Tester shapes defense bill to support strong military, Great Falls

Senator’s seat on Appropriations Committee pays dividends for MANG, Malmstrom

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today used his influence to make sure the Defense Department’s funding bill prioritizes a strong military and preserves the role of north-central Montana in the nation’s defense.

The bill provides robust funding for Malmstrom Air Force Base’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) fleet and includes a Tester provision preventing the Air Force from reducing missiles and missile silo levels below the levels in the New START Treaty.

Tester also fought for the Montana Air National Guard, located on the other side of the Electric City from Malmstrom, by securing an amendment that makes sure MANG’s C-130s are able to receive needed modernization funds to extend the lifespan of those aircraft. Additionally, today’s bill includes a Tester provision urging the Air Force to continue using the Hays Military Operations Area, training airspace that stretches north and east of Great Falls.

“Montana’s military record and history of service rival those of any other state,” Tester said. “Our ICBMs and aircraft are critical parts of our modern military and support good jobs in Great Falls. I will continue to fight for a strong military and advocate for Montana priorities.”

The Defense funding bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee by a unanimous vote. It provides an additional $25 million to continue and expand the Special Victims’ Counsel Program to provide military survivors of sexual assault with legal assistance and support and proposes 517 specific program cuts to make the Defense Department more efficient. The measure also provides for a pay raise to members of the military.

It also includes another Tester provision could save taxpayers up to $40 million by preventing the Defense Department from delivering additional aircraft to the Afghan Air Force unless the department can ensure the Afghans have a need for those aircraft and the ability to utilize them.

Tester, who lives north of Great Falls in Big Sandy, has long-fought to protect Malmstrom’s ICBMs and led the charge to bring the C-130s to Great Falls.

The Defense Appropriations bill will next be considered by the full Senate.