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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Congressmen talk priorities during speeches at the state Capitol

Left to Right: Montana Sen. Jon Tester; Montana Sen. Steve Daines; Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale; Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke.
Left to Right: Montana Sen. Jon Tester; Montana Sen. Steve Daines; Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale; Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke.

Montana’s congressional delegates visited the state Capitol Monday to speak about their individual work in Congress and the work they’d like to see in the statehouse.

Montana’s senior Senator, Jon Tester, the lone Democrat in the delegation, spoke first about the state’s $2.5 billion budget surplus that’s largely tied to federal pandemic relief money. He urged legislators to use it to address Montana’s lack of affordable housing and child care.

“It is time to use Montana common sense and to come together to address this issue so that we can make sure our state remains the last best place for everyone,” Tester said.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines in his speech called on state lawmakers to protect what he called Montana’s way of life and pointed to his recent suspension from the social media site Twitter as evidence that it’s at risk. Daines' account was suspended when he posted a hunting photo.

“You see, the coastal elites are seeking to change our Montana way of life. They seek to take away our Second Amendment rights,” Daines said.

Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke is representing the state’s newly added western district. He said it’s important for Congress to balance the federal government’s budget and review what’s considered mandatory spending.

“We’re going to go bankrupt, quickly, and there won’t be social security, there won’t be money for defense, there won’t be money for our parks and services. So it’s time to act,” Zinke said.

Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale, from Montana’s eastern U.S. House seat, was one of a handful of holdout votes among hardline conservative representatives contesting the election of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. Rosendale said during his speech the faction forced change in how Congress operates and that it was possible given the tight majority Republicans hold.

“There’s a lot of people that think the red wave didn’t come and that it was a problem. No, that gave us a rare, rare opportunity to sit down and restore the body of Congress,” Rosendale said.

All of the delegates applauded the work of Montana’s citizen Legislature and asked that they work together to solve the state’s challenges.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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