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U.S. Senators Discuss National Defense Authorization Act

In press calls last week, U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Jon Tester (D-Montana) discussed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Discussing the NDAA, Daines said each year, Congress passes a bipartisan, bicameral bill that bolsters National Security and supports men and women in uniform.

"Every year, I work to make the bill better for Montanans," he said.

During the call, Daines said he was glad to report that one of their significant efforts in the base text of the bill will allow Montana National Guard and Reserve Units to reimburse their service members for travel to and from their monthly drill commitments.

Daines said this issue was a high priority for Guard leadership, adding that currently, Reserve members are only reimbursed for lodging when they drill.

"With inflation and the high price of gas, the men and women that volunteer to serve our nation should not have to spend all of their drill pay on gas to get to and from their duty stations. It's a great win for Montana. In a big state like Montana, we have members who are driving hundreds of miles to their duty station, and it's already a sacrifice enough to leave home and leave jobs," Daines said.

In his opening remarks, Tester said he has worked with his colleagues across the aisle to secure some much-needed provisions in the NDAA, an annual must-pass legislation.

After hearing reports last year from North Dakota suggesting China was attempting to purchase farmland close to military bases, Tester said he knew this week it was time to act.

Tester said he worked to add a bipartisan amendment to the NDAA to prevent foreign adversaries like China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea from purchasing American farmland and agriculture businesses.

Tester said while that provision focused on land, he also worked to secure another provision focused on threats from the air, especially the Chinese spy balloon that was first spotted over Montana earlier this year. Tester added it was recently reported that the Chinese spy balloon was using American-made technology, which raised concerns about export controls and commercially available technology that China can get their hands on.

Tester said they added an amendment to the NDAA to get a better handle moving forward on what American-made technology is being used in foreign espionage programs.

Tester also discussed his work as Chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee and the inclusion of $293 million to the annual defense budget to counter Chinese surveillance.

"China is doing everything in its power to take our spot as a global economic and military leader, and this budget ensures we maintain our edge on the world stage," he said.

Daines said his work on the bill also includes an analysis of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) capabilities and exposes any limitations that U.S. adversaries could exploit.

"This is to prevent another Chinese spy balloon incident," he said.

Daines also discussed a recent report from the Wall Street Journal of the Chinese using American technology to spy on Americans.

"We must prevent this from happening again," he said.