Key Tester Defense Priorities for Malmstrom, Veterans Headed to President’s Desk

Senator delivers critical support to Montana’s Air Force, National Guard, and veterans

The U.S. Senate today passed key defense priorities championed by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) as a part of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law, delivering critical support for Montana’s military installations, servicemembers, and veterans.

“This year’s defense bill includes a number of big ticket items that will keep Montanans safe and follow through on our commitment to our men and women in uniform,” said Tester. “We’ve secured new investments at Malmstrom Air Force Base and the Montana National Guard, ensuring that our military continues to fire on all cylinders and remain an effective deterrent to foreign threats well into the future. I urge the President to sign this bill quickly into law and deliver on our promise to the servicemembers, veterans, and American civilians who keep us safe abroad and at home.”

The NDAA includes a number of Tester-backed provisions that will strengthen military bases across the country, including Malmstrom Air Force Base and the Montana Air National Guard. The 2020 annual defense bill provides:

  • $552 million for research and development of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), our nation’s future nuclear deterrent program.
  • $171 million to fully support the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey replacement program.
  • $78 million for procurement of Minuteman Man III modernization to ensure the viability of our nation’s current strategic deterrent.
  • $75 million to support the Defense Community Infrastructure Program, which will provide grants, conclude cooperative agreements, and supplemental funds available under other federal programs to assist states and local governments in addressing deficiencies in community infrastructure projects or facilities that are located outside of military installations but that support military installations.
  • $59 million authorized for the construction of a Weapons Storage and Maintenance Facility at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
  • $27 million for nuclear weapon modernization research and development.

Tester additionally secured provisions in the NDAA to support military spouses through the Widow’s Tax Elimination Act, a push to help the more than 65,000 military widows and widowers nationwide receive the full survivor benefits they are due. The defense bill also includes protections for active duty and National Guard and Reserve members transferring their education benefits, which Tester continues to fight for in his Post-9/11 GI Bill Transferability Entitlement Act. As a part of his larger push to support military families, he also included language to increase accountability and oversight of privatized military housing and improve the household goods movement program.

To help combat the veteran suicide epidemic, Tester included language authorizing the National Guard to establish a Suicide Prevention Pilot program to ensure Guard members receive prompt support and immediate access to behavior health professional on any mobile device.

In addition to providing a 3.1 percent pay raise to servicemembers, the largest pay raise for U.S. troops in a decade, the annual defense bill also includes Tester’s Occupational and Environmental Transparency Health (OATH) Act. As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has led the effort in Congress to ensure that servicemembers and veterans exposed to Occupational Environmental Health hazards in the line of duty get the necessary medical care and benefits they need. His bipartisan bill requires DOD to track active duty military personnel and veterans’ exposed to harmful chemicals in a system.