Those national Republican strategists who worried that they were getting a Tier B candidate when Matt Rosendale became the Republican challenger to Jon Tester may think they were overestimating his prospects after a story in the Independent Record today.
Asked to explain his votes against funding the new veterans home in Butte and for privatizing a veterans’ home in Columbia Falls,
Rosendale refused to discuss any votes he took in the Legislature.
“I’m not going to go through bill by bill all of my legislation,” Rosendale said. “Without having the complete language of each bill before me and the arguments that were there, there’s no way I’m going to be able to.”
The vote against the veterans home in Butte is probably the most egregious example of Rosendale failing Montana veterans. The measure he voted against passed the Republican-controlled House, with Republicans like Duane Ankney voting to support the measure.
And that veterans home, the one Rosendale voted against funding and Jon Tester fought for in the Senate, will serve a vital need. And, according to the Montana Standard, the home will be built because of the force of Jon Tester’s will:
In order for the Butte project to get its $8 million in funding, 50 other veterans’ home projects around the country would have to be funded first – at a cost of some $677 million.
So that’s exactly what Tester worked to do.
On the correct assumption that veterans all across the country need these facilities, as do veterans in southwest Montana, we view that as tax money well spent. For too many years, the federal government has spent more and more on the military, but when our troops come back from war needing our help, the money has not been there (and what has been there has been poorly administered). That’s not just flat wrong, it’s scandalous.
Matt Rosendale claims he will do better for Montana veterans, but voted against a vitally needed facility and doesn’t even have the decency to defend his vote.
But that’s certainly not all. Rosendale voted repeatedly against veterans in the Montana Legislature, including voting against a proposal that would have helped veterans buy their first homes and he voted to privatize the Veterans’ home in Columbia Falls over the objection of Montana Republicans like Ryan Zinke and Duane Ankney, who said of the proposal, “It’s Pretty Simple: If You Don’t Want To Care For Them As A Taxpayer Then Don’t Send Them.”
Rosendale’s apparent hostility to veterans extends so far that he was one of only six Senators who voted against a measure that offered $1,000 scholarships to Purple Heart recipients.
Surely someone who claims, as Rosendale does in the story, that he will improve care for veterans needs to explain how he will do that when he has repeatedly voted against funding programs that will.
This race offers so many clear contrasts between the candidates, but perhaps none better shows the difference between Jon Tester and Matt Rosendale than the issue of support for veterans. Tester has passed bill after bill for Montana veterans, including co-writing those that President Trump has called “landmark” legislation. He’s worked across the aisle with Republican colleagues to craft bills, and as the Standard noted in its editorial, refused to give up on Montana veterans.
Rosendale, however, is not only misrepresenting Tester’s record and failing to offer any specific ideas to improve veteran care, but he has a demonstrated record of voting against veterans. Worse yet, when asked to defend those votes, Rosendale refused to explain to Montana veterans why he voted against their care, homeownership programs, and scholarships to help those who served.
I certainly hope people keep asking for an explanation. The veterans Rosendale has voted against certainly deserve one.