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The U.S. Senate approved a new, two-year Highway Bill with 74 Republicans and Democrats voting in favor.

Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester voted in the bipartisan majority to continue funding the surface transportation program that is vital to Montana and the entire nation. Wyoming Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi were among the 22 Republicans voting no. Four other senators didn’t vote.

The Senate bill would direct $400 million a year in federal funds to Montana, according to Baucus, who helped steer the legislation through the Senate.

Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are reminding the U.S. Defense Department that Montana is the “ideal fit” for the new C-130 aircraft mission.

Tester and Baucus secured the C-130 mission for the Montana Air National Guard in February and the cargo planes are expected to provide hundreds of jobs for Montana airmen and members of the Great Falls community.

Montana’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA) again came close to passage last month. The bill aimed at creating jobs and improving forest management enjoys strong support in Montana and has earned crucial support in the U.S. Senate.

But as FJRA gains momentum, opponents appear to be shifting tactics. They can no longer pretend the bill doesn’t exist. And because so many Montanans have united around FJRA’s collaborative approach to creating jobs and resolving national-forest conflicts, outright opposition has become politically imprudent.

The big sky over Great Falls will have a different look in the not-too-distant future when the Montana Air National Guard exchanges its speedy F-15 fighter jets for the lumbering workhorses of the Air Force, C-130H cargo planes.

Northcentral Montanans over the past few years have learned to look far ahead of the roar in order to spot Air Force planes as they sped across the sky. The C-130s are much bigger and easier to see, plus they’re slower — so the sight will be closely associated with the sound.

Different, in other words, but everyone agrees it will be good.