Montana Politics

Rehberg Introduces Another Bill To Get in the News

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Once again, the Montana media is letting Dennis “Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing” Rehberg milk his opposition to national monuments for another moment of attention, ignoring both his utter incompetence as a legislator and dishonesty as a politician.

Consider this quote in the Great Falls Tribune:

As a reason for the legislation, Rehberg has cited President Bill Clinton’s designation of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument on one of his last days in office in 2001.

“I didn’t introduce the Montana Land Sovereignty Act to undermine the intent of the Antiquities Act,” Rehberg said. “On the contrary, my legislation restores this valuable law to its original intention: the preservation of American antiquities.”

Let me see if I understand Representative Rehberg correctly. He’s introducing this bill 10 years after President Clinton designated a monument on the upper Missouri. Ten Years—all time, as I recall, that Rehberg has been a member of the House. Even if we accept his absurd justification at face value rather than acknowledging it for the transparently political ploy it so obviously is, don’t we have to conclude that Representative Rehberg is the least effective and slowest member of Congress? Ten years! There must have been an awful lot of post offices to name in that time.

He also told the Missoulian:

“I didn’t like executive actions,” Rehberg said. “It goes beyond the Antiquities Act. I don’t like the president overstepping the authority of Congress. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a separation of powers issue.”

That’s certainly a fascinating claim. Rehberg apparently had no issue with President Bush’s use of the Antiquities Act, which he used twice in 2006, and I can’t find a single criticism from Rehberg about Bush’s use of executive orders, despite the fact that Bush used them (and signing statements) more often than any President in American history.

What’s obvious is that the timing of this bill is all about Rehberg versus Jon Tester, not Montana:

Still, supporters of that monument’s designation say it came after a lengthy public process that involved stakeholders from across the region.

They say Rehberg’s bill and the hearing’s timing is more about drumming up support from his loyalists in advance of a tough 2012 challenge to Tester than it is about doing what’s right for Montana.

What becomes most apparent as one follows this story is that Representative Rehberg is just a windbag, mindlessly repeating the same issues over and over again, without any real chance of passing legislation—and that’s actually better for him. He’d have to think of something else to misrepresent if this issue went away.

That the media continues to give this issue attention—while ignoring the fact that Rehberg has absolutely failed as an Appropriations chair, has called Pell Grants welfare, and endangered the lives of children with irresponsible legislation—goes a long way towards explaining why our political system is so broken.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-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.

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