Tester Secures Funding for Montana Homeland Security Priorities in Government Funding Bill

Following weeks of negotiations, Senator announces billions in funding for border security, disaster relief, TSA in role as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee

(U.S. Senate) – In his position as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Senator Jon Tester successfully secured billions in funding for critical homeland security programs prioritized by Montanans as part of the annual process to fund the government for the next fiscal year.

In the bipartisan deal passed by Congress this week, Tester negotiated substantial investments in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), screening operations and technology acquisitions for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), Coast Guard readiness, and critical border security technology and assets.

“This bipartisan deal keeps Montana families safe and is an example of what we can get done when we work together,” said Tester. “I am proud we are making smart investments in local law enforcement, security and technology at our airports and borders, and reducing threats from wildfires and other natural disasters.”

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 and national provisions Tester successfully included in today’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations package are:

FEMA Fire Grants
• $360 million, $5 million more than FY20, 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.

• $360 million, $5 million more than FY20, 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.

FEMA Operation Stonegarden
• Maintains $90 million for Operation Stonegarden grants which provides funding to state, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies to enhance coordination with CBP and USBP to defend America’s borders. Montana received $1,287,580 in FY 2020.

Montana State University
• Up to $18 million for MSU to assist the DHS Science and Technology Directorate carry out its R&D mission, including:
o $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.
o $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.
o $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.

TSA Security Screening Technology
• $100 million for the procurement and deployment of computed tomography (CT) machines (checked baggage scanners) and credential authentication technology (CAT) systems (passenger identification units). This legislation specifically directs TSA to consider small and rural airports in addition to larger ones when determining locations for deployment of CT and CAT scanners.

TSA Law Enforcement Reimbursement Program
• Restores $46.4 million to partially reimburse airports for providing law enforcement officer staffing.

TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) Program
• Restores $61.8 million and 31 teams that are deployed to airports and transit systems to guard against terrorist attacks.

TSA Canine Program
• $170 million for 1,097 explosives detection canine teams.

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