Missoula Current

A bill aimed at health care and climate change moved closer to passing on Sunday, though Montana's two U.S. senators took a different position on the evolving piece of legislation.

In a statement Saturday, Sen. Jon Tester said he planned to vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, adding that it will lower prescription drug prices and increase energy production while remaining fiscally responsible.

“Montana families and small businesses have been hit hard by rising costs, and this bill will pay down the deficit, cut prescription drug prices, and unleash American energy, all without raising taxes on Montana families,” Tester said.

Tester highlighted a number of provisions in the bill, saying it will allow Medicare to use its purchasing power to negotiate drug prices and cap out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for Medicare recipients at $2,000 a year.

On the energy side, Tester said the bill would expand offshore oil and gas leasing, enable the Department of the Interior to develop renewable energy on public lands, and extend tax credits for investment in renewable energy.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is fully paid for and then some, and it will increase American energy production,” Tester said. “Montanans want solutions to fight inflation and create jobs.”

Sen. Steve Daines called the measure a “massive tax and spending bill.” In a weekend statement, Daines said he would push for a number of amendments "to make the bill better for Montanans.”

Among the amendments, Daines sought to strike any royalty rate increases and fees for new oil and gas leases, and to create a mandatory level of timber harvests in Montana counties.

Daines, who has praised the Supreme Court's recent abortion decision, said he also wanted to include an amendment to support pregnant women by funding pregnancy resource centers and to expand the child tax credit to apply prior to birth.

He also looked to allow mothers to seek child support prior to birth and increase access to the adoption tax credit.

“The senator is introducing numerous other amendments to support public lands, promote commonsense forest management, and reduce the national debt, and he plans to support many others to remove and defeat Democrat’s tax and spending policies,” Daines' office said in a statement.