On First Trip as Defense Chairman, Tester Meets With Troops, Inspects Military Installations After Briefings on Global Threats

Senator toured the U.S.S. Montana and U.S.S. Billings, met with Navy SEALs, and received briefings on national security threats from China & Russia

On his first trip as head of the powerful Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (SAC-D), Chairman Jon Tester visited military and intelligence installations in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Maryland, where he toured the U.S.S. Montana and the U.S.S. Billings; discussed troop needs with servicemembers, including members of the Navy SEALs; inspected military manufacturing plants; and received briefings on threats to national security and how the military and intelligence communities are responding to those challenges.

“We have the finest men and women in the world working in our military, and this trip was an opportunity to talk to them eyeball to eyeball about how we can provide them with the resources they need to be successful,” said Chairman Tester. “These servicemembers outlined the threats our nation faces from China and Russia, about the importance of continued investments in cybersecurity to prevent incidents like the Colonial Pipeline hack, and about the important role our nuclear Triad plays in our national defense—including our ground based missiles at Montana’s own Malmstrom Air Force Base. We need to keep our eye on the ball when it comes to national security, and as Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to work aggressively to make sure our military has the tools to fight the next war, not the last one.”

An outline of Senator Tester’s tour is below:

  • On Friday, May 14, Chairman Tester visited Newport News Shipbuilding, the aircraft carrier and submarine ship yard in Newport News, VA to learn more about the military procurement and construction process. While there, he toured the PCU Montana, a Virginia Class Submarine christened virtually last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chairman Tester also visited Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek and met with members of Naval Special Warfareunits that includes Navy SEALs—to discuss how Congress can support the men and women who serve in our special operations units.
  • On Saturday, May 15, Chairman Tester visited the U.S.S. Billings, which is homeported in Mayport, FL. The Billings’ official sponsor is Sharla Tester, who, as the symbolic mother of the ship, had the honor of christening the vessel in 2017. The ship bears her signature and carries a picture of the Tester farm in Big Sandy. Chairman Tester also visited the Lockheed C-130 manufacturing plant in Marietta, GA, which built the planes flown by the Montana Air National Guard. Tester has been working for years to secure additional C-130Js for the Guard, and this tour gave him the opportunity to inspect the procurement process.
  • On Sunday, May 16, Chairman Tester visited Naval Submarine Base King’s Bay in St. Mary’s, GA, and toured the U.S.S. Wyoming, an Ohio-class submarine. He met with submariners and members of the Marines, and he held discussions on the importance of maintaining and modernizing the nautical leg of America’s nuclear Triad to maintain strategic nuclear deterrence in the 21st century. Tester is a supporter of modernizing the ground based leg of the Triad, many of which are based in Northcentral Montana and overseen by missileers at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
  • On Monday, May 17, Chairman Tester visited the National Security Agency in Fort Mead, MD, and was briefed on the agency’s work to counteract global threats from China and Russia as well as other current national security challenges facing the United States.

The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee is responsible for providing nearly $700 billion annually to the Department of Defense and related agencies. This is more than 95 percent of the military’s yearly budget, and includes matters ranging from pay and benefits for millions of service members and civilians to the development of advanced technologies and next-generation weapons. The Subcommittee also oversees funding for nearly all major U.S. intelligence agencies.

Tester previously served as Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee for Appropriations, whose jurisdiction included all homeland and border security, cybersecurity, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), and the Coast Guard.