Trump signs Tester VA bill into law, funding Missoula clinic expansion

Sen. Jon Tester said feedback from Montana veterans helped fend off several attempts to derail the veterans legislation signed into law on Sunday by President Donald Trump. 

President Donald Trump on Sunday signed legislation sponsored by Montana Sen. Jon Tester, providing emergency funding for the Choice Program and more than $1 billion for VA leases on needed clinics.

The bill will fund expansion of the outpatient clinic in Missoula, a priority for several years as veteran numbers skyrocketed in the region.

In a statement Sunday, Tester said the bill signed Sunday is the first of seven he sponsored to “help veterans get the care and benefits they have earned, allow local officials to hire more firefighters in Montana, and help rural families connect with the world.”

All seven bills have passed Congress.

Sunday’s signing ceremony marks the fourth bill sponsored by Tester to become law in 2017.

“This is how Congress is supposed to work, and it’s exactly what Montanans expect from their elected leaders,” Tester said.

Here are the seven veterans bills Tester has shepherded through Congress this year:

VA Choice and Quality Employment Act: “This bill strengthens the VA, while ensuring the Choice Program doesn’t cause our veterans any more heartburn,” Tester said. “Today, President Trump signed this bill into law.”

Forever GI Bill: This bill creates new opportunities for veterans to pursue higher education and take advantage of their GI Bill benefits. It’s now headed to President Trump’s desk so it can be signed into law.

Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act: This bill streamlines the VA’s complex bureaucracy in order to address the “massive disability appeals backlog that has kept veterans waiting far too long to receive the benefits they have earned,” Tester said. This bill is headed to the President’s desk.

Fire Grants Reauthorization Act: This bill reauthorizes two grant programs that provide rural communities with the resources they need to hire, train and properly equip local firefighters.

Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act: This bill will reduce government waste and abuse while saving taxpayers money by more closely monitoring the use of government charge cards.

Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act: This bill will #ConnectMT and provide better phone service to rural Montana by requiring the Federal Communications Commission to establish basic quality standards for the transmission of phone calls.

Honoring Montana’s Fallen WWII Heroes: This bill will rename three local VA facilities in honor of three Montana war heroes who risked their lives to defend our liberties in World War II.