Montana delegation praises security funding bill despite “national emergency”

A measure to fund part, but not all, of President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S. Southern border and avoid another government shutdown passed Congress on Thursday night with votes from all three members of Montana’s delegation.

Trump will sign the measure but will also declare a national emergency, possibly today, to tap additional funds from other sources to pay for his wall.

“This will give us the necessary funding to execute the wall,” a senior White House official said Friday morning in a national press call. “This creates zero precedent. This authority was given to the president in law already.”

Montana Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines both praised Thursday’s funding measure in varying forms. They also lauded “big wins” for Montana, including funding for public lands, agriculture, housing and transportation.

But the focus on border security garnered much of the attention, despite the funding measure’s other aspects.

“We’ve got a crisis on our hands, with illegal drugs and immigrants flooding across the border, and it’s destroying our families,” Daines said in a statement. “Today I voted on a down payment strengthening our nation’s border security, and to keep the government open, running and funded for our workers.”

Daines said the measure includes “major wins” for Montana, including $435 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and $550 million for rural broadband.

The funding package also includes $303 million for meth-related grants and $280 million for drug trafficking programs.

“Much more remains to be done, and I will not stop working until our border patrol has the resources they need to stop illegal drugs from hurting our communities,” Daines said.

Tester, who served on the conference committee that negotiated the deal, also promoted aspects of the funding package, including $2 billion for wildfire suppression, $364 million for construction and maintenance in national parks, and $497 million for the Violence Against Women Act.

It also includes funds for various affordable housing programs, including $3.3 billion for community grants and $1.2 billion for the HOME program, which helps Montanans access housing. The measure includes $10 million for rural air service.

“This bipartisan bill supports Montana jobs through smart investments in agriculture, infrastructure, public lands and law enforcement programs that waited in the wings during the irresponsible government shutdown — held up over political brinksmanship to the detriment of folks in our state,” Tester said.

“I’m glad our conference committee did its job and got to work on a funding deal that secures our borders, but just as importantly, secures needed resources for our farmers, businesses, and families.”