Montana Politics

Dennis Rehberg Was For the Patriot Act Before He Was Against It Before He Was For It

Perhaps Representative Rehberg held another 75 town hall meetings between February 9th and 10th to explain his shifting vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act. More likely, our independent, “Montana first” Representative caved to Washington pressure and changed his vote in less than a day.

On February 9, 2011 Rehberg did not believe in reauthorization:

Among the 26 House Republicans who broke with party leaders Tuesday and voted against extending key provisions of the Patriot Act were two rumored Senate hopefuls and one lawmaker who has already jumped into a marquee race.

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont), who announced a challenge to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) over the weekend, and Reps. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.) all voted against the reauthorization.

On February 10, 2011, however, he changed his mind:

The House on Thursday voted to proceed on a measure that would extend key provisions of the Patriot Act counter-terrorism surveillance law, two days after the proposal came up short in a Republican-led effort to approve it under fast-track rules.

The four Republicans voting “no” on Thursday were Reps. Ron Paul (Texas), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Raul Labrador (Idaho) and Tom McClintock (Calif.). All four had opposed the measure on Tuesday. Meanwhile, 172 Democrats voted against proceeding Thursday, up from the 148 who voted “no” on Tuesday.

When critical questions about civil liberties and national security come before Congress, I guess I’d rather have my representative take one principled position rather than two.

It looks like the Montana TEA Party might have to revise this little press release, too:

Montana Shrugged, the state’s largest Tea Party group with over 5,000 active members, has issued a public “Thank You” to the 26 Republicans who broke with their party to vote NO on extending provisions of the Patriot Act yesterday, including Montana’s very own Denny Rehberg.

“It’s a huge step forward”, said Eric Olsen, founder of Montana Shrugged.  “The Tea Party movement is about less government in our lives, and this vote is a big step in reducing the scope of government, and restoring fiscal sanity to Washington.  We’re especially proud that our own Congressman, Denny Rehberg was one of those brave enough to vote on principle and buck party leadership when it’s called for.”

I guess the second vote makes him a coward, then.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an 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.

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