BREAKING: Tester’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation is Signed into Law
Senator negotiated legislation with a small, bipartisan core group of Senators; Senator secured inclusion of Montana priorities like funding for the Milk River Project, billions for Montana highways, and significant high speed internet investments
After a months-long push, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today joined a bipartisan group of colleagues at the White House for the signing of Tester’s infrastructure legislation that will make significant and urgently-needed investments in Montana’s roads, bridges, airports, high-speed internet, water systems, and more.
Tester worked across the aisle for months to negotiate this agreement with a group of five Republicans, four Democrats, and the White House, and he was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to vote for it. Tester’s law is projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs and lower costs for businesses by making targeted investments that will strengthen our nation without raising taxes on working families.
“Today we delivered urgently-needed infrastructure investments to Montana that will support our small businesses, lower costs for working families, and grow our economy without raising taxes,” said Tester. “This bipartisan package will create good-paying jobs and maintain our economic advantage over China by investing in Montana’s roads, bridges, high-speed internet, water systems, and more. I worked closely with Republicans and Democrats to negotiate this bill because that’s what Montanans expect from their elected leaders—that we put our differences aside and work across the aisle on real, lasting solutions that will have a positive impact on our economy and on everyone in the Treasure State.”
Tester made sure that the legislation does not raise taxes. He secured significant wins for Montana in the legislation, including $2.82 billion for Montana’s roads, highways and bridges; up to $100 million for the Milk River Project and $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation; $42.45 billion for broadband deployment to low-connectivity areas across the country; and $3.37 billion to reduce wildfire risk nationwide, among others. Tester also worked to ensure that all iron, steel, and construction materials used for these projects must be made in America.
A list of the legislation’s provisions can be found below.
State, local, community, and business leaders across the state praised the legislation as well as Senator Tester’s leadership in negotiating the bill and getting it signed into law:
“The livestock hauling provisions included within the bipartisan infrastructure package will allow for safer, more efficient transportation of live animals,” said U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Secretary Whitney Klasna of Lambert, Montana. “The 150 air-mile exemption allows for increased travel time that doesn’t count against the restrictive Hours-of-Service (HoS) rules. Decreasing the regulatory burden for livestock haulers equates to decreased transportation costs for producers. USCA applauds Senator Tester’s continued commitment to strengthening the bottom line of cattle producers, both in Montana and throughout the U.S.”
“The Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act will bring desperately needed funding to help clear the backlog of critical infrastructure projects in Indian Country,” said Rocky Mountain Tribal Leadership Council Chairman Gerald Gray. “The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council thanks Senator Tester for his leadership in securing enactment of this bipartisan bill. The result will be better roads, safer bridges, cleaner water, and more jobs in Montana.”
“We would like to thank Senator Tester for his leadership on the recently passed infrastructure package,” said Montana Stockgrowers Association President Jim Steinbeisser. “It includes several key items that Montana Stockgrowers has long advocated for, including funding for the modernization of roads and bridges, the additional 150 air-mile exemption for livestock haulers, and critical water-related investments like the St. Mary Irrigation Project. Infrastructure investments are fundamentally important for the success of Montana ranching families,”
“This is a very good day for Montana,” said Montana AFL-CIO Executive Secretary James Holbrook. “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is an historic and long overdue investment in our communities that will repair our roads and bridges, protect good paying union jobs and support working families for the next decade. The Montana AFL-CIO and workers across our state thank Senator Jon Tester for his leadership in getting this bipartisan bill passed and standing up for working people. These are the investments that working Montanans need to keep our economy strong, keep our communities safe and healthy, and look to the future with optimism.”
“The members of the Motor Carriers of Montana appreciate the efforts the Infrastructure bill does to continue and increase funding and repairing Montana’s aging bridges and roads as well as allowing opportunities for younger drivers in our trucking workforce,” said Motor Carriers of Montana CEO Duane Williams.
“Montana’s outdoor recreation economy rides on 70,000 highway miles and 169,829 river miles within the state,” said Montana Wildlife Federation Executive Director Frank Szollosi. “Hunters, anglers, businesses, tribes and landowners have long sought a return of our tax dollars through a jobs-and-infrastructure bill. Today, Montana Wildlife Federation is proud to thank Senator Jon Tester, President Joe Biden and Republican leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell for their good faith, bipartisan leadership – and for delivering results that will grow our economy. We’re especially excited about reducing wildlife-human traffic accidents through wildlife corridor investments, as well as cutting pollution driving climate change, which threatens Montana’s coldwater fisheries, fuels wildfires and drought, and hurts wildlife and agriculture.”
“Montana won big today with the signing of Senator Jon Tester’s Bipartisan Infrastructure bill into law,” said Montana Conservation Voters Executive Director Whitney Tawney. “Because of our senior Senator’s leadership, more than 60 Montana communities and all Tribal Nations will receive much needed funding to improve water infrastructure. This bill creates jobs and provides investments to modernize our electric grid, reduce wildfire risks and build out electric vehicle charging stations. The effects of this historic law will be felt for generations of Montanans and we congratulate the Senator on this extraordinary effort.”
“This legislation is an investment that will move our country forward,” said American Council of Engineering Companies of Montana Executive Director Jay Skoog. “Americans deserve safe drinking water, reliable energy and internet service, and safe roads and bridges. Montana’s engineering firms would like to thank Senator Tester for his work to hammer out a comprehensive infrastructure package that is a really big win for our economy and all Montanans.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests in needed improvements to our roads, bridges, ports and other hard infrastructure that serve as avenues to keep commerce moving and our all-important export markets viable,” said Montana Farm Bureau Federation President and Conrad farmer Cyndi Johnson. “There is investment into rural broadband which is essential to keeping our rural farming communities on an equal playing field with our urban neighbors. Additionally, important provisions regarding trucking of livestock, which make it more feasible to deliver our Montana cattle to feedlots and markets far from the home place were included. We appreciate the work that Senator Tester did to secure these provisions, without using important tax provisions such as changes to the stepped-up basis, as a way to pay for this legislation.”
“We can’t thank Senator Tester enough for the monumental opportunity this bill provides to help make our forests more resilient to climate change and vastly reduce the amount of methane contributing to that change,” said Wild Montana Executive Director Ben Gabriel. “The bill will help support community-based forest restoration projects and provide funding for plugging and reclaiming tens of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells on public lands across the country, including here in Montana, which are not just releasing methane but also contaminating groundwater. This work is long overdue, and will go a long way towards protecting our public lands and waters and growing our outdoor economy.”
“The bipartisan infrastructure bill reflects the understanding that our rivers and streams are as much a fundamental part of the nation’s infrastructure as bridges and dams,” said Montana Trout Unlimited Executive Director David Brooks. “For Montana, this means more high-paying jobs in our communities doing abandoned mine clean-up through the $79 million in EPA’s Columbia River Basin program, more irrigation infrastructure modernization with river and fishery benefits in the $400 million for the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program, and getting people to work on stream and forest health projects on Montana’s National Forests with $300 million for stewardship contracts.”
“For decades, the Greater Northwest Region of America has been underserved by, or completely lacking in, passenger rail service,” said Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority Chairman Dave Strohmaier. “Thanks to the leadership of Senator Jon Tester, the IIJA contains language that not only directs the secretary of transportation to analyze the restoration of discontinued long-distance routes but also dollars to actually implement projects—and that means right here in Montana and the broader region. With ridership on a restored North Coast Hiawatha line between Chicago and the West Coast estimated to be over 400,000 and projected economic benefits exceeding $270 million, restored passenger rail service constitutes an excellent return on our investment and would be a transformative project for our state—creating jobs, providing transportation equity to underserved populations, and transitioning to a more sustainable mode of transportation. Senator Tester’s bi-partisan work to get the IIJA over the finish line reflects the diverse coalition of 17 counties that comprise the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority (the largest transportation district in the state of Montana), and we’re thrilled to see this legislation move down the tracks! America can still agree on a few things, and the IIJA and passenger rail embody just that!”
“NTEU, which represents thousands of federal employees who work in the nation’s ports of entry, strongly supports the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed today by President Biden,” said National President of the National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon. “Thanks to Sen. Tester and his colleagues, the nation’s coastal ports, inland ports and waterways and land ports of entry along the borders will benefit from $17 billion in much-needed improvements and upgrades. Recognizing the critical role American ports play in the global economy, this bill provides the single largest federal investment in our ports in U.S. history. This critical funding for modernization and expansion at the ports, including upgraded inspection facilities, will help Customs and Border Protection employees facilitate legitimate trade and travel between the U.S. and Canada.”
Tester’s legislation includes:
- Approximately $2.82 billion for Montana highways.
- Montana will also receive approximately $225 million in additional funding for a new bridge initiative to replace and repair bridges in poor condition.
- Approximately $164 million for Montana over five years to bolster public transit infrastructure, a roughly 30 percent increase.
- The portion of bus funds set aside for rural areas was increased.
- Funds to address highway safety and motor carrier safety were significantly increased, enabling Montana to save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.
- Approximately $144 million for Montana airports.
- A portion of the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021, which cuts burdensome hours of service requirements that can prevent ag and livestock haulers from doing their jobs safely, and gives them the flexibility to ensure more of Montana’s world-class products can make it to market.
- Tester’s DRIVE Safe Act, which creates a pilot program that lifts federal regulations that prevent Montana truck drivers under 21 years of age from transporting goods across state lines and establishes a new training initiative for 18 to 20-year-old truck drivers.
- Tester’s Right Track Act and Blocked Railroad Crossing Bill, which improve safety at rural train crossings and addresses instances of blocked highway-railroad crossings across the U.S. $15 million to study Amtrak long-distance passenger rail travel. This includes funding and authorization to form working groups, like the Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Working Group, to study and advocate for increased access to long-distance passenger rail travel.
- $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation, including Fort Peck/Dry Prairie, Rocky Boys/North Central, and Musselshell-Judith rural water systems.
- Approximately $198 million for Rocky Boys/North Central
- Approximately $56 million for Musselshell-Judith
- Approximately $17 million for Fort Peck/Dry Prairie
- Up to $100 million for rehabilitating the Milk River Project.
- $2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements, including settlements for Montana Tribes.
- Clarifies that American Rescue Plan state and local fiscal recovery funds may be used towards the state or federal cost share to rehabilitate Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure. $3.5 billion for Indian Health Service Sanitation Construction program, filling all outstanding needs in the program nationwide.
- This includes roughly $40 million in water, sewage, and sanitation projects for the Blackfeet Tribe.
- $11.2 billion in grants for states and Tribes to reclaim abandoned mine lands. Montana is expected to receive at least $20 million, over six times the state’s annual federal Abandoned Mine Land distribution.
- $42.45 billion grant program for broadband deployment to areas of the country lacking access to internet service. The program will be distributed in the following manner:
- $4.2 billion of which is set aside for high-cost, geographically-challenged areas that are especially difficult and expensive to deploy broadband infrastructure to.
- A minimum allocation of $100 million to each state distributed during the planning and proposal stage. Up to $5 million in funding to support state broadband office activities, including planning, coordination, and grant administration.
- Additional funding allocated to each state using a formula based on that state’s total unserved population.
- $2 billion for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which will help Tribal entities with broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning.
- $2 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, which provide loans and grants to fund broadband service deployment and maintenance in rural areas.
- $14.2 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which builds off of the current Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) by expanding eligibility and including consumer protection guardrails to prevent upselling. As of September 27, 2021, 9,701 households in Montana have enrolled in this program to get help with their internet bills.
- Includes additional consumer protection provisions that safeguard against digital redlining and price-gouging.
- Senator Tester fought to make sure participating households can apply the benefit to any internet service plan of their choosing.
- The Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Development Act, which will help address the workforce needs of the telecommunications industry to ramp up the human resources necessary in order to deploy broadband infrastructure efficiently and effectively.
- $3.85 billion for Land Ports of Entry to modernize and secure the Northern and Southern border.
- Tester-Moran bill to extend the IRS tax filing deadlines in Fire Management Assistance Grants for areas after significant fires
- $3.37 billion for reducing wildfire risk, including:
- $500 million for Forest Service Community Defense Grants to support community-led efforts to improve community wildfire readiness, planning actions, and removing vegetation.
- $500 million for prescribed fires to reduce fuel loads and large fire risk.
- $500 million to do mechanical thinning and timber harvest to promote fire-resilient stands $500 million to develop fire control points, including through the creation of fuelbreaks $200 million to remove flammable vegetation for the creation of biochar or innovative woodproducts, with a note for agencies to consider working with youth and conservation corps, and engage with Tribes and veterans.
- $200 million for post-fire restoration activities
- $100 million for Interior and Forest Service to conduct staff training and planning work to support wildland fire and vegetation treatment operations
- $100 million for Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program projects
- $20 million for the Joint Fire Science program (which supports research at UM and MSU)
- Includes the bipartisan REPLANT Act freeing up additional Forest Service funding for reforestation activities, and provides $450 million to rehabilitate and restore burned areas.
Resiliency (Flood, Drought)
- $7 billion for Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure priorities to improve flood mitigation
- $350 million of that for Army Corps CAP funding which includes Section 205 levee projects. Senator Tester secured a $100 million increase for the CAP program, and secured a provision to allow the Army Corps to waive cost-share requirements for economically-disadvantaged communities.
- $3.5 billion for FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance program.
- $1 billion for the FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program. This is a pre-disaster mitigation program, supporting states, local communities, tribes and territories undertaking hazard mitigation projects to reduce the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards.
- $2.2 billion for the Aging Infrastructure Account, including to The Bureau of Reclamation for water infrastructure projects across the West that are in need of major upgrades or replacement.
- $500 million for the Western Area Power Administration’s power purchase and transmission activities.