Archive

Archive for February, 2011

Tracking Tim and Brendan Johnson in Media

Weekly Clips from January 6, 2011 to January 20, 2011

U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson – D-SD and US Attorney Brendan Johnson

U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson – D-SD

National Science Board seeks different management plan for DUSEL

Rapid City Journal: January 8: If you think neutrinos are tough to understand trying figuring out how to build and pay for an $800 million scientific research facility 7,000 feet below the Earth’s surface.

The rejection last month by the National Science Board of a $19 million funding request – and a likely follow-up request for $10 million — for continuation of the lab’s design work has project promoters hustling for a solution.

The state’s congressional delegation continues discussions with the White House and other federal officials to find a solution. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., sent a letter in support of that effort to White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and other federal officials in December.

Since then, regular contacts have continued, Johnson’s communications director, Julianne Fisher, said.

“We’re in ongoing talks with the White House since we sent the letter with Sen. Thune,” she said. “We’re entering a very tough budgeting climate with many members looking to slash the budget and eliminate earmarks. Sen. Johnson remains committed to the project and will do all he can in this new fiscal reality.” More…

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Johnson Comments on Shooting in Arizona

January 10: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) commented on the shooting today in Arizona involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and others:

My thoughts and prayers go out to Representative Giffords, her family and the other victims of this horrific shooting. It’s clear that we still have a lot to learn with the details of this situation, and I continue to pray for the safety of all the innocent victims. More…

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Johnson Calls Conrad’s Retirement the End of an Era

January 18: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today released the following statement upon the news that Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) will retire from the U.S. Senate at the end of this term:

Senator Conrad’s retirement will mark the end of an era. Kent has been an esteemed Senator and a good friend, and I always look forward to working with him on issues that are important to the Dakotas and the Midwest. His seniority and expertise will be missed on Capitol Hill. More…

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Johnson Announces Over $1 Million for South Dakota Housing Organizations

January 20: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) announced today that six South Dakota housing organizations will receive a total of $1,032,122 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This funding will be used by the organizations to provide support services for disabled, homeless and low-income families throughout the state.

“I am pleased that this funding will allow these housing programs across South Dakota to continue to help those in need,” Johnson said.  “It is important that all South Dakotans have a roof over their head and are receiving the assistance they need.” More…

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Working Together for South Dakota

January 18: Editorials: U.S. Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune: It is important to remember that we are all Americans first and foremost and that is why, despite having run against one another in a hard-fought campaign eight years ago, the two of us work together even when we disagree. During the months leading up to that election, we participated in several public forums and debates, giving voters an opportunity to hear our differences on issues. Those events began and ended with a handshake and since that time we have and will continue to work alongside one another with the best interests of our state in mind.

We have now served together in the Senate for six years. We certainly have not always agreed on every issue, but we have always respected one another. Where we can find balance, we reach for it, and when it comes to South Dakota, we put the state and our constituents first.

We enjoy traveling around South Dakota, meeting with constituents, and doing our best to help the people of our great state. As we hope and pray for the recovery of all of the injured victims of this shooting and mourn for those lost, we will continue to meet with constituents across South Dakota. It is through open dialogue that we will find solutions to our nation’s most pressing challenges. More…

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The elephant in the room

Rapid City Journal: The message on Nov. 2 was unequivocal: We don’t want you.

A new group of young Democratic leaders say they have a plan to bring the party out of the wilderness. In doing so, they will try to learn lessons from the party’s past successes and its more extensive history of failure.

“It’s fair to say that the Democrats have missed opportunities to really go after it and be successful,” said Ben Nesselhuf, the new chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, who lost the race for Secretary of State in November by a margin of 54 percent to 39 percent.

The math facing the Democrats is daunting. Democrats need to pick up 13 seats in the 35-member state Senate to capture that house, a body they have not controlled since 1994. In the 70-member House, they need 15 more seats just to force a tie – a position they haven’t enjoyed since 1974.

For a brief period in 2004, both South Dakota senators and its House member were Democrats. Now, only Sen. Tim Johnson remains after Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin lost her re-election bid in November. More…

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As Fiduciary, SRO Reports Loom, Financial Planning Coalition Airs Worries

AdvisorOne: Next week is a crucial one for advisors as three reports mandated under Dodd-Frank will be handed to Congress—the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will deliver its studies on the need for a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for advisors on Jan. 17 and fiduciary duty on Jan. 21, while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will deliver its study on regulation of financial planners on Jan. 18.

The SEC will send its studies to the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee and their chairmen, and it will be up the committees to release the reports. The studies may be released first by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., the new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, as the Democratic caucus has yet to officially select Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., as the new chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, but is expected to do so when the Senate returns the week of Jan. 24. More…

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US Attorney Brendan Johnson

US Attorney’s Office Announces FY 2010 Recoveries

USDOJ: US Attorney’s Office: Dist. Of SD: January 7: US Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that financial collections by the US Attorney’s Office in South Dakota totaled over $2.2 million for fiscal year 2010 which ran from October 1, 2009, through September 31, 2010.

“We will hold accountable those who seek to profit from illegal activities by recovering money for victims of federal crime and by safeguarding the American public’s money,” US Attorney Johnson said. “I am grateful to our dedicated team of professionals who continue to be successful in collecting money owed to the American taxpayers.” More…

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Tracking Jon Tester and Max Baucus in Media

Weekly Clips from January 20, 2011 through February 3, 2011

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, Steve Daines, U.S. Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT)

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus

Baucus, Tester: Help coming to Fergus County

January 20: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is designating Fergus County a natural disaster area due to the damaging rain last summer. This designation allows farmers and ranchers in Fergus County to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency.

“Montana’s farmers and ranchers are the backbone of our economy and we need to make sure they have a safety net when the weather damages their crops and herds. That’s why I included the Disaster Assistance Trust Fund provision in the last Farm Bill, and that’s why I’ll keep listening to folks to make sure the next Farm Bill is right for Montana,” Baucus said. “Fergus County is full of family farms and ranches so this is just a common sense step to ensure those ranches and farms can continue.”

“As a farmer, I know firsthand how unpredictable weather can damage a crop,” Tester said. “For folks who do everything right to provide food for Montana and our country, we have an obligation to help them overcome hurdles like this so they can continue farming, ranching and creating jobs in our state.” More…

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Baucus Announces Plans to Reintroduce Constitutional Amendment to Protect Voices Of Montanans

January 20: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus announced today he will reintroduce his Constitutional amendment to make sure the voices of Montanans are heard during campaign season.  Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission, which left foreign corporations and big business free to pour unlimited amounts of money into American elections.

“The foundation of democracy is based on the ability of the people to elect a government that represents them – the people, not big business or foreign corporations.    As Montanans, we learned our lesson almost a century ago when the copper kings used their corporate power to drown out the people and buy elections. Today, we have some of the toughest campaign finance laws in the land, and they work.  Now we’ve got to fight to protect the voices on hard-working Montanans and keep elections in the hands of the people, and that’s just what I intend to do,” Baucus said. More…

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Baucus Awarded for Long History of Advocating for Asbestos Victims

January 21: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus will be presented with the Tribute of Hope Award, announced by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) this week, for his tireless efforts fighting on behalf of residents of Libby, Lincoln County and Asbestos victims everywhere.

“It’s an honor to receive this award. I’m humbled and grateful to the people of Libby for their courage and resilience in the face of this outrageous tragedy, and this award truly belongs to them.  I’m also grateful to organizations like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and folks in Montana and all over the country who’ve worked so hard to raise awareness and fight for the victims of Asbestos exposure,” Baucus said. “There’s nothing we can ever do to fully right the unimaginable wrong that took place in Libby. But I’m committed to the fight to make sure Libby gets the tools it needs to clean up this disaster and care for everyone who has suffered as a result.” More…

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Baucus applauds finding that Canada violated lumber agreement

US Senate Committee on Finance: Newsroom: Chairman’s News: January 21: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today welcomed the announcement that the London Court of International Arbitration found subsidies provided by Quebec and Ontario to their lumber industries violated the U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement.  Baucus said today that the decision, which would require the collection of nearly $60 million in additional export duties on Canadian lumber shipments, is a positive development for lumber workers and producers in Montana and across the country.

“Today’s decision is the second time an arbitration panel has found that Canadian provinces violated the Softwood Lumber Agreement, and these decisions send a message to Canada that we will fight to ensure our lumber workers can compete on a level playing field,” said Baucus.  “The lumber industry counts on fair competition to keep its workers on the job and that’s why today’s decision to end these unfair Canadian assistance programs is so important.  This decision is good news for lumber producers and workers in Montana and across the country.” More…

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Baucus Statement Regarding GE CEO Jeff Immelt

January 21: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus issued the following statement in regards to the news General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt has been named chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness:

“Jeff’s got a lot of great experience and ideas which is why I brought him to Montana. From his experience in Big Sky Country, he knows how hard we’re working to create good-paying jobs. I wish him the best in his new post and will keep working with him and others to create new manufacturing opportunities and jobs for Montana.” More…

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Baucus to Lead Montana Farmers, Businesses on Colombia, Brazil Trade Mission as Part Of Jobs Agenda

January 24: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: “Helping Montana businesses create good-paying jobs is my number one priority, and I’m going to approach that goal from every angle and with every resource I have.  Increasing trade opportunities for Montana ranchers, farmers and businesses should be a key part of any job-creation strategy.  Opening new markets for Montana goods and services means increased demand for Montana products, and increased demand for Montana products supports good-paying Montana jobs – that’s what this trip is all about,” Baucus said. “Montanans make the best products in the world, and they also make the best ambassadors.  So I’m bringing Montana farmers and business owners down to Colombia and Brazil, so folks in these important markets can see for themselves all our great state has to offer.”

Baucus plans to host of a group of representatives from Montana wheat and barley, pea and lentil and seed potato producers on the trip.  Colombia is one of South America’s top markets for American wheat and holds great potential for other Montana crops. More…

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Baucus: State of the Union Must Focus on Jobs

January 24: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus made the following comments today on his hopes and expectations for the President’s State of the Union Address scheduled for 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Tuesday, January 25, 2011.

“Helping businesses grow, so they can create good-paying jobs, has to be our number one priority.  Creating jobs means continuing to cut taxes like we did last year so working families have more money in their pockets and employers have a stronger bottom line to hire new workers. It means working together to find serious solutions to cut our deficit. And it means making smart investments in energy, education and infrastructure so America remains the strongest country in the world and Montana stays the last best place to live, work and raise a family.

“We’ve got a lot to do, and only if we work together will we accomplish anything.  The President needs to set the tone for focusing on jobs and bringing folks together to produce results; politics and partisanship won’t get the job done,” Baucus said. More…

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Baucus to Lead Trade Mission to Colombia, Brazil to Strengthen Trade Relations, Promote U.S. Exports

US Senate Committee on Finance: Newsroom: Chairman’s News: January 24: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced today that he is headed to Colombia and Brazil the week of February 20 to meet with senior government officials in both countries to discuss key economic and trade issues, including the pending U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations.  Baucus will be accompanied by agricultural and business leaders from Montana, who will explore new business partnerships and export opportunities.

“Colombia and Brazil are strategically important trading partners for the United States,” said Baucus.   “Finalizing our free trade agreement with Colombia and working with Brazil to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations will level the playing field for American exporters and create huge opportunities for U.S. agriculture, manufacturing and services.  We have delayed action on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement for too long – now is the time to resolve outstanding issues and approve the Free Trade Agreement so American ranchers, farmers and workers can have a chance to compete.  This trip will help promote Montana’s world-class agriculture and other products to these vital markets and strengthen our trade relationships with Colombia and Brazil.” More…

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Baucus, Reid Introduce and Pledge to Pass Repeal of 1099 Reporting Requirements

US Senate Committee on Finance: Newsroom: Chairman’s News: January 25: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today introduced and pledged to pass a bipartisan bill that would repeal certain new reporting requirements for businesses.  Business owners have said that these new reporting rules would be too time consuming for businesses to meet.  Baucus and Reid said today they hope to pass a repeal of these rules with strong bipartisan support.

“We have heard small businesses loud and clear and are responding to their concerns,” said Baucus.  “Small businesses need to focus on creating good-paying jobs – not filing paperwork.  Many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle want to work with the small business community to eliminate these requirements, and it is my hope we can come together to pass legislation quickly.” More…

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Baucus, Tester: Hi-tech equipment will connect rural Montana schools

January 25: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Winnett, Grass Range, Judith Gap, Skyview, Gardiner, Brockton, Moore, Lavina, Hardin, Thompson Falls, Victor, Troy, Eureka, and Hamilton school districts will invest in high-tech upgrades for classrooms designated for distance learning.  The schools will use the grants to purchase video-teleconferencing equipment, video cameras, smart boards, and broadband access.

The hi-tech classrooms will connect students with other school districts and educators throughout Montana, the United States, and the rest of the world.

“Montana students have a great work ethic and it’s our job to give them the tools they need to be as competitive as possible,” said Baucus. “These new opportunities will connect students in rural Montana to a whole new world of ideas that will inspire them to think critically about how to create the kinds of good-paying jobs our communities need. In addition, investing in education draws businesses to the state by creating a qualified workforce and sending a signal far and wide that Montana is a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

“Investing in our kids and the tools they need to be competitive in the future is a key for rebuilding our economy with good-paying jobs,” Tester said. “This simple investment will expand the educational opportunities for thousands of Montana students to give them more opportunities for their future.” More…

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Baucus, Tester Introduce Bill to Cut Small Business Paperwork Burden

January 25: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester introduced legislation today to eliminate new Form 1099 paperwork requirements and free up resources for Montana small businesses to grow and create jobs.  Baucus originally introduced this bill last November, with the support of the Montana Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, after hearing concerns from Montana businesses that the new requirements created too large of an administrative burden.

“Helping businesses create jobs is our number one priority, and this bill is a simple, common-sense way to do just that,” said Baucus, author of the Small Business Jobs Act.  “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, especially in Montana where we have more workers employed by small businesses than anywhere else in the country.  Montana businesses have made clear these paperwork requirements won’t work for them.  This bill will eliminate added paperwork burdens so Montana businesses can focus their resources on growing and hiring new workers.”

“During my five small business workshops across Montana last year, I heard the need to make sure Montana’s small businesses have every tool possible to keep creating jobs and putting more folks back to work-and I support cutting red tape that gets in the way of that,” Tester said.  “That’s why I voted to undo this reporting requirement twice last year, and I’ll keep working to get it done this year.” More…

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Baucus Continues Jobs Agenda with Bipartisan Bill to Boost Employment for Vets

January 26: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus kicked off his job-creation agenda yesterday by reintroducing his bipartisan Veterans Employment Transition Act, or the VETs Jobs bill, to provide tax credits for businesses who hire soldiers returning home from service.

“Creating jobs is our number one priority right now, and there is no better way to start than by supporting jobs for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to defend us,” Baucus said.  “The unemployment level among our veterans right now is a disgrace, and it hits home even harder in Montana where we are proud to have more veterans than nearly any other state in the country.  No soldier returning home from service should be greeted with an unemployment check instead of a paycheck.  This bill will do right by the veterans who have done so much for us. This bill will make sure our vets have access to the good-paying jobs they deserve. ”

The VETS Jobs bill would reinstate a tax credit that expired at the end of 2010 for employers who hire servicemen and women who’ve left the service in the last five years, and it would simplify the credit so it’s easier for businesses to use. The credit for businesses is worth up to $2,400 per veteran hired.  Watch More…

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Baucus, Grassley Introduce Bill to Create Job Opportunities for Veterans

US Senate Committee on Finance: Newsroom: Chairman’s News: January 26: “No veteran returning home from service and looking for work should be greeted with an unemployment check instead of a job,” said Baucus.  “Helping businesses create jobs needs to be our number one priority and this tax cut would help create new job opportunities for veterans by making it easier for employers to offer veterans a job.”

This Veterans Employment Transition Act, or the VETs Jobs bill, would reward employers for hiring qualified veterans who have recently completed their service in the military with a tax credit of up to $2,400 per veteran.  A previous version of this credit, which was part of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, was designed to help employers hire veterans, but expired at the end of 2010.  The new legislation Baucus and Grassley are introducing today would reinstate the tax credit and make it easier for veterans and small businesses to use.  As a result, servicemen and women who have been recently discharged will be able to provide documentation directly from the Department of Defense without having to go through the tax credit’s current certification process. More…

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Baucus Comment on Colombia and Panama FTAs

US Senate Committee on Finance: Newsroom: Chairman’s News: January 26: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) commented today on the U.S.-Colombia and U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreements (FTA) in light of the President’s comments on the subject during his State of the Union address.  Baucus is headed to Colombia the week of February 20 to meet with senior government officials to discuss key economic and trade issues including the pending U.S.-Colombia FTA.  From Chairman Baucus:

“Our free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama were signed more than three and a half years ago, so it’s extremely disappointing the President did not lay out a timeline for submitting them to Congress.  The delay has been costly for our ranchers, farmers and businesses, who are losing business to competitors from countries that have negotiated their own trade agreements with these fast-growing markets.  To help Americans export their goods and services and create jobs here at home, it is time to quickly resolve any outstanding issues and send these agreements to Congress as soon as possible.” More…

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Baucus: Highway Infrastructure Critical for Montana Jobs, American Competitiveness

January 26: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus rallied for bipartisanship during a Senate hearing today on transportation’s role in supporting jobs.

“Applying the Federal Highways Administration metric — where one billion dollars in federal-aid highways money creates or supports more than 34,000 jobs — there are more than 18,000 jobs in Montana depending annually on our federal highways program.  Transportation funding under the Recovery Act supported approximately 5,000 more jobs in Montana.

Still, unemployment in Montana’s construction sector has seen a 35 percent decline in employment since 2007, even with the influx of Recovery Act funds.   Incidentally, I was especially struck by the House Transportation Committee’s report that Ms. Martinovich highlights in her written testimony where construction projects under the Recovery Act saved us more than $800 million as a nation in unemployment checks.

We have an opportunity to work together to create jobs today – and build a better way for our kids and grandkids to navigate the nation for tomorrow.

My bosses in Montana expect us to work together and help create jobs.

As I see it, perhaps there is no other better issue area that we can truly come together regardless of party politics and work toward our goals of creating jobs.

Transportation investments help us to do both while leaving our nation in better shape for future generations.

This is the year to pass a Highway Bill.  Our economy needs it.” More…

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Baucus, Tester Reintroduce “Freedom Fuels” Bill to Boost Montana Jobs

January 27: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: The American Security and Freedom Fuels Act of 2011 would:

Grant the Department of Defense the authority to contract for fuel produced in the United States for up to 10 years. (Currently, the Defense Department can only contract with energy suppliers only up to five years.)

The longer-term contracts for American-made fuels are expected to boost demand for alternative fuels derived from home grown crops, such as camelina, and reduce the military’s and country’s dependence on foreign oil.

Industry experts argue that long term contracts could jump-start new investments in new energy projects across the United States, including new clean coal to liquid refineries or bio-fuel plants.

“We’re working hard to come up with fresh ideas to create new job opportunities in Montana while doing the right thing when it comes to energy independence. This legislation helps secure a stable demand for Montana-made camelina and coal to liquids fuels that will secure good-paying jobs,” said Baucus. “This is just one more way we can highlight Montana’s strengths to boost our economy while working toward reducing our need to rely on foreign energy sources.”

“We have incredible opportunity to fuel our military and create Montana jobs in the process, and this bill will help pave the way forward,” said Tester, a third generation grain farmer.  “The Freedom Fuels Act will open a lot of doors for us and for our kids and grandkids through smart energy development, and it will help Montana agriculture take off.”

Crow Tribal Chairman Cedric Black Eagle says the legislation provides a much needed boost to job creation efforts. More…

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Baucus: Montana Jobs Depend on Speedy Resolution for Sugar Beet Farmers

January 27: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus called U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week warning him that ongoing delays are threatening Montana jobs in the state’s critical sugar beet industry. Baucus followed up today with a letter (attached) urging Vilsack to quickly deregulate Roundup Ready ® sugar beets and allow producers to move forward with planting while the USDA completes an Environmental Impact Statement, which is currently underway. Almost 100 percent of the nearly 31,000 sugar beet acres grown in Montana will be affected by the outcome of this study.

“Montana sugar beet farmers need to know what’s next as they prepare for planting. Almost all of our producers statewide are holding their breath on a decision that lies in the hands of the USDA,” said Baucus. “While I recognize that the USDA must complete this study – we’ve got to go to bat for our producers and get things moving for these folks who are looking to plant in just a short couple months. There’s no two ways to slice it: Montana jobs depend on a quick resolution to this issue.” More…

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Baucus Fights for Fair Crop Insurance Refunds for Montana Farmers

January 28: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus urged U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week to make sure Montana farmers get a fair shake when it comes to proposed rule changes to the Federal Crop Insurance Act. Baucus expressed his concern that a proposed rule change from the USDA’s Risk Management Agency would put Montana farmers – particularly grain growers – at a steep disadvantage.

“Having heard from Montana farmers, it’s clear to me that these proposed rule changes amount to a one-size-fits all approach that just isn’t right for Montana. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and we’ve got to pull out all the stops to make sure our producers have the tools they need to create good-paying jobs,” said Baucus. “I’m concerned that our farmers, who have always taken an active role in managing their risk, will get the short end of the stick. These rule changes mean a wheat farmer in Montana would be compared to corn farmers in Iowa, which doesn’t add up to me.”  More…

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Baucus, Tester Fight for Permanent Protection of the North Fork and Tourism Jobs

January 31: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester reintroduced legislation today to prevent new oil and gas development and mining on the American side of the North Fork watershed (map). The North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2011 does not impede timber production, hunting or fishing and has the support of a broad coalition of Montana businesses, local officials and conservation groups.

“As Montanans, we have a connection to the land that unites us, but also requires us to act as stewards of our outdoor heritage. We’re pushing to build on the success we’ve had getting companies to retire oil and gas development leases in the North Fork at no cost to taxpayers,” said Baucus.  “Places like the North Fork attract tourists, businesses and jobs to our state. This bill sends a signal far and wide that we’re going to fight to protect all the things that make Montana such a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

“There are few places on earth like the North Fork when it comes to hunting, fishing, hiking and camping-but Montanans understand that protecting these areas is about more than just our outdoor heritage,” said Tester, Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.  “It’s about setting aside a place where we can pass on our Montana values to our kids and our grandkids.  This legislation is another step toward making sure future generations will be able to continue enjoying all of the outdoor opportunities Montana has to offer.” More…

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Baucus Responds to GAO Report: Montana Jobs Depend on Better Coordination

February 2: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus issued the following statement regarding a Government Accountability Office report released this week assessing security operations along the United States northern border with Canada:

“This report confirms what we’ve known for a long time. Montana’s northern border cannot be neglected.  We need to do more to secure our northern border while promoting the trade and commerce that brings good paying jobs to Montana. I will continue to bring together key stakeholders along the Hi-Line, including local law enforcement, tribal leaders and top officials from the Department of Homeland Security to improve coordination along the Northern border.” More…

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Baucus, Tester push for Wyoming’s help returning wolves to state management

February 2: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today pushed the U.S. Interior Department to reengage in negotiations aimed at delisting gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain West and returning wolves to state management in Montana.

Baucus and Tester urged Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to renew his efforts with the Governors of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho to find a pragmatic solution that will once again allow wolf hunts in Montana.

“Recently Wyoming swore in a new Governor, Matt Mead,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Salazar.  “His entrance into this debate provides an new opportunity to reengage. We are renewing our efforts in the 112th Congress, and we are writing today to urge you to do the same, with an eye toward rapid completion.”

“No one knows better how to manage wolves in Montana than Montanans,” Baucus said.  “That’s why it’s my goal to tackle this problem any way I can, and put wolves back under Montana’s management.”

“We need to pull out all the stops to get wolves delisted and give their management back to the folks in Montana who know how to manage them best,” Tester said.  “I’ll keep taking advantage of opportunity we have to the engage the key players because we need to resolve this issue now.”

More…

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Baucus, Tester Applaud Passage of Bill to Cut Small Business Paperwork Burden

February 2: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester applauded Senate passage today of legislation to eliminate new Form 1099 paperwork requirements and free up resources for Montana small businesses to grow and create jobs.

“Today’s vote was a vote to help small businesses create jobs with a simple, common sense fix that will cut red tape and free up resources so employers can focus more on hiring new workers and less on filing paperwork” said Baucus, author of the Small Business Jobs Act. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, especially in Montana where we have more workers employed by small businesses than anywhere else in the country.  Montana businesses have made clear these paperwork requirements won’t work for them.  I urge the House to pass this bill quickly so Montana businesses can focus their resources on growing and creating jobs.”

“This is the right thing to do because it cuts red tape in a fiscally responsible way, allowing Montana’s small businesses to focus on creating jobs,” Tester said. “Now it is up to the House to start focusing on bills that will help get folks to work, and they can start by passing this bill.” More…

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Baucus: Essential Air Service is Essential for Montana Jobs

February 3: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator, Max Baucus is going to bat for rural Montana communities who face losing reliable air service. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has offered an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill aiming to eliminate the Essential Air Services program that serves eight Montana communities. Baucus says Montana jobs depend on the program and he will beat back efforts to pull the plug on it.

“Essential Air Service is essential to Montana jobs. While it is important to rein in the deficit, axing programs like EAS will actually cut jobs, shrink the economy and diminish our ability in Montana to attract business to our state,” said Baucus, senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “It’s important that we improve the program and boost efficiency – not drop it completely. I will not turn my back on communities who rely on EAS as a lifeline to reliable air travel and business.” Watch. More…

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Baucus Touts NextGen Job-Creation Benefits, Consumer Protections

US Senate Committee on Finance: Newsroom: Chairman’s News: February 3: “NextGen’s precision will allow us to significantly upgrade our aviation infrastructure and better use our airspace.  Implementation of the NextGen system is critical for millions of air passengers’ safety, for jobs and for advancing U.S. competitiveness,” said Baucus. More…

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Barack Obama fires up the health team

POLITICO: January 21: President Barack Obama may have said “let’s fix it and move on” in his State of the Union address, but the president is sending messages that he is ready to roll up his sleeves and keep fighting the health care battle as long as he needs to.

Obama will address the annual conference of Families USA today, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will release a new report that shows health insurance premiums will be 14 percent to 20 percent lower in 2014 than they would have been without the law, POLITICO has learned.

Top Democrats in Congress said they’re prepared to defend it.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee warned that the attacks on the law are legitimate.

“The threats are real. We cannot sit idly by,” he said at Families USA. “We’re ready because passing health care reform was the right thing to do. When you’re armed with what’s right, it’s easier to mount a campaign.” More…

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Medicare chief Berwick gets W.H. nod

POLITICO: January 26: On Wednesday night, the White House renominated Dr. Don Berwick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The nomination is likely to be yet another flashpoint in the contentious health-care repeal debate on Capitol Hill. Republicans strongly objected to Berwick’s appointment last year, pointing to his previous comments in support of the British health system and rationing with “eyes open” or closed.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called the renomination “a disappointing decision.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had said he was “troubled” by Berwick’s recess appointment in July, but praised him as “an experienced health policy expert and researcher whose career has focused on innovative and effective ways to improve health care quality.” More…

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Law enforcement in Montana wary of budget cuts

AP: January 24: State and local law enforcement officials in Montana say they are concerned federal budget cuts could mean less money for drug interdiction, community policing and other programs.

Members of the Republican-controlled House last week recommended cutting $100 billion to $175 billion this year.

Meeting in Billings with U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat, law enforcement officials said any reduction in funds they receive would make it harder to deal with rising problems like prescription drug abuse, the northern border drug trade and the emergence of gangs in some of Montana’s larger cities.

Montana U.S. Marshal Darrell Bell said he’s heard similar concerns coming from across the state since he was sworn in Jan. 8.

“If you go to Great Falls or Missoula, it’s going to be the same points,” he told Baucus. “We would be extremely happy to maintain what we have.”

Baucus said law enforcement is a bedrock government service likely to be spared the deeper cuts possible for other spending programs. But he said Congress will be in “triage” mode in coming months as members seek to rein in a trillion-dollar deficit. More…

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Senate Votes Down GOP Effort to Repeal Health Care Law

FOX News: “The basic premise is flawed,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., adding that efforts to repair the existing law is “like pouring a few glasses of fresh water into a polluted river.”

But Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and an instrumental character in passage of the law, lamented those who say the $1 trillion, 10-year bill costs too much.

“It does cost a trillion dollars. But it raises a trillion dollars so it costs nothing,” he said, adding that many of the people who will pay fees for the service support the legislation.

Baucus added that the law also extends the life of the Medicare trust fund by 12 years, which would be lost under repeal, as would be an additional prescription drug benefit offered to Medicare recipients. More…

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Obama gives in on least popular part of Obamacare

Daily Caller: January 25: President Obama said in the State of the Union address he is willing to ditch a burdensome tax reporting provision in Obamacare that may be the least popular part of his health care law.

The provision requires businesses to fill out an IRS 1099 form for every business-to-business expense over $600. Critics have decried the measure, saying it will result in a huge new paperwork burden.

The provision, which has nothing at all to do with health care, was originally inserted by Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, as a means of increasing revenue by $17 billion over 10 years to pay for the health care law, as the reporting requirement is expected to cut down on tax fraud.

But the provision quickly became controversial. House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren first proposed to repeal the measure.

Now, Obama said in the State of the Union that he is willing to ditch the 1099 requirement.

“I am eager to work with you,” he said to critics of Obamacare. “We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.”

Other high-profile Democrats have expressed a desire to remove the provision as well. But Republicans are expected to use its repeal as leverage to remove other portions of the law as well. More…

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Baucus: Tax reform bill ‘hopefully’ in 2012

The Hill: January 25: Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, applauded the president’s call for tax reform during the State of the Union, but also acknowledged the issue could face a drawn-out debate.

In a short interview after the president’s speech, the Montana Democrat declared the president’s support for tax reform “needed,” but also said that he didn’t expect a reform measure this year.

And as for next year? “Hopefully,” Baucus said. Over on the House side, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has also said not to necessarily expect tax reform legislation this year.

In a statement about the State of the Union, the Montana Democrat noted that his panel has already started hearings on the issue and said the committee would work with lawmakers and the administration on finding a path forward.

“Tax reform is about more than just the tax code – it’s about one of the most direct relationships Americans have with their government,” Baucus said. “We need to work together to reform and simplify our tax system in a way that creates more American jobs, makes our country more competitive and bolsters our economy in a fair way.”  More…

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Senator Baucus reflects on his job and his future

KTVQ: Baucus interview

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White House, key senator in standoff over South Korean trade deal

Washington Post: February 2: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has a beef with the South Korean trade deal, and it could hurt President Obama‘s prospects for winning quick approval of the pact.

The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement is a key item on Obama’s job-creation agenda, as his chief of staff reiterated Wednesday. “We want Korea,” William M. Daley told reporters at a breakfast organized by Bloomberg News.

But Baucus, whose committee oversees trade issues, is siding with cattle ranchers from his home state who were shut out of the deal. He has pledged opposition until South Korea reconsiders restrictions on the many U.S. beef exports it has barred. Baucus’s stand is a major obstacle to the White House and Republicans who are eager to bring the long-delayed pact to the Senate floor.

“I don’t support Korea until Korea opens up its market,” Baucus said in an interview Wednesday. By failing to resolve the beef dispute, he said, “they didn’t help at all, the administration or the Koreans.”

Baucus has not said whether he will merely vote against the agreement or will use the full force of his authority as finance chairman to block it indefinitely. The senator said he is working behind the scenes with U.S. trade officials to tweak the agreement to ensure Montana ranchers get a better deal.

“When I see that, I’ll support Korea,” Baucus said. More…

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U.S. Sen. Jon Tester

UPDATE: Tester pushes Middle Eastern leaders on cooperation in fight against terrorism

January 20: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: U.S. Senator Jon Tester this week is pressing leaders in the Middle East on the importance of cooperation with the United States in the war against terrorism.

In Yemen, Tester met with President Ali Abdullah Saleh to discuss Yemen’s role in the fight against al-Qaida.

“In our fight against terrorists that threaten U.S. security, it’s critical for countries like Yemen to be a partner in the effort,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.  “We’ve still got some obstacles to overcome, but we’re making headway and today’s discussions were frank and productive.” More…

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UPDATE: Tester surveys American mission in Afghanistan

January 21: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Senator Jon Tester today met with Montana troops serving in Afghanistan and surveyed the work accomplished by U.S. and Afghan forces in the volatile Kandahar region of the war-torn country.

Tester met Friday with Montana troops serving in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan, including Lance Corporal Stephan C. Wall of Belt, Mont.  Wall was recently selected as Regional Command-Southwest Marine of the Year.  Tester was also briefed on the infrastructure construction being carried out by combat engineers with the RED HORSE squadron out of Malmstrom Air Force Base.

“We had a full day of gathering information and visiting with folks on the front lines,” Tester said.  “America’s troops are doing a great job over here.  We got a ton of input that’ll be very valuable as we move forward in the Senate, discussing the future of our mission in Afghanistan.” More…

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Tester to reintroduce Dirt Bike bill

January 24: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: As he takes the gavel today as the new chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, Senator Jon Tester announced he will reintroduce his Dirt Bike Bill when the U.S. Senate reconvenes on Tuesday.

Tester’s bipartisan legislation would amend the Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008 to allow motorsports dealers to again sell dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles, and parts for use by young people.

The Consumer Product Safety Act was designed to keep dangerous products, like toys with high levels of lead, out of the hands of young children.  The law, however, has forced many motorsports dealers and repair shops to stop selling dirt bikes and ATVs for use by children because the vehicles contain internal lead parts.

As a result, some parents are allowing their children to ride unsafe, adult-sized vehicles.

“We’ve got to protect our kids from dangerous risks like leaded toys that they can put in their mouths, but we also need some Montana common sense to differentiate a dollhouse from a dirt bike,” Tester said.  “In Montana and across rural America, riding motorized vehicles is part of the outdoor heritage we enjoy with our kids and grandkids, and I’m proud to take up this fight for common sense again.” More…

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Tester takes gavel as leader of Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus

January 25: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Senator Jon Tester has taken over the gavel as the new chair of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus for the next two years.

During a Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus event Monday night, Tester told his colleagues he plans to use his chairmanship to strengthen gun rights, improve access to public land, and fight for clean water and healthy wildlife.

“As a farmer and sportsman, I know the outdoors isn’t just what we do for fun on the weekends – it’s a part of Montana’s heritage and our way of life,” Tester said. “I’m proud to stand up for that heritage in the Senate so that my kids and grandkids will be able to continue to enjoy that heritage that includes hunting, fishing, hiking and camping.” More…

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Tester response to State of the Union Address

January 25: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement in response to tonight’s State of the Union Address:

“We have a lot of challenges in this country, but with those challenges come opportunities—opportunities to work together to create Montana jobs, boost competitiveness and get America’s manufacturing base back.  As we move forward with the critical debate over where to cut spending, I’ll make sure Montana and our rural communities don’t get saddled with more than our share of the sacrifice.” More…

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Tester introduces bill to end automatic pay raises for members of Congress

January 26: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Senator Jon Tester has introduced legislation to require all members of Congress to permanently give up automatic yearly pay raises.

Under current law, members of Congress automatically receive yearly cost-of-living pay increases unless members vote to stop the increase.

Tester, who has helped kill three automatic pay raises since taking office, introduced bipartisan legislation to change the law and permanently end automatic raises for members of Congress.

Tester called the legislation “a matter of accountability.”

“When I got to the Senate, Congress had spent a decade giving themselves pay raises every year, while hardworking, middle-class Montanans struggled to make ends meet,” Tester said.  “Most folks don’t have the luxury of automatic pay raises—and Congress ought to lead by example.  Especially when families across rural America are forced to pinch pennies, their representatives in Congress should do the same.  That’s why I’ve led the fight to help kill pay raises, and it’s why I’m calling on my colleagues today to give up automatic pay hikes.” More…

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Tester pushes Interior Department to allow Montana wolf hunt

January 26: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: In a letter today to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Tester said a wolf hunt will “reduce the mounting pressure of a population of wolves which have surpassed the Department of Interior’s expectations of a successful recovery.”  Tester added wolves are impacting Montana wildlife and livestock.

The State of Montana had a successful controlled hunt as part of its successful wolf management plan, until a controversial court ruling last year placed wolves back on the Endangered Species List and voided the state’s management plan.

Tester told Salazar the August ruling has caused “enormous uncertainty in Montana.”

“A regulated hunt of wolves is well within the scope of the Endangered Species Act, and will enhance the management of wolves in the state and throughout the region,” wrote Tester, chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.  “Allowing a regulated hunt will expand the state’s management options for this predator and restore balance to the system.  This action will protect elk and livestock, while not jeopardizing the gray wolf recovery.” More…

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Tester introduces legislation to bolster transparency in Senate campaigns

January 27: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Tester’s bipartisan Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act—which is cosponsored by Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss.—would close that loophole and make those documents available to the public within a matter of days instead of a matter of weeks.

“By law, the public has a right to know who’s funding the political campaigns of their leaders—but it’s not real transparency when folks have to wait up to a month to get that information,” Tester said.  “That’s the idea behind this bill—to shine more sunlight on our campaigns much more quickly, so that Montanans and citizens across the country can hold their leaders accountable in a meaningful way.” More…

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Tester: Secret hold ban ‘cleans the gunk out of the gears’

January 27: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the Senate overwhelmingly voted to ban the practice of secret holds, which allow Senators to anonymously block legislation or a nominee without explanation:

“Today’s vote cleans the gunk out of the gears so we can focus on real debate, and that’s exactly what Montanans and all Americans expect us to do.  If lawmakers disagree with each other they ought to face the music, not hide in secrecy.  Today’s vote to ban secret holds is another win for transparency and accountability that everyone deserves.” More…

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Tester statement Rat Creek timber sale decision

January 27: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement in response to a 9th Circuit Court decision halting the Rat Creek logging project in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest:

“Montana will create more jobs in our wood products industry when technicalities no longer stand in the way of a common sense timber sale.  This decision is exactly why Montana needs the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.  My bill lays out clear requirements for the treatment of dead and dying forests and clear direction to courts to consider the short-term and long-term needs of the forest – and the communities that depend on them.  I’m not going to pretend the status quo is acceptable when Montana jobs are at stake, which is why I’m going to keep pushing my bipartisan bill forward.” More…

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Tester: If Taco Bell needs more beef, Montana has the best

January 31: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Senator Jon Tester wants Taco Bell to look no further than Montana if the fast food giant wants to “beef up” its menu.

Taco Bell is facing a class action lawsuit alleging false advertising of its beef products.  The lawsuit claims less than 35 percent of Taco Bell’s taco filling is actually beef.  Taco Bell denies the accusation, claiming its filling is 88 percent beef.

“When I go to a restaurant, I expect the beef I order to be beef—not ‘filler’—and my guess is most Montanans, and Americans feel the same way,” Tester said.  “Montana’s ranchers raise the best cattle in the world.  If Taco Bell needs to beef up, they can give their customers the highest quality meat around by using Montana beef, and in the process, supporting agriculture jobs in Montana.  And that’s a win-win.” More…

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Tester to Bachmann: Proposed veterans’ cuts a ‘giant step in the wrong direction’

January 31: Newsroom: U.S. Senator Tester: Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee today asked U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., to reconsider her proposal to freeze VA health care funding and cut $4.5 billion in veterans’ benefits.

In a letter to Bachmann, Senator Jon Tester said the controversial proposal is a “giant step in the wrong direction.”

“I do not agree budget cuts should be made on the backs of America’s veterans—folks who put their lives on the line for this nation’s security and freedom,” Tester wrote.  “With more and more veterans coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq, we can’t go backwards for the folks who put their lives on the line for us—especially those wounded in combat, who gave part of themselves for us.” More…

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Mitch McConnell grabs opening for health care vote

POLITICO: February 1: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he won’t support the Republican repeal bill.

“I’ve always been in the mode to repair it,” he told POLITICO on Tuesday.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, another moderate Democrat who has to face voters in 2012, is not expected to support repeal, either.

He “will continue to work to find ways to improve the health insurance reform law — like voting to repeal the 1099 provision — but he will not vote to repeal the overall bill, because repeal would add $230 billion to our national debt and because repeal would mean many Montanans would not be able to get coverage due to pre-existing conditions and seniors would continue struggling to pay for much-needed prescription drugs,” spokeswoman Andrea Helling said. More…

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Tea Party groups put Dems under pressure to vote yes on repeal

Republican and Tea Party-affiliated groups are pressuring vulnerable Senate Democrats like Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) to support the GOP’s amendment to repeal the healthcare law.

Democrats appear confident — privately, at least — that the party won’t see a single defection when the Senate votes Wednesday on repeal.

The Tea Party group FreedomWorks is calling on activists to flood the office phones of Sens. Nelson, Tester, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jim Webb (D-Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) to call on them to vote for the repeal amendment.

While it appears unlikely that any of the vulnerable Democrats will break ranks on the vote, Republicans will still relish having a “no” vote on repeal to use against them in 2012.

Both Nelson and Tester are guaranteed tough reelection races next year, and the healthcare law is already a leading line of attack against the Nebraska Democrat, who provided his party the 60th vote to get it through the Senate. More…

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U.S. Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT)

Rehberg Keeps Up Pressure to Stop End-Around Gun Control

January 25: Pressroom: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg: Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget reiterating that the ATF should not be permitted to enact new gun control regulations via rulemaking procedures.  Last month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco , Firearms and Explosives (ATF) asked OMB to grant an expedited “emergency” information request requiring federally licensed firearms dealers to report multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles by January 5th—a mere three weeks after the rule was submitted, and a far cry from the typical 60 and 90 day review periods.  In his letter, Rehberg also acknowledged OMB for allowing a thorough review of the request instead of rushing the process.

ATF’s proposal calls for firearm retailers to report multiple sales, or other dispositions, of two or more .22 caliber or larger semi-automatic rifles that are capable of accepting a detachable magazine and are purchased by the same individual within five consecutive business days.  Last month, Rehberg led a bipartisan letter opposing the rule.

“The fact that ATF’s arbitrary January 5th deadline has come and gone without this rule being approved is a good sign that cooler heads may be prevailing, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” said Rehberg.  “The power to create new reporting requirements for firearms dealers belongs in the hands of Congress, not unelected bureaucrats. We’ve got to remain diligent in our support of the Second Amendment, or those who would strip away our rights will advance in the silence.” More…

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Rehberg Introduces Legislation to Correct Dangerous Youth ATV/Motorcycle Ban, Save Jobs

January 25: Pressroom: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg: Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent enforcement of an overreaching prohibition of lead in youth-sized ATVs, off-highway motorcycles and snowmobiles. Rehberg’s bill, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act of 2011, ensures federal regulators won’t force children to ride more dangerous adult-size off-road vehicles.  It also protects jobs throughout the country by allowing dealers to continue selling and repairing the safer youth-sized ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles.

“Here again, a law meant to improve children’s safety is actually being enforced in a way that puts kids in more danger than ever, while destroying jobs to boot,” said Rehberg.  “It’s critical that we put to rest any confusion once and for all so kids can just get outside and ride.  There’s no excuse for continued bungling that only stops kids from using the very youth-sized off-road vehicles that are intended to keep them safe.” More…

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Rehberg Responds to President Obama’s Second State of the Union Address

January 25: Pressroom: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg: Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today released the following response to President Obama’s Second State of the Union Address.

“After the last two disastrous years of big government hindering economic recovery and destroying jobs, Montanans join folks from around the country in hoping for a change in Washington, D.C.  This isn’t a question of partisanship or bipartisanship – it’s a simple question of policy.  This November, the American public sent a message.  Words are cheap; only actions will determine if the President and the Senate got that message.  For our part, the House will no longer be rubber stamping more government intrusions or bailouts funded by deficit spending.  We’ll keep our focus on reducing the deficit and getting government out of the way so small businesses can create jobs.” More…

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Rehberg Legislation Seeks to Return Wolf Management Authority to the States

January 26: Pressroom: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg: Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today introduced a comprehensive legislative solution to the ongoing wolf controversy aimed at returning wolf management authority to the states once and for all.  Rehberg introduced two pieces of legislation – both are the direct result of broad public input he received from Montanans on the wolf controversy.

“The gray wolf isn’t endangered, which is why Republicans and Democrats alike are joining forces to end the misuse of the Endangered Species Act to advance extremist policy agendas,” said Rehberg, a rancher from Billings.  “I heard from thousands of Montanans, and folks get it.  They know that states are better at managing our own local wildlife than the federal government thousands of miles away.  Unless there’s a darn good reason – and there’s not – the federal government has no business getting involved.  Years of research, dedicated efforts by land owners and local officials, and the expert opinions of on-the-ground wildlife managers have been given a back seat to profit-motivated environmental groups.  We need to end this abuse and solve an issue that should have been put to rest years ago.” More…

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Rehberg Fights to Protect Veterans from Federal Gun Control Prosecution

January 27: Pressroom: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg: Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, has introduced the Veterans’ Firearms Heritage Act to correct a law that currently treats World War II and Korean War-era veterans like criminals for not registering war relic firearms with the federal government.

“Arbitrarily treating law abiding citizens like criminals is one of the biggest problems with federal gun registration requirements,” said Rehberg, a member of the Second Amendment Task Force.  “In this case, we’re literally talking about punishing men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom.  It’s unacceptable and I’m going try and do something about it.” More…

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Rehberg Joins Military Family Caucus

January 31: Pressroom: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg: Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, has joined forces with others in Congress through the Military Family Caucus to help support the families of America’s armed forces.  The bicameral, bipartisan caucus gathers information and helps pass legislation to aid America’s military families with service-related deployments, military health care, education, and housing.

“In visiting with our troops, who are making huge sacrifices to serve our country both at home and overseas, they frequently talk about their families and the unsung sacrifices their loved ones are making,” said Rehberg, founder of the Montana Battle Buddies program.  “We must always remember the responsibility we have to our military members and their families, and the Military Family Caucus helps me connect with like-minded colleagues to ensure Congress is working to confirm our country’s support for the families of our military men and women.” More…

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Rehberg Statement on Florida Judge’s Decision Declaring Entire Obamacare Law Unconstitutional

January 31: Pressroom: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg: Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today released the following statement after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the entire health care reform law, popularly known as “Obamacare” is unconstitutional.  Earlier today, Judge Roger Vinson expanded on a similar ruling from Virginia earlier this year.

“This is a great victory for individual liberty and states’ rights.  I hope Montana will join the fight so we don’t have to rely on our neighbors in Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Utah to carry our load.” More…

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Rehberg Condemns Senate Vote to Keep Unconstitutional Obamacare Law

February 2: Pressroom: U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg: Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today released the following statement after the U.S. Senate failed to send legislation repealing Obamacare to the President’s desk for his signature.

“Today’s vote in the Senate is another endorsement of the status quo, which means rising health care costs and insurance premiums resulting in out of control deficits and government interference in every aspect of our lives.  Unfortunately, as long as Obamacare is the law of the land, real health care reform to decrease costs and increase access will have to wait.  The American people sent a message last year that we expect our leaders to listen to the will of the people.  It’s time for the Senate to put people above partisanship.” More…

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House Republican steps up to challenge Sen. Tester in crucial 2012 contest

The Hill: February 1: Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) will challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in 2012, giving Republicans another solid candidate in a race that will be one of the party’s top targets next year.

Rehberg will officially get into the race this weekend at a GOP dinner in Montana, a Republican source with knowledge of Rehberg’s plans confirmed to The Ballot Box.

His entry into the race was first reported by Roll Call late Monday.

Rehberg’s candidacy is more good news for Senate Republicans looking to take back the majority in the upper chamber next year. In his sixth term occupying the state’s at-large congressional seat, Rehberg has a strong statewide profile and the ability to raise the funds needed for a Senate race.

It will be the second Senate race of Rehberg’s career — he launched an unsuccessful challenge to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in 1996, before he was elected to the House.

The latest campaign filings show Tester with just a modest cash edge at the start of the year. The Democrat has some $562,000 cash on hand, while Rehberg reported $553,000 on hand.

Republican businessman Steve Daines is already in the race against Tester and posted a solid fundraising start, pulling in some $225,000 since getting in. With Rehberg now in the Senate race, though, Daines is reportedly looking at a run for the state’s at-large House seat instead. More…

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Montana Senate Race Moved to Tossup

Roll Call: February 1: Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg’s decision to challenge Democratic Sen. Jon Tester makes this Montana race one of the most competitive in the country. Because of that, Roll Call Politics has moved the race rating from Leans Democratic to Tossup.

Rehberg will announce his plans Saturday, as Roll Call first reported, and the GOP primary field is expected to clear for him. The race promises to heat up over the next 21 months, with internal Rehberg polling numbers obtained by Roll Call showing that the race is already tight.  More…

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Montana Senate Becomes Abortion Battle: Rehberg v. Tester

Life News: February 1: Both Tester and Rehberg have about the same amount of money in their respective campaign accounts, Roll Call reports, and outside groups — including pro-life organizations will weigh in heavily on Rehberg’s side.

That’s because Tester has a 100% pro-abortion voting record, including supporting the Obamacare legislation that contains rationing concerns and massive abortion funding. Tester also voted against limiting taxpayer funding of groups that promote and perform abortions overseas, voted against providing health insurance for unborn children of poor women, voting against limiting funding of the UNFPA and its work with China’s forced abortion one-child policy, and voted against limiting taxpayer funding of abortions in health care.

Rehberg, on the other hand, has a consistently pro-life voting record dating back to his first session in the House and worked closely with pro-life groups on legislation and amendments. He was the keynote at a large pro-life event in Helena years ago that Right to Life of Montana sponsored that was well-received by the crowd. More…

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Senate hopeful was involved in drunken boat crash

Salon: February 2: Here’s a race that bears watching: Reports indicate that Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) is set to announce that he will challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) in 2012, a race that pundits are saying could be a tough challenge for Tester.

Rehberg has an interesting past, one that could come up in the campaign. He was last in the national news when he was injured in a serious late-night boat crash on a Montana lake in 2009 that also left one of his staffers in a 10-day coma. The driver of the boat, a state senator and friend of Rehberg named Greg Barkus, was found to have a blood alcohol content of .16 two hours after the accident.

Despite the fact that, according to a witness quoted in the criminal complaint, Barkus had been drinking scotch and wine at a lakeside restaurant that night, Rehberg later said he “was surprised to learn the results of Greg’s blood alcohol test.”

Barkus, who ultimately pleaded no contest to a felony criminal endangerment charge, was given a four-year deferred sentence. Here’s how the crash was described in the criminal complaint by another passenger, Rehberg staffer Kristin Smith:

Ms. Smith further stated “we were definitely heading like, full speed, straight forward” when she first realized they were about to hit the shoreline. Ms. Smith’s statement is corroborated by a nearby camper who reported hearing a boat immediately before the crash.

From scrape marks and debris patterns, investigating officers believe the boat was traveling north when it struck the shoreline at an angle of approximately 30 degrees, went airborne, and then crashed into the rocks and cliff where it came to rest.

Rehberg’s blood alcohol content was .05 several hours after the accident, which is below the legal limit. He was not operating the boat and was not charged with a crime.

That fact did not stop one of his Democratic challengers from calling him “irresponsible” and displaying “poor judgment” in the boating incident. It will be interesting to see if Tester goes there in the 2012 race. More…

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REHBERG: Hello, I’m a congressional earmarkaholic

Washington Times: February 1: In a small way, I used to be part of the problem. Now, as Montana’s congressman and the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees spending on health and education, I’m trying to be part of the solution.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I once directed federal funds to worthy projects across Montana by inserting tiny instructive clauses into spending bills. Each year, Congress slipped thousands of them into spending bills. The earmark was a way for us to bypass a broken spending system to do some small good for our constituents. Over the years, as the number of earmarks and the cost of the bills skyrocketed, they became a way for us to ignore the fact that the spending system was broken in the first place.

So last year, I supported efforts to ban earmarks. I continue to support that ban and will not submit any earmarks this Congress. Out-of-control spending – especially over the past two years – has caused record deficits, which add to record debt. Right now, we stand on a fiscal precipice, and a failure to lead will have devastating consequences. We have to make tough choices to rein in federal spending before it is too late. Our country literally cannot afford to wait until tomorrow. More…

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Steve Daines

Montana Republican exits Senate race, clears way for Rehberg

The Hill: February 3: Republican businessman Steve Daines announced Thursday that he’s dropping his bid against Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and will run for the state’s soon-to-be-vacant at-large House seat instead.

The move gives Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) a clear path to the GOP nomination against Tester in a state where Republicans have high hopes of knocking off a Democratic incumbent next year.

Daines got into the Senate race late last year and managed to raise some $225,000 since declaring his candidacy. He reported $205,000 cash on hand in his year-end filing.

Daines told The Billings Gazette his decision will avoid a potentially “divisive primary which could harm our chances.”

One Montana Democrat is already in the race for Rehberg’s House seat. Montana state Rep. Franke Wilmer (D) announced her candidacy earlier this week.

Rehberg will officially announce his bid for the Senate on Saturday, according to a Republican source with knowledge of his plans. More…

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Tracking Ben Nelson in Media

Weekly Clips January 20, 2011 through February 3, 2011

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

NEBRASKA WIND, BIOGAS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY ADVANCING WITH $1.8 MILLION IN FUNDING

January 21: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson said that Nebraska wind, biomass and advanced renewable energy projects are moving forward with more than $1.8 million in funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture has or will award through the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels and the Renewable Energy for America Program.

“Nebraska has been a leader in the development of ethanol, wind, and the conversion animal waste into clean burning fuel,” said Senator Nelson. “USDA’s announcement recognizes this leadership and will provide these Nebraska businesses and entrepreneurs the ability to further develop these technologies – resulting in greater energy independence, while creating jobs and economic growth in Nebraska.” More…

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EPA’S E15 APPROVAL WILL GROW NEBRASKA JOBS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY

January 21: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson announced today that Nebraska jobs will grow, the air will be cleaner and America will be less dependent on foreign oil as a result of a new decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowing higher blends of ethanol in all vehicles produced since 2001.

“This long-awaited decision is good news for Nebraska consumers and rural communities. It expands our fuel choices at the pump and reduces the nation’s need for imported oil, while creating jobs and economic growth in Nebraska,” said Senator Nelson. “Allowing higher blends of ethanol will also help reduce air pollution and promote renewable energy made in America.” More…

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NELSON STATEMENT ON STATE OF THE UNION 2011

January 25: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Following the President’s State of the Union address tonight to a joint session of Congress, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson released this statement:

“Well, I was impressed with the President’s speech tonight, focusing on the importance of bipartisanship. We sat together, across the aisle, with no aisle to keep us apart. We acted appropriately at the President’s comments,” Senator Nelson said.

“I was equally interested in the fact that he pointed out how important biofuels and more research in biofuels would be. Relying on foreign sources of oil is not our future. Relying on own domestic production is the future.

“The final thing that I was focused on, that the President really hit hard, was about the debt. He understands that our national debt is something that needs to be brought down. We need to have a concerted effort from Republicans, Democrats, Independents and all Americans to try to reduce that debt, to control the growth and spending to make sure that we build an economy in America that is based on and is sustainable on what we have and what we want to produce in the future, not on imports and oil from other countries. Not on imports.

“He talked about building our own jobs, reducing unemployment in America by creating opportunities here in America for our American workers.

“So, I am very encouraged by what the President had to propose tonight and I hope that we can bring this together in the days ahead on a very strong bipartisan basis.” More…

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A FIRST STEP TOWARD DEBT REDUCTION

January 25: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson and Georgia’s Senator Johnny Isakson introduced a bipartisan bill requiring that any money senators do not spend from their congressional office accounts go directly to paying down federal debt, instead of being returned to the Treasury for other government spending.

“With the national debt now topping $14 trillion Congress must scour and scrutinize all spending, and that begins with our own congressional office budgets,” said Senator Nelson. “Our bipartisan bill is simple and direct: it requires that money senators don’t spend from their congressional office accounts be steered to paying down the national debt.” More…

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Obama causes Medicare jitters with call for deficit reduction

The Hill: January 26: President Obama’s signal that he’s open to more cuts to federal health programs during the State of the Union address earned him a scolding from the AARP, a key ally in getting his healthcare reform passed. Centrist Democrats, however, embraced the idea as key to avoid a debt crisis.

“The only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it — in domestic spending, defense spending, healthcare spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes,” Obama said Tuesday. “This means further reducing healthcare costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit.”

“The fact that he mentioned it, and didn’t do it in hushing tones, to me says that he understands this is a function that we need to do,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). “Otherwise we’re trying to deal with 13 percent to 14 percent of the budget.” More…

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Barack Obama’s earmark threat flusters Democrats

POLITICO: January 26: President Barack Obama picked a fight Tuesday with his Senate Democratic colleagues over earmarks – and he’s well-positioned to win this battle against the parochial projects.

After Obama surprised lawmakers in his State of the Union address with a bold threat to veto all bills with earmarks, Democrats in the Senate grew visibly frustrated, denouncing the president’s call as a power grab that’ll have little-to-no impact on the federal budget deficit.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said that if the Senate doesn’t earmark money for their projects, they’re not going to allow the president to spend the money in areas that he prefers.

“If he’s going to veto something with earmarks in it; I’m not a fool, we’re not going to move forward on it,” Nelson said after the State of the Union speech. “Look, if everybody gives up earmarks, then I’m in favor of taking that 0.07 percent, taking it out of the budget, we’re not going to leave it for the president to spend, we’re not going to leave it for the bureaucracy to spend, we are going to take it out of the budget.” More…

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Incumbent Senators Weigh Options

New York Times: January 22: As veteran members of the Senate contemplate the future, they find themselves pondering a question memorably and musically posed by the Clash: Should I stay or should I go?

Other incumbents are being monitored for signs of their intent. Are they raising money and hiring staff members to prepare for another run? Or does a lack of political activity and a refusal to commit mean that they will bow out gracefully rather than endure a grueling campaign that could bring primary and general election challenges?

Democrats on the watch list include Senators Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jim Webb of Virginia. Among Republicans, who have only 10 seats to defend in 2012 compared with 23 for Democrats, party operatives and analysts are keeping their eyes on Senators John Ensign of Nevada and Jon Kyl of Arizona.

In Nebraska, Mr. Nelson, a two-term senator and former governor, faces a potential backlash against his vote for the health care law and for his support of other elements of the Obama agenda, even though he has worked assiduously to showcase his independence. More…

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GET RID OF THIS AISLE

January 26: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Now the question is not whether we can sit together. It’s whether we can stand together.

“We must move beyond symbol and stand together, working across party lines—like we do in Nebraska at the Legislature—for the good of the country. America faces serious challenges and remarkable opportunities. Neither will be met or achieved if we continue the partisan, hyper-critical, one-side-wins-the-other-loses battles that have marred too many of our days in Washington over the last several years.

“Nebraskans want us to work together. And we must in order to create the jobs that will grow our economy, to develop more American-made energy so we don’t rely so heavily on foreign oil and to tackle the far too large national debt.

“So, to paraphrase former President Reagan, whose declaration about the need for unity rings true today in a different context, I hope colleagues will join me and say, ‘Get Rid of This Aisle!’ More…

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Conservative Group Targets Ben Nelson with Ads

Roll Call: January 28: The conservative American Future Fund is running an ad against Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2012.

The minute-long radio ad criticizes Nelson’s vote in favor of the health care reform law and urges him to vote for its repeal. The group is spending about $30,000 to run the ad for a week, according to founder Nick Ryan.

“Even after Nelson tried to cut back-room deals in his ‘Cornhusker Kickback,’ Nebraskans overwhelmingly opposed the liberal health care bill,” a female announcer says. “Tell Ben Nelson it’s not too late to put Nebraska first: Vote yes on repeal. Start over and get health care right. More…

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American Future Fund Parties Like It’s 2010 In A New Attack On Sen. Nelson

Political Correction: Fact Check: In an effort to turn up the heat on moderate Democrats to push health care repeal in the Senate, the American Future Fund (AFF) has put out via a new radio ad against Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). In the ad, the AFF regurgitates lies straight from the 2010 elections while simultaneously citing the “non-partisan CBO” and ignoring the CBO’s finding that the Affordable Care Act will lower the deficit.

Here’s the ad: American Future Fund: “Nelson Promises 2″

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Ben Nelson, Lugar Begin Cycle With Healthy Cash Totals

Roll Call: January 29: Nelson, meanwhile, is considered the most vulnerable incumbent up for re-election in 2012. He had $1.5 million on hand at the end of 2010, a sum that could go far in a relatively inexpensive state.

Nelson has already attracted a top-tier GOP challenger in Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, and the conservative American Future Fund is running a radio ad against him. The Senator ran his first ad of the 2012 election cycle before the 2010 elections even took place.

Roll Call Politics rates the Nebraska Senate race a Tossup. More…

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LIVING OFF THE LAND

January 31: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: With all the talk these days about strengthening the economy and creating jobs, Congress must not overlook the agriculture sector. My top priorities continue to be increasing opportunities for family farmers and ranchers to make a livable income off their lands and developing economic opportunities though rural development and renewable energy to help small towns and communities thrive.

While continued investment at our research institutes, such as the Lincoln-based ARS center where USDA is focused on establishing one of five Regional Biofuels Feedstocks Research and Demonstration Centers that will focus on water resource management and bioenergy feedstock production will help our producers meet the worlds growing demands for food, feed, and fuel.

I have grown increasingly concerned with the EPA’s efforts to regulate the dust on our county roads and the application of pesticide and fertilizer to grow our crops. I’ll continue to work to make sure these unreasonable rules do not come to fruition.

I’m also committed to expanding economic opportunities for farmers through agricultural trade. Free trade agreements and fair trade practices are important to Nebraska. That’s why I push them in the Senate and why I pushed them as governor when Nebraska’s international exports more than doubled from $868 million to $2 billion-plus. More…

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NEBRASKA’S ECONOMY AND JOBS SHOULD BE PROTECTED FROM EPA OVERREACH

January 31: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson joined Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia in reintroducing legislation to suspend the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions for two years so Congress can act on the critical issue affecting Nebraska jobs and economy.

“Today, I’m joining colleagues to send a clear message: Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, business owners, communities and hundreds of thousands of electricity consumers shouldn’t have their economic fortunes determined by the whims of unelected bureaucrats in Washington,” said Senator Nelson. “They should be protected from EPA overreach.

“While carbon emissions should be reduced, Congress, not the EPA, should set the rules as part of comprehensive energy legislation. Just because someone’s frustrated with the pace of Congress isn’t reason enough to rush ahead with rules that could have a dramatic impact on Nebraska jobs and our economy,” Nelson added. More…

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Nelson down to Bruning, Stenberg in Nebraska

PPP: February 1: Among 21 Democratic senators up for re-election next year, there is

little question that the most endangered is Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, a conservative

Democrat in an even more conservative state. Though he won re-election handily in

2006, his first race was decided by a mere two points, and Nelson would lose a rematch

to his opponent that year, State Treasurer Don Stenberg, as well as the most likely

matchup with Attorney General Jon Bruning. Nelson would only defeat two unknown

Republicans, Pat Flynn and Deb Fischer.

If the election were today, Bruning would oust Nelson, 50-39, as would Stenberg, but by

a narrower 45-41 margin. Nelson would receive similar proportions of the vote against

Flynn and Fischer, but their low profiles would currently give him respective 42-33 and

42-35 edges. Nelson wins independents by at least nine points in every matchup, but

they make up such a small portion of voters that to beat Bruning or Stenberg, he is going

to have to do what he does against Flynn and Fischer: cut down on Democratic defections

and attract significant Republican support.

Though about a quarter of Republicans like the work he is doing, and independents

approve, 47-43, Nelson’s overall 39-50 job performance figure suffers not only from the

52-34 Republican registration advantage over Democrats, but also by his weak standing

with his own party, at only 58-33. By contrast, his colleague Mike Johanns has a 59-28

overall approval margin, making him the third most popular of 77 current senators about

which PPP has polled; Nelson is in the bottom fifth. 73% are not familiar with Fischer,

and 79% with Flynn, but Bruning and Stenberg post decent 42-26 and 38-25 favorability

ratings.

“It may be too early to say Ben Nelson is toast, but things certainly are not looking up for

his survival into a third term,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. More…

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STIMULUS FUNDS BRING NATURAL GAS FILLING STATIONS TO NEBRASKA

February 1: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson today praised the Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD) for their continued efforts to promote natural gas as an alternative fuel by establishing two Compressed Natural Gas Filling Stations in Omaha.

“Natural gas is a practical, inexpensive fuel that causes less pollution when used to power motor vehicles. It is a definite part of the mix America needs in our battle to be energy self sufficient. It’s good to see federal stimulus dollars creating Nebraska jobs and economic development for our future from this abundant source of American energy,” Senator Nelson said. More…

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NEBRASKA SMALL BUSINESS, AG PRODUCERS, OTHERS CLOSE TO BEING FREED FROM 1099 PAPERWORK BURDEN

February 2: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson joined the Senate in taking the first step to repeal a new IRS tax and reporting requirement that would stifle job growth in hundreds of Nebraska’s small businesses by hitting farmers, ranchers, restaurant owners, car dealers and others with an excessive paperwork burden.

“Eliminating this misguided ‘tax collector protection plan’ is needed so Nebraska’s small businesses, the driving engine of jobs and our economy, can thrive and be freed from a paperwork nightmare,” said Senator Nelson. “It would particularly impose a heavy burden on our agricultural producers, hospitals, restaurant owners and many Nebraska small businesses that should instead be helped so they can get our economy back on track.

“I’ve heard from many Nebraska small business owners who’ve said the IRS form 1099 requirement would force them to assign existing employees just to fill out IRS forms, rather than hire new employees,” Nelson said. “Eliminating this paperwork burden just makes sense for our state.” More…

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IMPROVE HEALTH CARE FOR NEBRASKANS, DON’T TAKE IT AWAY

February 2: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson made these comments today on his weekly conference call with members of the Nebraska media concerning the health reform law:

“There’s a lot of talk these days in Congress about the health reform law and some votes today. I will vote to remove the IRS 1099 provision because it imposes a needless burden on small businesses and we need to fix that as soon as possible,” said Senator Nelson.

“I want to be clear: I continue to support the health reform law because it is the right thing to do for Nebraska. There are a lot of good parts in the bill and some that I will work to improve.

“There are those who want to repeal the law, and I won’t support repeal when there’s a vote to do so. The repealers already have health care. But they’re ready, willing and eager to take it away from hundreds of thousands of Nebraskans.

“We need to improve the law, not throw it out. So, the question is about those who have health insurance back here right now who are perfectly willing, ready and are likely to vote tonight to take it away from those who don’t have it. Odd.” More…

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Tea Party groups put Dems under pressure to vote yes on repeal

Washington Post: February 2: Republican and Tea Party-affiliated groups are pressuring vulnerable Senate Democrats like Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) to support the GOP’s amendment to repeal the healthcare law.

Democrats appear confident — privately, at least — that the party won’t see a single defection when the Senate votes Wednesday on repeal.

While it appears unlikely that any of the vulnerable Democrats will break ranks on the vote, Republicans will still relish having a “no” vote on repeal to use against them in 2012.

Both Nelson and Tester are guaranteed tough reelection races next year, and the healthcare law is already a leading line of attack against the Nebraska Democrat, who provided his party the 60th vote to get it through the Senate. More…

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EARMARK THE EARMARKS FOR DEBT REDUCTION

February 3: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson introduced a sense of the Senate resolution calling on Congress to take a step toward reducing the national debt by using funds saved from a recently announced earmark moratorium to cut federal spending.

“Nebraskans have repeatedly told me they want Washington to stop the spending. My resolution will do that by steering the savings from the new earmark moratorium to cut federal spending,” said Senator Nelson.

“We should earmark the earmarks for spending cuts and debt reduction, and make sure the money isn’t just spent with little transparency by Washington bureaucrats. This is one among a number of steps I will seek, and Congress should take, toward reducing the national debt,” Nelson added.

“The national debt is now above $14 trillion and Congress should do all it can to address the debt before it unfolds into the kinds of crises we’ve seen overseas. If we’re going to ban congressional earmarks, we should make sure the ban helps reduce the debt.” More…

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