Montana’s U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester have praised several key actions by their house and by Congress in general in the flurry of work coming before Christmas.
Both senators praised the Senate approval Wednesday of the new nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia.
“This treaty provides us with critical tools to keep nuclear weapons from getting into the hands of terrorists. It is supported by our military commanders and critical to our national security,” Baucus said in a press release following the vote to approve the treaty.
START passes 71-26
The Senate ratified the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty 71-26. Baucus and Tester said they supported the treaty after working to make sure the United States will maintain a strong intercontinental ballistic missile program, and that Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls will continue to play a key role.
“The ICBM force is also critical to our national security,” Baucus said. “There is no better place for those ICBMs than in Montana and no better folks to make sure they remain secure than the airmen serving in Montana.
“There was some talk around this town about making deep reductions to the ICBM force. We made it clear to the president that was unacceptable, and fought hard to make sure the START Treaty recognized the critical role that ICBMs play in U.S. national security,” Baucus added. “As a result of those efforts, we are confident that Malmstrom, and the entire ICBM force, will remain a key part of defending the United States for decades to come.”
The treaty includes resuming U.S. inspection and monitoring of Russia’s nuclear weapons, which had expired along with the original START Treaty in 2009. It also allows the United States to use its nuclear defense if necessary and to continue implementing missile defense programs, the senators said in their release.
Montana will play a role
“This agreement has support from our military commanders and from Republicans and Democrats because it makes our country safer without undermining our nuclear strategy,” Tester said. “And just as importantly, the treaty means Montana’s role in America’s defense will stay strong well into the future. Moving forward, I’ll keep fighting to make sure Montana stays at the front lines of keeping America secure.”
The two also have praised passage of several other actions of the lame-duck session, although they raised some eyebrows when they voted along with 36 Republicans and three other Democrats against passing the Obama- supported DREAM Act. The vote missed its 60-yes requirement, 55-41.
The act would allow people who came to the United States as illegal immigrants as children to pursue U.S. citizenship if they enroll in college or join the armed services.
“Illegal immigration is a critical problem facing our country, but amnesty is not the solution,” Tester said in a release following the vote. “I do not support legislation that provides a path to citizenship for anyone in this country illegally.”
Baucus and Tester released statements praising the passage of repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell provision of gays serving in the military, and of passage of an extension of tax cuts.
Baucus had dobuts about tax cuts for rich
Baucus, who attended President Barack Obama’s signing of the tax cut exension, said he would have preferred a bill he had introduced earlier that focused on middle-class tax cuts, rather than extending the tax cuts for people in all tax brackets.
Baucus also worked on providing an extension for a grants program for renewable energy projects and to provide estate tax relief in the compromise tax cut bill.
Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., voted against both the tax cut bill and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell provision.