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Tester to chair defense appropriations panel

Tester to chair defense appropriations panel
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Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's infrastructure plan triggers definition debate Lawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan MORE (D-Mont.) is the new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, the panel in charge of almost all federal defense spending.

The role gives him new power to advocate for his state’s lone military installation —  Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls — in allocating nearly $700 billion annually to the Defense Department and related agencies.

“Ensuring our service members, our defense installations like Malmstrom, and intelligence agencies have the resources they need to protect us here at home and continue America’s dominance on the world stage is a solemn responsibility that I take seriously,” Tester said in a statement after the announcement.

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“I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work for our servicemembers in Montana, across this country, and around the world,” he added. 

Malmstrom is home to a portion of the nation’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, and state politicians hope the defense installation will be the site of its intended replacement, the new Ground Base Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). Progressive lawmakers, however, have hoped to cancel the program due to its estimated $100 billion price tag.

Tester, a moderate and an advocate of the GBSD as well as other nuclear modernization, is expected to press for the replacement program to survive under the Biden administration.

He takes the chairmanship from Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP opens door to earmarks Five takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists MORE (R-Ala.), who will now become the ranking member. Shelby is also the ranking member on the Appropriations committee.