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In a June 27, 2018. photo, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester, D-Mont., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
In a June 27, 2018. photo, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester, D-Mont., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
In a June 27, 2018. photo, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester, D-Mont., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
In a June 27, 2018. photo, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester, D-Mont., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., will be the ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., will be the ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will take the helm of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday when the committee meets for the first time in the new congressional session.

Tester has been part of the committee since he was elected to the Senate in 2007. He’s served as the ranking Democrat since 2017. Now that Democrats have taken control of the Senate, Tester will take the gavel Wednesday from Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who will become the committee’s ranking Republican.

Tester said in a statement Tuesday that he was committed to continuing the bipartisan relationship he and Moran have built as leaders of the committee during the past year. The committee is responsible for overseeing the Department of Veterans Affairs and reviewing legislation concerning veterans.

“[I] am ready to roll up my sleeves along with our committee members and veterans advocates to hold the VA accountable, cut red tape and provide quality care and benefits to those who’ve sacrificed on behalf of our freedoms,” Tester said.

The committee is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday for the confirmation hearing of Denis McDonough, nominated by President Joe Biden to become the next VA secretary.

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America and other national veterans organizations praised Tester’s leadership Tuesday.

“This committee has always been bipartisan, so we have had the pleasure of working with the senator for a number of years, as well as all his colleagues, on behalf of America’s veterans and their families,” said John Rowan, national president of VVA.

Tester, 64, is a farmer and former teacher. In addition to the VA committee, he sits on the Indian Affairs, Banking and Appropriations committees.

Wentling.nikki@stripes.com Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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