exemption on working farms and ranches

December 4: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after his vote in support of an estate tax exemption for working farms and ranches, a permanent and predictable fix for the estate tax, and tax cuts for all Americans on the first $250,000 of their annual income:

“Today I voted to exempt working farm and ranch land from the estate tax and to cut taxes for all Americans on the first quarter million dollars they earn every year.  Montanans need certainty, predictability and common sense when it comes to their taxes, not more politics.

“The election is over, and that means it’s time to put politics aside and work together to get our economy back on track.  So it’s a shame that there are too many professional politicians in Washington looking out for their millionaire and billionaire friends.” More…

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Food safety bill has little local support

The Augusta Chronicle: Carole Hawkins: December 4: Locally the idea has support, though not everyone likes the bill as written.

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association initially endorsed the bill.

“Currently growers and processors operate under guidelines issued by the FDA,” said Charles Hall, the association’s executive director. “This would establish regulations, not guidelines, which everyone would have to follow.”

For example, the bill would give the FDA the power to order food recalls. Right now it can only recommend one. Also the bill would require food processors to create detailed food safety plans and gives the FDA more authority to conduct inspections.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester added an amendment to the bill that exempts farms selling less than $500,000 of product per year and shipping to customers less than 275 miles away. That was to protect small farmers who felt the added record-keeping would put them out of business.

Locally, the amendment drew opposition.

“This is not a big farm versus a small farm issue. It really boils down to consumers feeling confident in the food supply,” Hall said. “It means there will be food in the supply chain that is not required to follow these regulations. It’s not science-based or risk-based.”

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association withdrew support for the bill after the amendment was added. More…

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Tester pushes BPA to sign long-term power contract with Columbia Falls Aluminum Co.

December 6: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Senator Jon Tester today pushed the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to sign a long-term agreement to supply power to Columbia Falls Aluminum Company, a move Tester pointed to as a first step in restoring the jobs lost in the plant’s shutdown last year.

Citing the potential for as many as 350 good-paying jobs, Tester urged BPA Administrator Stephen J. Wright to quickly bring “negotiations to a successful close.”

“This recession has hammered the Flathead Valley with double-digit unemployment and job losses in core industries,” Tester wrote in a letter to Wright.  “Reopening the CFAC plant could create as many as 350 good-paying jobs in the Flathead Valley.  I urge you to work swiftly and flexibly to ensure that a power contract is signed with Glencore to bring these jobs back to the Treasure State.” More…

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Tester backs bill to cut government waste, save taxpayer money

December 7: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Tester pointed to the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, which is estimated to potentially save millions of taxpayer dollars every year, as a next step in confronting the national debt.

“As we attempt a grown-up conversation about real ways to cut spending and tackle the national debt, we can find some common ground by taking aim at the low-hanging fruit of inefficiency in government,” Tester said.  “Making sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck is a darn good step toward reining in our deficits.”More…

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U.S. Sen. Max Baucus

Baucus Fights to Repeal 1099 Reporting Requirements

November 29: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they deserve to be heard,” Baucus said. “Small business owners need to spend their time growing their businesses and creating good-paying jobs – not filling out paperwork.  I call on my colleagues to stand with small businesses and repeal this requirement, and I will continue fighting to make that happen.” More…

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Health Roundup: Senate greenlights food-safety bill, fails on 1099

The Hill: Julian Pecquet: November 29: The Senate Monday evening failed for the second time to repeal a tax reporting requirement of the healthcare reform law that both parties agree should be scrapped. Monday’s failed votes were on two amendments to food-safety legislation.

The 1099 provision requires businesses to file tax forms for business purchases of more than $600 a year. The Senate considered two amendments to repeal the provision — the first, from Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), would have offset the cost with unspent and unobligated federal dollars, to be identified by the Office of Management and Budget. It failed 61 to 35 because a two-thirds majority was needed for passage.

The second amendment, from Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), was not paid for and would have added $19 billion to the deficit. It failed 44 to 53. More…

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Gazette opinion: Medicare requires fixing again before Christmas

Billings Gazette: November 30: Medicare is getting another Band-Aid this week to stave off a dramatic cut in doctor payment rates, a cut that is supposed to be automatic under a 1997 cost-control law.

However, Congress has repeatedly overridden the law for years, ballooning the federal budget deficit and paying doctors so they will keep seeing the 46 million Americans covered by Medicare.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who chairs the Senate committee that oversees Medicare, and the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, proposed a 31-day patch that will prevent the physician rates from falling 23 percent on Wednesday. To win Senate approval before Thanksgiving, Baucus and Grassley found offsets within the Medicare budget to pay for the one-month extension.

The House approved the 31-day extension on Monday, so President Barack Obama can sign the law maintaining physician rates through the end of this month. More…

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Baucus Bill to Finalize Cobell Settlement, Crow Water Compact to Become Law

November 30: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus applauded passage in the House of Representatives today of his legislation to finalize a settlement in the Cobell v. Salazar class action lawsuit.  Baucus’ plan to settle the decades-old lawsuit involving the mismanagement of more than 300,000 American Indians’ trust accounts is now set to become law after unanimous passage by the Senate earlier this month.  Baucus’ bill also includes U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bill to ratify the Crow water rights compact.

“The passage of this bill will finally provide a long-overdue conclusion for hundreds of thousands of folks in Indian Country who have waited too long for justice.  I want to thank Elouise Cobell for her tireless effort and advocacy in the name of so many others who could not fight for themselves,” Baucus said. “Still the fight is far from over.  This settlement serves as a reminder that we have a trust obligation to American Indians and we have a responsibility to keep fighting for good paying-jobs and education in Indian Country.” More…

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Baucus Fights to Continue Funding Vital Montana Projects, Jobs

November 30: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s Senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus applauded the Senate’s vote today to shoot down a ban on so-called “earmarks” that would obstruct important funding for Montana.  Baucus voted against the measure today, along with 55 other Senators, including eight Republicans, and vowed to continue fighting to fund transportation, education and  infrastructure projects that bring  jobs to Montana.

“The only standard I use to evaluate legislation is: Is it right for Montana?  This bill would take away support our state relies on and cost Montana jobs at a time when we need jobs more than ever. I was proud to stand up for Montana and vote against this bill to deny our state the support it needs. I will continue fighting for transportation, education and infrastructure projects in Montana and the good-paying jobs that come with them,” Baucus said.

Baucus outlined his opposition to the proposal in a letter to U.S. Congressman Denny Rehberg last week.  Baucus sent the letter below in response to Rehberg’s November 18, 2010 letter asking the Senator to support the D.C. party leadership’s moratorium on earmarks. More…

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Baucus Statement on His Role in Bipartisan Meetings on Extending Middle-Class Tax Cuts

December 1: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s Senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus issued the following statement today on his role in bipartisan meetings with members of Congress and the Administration to determine a path forward for extending middle-class tax cuts.

“The best way to jumpstart our economy is to let hard-working families keep more of their hard-earned  money.  I am eager to work together with my colleagues to roll up our sleeves and get this done.

I will use the same standard when looking at ways to extend the tax cuts I always use when examining legislation: doing what is right for Montana.  Montana’s middle-class families need permanent tax relief and they need it now.  Extending tax cuts for working families is something everyone in Congress can agree on and that’s why we need to move forward with extending these tax cuts now.

At the same time, we also need to extend job-creating tax cuts for small businesses so Montana employers grow and hire new workers.  And we’ve got to come up with a solution on the estate tax that will give folks the certainty they need and make sure family ranches and farms can stay in the family.” More…

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Baucus-Tester Letter to Salazar on Wolves

December 2: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: We write today regarding the current situation with Gray Wolf management in the Northern Rockies.  As you know, the governors of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming have presented wolf management plans to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The plans put forth by Montana and Idaho have been approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service, while the plan from Wyoming has not. We applaud you for taking the recommendation we offered in our August 19th letter by using Judge Molloy’s August 5th decision as a catalyst to engage the relevant parties.  Specifically, we commend you for your leadership by discussing this issue with the governors of the three states earlier this week.  Your continued leadership is needed to ensure that we can return wolf management to the three states.  More…

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Baucus Opposes Debt Commission Cuts that Discriminate Against Montana, Rural States

December 2: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: “The Deficit Commission recommendations would cut pensions for military members, lower Social Security payments, raise the retirement age and limit Medicare benefits.  Cuts like that hit rural America the hardest because we proudly have more veterans and seniors than most other states.

“The Deficit Commission recommendations would raise taxes on gas by 15 cents a gallon, which would hurt folks in rural states like Montana where we often have to travel long distances in the course of one day.  The recommendations would cut $10 billion from farm programs Montana depends on and raise electricity rates in rural areas.  And they would redirect Montana coal tax dollars used for cleanup on abandoned mine land to states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“At the same time, the Commission recommendations do not take any aggressive steps to crack down on corporations that hide their money overseas to avoid paying their taxes.

“I have studied the Deficit Commission recommendations at length –  and I can tell you they are wrong for Montana and wrong for rural communities across the country.  Reducing our federal deficit is imperative, but we cannot cut the deficit at the expense of veterans, seniors, ranchers, farmers and hard-working families.  Instead, we need to look for common-sense ways to help businesses create jobs and grow our economy.  These recommendations are wrong for our state, they are wrong for our country, and I simply can’t support them,” Baucus said. More…

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Baucus Introduces Bill to Permanently Cut Taxes for Middle-Class Families, Extend Job-Creating Tax Cuts for Businesses, Workers

December 2: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: “This bill permanently extends tax cuts for Montana families, because the best way to grow our economy and reduce the deficit is to let working families keep more of their hard-earned money.  It also gives folks certainty on the estate tax with relief that will make sure family ranches and farms can stay in the family.  This bill extends tax credits for businesses to invest in research and development to help them grow and hire new workers.  And, this bill invests in Montana’s future with tax credits to encourage energy development.

“When families and businesses know what to expect from our tax system, they can plan, they can spend and they can grow.  This bill cuts taxes and provides certainty to Montana families, workers and employers, giving them confidence to help our state prosper,” Baucus said.

Baucus’ bill, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2010, would permanently cut tax rates for families making up to $250,000 and individuals making up to $200,000 a year.  According to the IRS, less than two percent of all Montanans, married or single, earn more than $200,000 per year.  Baucus’ bill would also extend the Making Work Pay tax credit, which gives all working Montanans a $400 tax cut in their paycheck through 2011.  More…

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Baucus Floor Statement on Bill to Extend Middle-Class Tax Cuts

December 3: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Our amendment says that we should not devote scarce resources to a larger tax cut for those at the very top.

Our amendment says that we would be better off devoting those scarce resources to new tax incentives to promote investment and create new jobs.  Or we would be better off devoting those scarce resources to reducing the Federal budget deficit and debt.

Those are the choices that we need to make.

Our amendment says:  Let’s make the middle-class tax cuts permanent.

And our amendment says:  Let’s not allow tax cuts for middle-class Americans to be held hostage to tax cuts for those who make the very most.

There is not an endless supply of money.  We have to make choices. More…

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Baucus Statement on Shiloh Road Dedication

December 3: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: “Today’s real success in Billings is about what happens when people truly work together toward a common goal.  The Shiloh Road project highlights a true public and private partnership and I applaud this winning combination of citizens and government at all levels.  Much of Shiloh Road was paid for with federal dollars. As a result, Montanans were put to work in good-paying construction jobs. New homes and businesses were built nearby and the Shiloh Crossing shopping center opened, offering even more jobs and potential for new business.” More…

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Baucus Deeply Disappointed with Announcement on Korea Trade Deal, Commits to Keep Fighting For Montana Ranchers

December 3: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: “I am deeply disappointed that today’s deal fails to address Korea’s significant barriers to American beef exports, which President Obama identified this June as one of the critical outstanding issues that must be resolved before moving this free trade agreement forward,” said Baucus. “I am deeply committed to righting this wrong and will work with the Administration in the period ahead to ensure that Montana’s ranchers and farmers are not left behind.  I will reserve judgment on the free trade agreement until then.” More…

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Senate bill would extend renewable energy programs

AP: Bloomberg BusinessWeek: A key Senate Democrat is trying to get two programs aimed at boosting solar, wind and other renewable energy extended through the end of next year.

Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, included the extensions as part of larger tax legislation he introduced Thursday.

The bill would extend a cash grant program for production of renewable energy. The program was created by the economic stimulus law and is set to expire at the end of this month.

Renewable energy producers have been pushing hard for the extension, calling it key to the industry’s growth and job creation.

The legislation would also provide an additional $2.5 billion for the advanced manufacturing tax credit, a stimulus program for clean energy manufacturing projects. More…

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Bipartisan group of senators urges progress on U.S.-China trade talks

The Hill: Vicki Needham: December 6: A bipartisan group of 32 senators on Monday urged Chinese officials to resolve outstanding bilateral trade issues during planned meetings next week between the U.S. and China.

Led by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the senators sent a letter to Wang Qishan, vice premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, highlighting several issues, including China’s “inadequate” protection of U.S. intellectual property rights, concerns about China’s currency undervaluation, policies that discriminate in favor of domestic Chinese innovation and unscientific restrictions on imports of U.S. beef.

“The United States and China cannot just talk about hurdles in our trade relationship, we need to overcome them,” Baucus said.

“It is time for China to make progress on these issues so our two countries can continue to build a strong, mature economic relationship.”

December’s joint trade talks could provide an opportunity for China to stop talking about these challenges to our economic relationship and start addressing them, Baucus said. More…

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