Tester town hall draws a crowd in Kalispell

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Sen. Jon Tester takes questions from the audience during a public forum last week.

As a bit of a counter rally, Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester held a town hall in Kalispell last week about that ended about an hour before Montana Sen. Steve Daines hosted a discussion about drug problems in the Flathead with U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

Tester’s town hall was well-attended, with more than 100 people coming out for the noon-hour chat at Flathead valley Community College. Topics ranged from healthcare to war to gun control.

Here’s a look at some highlights:

• On the House impeachment hearings of President Trump, Tester said there wasn’t much discussion, at least from him, in the Senate. He if the House passes articles of impeachment he said hopes the Senate rules for a trial will be endorsed in a bi-partisan manner, like they were when former President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House. In that case, the Senate passed its rules 100-0. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate.

• On healthcare, a man spoke out to endorse Obamacare, noting it meant his wife, who suffered from Lupus, would get health services. He said he was worried it would be done away with and his wife would lose her health insurance. Another person said folks should be able to “jump into” the system for federal healthcare workers.

• On gun control, Tester said he supported a “common sense” bill that would have required background checks for gun sales at gun shows and online. But it failed and the National Rifle Association lowered his rating from an A to an F.

“If you’re afraid of a background check, you probably shouldn’t have a gun,” Tester said.

He said without the law, it will only give steam to people who really do want to take guns away from lawful Americans.

• On the war in Afghanistan, he said he didn’t like the war, but he wondered what the exit strategy should be. He noted that simply pulling out of a region can have disastrous consequences. In Northern Syria, he noted that the Kurds, which had been allies, were slaughtered when American troops pulled out.

• On infrastructure he said the federal government needs to do something, but it can’t just put everything on a credit card.

“That’s a big mistake,” he said.

He said getting money to fund a bill “is where the rub is.”

• On climate change, he said the country has to start follwing the science. But in Congress, it’s simply a stalemate. “We can’t even get it out of committee to debate it,” he said of legislation that could address climate change.

• On the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor management plan, he said he hopes the Park Service devises a “common sense” plan that works “locally and nationally.”

Adding, “There’s a lot of different entities you’ve got to keep happy.”

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