Tester Passes Bill to Protect Public Lands, Boost Farmers and Ranchers and Increase Affordable Housing

Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Fund Montana’s Top Industries

(U.S. Senate)—After months of working with Republicans and Democrats to write important government funding agreements, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today voted to pass legislation that invests in Montana’s top industries.

Tester supported four bipartisan measures that will boost public access to public lands, invest in farmers and ranchers, and increase access to affordable housing. Tester used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to help draft the four bills that the Senate overwhelmingly passed with a vote of 92-6.

“This is what happens when folks put politics aside and work together to get things done,” 
Tester said. “These resources will support Montana’s booming outdoor economy, provide some certainty to Montana farmers and ranchers who are being threatened by a trade war, and address the housing shortage across rural America.”

Tester secured the following critical investments for Montana in the 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; Financial Services and General Government; Interior; and Agriculture Appropriations Bills:

Public Lands

  • $425 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to increase public access to public lands.
  • $1 billion for Superfunds to help communities like Libby, Columbia Falls, and Butte.
  • $500 million for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), which Montana counties use to pay for schools, infrastructure, law enforcement, and other essential services.
  • $364 million for construction in National Parks.
  • $40 million for collaborative forest landscape restoration projects on public lands.
  • $2.2 billion for the Clean and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to help pay for water infrastructure projects in Montana.
  • $4.3 billion for wildland fire management. 


  • $1.2 billion for the Farm Service Agency.
  • $74 million for the Risk Management Agency to implement crop insurance.
  • $8.8 million for the Commodity Credit Corporation’s export guarantee program, which reduces the risk for export lenders.
  • $210 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and child nutrition program grants, which support child development and food security abroad.
  • $5 million in grants for veterans farmers.
  • $400 million for Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program, which funds drinking water and wastewater infrastructure systems.

Affordable Housing

  • $40 million for vouchers to help homeless veterans secure reliable and affordable housing.
  • $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants, which have been used in Great Falls, Butte, and other communities to revitalize development and build more affordable housing.
  • $145 million for NeighborWorks, which Montanans have used to construct and restore affordable housing units for families.
  • $1.3 billion for the HOME Program, which provides funding to local housing initiatives.
  • $3.6 million for the Interagency Council on Homelessness.
  • $678 million for the Housing for the Elderly Program.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester plays a key role in writing the 12 annual bills that fund the federal government.