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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Congressional delegation awaits final committee assignments

U.S. Capitol
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Congressional committee assignments aren’t expected to be finalized for several more days, but Montana’s delegation is starting to get a better idea of which committees they’ll serve on during the 118th Congress.

Proposed new legislation and potential changes to existing laws all take shape, live, and die in committee. Congressional Democrats and Republicans are now deciding which lawmakers will land specific committee assignments. Montana now has two seats in the U.S. House for the first time in three decades.

Montana Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale was one of nearly two dozen lawmakers who prevented Kevin McCarthy from quickly becoming Speaker of the U.S. House. Rosendale recently told Montana Public Radio that he’s not worried he will suffer any political retribution following his 14 votes to block McCarthy.

“I think that would be a very, very poor decision on Speaker McCarthy’s behalf. I have been informed that I will be back serving on the Natural Resource Committee and on the Veterans Affairs Committee; both committees which I told leadership that I wanted to stay on because they are so important for our state,” Rosendale said.

Ryan Zinke, the Republican U.S. Representative for Montana’s 1st Congressional District, has so far been appointed to House Appropriations, which is widely viewed as a powerful committee since it wields the power of the purse.

Montana’s senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Jon Tester, announced this week that he’s kicking off his second term as Chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Among his stated priorities are ensuring that the VA can recruit and retain enough clinicians to deliver health care to veterans.

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ staff declined to speculate about which committees he may serve on in this congressional session. Most recently, he was assigned to the Indian Affairs, Energy and Natural Resources, Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and Finance Committees.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at edward.obrien@umt.edu.