Tester Votes for Increased Public Land Access, Landmark Campaign Finance Reform

Senator Works With Republicans and Democrats to Advance Bills That Freeze Pay for Members of Congress

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester today gave a thumbs up increased public access to public lands and landmark campaign finance reform.

Tester used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to advance three important bills that protect Montana and hold Washington accountable.

This bipartisan legislation includes a $425 million investment into the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which increases public access to public lands. Montana will specifically receive $23.2 million from LWCF. Tester defended Montana after the Trump Administration proposed to nearly eliminate the budget for LWCF bringing it down to $8 million.

“In Montana, our public lands drive our growing $7 billion outdoor economy,” Tester said. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the best tool we have to increase public access to public lands. Today is a win for Montanans who love the outdoors and I will keep fighting and defend our way of life against those who want to change LWCF and sell off our public lands to the highest bidders.”

Tester also successfully attached his Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act to the appropriation bills, which requires U.S. Senate candidates to file their campaign finance reports electronically, instead of doing so by hand, with the Federal Election Commission.

“Montanans know that our campaign finance system is broken and needs fixing,” Tester added. “This bipartisan bill will shed more light on the special interests who are trying to buy our democracy. Our elections aren’t for sale and we are one step closer to increasing transparency, accountability, and restoring rights to the people.”

Tester joined Republicans and Democrats to pass three bills out of the Appropriations Committee, the Interior Appropriations, Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations, and Legislative Branch Appropriations Bills. All three bills will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.

In addition to funding LWCF and passing the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, Tester voted to freeze the pay of all members of Congress.

“Congressional leaders have failed to write an infrastructure bill, they certainly don’t deserve a raise,” said Tester.

Tester also secured the following Montana provisions in the appropriations bills:

Public Lands

  • $4.3 billion for wildfire suppression.
  • $500 million for Montana counties through Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).
  • $364 million for construction at the National Park Service. 
  • $1 billion for Superfund sites.
  • $3 million for the Joint Fire Science initiative, utilized by the University of Montana.
  • $40 million for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative to increase active management on public lands.
  • $2.2 billion in funding for drinking and wastewater infrastructure.
  • Directs the EPA to report on water quality issues in the Kootenai Watershed.

Law Enforcement

  • $310 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program to increase community policing in Montana.
  • $445 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, which is the leading sources of federal funding for state and local jurisdictions.
  • $4.4 billion for the Crime Victims Fund to provide support services for survivors of violent crimes.
  • $497 million to carry out provisions within the Violence Against Women Act.
  • $50 million to process the rape kit backlog in Montana and across the country.
  • $25 million to carry out provisions within the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
  • $102 million for drug and veterans treatment court, which have been successful in Montana.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 annual bills that fund the federal government.