Tester Secures Major Rural Technology Innovation Win as Landmark Science Legislation Passes Committee

Senator’s amendment to ensure rural America receives at least one new technology hub is included in Endless Frontier Act

As the Senate Commerce Committee this week advanced bipartisan, Tester-backed legislation to solidify American leadership in scientific and technological innovation, U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured inclusion of an amendment that will ensure that rural America will have a voice in technological research and development in the 21st century.

Tester—the only member of the Montana delegation to serve on the Senate Commerce Committee—voted in favor of moving the Endless Frontier Act to the floor.

“The bottom line is that our national security depends on ensuring that America remains the world leader in scientific and technological innovation to counter growing threats from our adversaries,” said Tester. “This legislation will support cutting edge research that will power development and create good-paying 21st century jobs. And I’m proud that my amendment guaranteeing rural America will have a seat at the table when it comes to a new innovation hub, was added to the legislation with support from Republicans and Democrats.”

The Tester-backed Endless Frontier Act will support regional technology strategies and will designate at least 10 regional technology hubs, awarding funds for comprehensive investment initiatives that position regions across the country as global centers for the research, development, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing of new key technologies.

Tester’s amendment, which was adopted unanimously, would ensure that at least one of the 10 regional technology hubs is based in rural America.

“The University of Montana is excited about Senator Tester’s support of the Endless Frontier Act,” said Scott Whittenburg, Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship at the University of Montana. “In particular, we are thankful for his amendment guaranteeing that one or more of the innovation hubs will be in a rural state such as Montana. Including rural states in this important effort ensures that the research expertise of UM faculty in biotech, cyber and artificial intelligence will contribute to keeping America as a world leader in these fields.”

“Montana State University applauds the efforts of Senator Tester to not only support the Endless Frontier Act, but to also ensure that rural states such as Montana have a chance to be part of the transformative technology hub concept of the bill,” said Jason Carter, Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education at Montana State University. “Montana State has research strengths in quantum applications, optics, photonics, and other areas that NSF and the Endless Frontier Act are prioritizing for economic prosperity and the security of our nation. We look forward to pulling together interdisciplinary teams to solve some of our nation’s greatest challenges.”

The bill will also reinvigorate the U.S. innovation economy, support research and development throughout the country, help lead to the creation of new jobs of the future here in America, and keep the U.S. economically competitive against China and other countries. It would expand the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the establishment of a new Technology and Innovation Directorate within NSF to advance research and development in 10 key technology focus areas, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, advanced communications, biotechnology, and advanced energy.

As a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Tester has been a champion of investing in technological innovation in rural America. He has been the leader in pushing to expand rural broadband access that will spur economic growth in frontier communities. He recently secured a commitment from Secretary Raimondo to help bolster broadband in rural areas, and he secured $65 million to implement his bipartisan Broadband DATA Act, which updates federal broadband funding distribution maps to ensure accurate and efficient allocation of resources. Additionally, as the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, he has made bolstering military technology development one of his top priorities.