Montana Public Radio

Jon Tester

A section of wall on the California-Mexico border.

Montana’s senior senator is not convinced that high level, closed-door budget negotiations in Washington D.C. will avert a partial government shutdown.

"Look, I would say at this moment in time it’s 50-50," Democratic Sen. Jon Tester says.

A bill that would have granted federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe in Montana failed in the U.S. Senate Thursday.

Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, objected to fast-tracking the bill’s passage in the Senate.

Senator Jon Tester speaks at a joint hearing of the House and Senate veterans committees on Wednesday. Dec. 19, 2018.
CSPAN screenshot

Sen. Jon Tester said he’s worried that the Veterans Health Administration is straying from the direction Congress gave it when it passed a bill six months ago to reform how vets get health care outside the VA system.

"We could end up with a problem where we’re actually cutting benefits for our veterans moving forward," said Tester at a joint hearing of the House and Senate veterans committees Wednesday

Bullock Commerce Director Resigns To Take Job With Tester

Dec 18, 2018

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's commerce director is leaving her cabinet post after less than two years to become U.S. Sen. Jon Tester's state director.

Tester announced Tuesday that Pam Haxby-Cote will oversee the Montana Democrat's seven in-state offices. Bullock's office confirmed that she will be resigning from the state Department of Commerce at the end of December.

Kimberly Loring HeavyRunner testifies about missing and murdered indigenous women during a U.S. Senate committee hearing, December 12, 2018.
Courtesy Sen. Tester's office.

Three Indigenous women testified at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to share stories of personal loss and profound frustration with a legal system that they say has essentially abandoned them.

Montana Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at a press conference Tuesday.
Senator Jon Tester's office.

Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators are urging the Senate to pass the so-called Blue Water Veterans Act before the current Congress adjourns.

That bill would extend benefits to vets who served on ships during the Vietnam War who may have been exposed to Agent Orange. At present, only troops who served on land are eligible.

The Senate passed the farm bill on Dec. 11, 2018.

Both of Montana’s senators voted for the farm bill, a multibillion-dollar legislative package to fund agriculture and food aid programs, which the Senate passed Tuesday.

The mammoth package will fund key farm safety net programs for the next five years without making significant changes to the food stamp program that serves nearly 40 million low-income Americans.

Kate Vandemoer presents on the “People’s Compact,” a proposed alternative to the CSKT Water Compact in Kalispell on Dec. 10, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet / MTPR

Supporters of an alternative proposal to settle water rights claims on and around the Flathead Reservation have released a framework for what they would like to see in federal legislation. Meanwhile, their proposal is drawing condemnation and curiosity across the state.

This handout was given to the State-Tribal Relations Committee, March 30, 2018. Annita Lucchesi, a doctoral student at Lethbridge University, in the Canadian province of Alberta, says native women make up 30 percent of missing persons in the state.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Hundreds of Indigenous women go missing under suspicious circumstance every year in North America. A U.S. Senate Committee takes a closer look at the issue Wednesday.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee may hear startling statistics like this one during its hearing: Native Americans make up about 7 percent of Montana’s population. But according to Montana’s Native American Domestic Violence Review Commission, Native people are involved in 16 percent of all of the state’s intimate partner homicides.

Spending by Candidates In Montana's U.S. Senate Races, 2000-2018. Data:,
Corin Cates Carney

The candidates for Montana's two contested seats in Congress this year, and their supporters, spent more than $76 million over the last two years in their election campaigns.

The U.S. Senate race between Democrat Jon Tester and Republican Matt Rosendale brought in most of that money, making it the most expensive election contest in state history.