Steve Daines: 2020 General Election Q&A
Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide general election candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 150 words per question. These are their unedited responses.
Steve Daines is the 2020 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.
The country is feeling health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. What steps should Congress and national leaders take to slow the virus’ spread and repair the economy?
COVID-19 has caused Montanans to face hardships – with both our health and finances. Thousands of Montanans are filing for unemployment, and many small businesses are struggling at no fault of their own. That’s why I’ve made it a top priority to ensure Montana workers and small businesses have the tools they need to keep their doors open and workers employed. And, in Congress, I’ll continue to fight to bring jobs home to the U.S. and hold China accountable for their deadly cover-up.
However, our economy won’t recover until this pandemic ends, and this pandemic won’t end until we have a vaccine. That’s why I authored the provision to safely develop and produce vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Our nation is fortunate to have the very best scientists and medical experts in the world and with their help we will defeat this virus.
What areas of federal spending should be increased and what should be cut? Do you think Congress should make it a priority to pay down the federal deficit and, if so, how should it be paid down?
It’s beyond clear: Washington, DC has a spending problem and I remain committed to reducing the size of government, eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse and stopping out-of-control government spending. I’m fighting right now to pass my Balanced Budget Accountability Act, which says if members of Congress don’t pass a balanced budget, they shouldn’t get paid. It’s just commonsense.
Having spent 28 years in the private sector building businesses, I know what it takes to rein in spending and balance a budget. If our Montana small businesses and families have to balance a budget every year, so should the federal government. With a nearly $25 trillion debt, it’s time we restore fiscal responsibility to this country.
What if any changes do you believe congress should make to Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare? Do you support repealing, replacing or changing the Affordable Care Act? (300 word limit)
Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are critical programs that are personal to all of us. My wife’s parents rely on Medicare. We need to preserve and protect these critical safety nets for all seniors and future generations to come.
What deeply concerns me is that under Governor Bullock’s leadership, a state legislative audit found $84M in Medicaid eligibility fraud. This fraud and abuse has taken resources away from Montanans that need and depend on this program. Medicaid is a safety net that must be protected – to protect it, we need to rid fraud and abuse from the system.
The Governor also alarmingly vetoed a bill to lower Social Security taxes for Montana seniors. Our seniors should be able to keep more of their hard-earned money during retirement – not less of it.
On the issue of Obamacare - this program has been a disaster with over 20,000 Montanans losing their coverage, premiums doubling, and when Montanans were promised that if they liked their coverage they could keep it – that didn’t happen.
We must stand strong against Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Steve Bullock’s plans for a complete government takeover of our health care system. It would raise premiums and taxes, and limit choice and access to doctors. Healthcare is as important of an issue as it gets, and we must work together on bipartisan solutions that protect those with preexisting conditions and actually lowers the cost of healthcare and prescription drug prices for Montanans.
Do you support transferring federally owned land to the control of the state of Montana? Why or why not?
Absolutely not – I do not support the sale or transfer of federal lands to the state.
As a fifth generation Montanan, and an avid outdoorsman and sportsman, I will always fight to protect and expand access to our public lands.
I’m proud to have one of the strongest conservation records of any Montana elected official. Working across the aisle, we fully funded and permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). We protected rivers like the East Rosebud and the Yellowstone. We’ve addressed the massive maintenance backlog in our national parks – including right here at Glacier and Yellowstone. We also passed the Heritage Act and we protected the North Fork of the Flathead.
The fight to protect our public lands is personal for me – it’s the fight to protect our Montana way of life.
Do you support changes to federal gun laws? If so, what specific changes do you want to see?
I will always defend our Montana way of life and our Second Amendment Rights.
Every day, the Second Amendment is under attack from liberals back in Washington and from my liberal opponent, Governor Steve Bullock. They want to ban guns, enforce background checks on law-abiding Montanans, implement gun buy-back programs, and strip away the freedom guaranteed to all of us in the Second Amendment.
Montanans know they can trust me to always protect their right to bear arms—it’s why I have an A+ Rating and the endorsement of the NRA, while Steve Bullock has an F Rating. Standing alongside Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, Bullock will vote for the most radical gun control our nation has ever seen. Those aren’t Montana values.
What role, if any, should the federal government take in addressing the effects of climate change?
There’s no denying the climate is changing – it always has and always will. Through innovation – not regulation – the United States can continue to take meaningful steps to address our ever-changing climate. And, we already have – for example, the United States leads the world in reducing energy related carbon emissions.
Unfortunately, far too often we see the far left in Washington jump to radical proposals that would destroy Montana jobs and our way of life. The Green New Deal would wipe out our economy and devastate our local communities. A radical liberal judge supported by Bullock has blocked construction of the Keystone XL, stopping the creation of hundreds of Montana jobs. And Bullock’s support for a job-killing carbon tax has threatened 35,000 Montana energy jobs. I will strongly fight back against any attempt to harm our economy and our Montana jobs.
Protests this summer called for reforms in policing systems across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. What, if any, changes do you think should be made in response to these requests and what is the role of Congress in changing policing systems?
Americans are right to be outraged by the death of George Floyd – it was a tragedy that should never have happened.
However, the way to address this injustice is not through violence and looting or by villainizing our police officers.
The men and women of law enforcement are heroes. They put their lives on the line every single day to protect our communities, and I join Montanans who are grateful for their service. These radical calls to defund the police are unacceptable – and unfortunately, they’re taking place right here in Montana too.
Unlike my liberal opponent Steve Bullock, I am proud to always stand with our men and women in law enforcement. Our communities need them, and I will never shy away from showing my appreciation for their service.
If elected, what legislation would you make your number one priority over the next year?
I’m focused on rebuilding the American economy, protecting and creating more good-paying Montana jobs, and ending our reliance on foreign countries for life-saving drugs and personal protective equipment. We need to bring drug and medical supply manufacturing back home to America. More than one third of our imported antibiotics, and 70% of personal protective equipment is produced in China, posing a national security and health risk to us all. It’s time we manufacture these critical drugs and supplies here in America.
Before coming to Congress, I spent 28 years in the private sector solving problems and delivering solutions. In the rescue package passed by Congress, I developed a new plan to safely speed up the development of life-saving COVID-19 drugs – drugs that will be made right here in America – so that we can overcome COVID-19 once and for all and get our economy back on track.
How did you vote, or how would you have voted, either to convict or acquit, in the U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump earlier this year? Why?
I proudly voted to acquit President Donald Trump from the most partisan impeachment process in our nation’s history.
The Democrats did something that has never been done before in the 244-year history of our great country – they launched a purely partisan impeachment process. No crimes were even alleged against the President. The entire process was spun up by the Democrats who were trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election – something they’ve been obsessed with since before President Trump was sworn into office.
Montanans overwhelmingly voted to elect President Trump in 2016, and Montanans overwhelmingly opposed the impeachment and removal of President Trump from office because they saw it for what it was – a partisan sham. I will always stand with the people of this great state and proudly work alongside President Trump to put our country first, not take my orders from the Liberal elites back in Washington.
Both Congress and the country are deeply politically divided. Would you take steps to bridge this divide and, if so, how?
I graduated from MSU as a chemical engineer and spent 28 years in the private sector solving problems and creating jobs. I was trained to tackle the hard issues and that experience is why I’ve been recognized as one of the most effective and bipartisan members of the Senate. I brought Republicans and Democrats together to secure permanent reauthorization and full, mandatory funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, championed a bipartisan bill to lower the costs of prescription drugs for Montana seniors, passed a bill to end the NSA’s illegal collection of our phone records, and I’m currently working on a bipartisan timber production reform plan that will prevent devastating wildfires and create hundreds of good-paying Montana jobs. I’m proud to work across the aisle to deliver these results for Montanans.
What steps will you take to make sure you are accessible and heard by your constituents if elected? Will this focus on in-person or remote town halls?
It’s so important to travel to every corner of our state and that’s why I’m proud to complete my “56 County Tour” every two years. This gives me the opportunity to visit each one of Montana’s counties and hear directly from folks on the issues they’re facing and how I can help them. Whether it’s meeting with folks at the local diner, sitting down with county commissioners, or visiting with folks while we pump our gas – I am always glad to hear from Montanans so I can best represent them as their U.S. Senator.
We’ve also held 40 statewide tele-townhalls during my time in the U.S. Senate, allowing tens of thousands of Montanans to get an update from me and ask questions, all while being in the comfort of their own home.
What other issues are important to your campaign?
Montanans have a very clear choice this November: I will always protect our Montana way of life while Steve Bullock has become too liberal for Montana.
I have an A+ Rating and I’m endorsed by the NRA, Steve Bullock has an F Rating. I’ve cut taxes, Steve Bullock has raised them. I’m a proven job creator, having created over 500 high-paying Montana jobs, and Steve Bullock is a career politician. I support the Keystone XL Pipeline, Steve Bullock opposes it. I support Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Steve Bullock opposes her nomination. I will always do what’s right for Montana and put Montana first.