Like a Christmas fruitcake, the $1.4 trillion federal spending package just passed by Congress is chock-full of rich goodies for Montana State University and other Montana campuses.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, announced Thursday that the bipartisan spending package passed by the Senate includes millions for Montana veterans, the Montana National Guard, Malmstrom Air Force Base and MSU.
With funding for the government about to run out on Friday, the Senate passed the massive bipartisan deal in time for lawmakers to leave for their holiday break and avoid a government shutdown.
Tester is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, so he has a hand in writing the 12 bills that fund the federal government each year. Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican and Appropriations member, announced he also supported the military funding bill.
In addition to providing money for veterans, the National Guard, Malmstrom and 3.1% pay raises for the military and civilian federal employees, the bills provide millions for Montana campuses.
The three biggest items, according to Tester’s office, are:
—$10 million for the Army Research Laboratory to support MSU’s research in extreme battery production, to improve battery materials and chemistry to make them more rugged and meet power requirements.
—$15 million for critical language and cultural training at the University of Montana for special operations forces and members of the intelligence community.
—$17.5 million for the Army Research Lab to support research at the Montana Tech campus in Butte in developing materials and metals processing.
“We are excited with the progress being made regarding the federal funding bill this week,” Jason Carter, MSU vice president for research, said in an email Friday.
“Montana State is appreciative of the tremendous support we receive from our delegation to advance Montana’s federal research efforts, and we look forward to the next steps as this bill is considered by the president.”
President Donald Trump was expected to sign the legislation.
Other spending items for MSU include:
—$8 million to support developing new carbon fiber materials for rotary aircraft.
—$7 million to support a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology to develop innovative technologies.
—$4 million to help small businesses partner with Department of Defense research laboratories through MSU’s TechLink.
—$4 million for MSU’s request for Advanced Manufacturing, Space and Optics laboratories capable to providing new light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technologies.
—$3 million to support collaboration with Homeland Security to develop security mechanisms that can quickly respond to cyber attacks.
The UM campus in Missoula will also receive $5 million to research noise-induced hearing loss.
To enhance border security and other security, another $15 million will go to next-generation mobile surveillance systems, like the lightweight vehicle surveillance system by FLIR, a Bozeman-based company; and $8 million is earmarked for research, intended to be performed by the Bozeman-based S2 Corp., to improve network security and resilience.
Daines’ news released stressed the bills’ funding for military raises, Air Force nuclear modernization, $1.3 billion for the southern border wall, $13 million for fighting Montana’s meth crisis and improvements in addressing violent crime in Indian country.