Tester Defense Priorities for Montana Included in Annual Defense Bill

Senator votes for pay raise for troops, critical upgrades for Malmstrom, prevention of military sexual trauma

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester voted to send critical national security legislation to the President’s desk today— joining his colleagues to approve the annual National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 86-8. The bill includes key Tester-backed provisions that will provide the largest pay raise to U.S. troops in a decade, strengthen military bases across the country, including Malmstrom Air Force Base, and expand services for military servicemembers and their families. 

“Ensuring our safety and security starts with making critical investments in our military and national defense,” said Tester. “By boosting pay for our troops—the largest raise in a decade—and strengthening our capabilities at Malmstrom Air Force Base, this bipartisan bill does right by our servicemembers and protects our country from evolving threats. I’m proud to help pass this bill that better provides for the men and women in uniform who fight every day to keep us safe.” 

The National Defense Authorization Act sets funding levels and policies for the Department of Defense. In addition to providing a 3.1 percent pay raise to service members, the bill includes a number of important provisions championed by Tester.   

Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base is one of only three military bases across the country that house intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The current fleet of ICBMs were first developed in the 1960s. Tester worked closely with Republicans and Democrats to ensure the defense bill included significant investments in the maintenance and modernization of our nation’s ICBM force, including those at Malmstrom. He also helped secure funding for the Air Force to begin construction of Malmstrom’s new Weapons Storage and Maintenance Facility and to expedite the replacement of Malmstrom’s aging Vietnam-era “Huey” helicopters.

As part of Tester’s larger push to improve health care and treatment to servicemembers and veterans, he supported multiple provisions in the defense bill to improve the prevention and prosecution of military sexual trauma. 

He also redoubled his efforts to support military families by securing provisions to expand hiring and career opportunities for military spouses, improve access to continuing education programs, and help ensure they find affordable housing.  

The annual defense bill also includes Tester’s Occupational and Environmental Transparency Health (OATH) Act, a bipartisan bill that requires the Department of Defense to track active duty military personnel and veterans’ exposed to harmful chemicals in a system. As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has been leading the effort in Congress to ensure that servicemembers and veterans exposed to Occupational Environmental Health hazards in the line of duty get the necessary medical care and benefits they need.

Tester also successfully included his bipartisan Little Shell Federal Recognition Bill, legislation that provides federal recognition for the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The Little Shell Tribe has been recognized by the State of Montana and all seven other tribal nations in the state, and has been pursuing federal recognition for more than 100 years. Montana is home to more than 5,400 members across Montana. Tester first introduced this piece of legislation to federally recognize the Little Shell Tribe in 2007—the first bill he sponsored in the Senate.