Friday, December 17, 2010

Senate omnibus falls, taking Tester’s forest bill with it

This is old news already, but last night Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, faced with having to read the text of the entire 1924-page measure on the Senate floor, pulled the $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill.

For all intents and purposes that means Sen. Jon Tester’s Montana Forest Jobs and Restoration Initiative, which was tacked on to the measure earlier this week, is most likely dead.

Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy told the Missoula Independent:

“Partisan politics shot down this measure last night, but it won't keep Jon from creating Montana jobs—through middle-class tax relief, strengthening family agriculture and small businesses, and working together with Montanans on bipartisan plans like his forest jobs bill.”


Matthew Koehler said...

Over the past two year many Montanans – as well as Americans – have expressed serious, substantive concerns with Senator Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. Substantive concerns included things like the mandated logging provisions, motors in Wilderness, negative impacts to Forest Service budgets in our region and turning some wildlands into permanent motorized recreation areas. That’s a major reason why the bill never made it out of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, never made it to the floor of the US Senate and never was introduced in the US House.

Instead of honestly listening to these concerns, Senator Tester and his staff decided to work behind the scenes to attach a slightly different version of his bill to this completely unrelated $1.3 trillion spending bill that was nearly 2000 pages long. It’s unfortunate that Senator Tester chose such a course, but I'm certainly glad that this entire omnibus spending bill was pulled from the Senate floor, as Tester's logging bill wasn't the only pork-filled rider/earmark glued onto that bill at the 11th hour by Senator's of both political parties.

I should also point out that while Senator Tester likes to say this is a jobs bill for the timber industry, new home construction in America is down 70% and overall wood consumption is down 50%. Just where are all these forests Senator Tester wants cut down going to end up? The fact is that the Forest Service in the northern Rockies ended 2009 with more timber volume under contract to loggers and mills in our region than any point in the last decade, but still mills either closed or have dramatically reduced their work force because of the economic crisis, which drags on with little relief in sight.

And we shouldn’t need to remind people that we’re still in the middle of the worst economic crisis this country has faced since the Great Depression. The economic crisis was caused by over-consumption and over-development. All of this has come crashing down around us, and will continue to do so unless we buck up, face this stark reality and move forward accordingly. Congress stepping in to mandate more public lands logging in this context is irrational.

Hopefully, if Senator Tester decides to introduce his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act in the next session of Congress, he'll do a better job of listening to these substantive concerns and make the required changes to his bill.

Finally, readers might find this post interesting, as it refer to a previous post here at The Lowdown:

"Fact Checking the FJRA 'Poll' Numbers" at:

Anonymous said...

Is this zombie of a bill really dead? Not until I see "The End" and they roll the credits. I think the UM biomass issue will come into full bloom before Tester has a chance to reintroduce this scary neoliberal nightmare again in the next session. Will Missoula trade clean air for Tester's political future? It just gets curiouser and curiouser.

Matthew Koehler said...

DailyKos Founder Tester Tweet: "Good luck getting re-elected, a--hole."


Jon Tester and the DREAM Act
by kos
Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 10:36:03 AM PST

There are Democrats I expect to be assholes. I never thought Jon Tester would be among them.

Anybody who votes to punish innocent kids is an asshole. Plain and simple. And while I expect it from Democrats like Ben Nelson and C-Street denizen Mark Pryor, I honestly thought Jon Tester was different. I was wrong. I am now embarrassed that I worked so hard to help get him elected in 2006. I feel personally betrayed.

Not only will I do absolutely nothing to help his reelection bid, but I will take every opportunity I get to remind people that he is so morally bankrupt that he'll try to score political points off the backs of innocent kids who want to go to college or serve their country in the military.

To me, he is the Blanche Lincoln of 2012 -- the Democrat I will most be happy to see go down in defeat. And he will. Nothing guarantees a Republican victory more than trying to pretend to be one of them.

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