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Tester Discusses Issues During Conference Call With Media

Education was one of the many issues discussed by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., during a conference call with state media members on Thursday, July 27.

Tester said the national shortage of teachers is at least partly due to low pay. He said the average salary for a teacher is $33,000 for a year. He added that something needs to be done about debt forgiveness.

“We have to figure out how to pay teachers what they’re worth because we aren’t right now,” Tester said.

When told how many teachers on the Fort Peck Reservation are originally from The Philippines, the senator said he is willing to consider waivers so that the teachers can remain in the United States longer. He noted such waivers are being discussed for workers in other fields.

Tester said he had positive news for listeners of AM radio. A bill to require new vehicles to be equipped with an AM radio as standard equipment passed out of committee on Thursday.

“AM radio is vital in rural Montana, especially for emergencies, and we need to protect it,” Tester said.

He discussed work done on the National Defense Authorization Act. It was recently reported that the Chinese spy balloon was using American-made technology. Tester and Sen. Rounds of South Dakota secured an amendment in the NDAA to get a better handle on what American-made and sold technology is being used in foreign espionage programs going forward.

The annual defense budget will include more than $293 million to counter Chinese surveillance with upgraded radars and sensors.

“China is doing everything in their power to take our spot as the global economic and military leader, and this budget ensures that we maintain our edge on the world stage,” Tester said.

The Democrat has recently sponsored bills to require legislators to post their daily schedule and to ban members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists.

“Closing Washington’s revolving door should be a no brainer, and I’m calling on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in boosting accountability and transparency in Congress by supporting this bill,” Tester said.

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