Tester Secures Montana Wins in Government Funding Appropriations Package

Senator votes to prevent a government shutdown, secures critical funding including for veterans, law enforcement, public lands, farmers and ranchers

As part of his continued efforts to defend Montana and honor the commitment we’ve made to our nation’s veterans, U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured major victories for Montana in a package of annual government funding appropriations bills that passed the U.S. Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. 

Tester voted to pass a bipartisan package of appropriations bills that will keep several agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Justice, and Veterans Affairs funded through the 2024 fiscal year. 

“Every single day hardworking Montanans punch the clock and do their jobs, and they expect their elected officials to do the same,” said Tester. “I’m glad Republicans and Democrats came together and I’m proud to deliver targeted investments that will honor the commitment we’ve made to our nation’s veterans, support the brave men and women in law enforcement, keep Montana’s public lands and rural economy strong, and invest Montana farmers and ranchers. Now I will continue to work as Chairman of the Senate committee that sets the military’s budget to ensure our armed forces have the necessary resources to keep our nation safe.”

Key wins for Montana and our nation backed by Tester include:

Wins for MANG and America’s Military:

  • $30 million for Montana Air National Guard Fuel Facilities
  • $1.8 billion for 25 projects in the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) theater that support the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to counter China
  • $300 million for projects and accounts supporting the European Deterrence Initiative to combat Russian aggression

Wins Honoring Our Nation’s Veterans:

  • Tester secured an amendment to protect veterans’ access to legal firearms.
    • Provision would prohibit federal funds from being used to report a veteran’s information to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) without an order from a judge finding that the individual is a danger to themselves or others.
  • $16.2 billion for veterans’ mental health care, including $559 million for suicide prevention outreach.
  • $5.16 billion for telehealth, which is $5 million above the President’s Budget request, for sustainment and expansion of these services.
  • $171 million is for Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities, which would allow VA to provide more grants to assist states in constructing State Veterans Homes, like the Southwest Montana State Veterans Home in Butte.
  • $2.1 billion is for VA Construction programs, including the major and minor construction of health care facilities, cemeteries, and VA benefits offices.
  • $30.3 million for the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, to promote and improve accountability at VA.
  • $990 million for women veteran-specific health care, to meet the demands of the fastest-growing population of veterans at VA.
  • Secured report language telling VA to improve its contracting process related to ground and air ambulance services reimbursement rates.

Wins for Public Safety, Combatting Fentanyl, and Supporting Law Enforcement:

  • Funding for the police secured by Tester includes:
    • $1.59 billion for grants that support local police and sheriffs’ departments and efforts to promote public safety
    • $924 million for Byrne JAG
    • $664.5 million for COPS
      • $30 million for bulletproof vests
      • $16 million for the COPS Anti-Meth Task Force
      • $44 million for RISS
    • $600 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Law Enforcement and Justice services
  • Combatting fentanyl and drug trafficking wins secured by Tester include:
    • Directs the FBI to allocate the maximum amount of resources to support efforts to combat fentanyl
    • $189 million for the Comprehensive Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Program
    • $547 million for Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces to enhance multi-agency efforts to combat transnational organized crime and reduce the availability of illicit drugs
    • $2.567 billion for the DEA

Wins Protecting Public Lands

  • Montana projects under Tester’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) requested in the President’s Budget were included. Under Tester’s LWCF, Montana received:
    • Blackfoot River Watershed – $2.2 million
    • Lolo National Forest – $10.5 million
    • Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest I – $1.927 million
    • Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest II – $1.62 million 
    • Upper Thompson Connectivity Project – $7 million
    • Deferred maintenance funds for:
      • Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest – $710,000 
      • Custer Gallatin- $4.64 million 
      • Flathead National Forest (Idaho and Montana)- $2.857 million
      • Kootenai National Forest $4.186 million 
      • Lolo National Forest (Seeley Lake Bunkhouse)- $515,000
      • Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest (Idaho and Montana) – $2.78 million 
      • Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest – $4.186 million
      • Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center Renovation- $1.15 million
      • Research and Development deferred maintenance- $1.75 million

Wins for Montana Farmers and Ranchers:

  • $30.5 million for Packers and Stockyards (P&S) enforcement after Tester successfully called on Congress to stand up to big ag consolidation and oppose efforts to weaken the Packers and Stockyards Act in the FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill.
  • $3.5 million for Western Precision Livestock Management, with Montana receiving $1 million
  • Invests in the Rangeland Grasshopper suppression program
  • Increased funding for the Barley Pest Initiative

Wins for Montana Housing:

  • Invests in the Community Development Block Grant formula, which is used by Montana’s local governments to fund affordable housing developments
  • Includes funding for the Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) initiative to protect Montanans in manufactured housing communities from losing their homes to out of state investors 
  • Funds the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which is a flexible grant initiative for local government to increase the availability of affordable and workforce housing
  • Funds the Self-help homeownership opportunity program (SHOP), which funds opportunities for homebuyers to participate in building homes to keep costs down.    
  • Invests in the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (Neighborworks), which helps low-income Montanans access homeownership. 

Wins for Montana’s Tech Hub:

  • $41 million to the Economic Development Agency for awarding planning and implementation grants through the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs Program, the top CHIPS and Science priority for Tester.

Wins for Montana Energy and Water:

  • Army Corp of Engineers
    • $10,371,000 for O&M at Fort Peck Dam
    • $210,000 inspection for completed works in MT
    • 2,035,000 O&M at Libby Dam
    • $147,000 Scheduling reservoir operations in MT
  • Bureau of Reclamation and Water Projects
    • $11,844,000 for Canyon Ferry Unit
    • $82,000 for East Bench Unit
    • $286,000 for Helena Valley Unit
    • $700,000 for the Hungry Horse Project
    • $65,000 for the Huntley Project
    • $1,762,000 for the Lower Marias Unit
    • $1,081,000 for the Lower Yellowstone Project
    • $1,925,000 for the Milk River Project, $2 million less
    • $1,266,000 for Missouri Basin O&M
    • $8,946,000 for Rocky Boy/North Central MT Rural Water System, $2 million increase
    • $557,000 for Sun River Project
    • $13,088,000 for Yellowtail unit