Tester Delivers Big Wins for Montana Law Enforcement, Education, Infrastructure, Public Lands in Government Funding Bills
Provisions in bills to fund government include funding for affordable housing, substance misuse treatment, first responders, community health centers, among other priorities; Tester is only member of the Montana delegation to support the domestic funding
U.S. Senator Jon Tester used his seat as a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee to deliver a number of big wins for Montana as part of a package of bills to fund the government that cleared the U.S. Senate today. Tester is the only member of the Montana delegation to support the domestic funding legislation.
Tester secured resources to boost safety and security in Montana, invest in public education, improve crime victims services, combat the meth and opioid epidemic, upgrade Montana's infrastructure, and provide for additional affordable housing, in addition to other priorities with direct impacts on Montanans.
"These bills are a huge step forward when it comes to delivering for Montana," Tester said. "For Montanans to remain safe and have the tools to thrive and get ahead, we need to invest in the priorities that make our state the Last Best Place. Educating our kids, improving our infrastructure, keeping folks healthy, providing housing Montanans can afford, securing our communities - are all critical to our success as a state and as a nation. While these bills are not perfect, it's an example of what we can get done when we work across the aisle to give certainty to thousands of federal programs and the millions who rely on them."
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 bills that fund the federal government each year. Among the Montana provisions Tester successfully secured are:
Law Enforcement and Northern Border Security
- $343 million for Community Oriented Policing Services, including $13 million for the COPS Anti-Meth Task Force.
- $285 million for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, which fund regional task forces made up of local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies to combat the drug epidemic in Montana communities.
- $222 million for new technology for use between and at ports of entry, including innovative border technologies and non-intrusive inspection technology to scan vehicles for drugs as they cross the border.
- $104.4 million to support over 800 positions in Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Field Operations, including 600 additional Officers and Agriculture Specialists at Ports of Entry.
- $1.5 million for CBP to initiate comprehensive testing of imported honey to verify the country of origin and detect adulteration. This is an important step to help identify fraudulent importation of Chinese honey and level the playing field for American honey producers.
- Restores $46 million for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to partially reimburse airports for providing law enforcement officer staffing.
- $2 million for TSA to initiate development of reduced sized explosives detection systems for use in small and rural airports.
- $547 million for the Byrne JAG program, which offers flexible funding to states and localities to help combat crime in their communities.
- $90 million for Operation Stonegarden, which provides funding to state, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies to enhance border protection and defend Montana's northern border.
Environment and Public Lands
- $495 million for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, including over $18 million for Montana projects. Tester has expressed frustration that this funding is well below the authorized $900 million and continues to push for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring full funding up for a vote.
- $3.6 billion for wildfire suppression.
- $500 million for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), a critical program that makes payments to rural counties with large amounts of untaxable federal land for services like law enforcement and mental health programs.
- 2 year reauthorization for the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Act, which compensates forested counties with federal land for lost revenue due to declining timber production.
- $15 million for Corps of Engineers to support watercraft inspection stations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive mussels.
- $5 million to support state efforts to monitor and contain chronic wasting disease outbreaks in wild deer populations.
- $1.5 million for transboundary streamgages to assist with monitoring pollution in the Kootenai, and a requirement for the EPA and State Department to coordinate on finding a path forward to getting the watershed cleaned up.
- Language to protect Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers-which Tester successfully fought to keep open earlier this year-by directing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide 30 days notification in advance of any action to lose or deactivate a Job Corps Center.
Victim Services and Substance Use Treatment
- $502.5 million for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This is a $5.5 million increase and includes $43.5 million for the VAWA programs in rural communities and $37 million for transitional housing.
- $169 million to clear sexual assault backlogs and improve testing of DNA evidence.
- $378 million for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a $31 million increase.
- $80 million for Drug Treatment Courts, a $3 million increase.
- $1.09 billion for TRIO funding, which helps low-income, first-generation college students earn college degrees - a $30 million increase.
- $10.6 billion for Head Start, a $550 million increase and a record number to expand education, health, and social services.
- $10 million for state and local education agencies to increase the number of counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other mental health care professionals to serve students.
- $13.6 billion for grants to states to support special education grants under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which represents a $410 million increase and an important step toward achieving funding levels set out in Senator Tester's IDEA Full Funding Act
- $3.4 billion for Community Development Block Grants that Montana communities can use to address barriers to housing and other serious challenges.
- $1.35 billion for the HOME program to improve affordable housing production and rental assistance.
- $1.3 billion for Rural Housing Program Rental Assistance to keep low-income families in rural areas in their homes.
Health Care and First Responders
- Senator Tester's CREATES Act to address delay tactics used by brand drug makers to block competition from generic drugs is included in the agreement, which will help bring more affordable prescription drugs to market.
- Extends vital funding for community health centers until May 22, 2020.
- $2.5 million for Tester's Firefighters Cancer Registry, a $1.5 million increase from last year.
- $355 million for the Assistance to Firefighter Grants and $355 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants, a $10 million increase for both programs.
- $5 million for Rural Emergency Medical Services.
Transportation & Telecommunications
- Requires satellite companies to provide local access to local TV stations in all markets, including Helena and Glendive.
- Full funding for Amtrak.
- $3.3 billion for Airport Improvement Program grants to improve infrastructure at Montana airports.
- $1 billion for BUILD grants, to invest in road and transit projects like the $13 million grant Missoula County recently received.
- $555 million for the USDA's ReConnect Program, which provides loans and grants for broadband services in rural areas.
Agriculture and Nutrition
- Expands the WHIP+ program to provide indemnity payments for producers who incurred losses as a result of quality loss, drought and excessive moisture.
- $1.5 billion in additional funding for WHIP+ to allow producers in northeast Montana who suffered significant losses this harvest to receive a payment.
- $16.5 million for the implementation of the federal hemp program.
- Directs the USDA Agricultural Research Service to fill vacant positions so that research goals are met at stations like the Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney and Fort Keogh.
- Extends the Craft Beverage Reduced Excise Tax and simplifies record keeping for beer, wine, and distilled spirit makers
- Enables growers who are legally growing hemp to move hemp between states.
- Secures an exemption for livestock haulers from Electronic Logging Device regulations.