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HomePoliticsMontana PoliticsHouse Passes Zinke Priorities in the Consolidated Appropriations Act

House Passes Zinke Priorities in the Consolidated Appropriations Act

The joint funding package includes 12 of Zinke’s Community Project Funding requests to bring more than $31.5 million in funding directly to Montana communities.

House Passes Zinke Priorities in the Consolidated Appropriations Act

The joint funding package includes 12 of Zinke’s Community Project Funding requests to bring more than $31.5 million in funding directly to Montana communities.

 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act which provides FY2024 funding for nearly half the federal government and includes more than $31 million in direct funding for western Montana infrastructure, rural development, and public safety projects. The bill combines funding for the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Justice, and other agencies. In addition to providing basic program funding, the package also includes Zinke’s provisions regarding Montana-focused policy changes, increases national security and veteran spending, and makes targeted spending cuts to President Biden’s agenda.

 

As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, Zinke was able to help author the appropriations bills in committee and secured several pieces of bill language to hold the administration accountable, put a check on Biden policies that could cut down public access to public lands, and ensure Tribal firefighters are compensated fairly.

 

The bill text and explanatory statements released are FY24 funding measures for the Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS); Energy and Water Development; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies (MILCON/VA); and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD).

 

The joint funding package includes 12 Zinke Community Project Funding requests to bring more than $31.5 million in funding directly to Montana communities.

Zinke’s Community Project Funding Requests:

  1. $20,000,000 for the Blackfeet Nation Tribal Center Project – THUD
  2. $1,000,000 for the Beaverhead County Bridge Rehabilitation Project – THUD
  3. $1,000,000 for the Ravalli County Ricketts Road Improvement Project – THUD
  4. $3,315,000 for the Kalispell Two Mile Drainage Improvement Project – THUD
  5. $833,123 for the Powell County Relocation New Central Maintenance Facility – THUD
  6. $200,000 for Anaconda-Deer Lodge Access to Broadband –  AG
  7. $1,315,000 for the Flathead County Emergency Service Radio Tower – CJS
  8. $500,000 for the Glacier County 911 Center and Radio Equipment for Law Enforcement – CJS
  9. $410,000 for the Glacier County Patrol Vehicles and Detainee Safety Enhancement – CJS
  10. $300,000 for the Lake County Law Enforcement Vehicles and Security Upgrade Project – CJS
  11. $1,088,000 for the Madison County Nursing Home Revitalization & Modernization – AG
  12. $5,000,000 for the Park County Rebuild a Bridge Project – THUD

 

Read more about each community project funding request here.

 

“The bill is far from perfect but I think this is an example of not letting perfect be the enemy of basic competency. Congress’ job is to fund the government and serve the American people, this bill does that,” said Rep Zinke. “The bill also includes a lot of local wins for Montana including dedicating resources to fight radical environmentalists locking down our forests and funding for more than $31 million in direct project funding for infrastructure, public safety and rural development. Tomorrow Congress needs to get to work on next year’s appropriations bills and hopefully under a Republican Senate and White House we will be able to deliver significant cuts to the Biden spending and policy agenda.”

 

Marvin Weatherwax, former Blackfeet Tribal Council Chairman and current Chairman of the Coalition of Large Tribes said,“Congressman Zinke has demonstrated a commitment to the Blackfeet Nation which quite frankly has outpaced Indian Health Service and their trust responsibility in providing healthcare. Not only did Congressman Zinke listen- he took action.  The Blackfeet Nation was able to host U.S. House members in Browning, MT during North American Indian Days in July. The three Representatives were U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz.; U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.; U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont. They respected our government, our process and listened to our concerns about the lies and failures of Indian Health Service and they committed to working with us to solve it. Now we have the opportunity to build a youth center where the youth can gather, be physically active and more importantly where they can be safe. This is a positive. Too often media about tribes is negative. But today is good because it shows what good things can happen when we truly work together.”

 

Mark Johnson, Kalispell Mayor said, “I am more than thankful for the continued assistance we receive from Congressman Zinke in Kalispell. The allocation of Department of Transportation funds in the funding bill will improve drainage infrastructure and access and pedestrian safety on a section of Two Mile Drive. The growth we have seen over the past 4 years has strained our limited resources and having someone like Congressman Zinke in our corner has been a godsend.”

 

Tom Seifert, Glacier County Undersheriff said, “I just want to take a little time to express my gratitude to Congressman Ryan Zinke. I have worked as a Law Enforcement Officer for Glacier County for 22 years.  In those 22 years, I cannot remember a time when we had a representative show up, listen to our needs and do their best to help us.  Usually people pass through, make promises and leave.  It’s fantastic to know we have a representative working for our state who actually wants to help.  I can’t express my gratitude enough.  In my opinion, the needs of Montana’s people should be first and foremost on the minds of our representatives.  With Ryan Zinke, that certainly seems to be the case. It’s been a pleasure working with Congressman  Ryan Zinke and I hope to continue working on the needs of our people with you guys long into the future.”

 

Mike McGinley, Beaverhead County Commissioner said, “Getting funding for projects takes more than just snapping your fingers to make it happen. We’ve been working with Zinke and his team for nearly a year to make sure our community made the priority list and he’s delivered, and it’s appreciated.”

 

Greg Chilcot, Ravalli County Commissioner said, “Many thanks to Congressman Zinke for bringing these requests full circle. Our County is a great place to live, and we appreciate Congressman Zinke for helping us keep it that way.”

 

Dan Allhands, Chairman, Madison County Commissioners said, “The Madison County Nursing Homes Foundation, in support of the Tobacco Root Mountains Care Center in Sheridan, Montana, and the Madison Valley Manor in Ennis, Montana, is overwhelmed with gratitude for the $1.088M funding opportunity, which was included in the Agriculture Appropriation Bill. These funds will directly impact and improve the lives of our community members, our residents and their families, staff, management, and volunteers. Funds will also be used to renovate and improve our facilities and allow us to finally purchase new electric beds and equipment.”

 

Zinke’s policy riders

As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, in addition to helping set funding amounts at the programmatic level and secure funding for western Montana projects, Zinke was able to secure bill language directing departments to submit specific information to Congress or directing specific policy actions. Below is a highlight of some of the language Zinke secured.

 

Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

In the Interior appropriations, Zinke was able to secure bill language on a number of Montana-specific priorities including:

 

  1. Requirement that the Department of the Interior to submit a report to Congress regarding their plans for the reintroduction of bison to the CMR National Wildlife Refuge – something the State of Montana and local ranchers vehemently oppose.
    1. American Bison.-The Committees direct the Department to provide a comprehensive briefing within 90 days of enactment of this Act detailing plans regarding the possible introduction of bison to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and actions related to Secretarial Order 3410, including consultations with the State of Montana and Tribal governments. The briefing should also highlight the implications for elk and other wildlife, grazing lands, and the safety of the general public.

 

  1. Requirement that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) develop a plan to solve the problem of pay gaps between Tribal and non-Tribal firefighters on federal fires. The problem was created with the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act
    1. Tribal Firefighter Compensation.—The Committee recognizes that disparities in salaries and benefits for BIA firefighters, Tribal firefighters, and other Federal firefighters may result in difficulty recruiting and retaining Tribal firefighting personnel. The Committee directs BIA to examine this issue and provide a report to the Committee, after consultation with Tribes, on potential solutions and costs within 120 days of enactment of this Act.

 

  1. Directing the National Park Service to brief Congress on alternatives to vehicle reservation systems to improve public access to National Parks
    1. Glacier National Park.-The Committees are concerned about the potential impacts the Service’s vehicle reservation system at Glacier National Park may have. The Service is directed to brief the Committees no later than 90 days after the enactment of this Act on what alternative approaches to visitor management could be used that prioritize and enhance opportunities for local residents and communities to access the park.

 

Zinke’s continued efforts and repeated visits to Glacier National Park (GNP) regarding the vehicle reservation system resulted in GNP rolling back widespread mandatory reservation times

. However, despite the park continually stating that the reservation system is not restrictive, park visitors were unable to access tickets when they sold out in minutes last week

. Zinke’s report language in the bill requires the park to explore alternative options that would expand access to the park and adjacent federal recreation lands. Zinke has been a longtime advocate for meeting growing visitation demands, encouraging the Service explore additional parking options outside the park, developing an improved shuttle system, and connecting trails within the park.

 

Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

  1. Directing the Department of Justice to prioritize hiring attorneys experienced in and dedicated to timber litigation in Region 1
    1. U.S. Forest Service Litigation.-The agreement encourages the Department to provide dedicated resources for litigation regarding national forest restoration projects of the U.S. Forest Service. The agreement further encourages the Department to prioritize efforts based on regions of the U.S. Forest Service with high volumes of litigation and to draw from litigators with experience with national forest restoration projects.  

 

Energy and Water Development Related Agencies

  1. Report language for the Bureau of Reclamation related to the affordability of the Milk River Project
  2. Secured funding for western Montana water projects
    1. Milk River Project $1.925 million
    2. Hungry Horse Project $700,000
    3. Lower Marias $1.762 million

 

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies

  1. Fully funds the Department of Veterans Affairs, veteran healthcare and mental health services
  2. Restores the Second Amendment rights of Veterans who have been victimized by the Biden Administration’s unconstitutional “red flag” laws
  3. Allocates $10.3 million for an Air Force Fire Station Bay at Malmstrom

Press release provided by Congressman Ryan Zinke

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