Tester Helps Pass Legislation to Strengthen Education and Increase Access to Health Care

Health and Education Appropriations Bill Restores Year-Round Pell Grants, Reduces Standardized Tests, and Addresses Growing Air Ambulance Costs

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today helped pass critical bipartisan legislation that will boost educational opportunities and increase access to quality health care for Montana families.

Tester was able to include a number of key provisions in the bipartisan 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill-including restoring year-round Pell Grants that will allow low income students to receive tuition assistance for the summer semester, instead of just the fall and spring.

Tester was also able to include language in the bill that forces the Government Accountability Office to identify and report on the factors contributing to growing air ambulance costs.

“Quality education and health care allow middle-class families to prosper,” Tester said. “This bipartisan bill makes important investments that will help ensure women have access to affordable health care, students can better afford a college education, and help young Montanans succeed in the classroom. Make no mistake, we still have progress to make when it comes to making important investments in the next generation.”

Other Tester priorities included in the 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill:

  • Require the U.S. Education Department to report on the actions taken to help local school districts eliminate duplicative and redundant standardized tests.
  • Require the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to identify actions to address the imbalance in the number of new doctors training in rural compared to urban areas.
  • Invest $274 million in veteran job training and employment initiatives. 
  • Invest $286 million in Title X family planning services, which provide basic primary and preventive health care services to more than 20,000 low-income Montanans.
  • Invest $9.2 billion in Head Start classrooms across the country, while directing the Administration to provide schools with more flexibility to meet the local needs of students. 
  • Invest $2.79 billion in the Child Care and Development Block Grant to help families with growing childcare costs.

The 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill was passed 29-1 by the Appropriations Committee and will now go to the Senate floor for debate.