Tester Delivers for Montana in Government Funding Deal
Bipartisan deal includes funding for critical public lands programs, PILT, law enforcement priorities, infrastructure, among
(U.S. Senate) – Legislation to fund the government that was secured this week by U.S. Senator Jon Tester and a small bipartisan group of lawmakers includes significant resources for critical Montana programs including public lands initiatives, PILT, FSA offices, infrastructure, affordable housing initiatives, and law enforcement priorities.
While much of the debate around the government funding legislation centered around border security, Tester- who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security- also helped craft six bills to fund the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, Treasury, State, and Housing and Urban Development, in addition to other critical programs.
“This bipartisan bill supports Montana jobs through smart investments in agriculture, infrastructure, public lands and law enforcement programs that waited in the wings during the irresponsible government shutdown-held up over political brinksmanship to the detriment of folks in our state,” Tester said. “So I’m glad our conference committee did its job and got to work on a funding deal that secures our borders, but just as importantly, secures needed resources for our farmers, businesses, and families.”
Delivering big wins for folks across Montana, the Tester-backed budget bill includes:
- Full funding for FSA Offices.
- Prohibits the Department of Transportation from enforcing electronic logging device rules on livestock haulers.
- Full funding for the Fort Keogh Research Laboratory-despite President Trump’s efforts to close the facility.
- Full funding for the Wheat & Barley scab initiative, which the President aimed to eliminate despite its importance to protecting Montana’s wheat and barley crops.
Public Lands and Environment:
- $435 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, securing public access to public lands across the state.
- $2 billion for wildfire suppression.
- $40 million for the Collaborative Forest Legacy Restoration Program.
- $364.7 million for construction and deferred maintenance in our national parks.
- $2.8 billion for clean water infrastructure through the EPA.
- $1.1 billion for Superfund operations, helping communities like Libby, Butte, Columbia Falls, and Anaconda.
Infrastructure, Rural Broadband, Transportation:
- $550 million for the new rural broadband program called ReConnect that will help bring high-speed Internet to Montana.
- Full funding to continue Essential Air Service at seven Montana airports.
- Full funding to support Amtrak’s long-distance service like Montana’s Empire Builder Line.
- $900 million for the BUILD grant program with 50 percent dedicated to rural communities.
- $10 million for Small Community Air Service Development grants which will enable Montana small airports to attract new and improve existing air service.
- $1.25 billion for the HOME Program, which helps Montanans access affordable housing.
- $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants that Montana cities and towns can utilize to construct and restore affordable housing units.
- $152 million for NeighborWorks, which Montanans use to increase access to affordable housing.
- $50 million for Housing Counseling.
- $3.35 billion for the Crime Victims Fund.
- $303 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants.
- $497.5 million for Violence Against Women Act programs.
- $178 million to test sexual assault kits and address other DNA evidence backlogs.
- $168 million (five percent) set aside for tribes in the Crime Victims Fund.
- $411.5 million for public safety and justice initiatives at BIA.
- $3.4 million for the implementation of Tester’s NATIVE Act, to help rebuild infrastructure and invest in tourism opportunities.
- $4 million for Tribal-HUD VASH.
- $1.4 million for the Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Fund and $755 million for Native American Housing Block Grants.
The bill also includes a number of Tester’s national security priorities for Montana, including the restoration of funding for the TSA Law Enforcement Officer Reimbursement program to $46 million – a critical program for security in airports across the state. It also includes $90 million in funding for FEMA’s Operation Stonegarden – an important tool for northern border drug interdictions – and $700 million for the Assistance to Firefighters and SAFER grant programs.
The agreement secures the largest-ever investment in technology to boost security at ports of entry – where the vast majority of dangerous drugs enter the United States – and gives law enforcement the tools necessary to secure the country’s borders between the ports, including surveillance technology, new airframes, and marine vessels. It also funds 600 additional Customs Officers and provides funding to address humanitarian concerns.
Tester was named to the bipartisan conference committee three weeks ago after the Senate reached a deal to end the 35-day partial government shutdown.
Last month, Tester gave an impassioned speech on the Senate Floor demanding a vote to re-open the government. With over 7,000 affected workers, numerous Tribal Nations, and two of the busiest National Parks in the country, Montana was one of the states hit hardest by the longest government shutdown in American history.