Tester’s Bipartisan Bill to Support First Responders Clears Senate, Heading for President’s Signature

Bill cuts red tape to ensure first responders injured in the line of duty and the families of fallen officers receive the benefits they've earned

As part of his ongoing effort to ensure Montana’s first responders and their families get the benefits they have earned, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced his Putting America’s First Responders First Act cleared the U.S. Senate and now awaits President Biden’s signature to become law.

The bipartisan legislation cuts red tape to provide fixes to the Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) program, and ensures first responders who are killed or disabled in the line of duty receive the federal benefits they have earned.

“Uniformed officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our families safe and our communities secure, and we owe them a debt of gratitude,” Tester said. “I am pleased that this important bipartisan legislation passed the Senate unanimously, and am proud to be taking this important step towards making sure Montana first responders and their families get the benefits they deserve. I look forward to this bill being signed into law, so that all Montana first responders know that they and their families will be supported no matter what.”

Tester’s Putting America’s First Responders First Act streamlines the PSOB program to ensure benefits are delivered in a timely and efficient manner. Currently, families sometimes have to wait years and jump through dozens of hoops to access the federal benefits they have earned following an injury or death in the line of duty. The bill also updates PSOB disability requirements, makes federal educational benefits retroactive, and expands eligibility to include public safety officers who responded to the 9/11 attacks.

A tireless advocate for Montana’s law enforcement and first responders, Tester is also pushing his bipartisan First Responders Fair Return for Employees on Their Initial Retirement Earned (RETIRE) Act, to help federal firefighters, law enforcement officers, Customs and Border Protection officials, and other federal employees with potentially dangerous jobs receive their full retirement benefits if they get hurt while on duty.

Tester is also working to ensure law enforcement officers have the tools and resources they need to do their job safely. Tester cosponsored the Law Enforcement Training for Mental Health Crisis Response Act to provide training for law enforcement officers to recognize and appropriately respond to mental health crisis, and he reintroduced his Assisting Narcotic and Trafficking Officers in Interdicting (ANTI) Drug Act to increase funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area taskforce, Operation Stonegarden, and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).