Tester Secures Montana Priorities in Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator secures funding for disaster relief, Coast Guard, and border security

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, today secured billions in funding for critical homeland security priorities for Montana and the country as part of a series of bills to fund the government for the next fiscal year.

Tester worked diligently to include priorities in the spending package that would restore funding for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) that the Trump Administration attempted to eliminate as well as robust investments in the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and critical border security programs.

“Our country is facing significant threats to our national security during these unprecedented times, and this legislation will help keep Montana families safe by investing in threat reduction for wildfires and natural disasters, bolstering Coast Guard readiness, and making new advancements in security technology at our airports and on the northern border,” said Tester. “And while I’m happy to see that this package includes many of Montana’s priorities I fought for, I’m deeply disturbed that our usual legislative processes have been thrown out the window. Circumventing a markup prevents us from crafting legislation that will do the most good for the American people, and instead allows my colleagues to bypass a meaningful process and include provisions—like nearly $2 billion for an ineffective border wall—without any accountability to the public.”

This year, the Republican majority chose to cancel Committee markups of the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bills, eliminating the ability of Senators to both offer amendments and discuss issues in public before the American people in an open and transparent process. As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, Senator Tester has repeatedly expressed frustration and discontent towards subverting the usual process of holding markup.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 bills that fund the federal government each year. Among the Montana provisions Tester successfully included in today’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations package are:

FEMA Fire Grants

  • $355 million for Fire grants which provide equipment and training to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters. Montana received $1,932,922 in FY 2019, FY 2020 awards are still being made.


  • $355 million for SAFER grants which help communities increase or maintain the number of trained firefighters. Montana received $2,256,067 in FY 2019, FY 2020 awards are still being made.

Operation Stonegarden

  • $90 million for Operation Stonegarden grants which provide funding to state, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies to enhance coordination with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) to defend America’s borders. Montana received $1,287,580 in FY 2020.

Montana State University

  • $7 million for Partnership Intermediary Agreements, which supports a partnership between DHS Science and Technology (S&T) and Montana State University, to use technical expertise at MilTech and the Applied Research Lab to help transition innovative technologies to address critical mission needs across DHS.
  • $5 million to support collaboration between MSU and DHS (S&T) to continue to develop software analysis services that identify and measure security weaknesses in software design for data researchers and program developers. This funding is also to support growing collaboration between MSU and S&T on general cyber related projects.
  • $6 million for DHS to create a national testing capacity to assess vulnerabilities and mitigate biological risks, including COVID-19, in building air and water handling systems, multi-building facilities, and waste water systems. The Center for Biofilm Engineering at MSU will partner with the Idaho National Laboratory for research to assess the role of biofilm in the transportation of pathogenic organisms in the built environment to create innovative biosurveillance and monitoring capabilities.

Border Security Technology

  • $28 million for 30 autonomous surveillance towers (AST)
  • $15 million for Mobile Modular Surveillance Systems (M2S2)
  • $5 million for the small Unmanned Aerial Surveillance (UAS) System

Election Security

  • $43 million for the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

Tribal consultation

  • A requirement is included mandating DHS to update Tribal consultation training in conjunction with Tribes

FEMA Grants

  • $560 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP)
  • $665 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)
  • A set aside of $90 million for Nonprofit Security Grants through UASI and SHSGP
  • $710 million for Firefighter grants
  • $100 million for Port Security Grants
  • $100 million for Transit Security Grants
  • $355 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants
  • $263 million for flood mapping
  • $14 million each for Regional Catastrophic Preparedness and High Hazard Dams
  • $125 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program
  • $288 million for education, training and exercises

TSA Funding

  • $46 million for the TSA Law Enforcement Reimbursement Program to partially reimburse airports for providing law enforcement officer staffing
  • $59 million for the TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) Program which funds 31 teams that are deployed to airports and transit systems to guard against terrorist attacks
  • $169 million to sustain 1,097 explosives detection canine teams
  • $84 million to continue funding TSA staffing of exit lanes
  • $140 million for 141 new computed tomography (CT) screening units for airport checkpoints
  • $61 million for 960 Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units. Of the 960 units, 467 will be deployed to small and rural airports
  • $40 million to continue reimbursing airports for in-line baggage screening systems built after 9/11

Coast Guard

  • $1.911 billion is provided for Coast Guard Procurement, Construction and Improvements, including $555 million for the Coast Guard’s 2nd Polar Security Cutter (PSC)
  • $546 million for the third Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and long lead time materials for the fourth OPC
  • $160 million for two Fast Response Cutters
  • $321 million for construction of shore facilities, $116 million above the FY 2020 enacted level.