Tester Secures Big Wins to Increase Safety, Bolster Education, and Improve Health Care in Indian Country as Part of Government Funding Bill

Provisions to help address MMIW crisis, fund critical water infrastructure projects among other priorities; Tester is only member of the Montana delegation to support the domestic funding legislation

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a member of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, secured a number of wins for Indian Country as a part legislation to fund the federal government that passed the Senate this week and now heads to the President’s desk. Tester is the only member of the Montana delegation to support the domestic funding legislation.

Tester delivered significant resources to increase safety and address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Indian Country, and improve health care and education outcomes, among other priorities.

“These resources will help make a real, tangible difference in Native American communities across our state,” Tester said. “These bills aren’t perfect, but they’ll go a long way towards helping give Montana families, survivors, law enforcement, educators, health care providers, and Tribal governments the tools they need to recover, succeed, and thrive in Indian Country.”

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 bills that fund the federal government each year. Among the Indian Country provisions Tester successfully secured are:

Addressing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis


  • $2.64 billion for the Crime Victims Fund, with a five percent Tribal set aside, to help provide medical, legal, and housing assistance to victims of crimes
  • $7 million to help Tribes implement special Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) tribal jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes
  • $1 million to investigate and provide services related to missing persons and murder cold cases in Indian Country
  • $1 million for new Department of Justice research on preventing violence against Native women
  • Directs the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to designate an official in the Office of Justice Services to develop a set of guidelines on how to best collect statistics on missing, murdered, and trafficked women


Securing Native American Communities


  • $434 million for BIA Public Safety and Justice Initiatives, a $27 million increase
  • $25.7 million for Tribal Justice Support, a $3.5 million increase, to provide guidance and support to Tribal courts
  • $2 million to hire additional detention and corrections staff at BIA facilities
  • $2 million for equipment to help Tribal law enforcement collect and preserve evidence at crime scenes
  • $3 million for the Tribal Access Program, which enables Tribes to access national crime information systems
  • $2.5 million for BIA to operate new advanced training for detectives and forensics
  • $1 million to reduce the BIA background check backlog


Health Care and Education


  • $944 million for the Bureau of Indian Education
  • $6 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS), a four percent increase from FY19
  • $57.7 million for Urban Indian Health services, the highest-ever increase for urban Indian health
  • $8 million in new funding for recruitment and retention at IHS to address vacancies across the country
  • $40 million for the Section 108 Loan Repayment Program, a $4 million increase that will be used to recruit and retain providers at IHS facilities
  • $21 million for Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country grants operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Special Diabetes Program for Indians funded to May 22, 2020


Housing and Economic Development


  • $1 million for the Tribal HUD-VASH demonstration program to provide rental assistance and support to homeless Native veterans
  • $746 million for Native American Housing Block Grants for affordable housing in Indian Country
  • $70 million for Indian Community Development Block Grants
  • $16 million for Native Community Development Financial Institutions


Public Lands and Environment


  • $145 million for Rural Water Projects, including Fort Peck/Dry Prairie Rural Water System, and Rocky Boys/North Central Rural Water System
  • $12.7 million for the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement
  • $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement