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Rehberg’s Late, Secretive Appropriations Bill Would Hurt Montanans

It’s hard to overlook the hypocrisy of Representative Rehberg, a man who has refused to vote for bills because of a lack of “public input” and “adequate Congressional oversight,” when he’s dropped a massive spending bill, weeks late, without even meeting with the members of his committee or scheduling a public hearing to discuss the proposal.

The truth is that Representative Rehberg certainly had good reason for hiding his appropriations bill from both public scrutiny and the committee entrusted with writing it: it’s an absolute disaster for Montana. Some of the specifics should provide a very clear sense of just how far out of touch with Montana values Representative Rehberg is. Even leaving out Rehberg’s pointless and purely partisan propaganda about the Affordable Care Act, the bill is dead on arrival—and should be, as it represents the worst of the current GOP war on social services.

Here’s just a sampling of what Rehberg’s agenda would do to Montanans.

Reproductive Health

Once again, Representative Rehberg is putting partisan politics ahead of vital healthcare for men and women:

While Planned Parenthood understands that Rehberg is no friend to Montana’s women and families, it is unacceptable that Montana’s sole Congressional Representative continues to play politics with people’s lives.

Stacey Anderson, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Montana, said, “At a time when Montanans need our elected officials to come together and address jobs, the economy, and making our communities healthier and more productive, I am disappointed that Rep. Rehberg is using the budget to target health care access and  a health care provider that thousands of Montana women and men depend on.”

College Students

Rehberg’s bill penalizes those who work their way through college, something certainly in keeping with his belief that Pell Grants are welfare. From Representative DeLauro:

Most notably, the largest single change appears to be targeted to students who are working while going to school—especially adult students independent of their parents—and appears likely to reduce Pell Grant assistance for many in this group by many hundreds of dollars. That seems exactly the wrong step to be taking when so many people are relying on Pell Grants to go back to school or stay in school to gain the education and skills they need for jobs in the new economy.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Rehberg’s bill will eliminate 31 education programs, including vocational-rehabilitation programs and assistance for institutions which predominantly serve minority students.

Rehberg also inserted language to protect the worst abusers in the for-profit college system, the kind Senator Tester has worked to regulate for Montana families.


Although appropriations bills are intended to do just that—appropriate funds—Rehberg’s bill would strip workers of rights, some legally protected for over 70 years, reduce regulations on mines, and diminish protections for those receiving pensions.

National Service

Despite lip service about the importance of Senior Corps, the Rehberg bill guts the program, along with AmeriCorps, which has provided college assistance for service and countless hours of community improvements here in Montana.

One of the most egregious items is the almost complete elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service – the agency that administers successful programs such as Americorps and the Social Innovation Fund. The Chairman’s mark simply dissolves the entire enterprise without regard for the unique role CNCS plays in our democracy.

Poor Families

In a blow that will be felt most directly here at home, a place not known for its mild winters, Rehberg’s bill would the LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) by 28%.

As Mike Dennison notes, the bill cuts funding for community health centers and the high risk pool to help those who cannot otherwise get insurance. Apparently, Rehberg believes in the Paul plan for catastrophic health care.

Global Health

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Rehberg’s bill would eliminate “HHS funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.”

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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