Montana Politics

Does Representative Rehberg Really Want a Safe Border?

While the Lee newspapers continue their boycott of anything newsworthy about Representative Rehberg, I’ve been giving some additional thought to his support for a bill that would cede control of wide swaths of Montana territory to Homeland Security, endangering our access to those lands.

Rehberg explained his support for the bill, suggesting that it would somehow save lives, even though federal officials say the measure is unnecessary:

Rehberg said the bill is not just about preventing terrorists from entering this country, it also is about stemming the flow of illegal immigrants, drug smuggling and the abuse of public lands by criminals and drug cartels.

“At the end of the day, I never want to have to tell a Montana family that their loved one was killed by someone on drugs that got into our state because some federal bureaucrats couldn’t work together to control the border,” Rehberg said.

That got me thinking about homeland security. It turns out Representative Rehberg only supports it when it guts environmental law. Otherwise, he seems to take a different position.

  • This year, he voted for a Republican budget that cut $350 million from border security, transportation security, and port security, not to mention nuclear terrorism prevention programs.
  • After all, he voted against the 2009 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which specifically brought funds to Montana to secure our border.
  • He sponsored legislation to protect the rights of Mexican drug cartels to purchase guns in massive quantities.
  • He said in 2005 that the REAL ID law was critical to close “the security loopholes exploited on 9/11, enacting tough security standards for the issuance of driver’s licenses, reorganizing the asylum system abused by terrorists, fortifying our borders, and putting the teeth back into our neglected deportation laws” before saying that he wanted to overturn it.

Not only that, but the bill Rehberg is supporting will reduce our security, by alienating and diminishing the role of local and state law enforcement officials—the ones we depend on today. Lynn Scarlett, a former deputy Interior secretary for President Bush the Elder, explains how:

The danger is also that national security itself will suffer. There’s wisdom in these agencies – law enforcement agencies, state agencies, federal agencies with boots on the ground. They have insights and knowledge that actually help us.

Rehberg may not want to tell a Montana family that someone died because of federal policies, but he certainly seems willing to vote for reckless policies that endanger our security at every opportunity.

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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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