Tester Secures Montana Priorities in Budget

Bipartisan bill strengthens national security, public lands, agriculture & education

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today joined Republicans and Democrats to secure critical Montana priorities in the federal budget and vote to avoid a costly, job-killing government shutdown.

Tester took to the Senate floor to highlight the important investments this legislation makes to create Montana jobs and strengthen national security, public lands, agriculture, rural infrastructure, rural mail service and education. The legislation will now head to President Trump, who will sign it into law.

“This bill is a responsible bill,”
Tester said on the Senate floor. “It reflects a bipartisan compromise. It invests in our economy to open the door for more high-paying jobs. It invests in our students, in our public lands, and in our national security.”

Tester secured important provisions for Montana in the budget, which:

  • Invests an additional $29 million for Farm Service Agencies to help Montana farmers and ranchers register for critical agriculture initiatives.
  • Invests $400 million in the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will fund recreation projects at Whitefish Lake, Madison River, Swan Valley, and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. 
  • Restores year round Pell Grants for low-income college students.
  • Pressures the U.S. Department of Education to allow the University of Montana’s Upward Bound application to be resubmitted. 
  • Increases funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes to Montana counties to pay for local infrastructure and law enforcement.
  • Includes modernization funds for C-130s at the Montana Air National Guard to ensure the fleet meets FAA guidelines beyond 2020.
  • Includes modernization funds for the ICBM’s at Malmstrom Air Force Base to update our nation’s number one deterrent to foreign enemies. 
  • Invests $75 million to accelerate the purchase of new helicopters to provide security for the ICBM’s at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
  • Prohibits the consolidation of rural Montana post offices and requires the Postal Service to a maintain six-day delivery standard.

Tester additionally used his position as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee to deliver critical resources to strengthen national security.

“For border security, this agreement contains additional funding for technologies already proven to work, such as remote video and mobile surveillance systems, high definition cameras, and integrated fixed towers,”
Tester added. “This bill will improve border security and respect private property rights without spending billions of dollars for a border wall.”

Tester secured over $1.5 billion to strengthen border security, which will go toward replacing border fencing, increasing communications and surveillance, and improving the Border Patrol hiring process.

To increase airport security, Tester secured funding to hire 1,400 more Transportation Security Officers, mobilize 50 new bomb sniffing canine teams, and purchase new screening equipment for airports across the country. Tester recently secured a new full-body scanner for the Great Falls and Helena Airports.

To combat the growing threat of cyber-attacks, Tester secured nearly $1 billion for cybersecurity, a $183 million increase from last year. These resources will protect the network security of government agencies that hold national security information, data on taxpayers and businesses, and personal information on federal employees.

Despite White House efforts to gut funding, Tester was also able to maintain funding for Assistance to Firefighter and Operations Stonegarden Grants that have helped Montana first responders hire more employees and replace equipment.

This legislation will fund the federal government through September.