Senator Tester Discusses Government Shutdown
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 02:10
While his colleagues in Congress spent the evening negotiating the looming government shutdown, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) spent Monday night in the Mortara Center addressing student questions on the same issue.
The event was sponsored by the Georgetown University College Democrats and the Georgetown University Student Veterans Association.
Tester took several audience questions pertaining to the fiscal crisis that caused federal government operations to discontinue at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.
Responding to a question posed by Joseph Laposata (COL ’16) regarding whether the government would be able to avert the crisis before the midnight deadline, Tester said,
“If that’s the goal of the House or dozen folks here in the Senate, to shut the government down without addressing the debt, those people should be run out of town.”
Tester also addressed the national debt, criticizing House Republicans who have pledged to oppose the law unless the Affordable Care Act is delayed by one year.
“This is not a good thing to do, to play with the full faith and credit of this country,” Tester said. “And I tell you that there’s a lot of things that I can overlook with people who do stupid things, but when you do stupid things, and you’ve been told that they’re stupid … that’s total irresponsibility and you should not be in the United States Senate or in Congress at all.”
Gun control has also been a key issue on Tester’s plate this term. After the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. that took 26 lives in December 2012, Tester met with the families of the victims. While a supporter of the Manchin-Toomey gun control bill, Tester said that he did not believe it would prevent another tragedy like Newtown.
“Sandy Hook will happen again,” Tester said. “I want guns to be hard to get for the people who should not be able to get them.”
Tester also addressed questions about the influence of money in politics, stating that after the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee, the only means of keeping big money out of politics would be either a constitutional amendment, which he has proposed, or a change on the Supreme Court bench.
“Until we get money out of politics … they can throw $20 million bucks in an election, and they can make a difference,” Tester said.
Tester did not always have political aspirations. Originally a music teacher at a small school in Montana, Tester was elected to the Montana State Senate in 1998 and ultimately to the U.S. Senate in 2006.
The senator concluded by urging students to participate in public service, describing his own ambitions to run for elected office while in high school.
“Anybody can have an influence — don’t think that just because you’re in college you don’t have the right to be able to influence a situation,” he said. “You absolutely do.”
Audience members were both pleased and inspired by the content of the speech.
“It’s not often that the title of senator and the word humility are used in the same sentence unless they’re in conflict with each other,” Chris Fisk (COL ’17) said. “But Senator Tester is an example of just the contrary.”
College Democrats President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’14) valued the varied perspective that Tester brought to the table.
“He provides an interesting perspective, from our party, of someone from a rural state, who understands the issues that affect a lot of frontier Americans,” Tezel said. “I thought it was a different conversation but an important one to be had.”