The following are condensed from press releases and compiled by Sidney Herald staff:
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines led a roundtable discussion in Cut Bank with community members and administration leaders on the St. Mary’s Milk River Project following a tour of damaged drop sites 2 and 5. “It is devastating to see such destruction that has completely stopped flows to the Milk River, which thousands of Montanans rely on. We need our agency partners to be doing all they can to reduce red tape and ensure reconstruction can go forth as smoothly and quickly as possible,” said Daines.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to expand Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan benefits to National Guard and Reserve members by crediting service under federal Title 32 orders. “The men and women of the National Guard and Reserves activated to protect communities from disasters deserve benefits that reflect their service to our country — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our bipartisan bill would expand home loan eligibility to members of the Guard and Reserve,” said Tester.
U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte urged lawmakers to join him in voting for the Great American Outdoor Act. “[The Act is] a fitting complement to our successful efforts to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It provides dedicated funding to increase public access to public lands across Montana. I know how important LWCF is to Montana, and I’ll continue working to keep public lands in public hands and increase access to them,” said Gianforte.
U.S. Sen. Daines announced the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund will be directing $65-million to the Montana Community Development Corp. to boost economic growth to support jobs across Montana. “This critical funding will help create jobs and support small businesses across Montana’s communities. I will continue working to ensure Montanans can get back to work and keep our small businesses up and running,” said Daines.
U.S. Sen. Tester pushed the Senate for emergency maintenance authority on drop sites 2 and 5 of the Milk River Project, with 35% of the costs to be covered by the federal government. “This is a positive step forward.... But it’s more important than ever that we push forward to pass my legislation to make sure all the necessary investments are made for folks in Eastern Montana and I will keep working with Reclamation to make sure the rehabilitation of the Milk River Project doesn’t leave irrigators holding the check,” said Tester.
U.S. Rep. Gianforte and 11 lawmakers urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to take immediate action on legislation addressing the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. “Native American and Alaska Native women face a murder rate ten times higher than the national average, with 84 percent experiencing some form of violence in their lifetime. Despite this disturbing and persisting trend, there is still no reliable way of knowing how many indigenous women go missing each year or whose fate hangs in the balance of an unsolved murder case. This is unacceptable,” they wrote.
U.S. Sen. Daines introduced the Workforce Recovery and Training Services Act to help get Montanans and Americans back to work and prepare them for the post-COVID-19 economy. “As our nation continues to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, we must ensure our workers have the support they need to get back to work. My bill will boost our economic recovery by connecting unemployed Montanans with local career training programs that can help them find a new job,” said Daines.
U.S. Sen. Tester in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called for his Broadband DATA Act to be implemented before the FCC moves ahead with a planned disbursement of $16 billion from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). “In March of this year, Congress passed my Broadband DATA Act with overwhelmingly bipartisan support to change the FCC’s broadband data collection, verification, and reporting methods. Under this new law, accurate and granular data will enable the FCC to target funding to the areas that need it most and close remaining coverage gaps,” Tester wrote.
U.S. Sen. Daines highlighted several priorities he is working on to be included in the Senate’s Phase Four COVID-19 Relief Package. “I will be pushing for critical priorities including more funding for a COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic drugs, relief for our very small businesses and workers, resources for our healthcare providers and support for our families and children,” said Daines.
U.S. Sen. Tester announced he will introduce legislation requiring the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue all oil and gas leases through competitive auction. “BLM’s noncompetitive leasing program is about as efficient as a steering wheel on a blindfolded mule at night, and taxpayers are left pulling the plow. My legislation will cut down on government waste by increasing transparency, growing revenues, and — most importantly — saving taxpayer dollars,” said Tester.