Leading Key Defense Appropriations Panel, Tester Secures Resources for Our Military & Delivers Montana Priorities Including Chinese Spy Balloon Prevention

As Chairman of the Senate committee that sets the military’s budget, Senator is committed to ensuring our armed forces have the resources they need;

Bill strengthens our deterrent capabilities and global readiness, supports our servicemembers and their families, and honors commitment to our veterans

In his role as the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today led a key mark-up of the Defense Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill. Following mark-up by the Committee, Tester’s defense bill advanced to the Senate floor.

“As Chairman of the Senate committee that sets the military’s budget, my top priority is making sure our armed forces have the necessary resources to defend our freedoms and keep our nation safe,” said Tester, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. “I’m committed to securing a budget that invests in our ability to stay ahead of the threat of China, defend our country from foreign adversaries, and take care of our servicemembers and their families. Today’s markup was a critical step toward delivering for our military, and I look forward to getting our defense budget across the finish line.”

Tester’s bill will prepare our military against foreign adversaries, honor our nation’s commitment to servicemembers, veterans, and their families, and ensure America retains its competitive edge over China while using made-in-Montana cutting-edge solutions and next-generation research.

Key Tester priorities in the bill include:

Preventing Future Spy Balloon Incursions:

  • Tester’s bill includes $293.5 million more than the President’s budget request for radars, radar upgrades, and communications equipment to protect the U.S. homeland from surveillance efforts by adversaries like the Chinese government to make sure incursions like the Chinese spy balloon never happen again. 

Supporting Servicemembers and Families

  • Tester’s bill fully funds the 5.2 percent pay raise for servicemembers, while providing $29.6 billion for housing and $8.4 billion for subsistence, which are all critical to supporting our servicemembers and their families. The bill also adds $20 million for the renovation and repairs of child development centers (CDCs) and $33 million to support programs for child care workers at CDCs to help address challenges installations around the country are facing in hiring and retaining child care workers. To expand high-quality, early education at Department of Defense Education Activity schools, $94 million is provided for full-day, universal pre-K—an increase of $66.5 million over last year—which will double enrollment.

  • Tester’s bill also adds $47 million for continued implementation and expansion of the Sexual Assault Special Victims’ Counsel Program to help survivors of sexual assault seek justice, provides $59.2 million for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office to support sexual assault prevention programs, and provides $18.3 million, an increase of $10 million over the request, to implement the recommendations of the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee.

Honoring Our Commitment to Our Nation’s Veterans

  • Continuing his push to address systematic challenges with TRICARE, Tester also secured report language requiring DoD to report to Congress on how recent changes to TRICARE’s pharmacy contract are impacting rural beneficiaries’ access to community pharmacies. TRICARE, DoD’s health care program, delivers health care services to active duty servicemembers, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, and their family members. Tester also secured language directing DoD to report to Congress on steps it is taking to improve its information technology systems that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) relies on to provide benefits, health care, and other services to veterans.

As the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Tester is responsible for crafting the annual Defense Appropriations bill which will provide funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) and related activities in FY24. The Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Appropriations Act provides $831.781 billion in total funding.