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Opinion: Tester leading the charge on economic recovery; Republicans playing politics

One year ago, Montanans were hearing from Republicans on the campaign trail that if elected, they would prioritize jobs and economic growth. A year on, the only economic leadership our state is seeing is coming from Senator Jon Tester and Democrats in our state legislature.

Tester has been hard at work in Washington, with quite a bit to show for it. In the last few months, Tester has delivered multiple pieces of landmark legislation that will provide the foundation not just for Montana’s immediate economic recovery, but for our next several decades of economic growth and prosperity.

The first of these measures is the American Rescue Plan Act, a monumental bill that is helping Montana recover from this pandemic and rebuild stronger than ever. ARPA sent nearly $3 billion in urgently-needed pandemic relief to Montana small business, families, and communities — that’s hundreds of millions to help schools reopen safely and get students back in the classroom, improve our crumbling infrastructure, fund local governments and keep first responders on the job, bolster our overburdened health care system, connect rural communities to high-speed internet, and so much more.

Democrats in our state legislature fought to ensure that those funds will go where they’re needed most, and are continuing to hold the Gianforte administration accountable to get it done.

Working tirelessly across party lines, Senator Tester also delivered a once-in-a-generation infrastructure package through the Senate on an overwhelming and bipartisan vote. Tester’s bipartisan infrastructure bill will provide long-overdue investments in Montana’s roads, bridges, water systems, high-speed internet and more, creating good-paying jobs, helping Montana businesses grow, and allowing Montana families to stay connected.

These bills will lower costs for families and provide generations of Montanans with the means to provide for themselves and their families. Folks looking around their communities and wondering if there’s a future for them in our state can rest assured that they have a champion in Washington fighting for them, day in and day out.

And while Senator Tester has been working day and night delivering for Montana families, where have Republican leaders been? Senator Daines and Representative Rosendale voted against the American Rescue Plan Act. Daines was just one of just 33 senators to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill..

Governor Gianforte is sitting on hundreds of millions in ARPA funds while jet-setting across the country, ignoring a worsening COVID crisis, and holding our economic recovery hostage, all while pushing out press releases claiming credit for Senator Tester’s achievements.

And Attorney General Austin Knudsen is perpetrating abuse of power after abuse of power, and is now facing an investigation from his own party’s leadership for sending a Montana Highway Patrol trooper to St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena to intimidate already beleaguered health care providers.

Montanans expect their elected leaders to do more than just play politics — they expect them to work hard and deliver on their promises to grow our economy. While Montana Republicans focus on their extreme partisan agenda, Senator Tester and Montana Democrats in the legislature will continue to fight to lower costs and deliver good-paying jobs and opportunity for all Montanans.

Robyn Driscoll is Chair of the Montana Democratic Party.