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Montana Politics

Representative Rehberg Furiously Backpedaling This Week

It’s been an interesting week of backpedaling from Montana’s Congressman, Dennis Rehberg. It’s almost as if he suddenly realized that alienating huge portions of the population in the year before an election wasn’t exactly a winning strategy and has reverted to his waffling ways.

Rehberg’s first reversal of the week? Dropping his  frivolous lawsuit against the people of Billings and its firefighters.  Representative Rehberg finally seemed to realize that if he didn’t drop the suit, he might just have to come back to live in Billings permanently and so he gave up his efforts to have the City of Billings reimburse him for his scrub brush land.

Rehberg’s suit was just a personal failing of a greedy land developer. His second reversal of the week demonstrates that Rehberg will say and do almost anything to get elected, even taking away support from a bill he claimed was necessary to save lives.

By now, you’ve heard about HR 1505, a Republican sponsored bill which would give the Border Patrol almost unfettered access and control over broad swaths of territory in Montana. Rehberg was an enthusiastic supporter and co-sponsor of this massive land grab, claiming the bill was necessary to protect Montanans:

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.”

Now, according to the Associated Press, Rehberg might not even support a bill he co-sponsored:

Rehberg, who has already worked to change the bill to ensure that border agents could not restrict hunting or other public access to land, made it clear through a spokesman that his continued support for the measure is not certain…

“The bill is still not perfect. And he is working to make it better,” spokesman Jed Link said. “But at the end of the day, if this thing is not good for Montana, Denny is not going to support it.”

It seems there are two possible explanations for this sudden shift in position, neither  terribly flattering to Representative Rehberg. The first is the simplest: that he lied when he trumped up fears about the border to garner support for this massive expansion of federal power.

The second? That, in order to appease conservative critics, Representative Rehberg might pull his support from a bill that he believes will save lives. Let that sink in for a minute.

It’s all part of the pattern we’ve seen repeatedly with the Congressman. From veteran’s benefits to SCHIP, the Patriot Act to REAL ID, Representative Rehberg changes his positions more often than the wind changes direction on the plains.

Does he really believe in anything other than personal political gain?

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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