U.S. Senator Jon Tester met with President Donald Trump Feb. 9 at the White House to discuss their shared priorities and share concerns directly from Montanans.
Tester hand delivered a letter outlining several issues that are impacting Montana veterans, seniors, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Tester specifically highlighted their shared desire to implement a five-year lobbying ban, the impact President Trump’s hiring freeze executive order is having on Montana veterans, the lack of response Montanans are receiving from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the importance of protecting public lands.
Tester asked Trump to bring more transparency to government by working together to fix the broken campaign finance system, and enacting legislation that will ban former executive branch officials and members of Congress from lobbying. “Montanans know the best government is an accountable and transparent one,” Tester added. “That is why I remain committed to working with you and your Administration—with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—to clean up our broken campaign finance system and strengthen ethics laws regarding lobbyists.”
Tester urged President Trump to exempt all Veterans Benefits Administration and Board of Veterans Appeals employees from his hiring freeze in order to reduce the VA’s disability claims and appeals backlogs. Nationwide, there are currently over 450,000 veterans awaiting resolution of their appeals, many for several years. Trump previously exempted many front-line medical personnel from his hiring freeze last week after Tester led a coalition of 156 members of Congress demanding action be taken to limit the devastating impact the President’s executive order is having on veterans and their families.
“It is critically important that we support our veterans and honor their commitment to our nation,” Tester wrote. “That is why I am very concerned over the impact that the federal workforce hiring freeze would have on our nation’s veterans.”
Noting that Montanans contact his office nearly every day for help in navigating Medicare, Tester raised concerns about President Trump’s communication ban that is forcing CMS to ignore inquiries from Congressional offices and not respond to official requests. Tester told Trump that his communication ban is preventing Montanans from resolving medical and reimbursement conflicts with the federal government.
Trump told Tester he solve the issues Congressional offices are having with CMS.
“I recently sought assistance from CMS on behalf of Montanans who rely on Medicare, and have been informed that CMS will not be responding to inquiries from Congressional offices at this time,” Tester wrote. “This is deeply troubling and has immediate negative impacts on the Montanans we proudly serve.”
Montana’s public lands support more than 60,000 jobs and provide nearly $6 billion annually to Montana’s economy, and Tester relayed to Trump that Montana business leaders and outdoor recreationists expect him to be a strong advocate for protecting public lands. Tester specifically called on Trump to stick to his word to not transfer public lands.
“Montanans are asking us to be strong advocates for protecting these lands and I stand ready to work with you and your Secretary of the Interior to ensure they stay in public hands,” Tester concluded.
Tester’s entire letter to Trump is available HERE.