Montana Republicans opposed federal legislation that is now helping to fund rural schools - TAI News
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(Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/Wikimedia Commons)

Legislation opposed by Republican members of the Montana congressional delegation is now funding assistance to multiple rural schools in the state.

On April 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Montana will receive a $13.3 million grant via the agency’s Secure Rural Schools Program.

“This funding aids schools and roads, reimburses counties for national forest emergency services, and assists in creating community wildfire protection plans – all critical programs designed to enhance the quality of life in these communities,” Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said in a statement.

The department announced that awards would also be sent to 40 other states and Puerto Rico in the latest round of grants.

The current funding for the Secure Rural Schools Program comes from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the infrastructure legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, is the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation who voted for the infrastructure bill. In a release, Tester touted the latest round of assistance for the state from the law.

“These targeted investments will ensure that children have access to a quality public education, will keep firefighters and law enforcement officers on the beat, and help restore our roads so that Montana doesn’t fall through the cracks,” Tester said.

Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Matt Rosendale, both Republicans, opposed the bill when it was being debated in Congress.

“The Democrats are taking our country in the wrong direction and heaping huge amounts of debt on future generations,” Daines said in an August 2021 statement announcing his intention to vote against the bill.

In a November 2021 statement, Rosendale justified his opposition, noting, “This bill is a trojan horse filled with billions of dollars to fund Green New Deal priorities, push the Left’s social justice agenda, and invade Americans’ privacy.”

That same month, Tester attended the bill signing at the White House, and his office touted the provisions of the bill that would “make significant and urgently-needed investments in Montana’s roads, bridges, airports, high-speed internet, water systems, and more.”

According to data released by the White House, at least $4.6 billion for infrastructure-related projects in Montana has been announced. In addition to the funding for rural schools, infrastructure money will go toward road and bridge repair, water infrastructure, public transportation projects, energy infrastructure, and pollution cleanup, among other efforts.

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