MTPR

Jon Tester

Veterans Choice, file photo.
Courtesy Veterans Administration

Senator Jon Tester says he'll push for an extension of the troubled Veterans Choice healthcare program on the Senate floor Thursday.

Tester is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee. He co-sponsored the original, bi-partisan Veterans Choice bill in 2014. It was a $10 billion response to revelations that some veterans were being harmed by having to wait for long periods to get healthcare through the VA.

Sen. Tester hears constituent concerns at Helena town hall, March 17, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester was in Helena Friday afternoon for an in-person town hall. You can listen to the full meeting at the bottom of this post.

Tester spoke for a little over an hour to a friendly crowd of 200 people at Helena Middle School. Town halls nationwide have become confrontational events for many members of Congress. Recently, Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines has taken heat for not meeting face-to-face with constituents back home. He hosted a so-called “tele-town hall” two weeks ago, which he says allows him to interact with more Montanans because people don't have to travel to participate in them.

The American Library Association awarded U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-MT, its James Madison Award in recognition for his advocacy for government transparency and public access to government information. The award coincides with National Sunshine Week, March 12-18, 2017, that promotes the public’s right to know.


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke may not be able to provide the slam dunk for Montana’s Little Shell Tribe that some had hoped he would. At least not right away.

Montana’s Little Shell Tribe has spent nearly four decades fighting for federal recognition. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke indicated Wednesday they might have to wait just a bit longer than they hoped.

Tester Bills Gives VA Bigger Role Veterans Choice Program
Courtesy Sen. Jon Tester

Three years after Congress created the Veterans Choice healthcare program, it continues to flounder.

Here’s Montana Senator Jon Tester, who helped create Veterans Choice:

Senator Jon Tester
Eric Whitney

Senator Jon Tester asked for an opportunity to speak to Montana Public Radio listeners. In this interview we ask him about investigations into the Trump administration's contacts with Russia, his takeaways from President Trump's address to Congress Tuesday, and his thoughts on the May special election and his re-election campaign in 2018. 

Congressman Ryan Zinke testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 17.
CSPAN

The U.S. Senate moved Congressman Ryan Zinke one step closer to becoming secretary of interior in President Trump's administration.

A birds-eye view looking north into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Josh Burnham

At a ranch near Seeley Lake Wednesday, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced he is introducing the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. The bill would protect nearly 80,000 acres of wilderness and develop a comprehensive trail plan to provide recreationists with access to the Lolo National Forest. This would include opening some areas to snowmobiling and protecting access for mountain biking.

Last week, both of Montana’s senators held virtual town-hall meetings to connect with constituents. Questions ranged from Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, to the Affordable Care Act and Russia.

President Donald Trump Thursday ended a key Obama-era coal mining regulation designed to protect waterways from coal mining waste.
Flickr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)

President Donald Trump Thursday ended a key Obama-era coal mining regulation. Montanans' reaction to the repeal of the Stream Protection Rule covered the gamut from elation to frustration. 

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