Montana Politics

Want Dennis Rehberg to Be Your Senator? I’d Be Ashamed of This 99-1 Vote Against 9/11 First Responders

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I know I have written about this before, but I am amazed that Representative Rehberg is still trying to justify his shameful vote against providing health resources for 9/11 first responders. In the Clark Fork Chronicle, he writes:

This legislation was never about doing what’s best for 9/11 First Responders, whose needs were already being met. It was about then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi using the last breath of her majority to force Republicans to vote against a bill they titled the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act so that people like Mr. Bergren could write letters criticizing those of us who opposed this legislation. It was a calculated partisan trick, which worked because the title of a bill doesn’t have to have anything to do with the actual legislation it contains.

There’s really no polite way to put this. Rehberg’s lying. Again.

As the New York Daily News said, passing the bill was a moral obligation for the government:

Senators who back the bill must make reluctant colleagues see that the chronic sicknesses that afflict Trade Center rescue and recovery workers are a national crisis, the Zadroga bill no less than the fulfillment of a moral obligation by the government to care for people injured in an act of war.

As Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said, voting against the bill was both a shame and disgrace:

“Who’s going to hold these people’s feet to the fire? We’re able to put a 52 story building so far down there at Ground Zero, we’re able to pay for tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them and it’s not going to stimulate the economy. But we can’t give health care to Ground Zero first responders who ran right into the fire? Went down there to save people? Do people know what this city was like that day? People were walking over bridges, they were covered in ash, they were running for their lives, they were crying, their family members were dead. And these people ran to Ground Zero to save people’s lives. And we’re not going to even give them medicine for the illnesses they got down there? It’s disgusting, it’s a national disgrace, it’s a shame and everybody who voted against should have to stand up and account for himself or herself.”

As for the claim that the bill was a “partisan trick,” had Representative Rehberg been in the Senate last year, the vote for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act would have been 99-1, with the only ‘nay’ vote coming from a single drunken Senator from Billings. You know, the one who sues firefighters for failing to protect his scrub brush.

I’d prefer that Montana be known for statesmen who put the interests of the nation and its citizens, especially the people who risk their lives protecting the rest of us, ahead of cheap political tricks. When Tom Coburn and Bernie Sanders can both support a bill, I’d say it’s anything but partisan. Odds are, it’s what is right.

Representative Rehberg can try to explain away this shameful vote all he wants. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong for Montana now.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

14 Comments

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  • I know that asking for substantive argument from you is like asking for logic from Krayton Kerns, but do you disagree with me? Was Rehberg right?

    Somehow, I don't expect an answer with any support.

  • I support Denny's 'No' vote on this legislation.

    Republicans opposed the legislation as a special-interest giveaway that would add to the nation’s debt and create a kind of precedent for other groups seeking compensation. The first attempt to pass the bill in the House failed in July.

    “This legislation as written creates a huge $8.4 billion slush fund paid by taxpayers that is open to abuse, fraud and waste,” – Representative Lamar Smith

    Thanks to Denny & other conservatives opposition, the bill was pared down to only 4.3 billion dollars that the US has to borrow, and instead of an unlimited entitlement, the GOP got a limitation of five years for the new fund. They also got a commission to study whether the treatment should come through the VA. The funding sources have not yet been announced, although that was one of the main sticking points for the GOP.

    You arguments make me think of a little guy walking into a bar, belting a big guy, and that big guy blinking and saying "Is that all you got?" pathetic.

    • Even if your claim that Rehberg's opposition reduced the cost of the bill were true (it's not), it doesn't change the fact that he still voted against it.

      Cynical and disgusting.

      It passed the Senate without a 'no' vote. Do you really think that fiscal conservatives don't exist in the Senate?

  • Well, when the evil liberals use 9/11 to justify unconstitutional wiretapping and torture, or two wars responsible for far more than a 100,000 civilian casualties overseas, or the deaths of over 5,000 American soldiers "fighting for our freedom," call me, Eric.

    The GOP has used the tragic September 11th attacks as a blank check to push forth their dangerous and unconstitutional agenda for the past ten years, and they have the nerve not to guarantee the people who ACTUALLY did something to help in the attacks health care? That's sickening! If we can afford two wars over the attacks, we can afford the best fucking healthcare the world has to offer for these heroes.

  • Every time I meet with Jon Tester he alludes to needing Max's opinion or permission to take action on behalf of the Montanans he represents.

    I'll take Rehberg over a guy who spends his time slobbing Max's wrinkly old junk.

    • Yes, conferring with an incredibly popular senator before speaking is a terrible way for a Junior Senator to behave during his first term.

  • Good insight, fatso! I mean, if homophobia isn't the best way to get a point across, I don't know what is! You're so darn witty, inferring a relationship between our male senators. I'm glad you're making political decisions based off of that! Keep voting, you're informed decisions are helping our democracy stay afloat.

    • Well Jesse, that's a cute reply. But I think my point was clear. Tester is Max's puppet. Am I allowed to say puppet Jesse? That's not a homophobic slur is it?

      In fact Jon and Denny both appear to have marriages of which they can be proud so I'd be shocked to find either in stall #3 in the Minneapolis Airport.

      Besides, Ol' Jon would not stand a chance with Max anyway. We all know Melanie is taking care of Max's neeeeeeeeds. At his age, with his marital history, it's hard to believe he's such a fool as to marry her. Oh wait….

  • Republicans opposed the First Responders bill because it is against their theology to help members of public employee unions, even if they're American heroes. Period.

    Just a bunch of commies running into those burning towers and cleaning up the mess afterward.

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