Gianforte Votes Against Military Pay Raises, Veterans, and Education

Siding with the extremist wing of the Republican Party and against Montanans, including both Senators Tester and Daines, Congressman Greg Gianforte voted “no” today on a bipartisan budget measure to fund the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Education, and Labor. The measure, which overwhelmingly passed the House (361-61) and the Senate (93-7), also averted yet another government shutdown in dysfunctional Washington.

The budget, which will likely be signed by President Trump in days, included measures critical for the people of Montana, including:

  • A 2.6% raise for members of the armed services
  • Funding for Community Health Centers and job training for American Indians and Veterans
  • Upgrades to the Huey helicopters at Malmstrom and  C-130 planes for the Montana National Guard
  • Funding for Head Start, Pell Grants, and more.
  • $206 million more to fight the opioid crisis and $2 billion more for the National Institutes of Health, which leads the fight against cancer and other diseases.

The legislation received broad bipartisan support. According to the Washington Post, leading Republicans hailed the measure as a “major achievement for the military” and a measure that will end the uncertainty that has plagued D.C. budgets and military readiness. From the Washington Post:

Earlier in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the bill — which also includes full-year funding for the departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor — as a plan that “does a lot of the things that we all want to accomplish together.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called the legislation an unquestioned win for the administration and the country.

“It will be a major achievement for the military,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I think he understands the achievement of getting a big majority of discretionary money in place before the beginning of the fiscal year.

In the Oregonian, Thornberry argued the budget was vital for the DOD and good governance:

“It is a really important thing for our troops, for the sake of good government, that for the first time in nearly a decade DOD has its money on time.

With all those critical needs—from military readiness to community health—being met by the first responsible budget passed by Congress in a long time, Congressman Gianforte, who enthusiastically supported a tax cut that gave him millions of dollars while exploding the deficit by over $1.6 trillion, couldn’t find it in his heart to support the measure, no matter how much it will mean to Montana’s military, schools, reservations, and aging citizens.

Gianforte’s opponent, Kathleen Williams expressed just how wrong those priorities are:

Congress has one main job: and that’s to fund our government responsibly. But Congressman Gianforte voted against cancer and Alzheimer’s research, funding for rural health centers, and a pay raise for our armed forces. I have experience working with Republicans to pass responsible budgets. Congressman Gianforte had no hesitation passing massive tax giveaways for millionaires like himself. But he’s not there for our families, soldiers, veterans, and student.

Congressman Gianforte offers a lot of rhetoric about working for Montanans, but when he has the opportunity to vote for us, not himself, he never does. When he has the chance to improve our communities, strengthen our military, and improve access to health care, he doesn’t side with us, but with the Republican extremists who want to cripple the government and enrich the richest among us.

Isn’t it time Montana was represented by someone in the House who cares about what happens to us? Isn’t it time to elect Kathleen Williams?

Correction: The original version of the story transposed the C-130 and Huey helicopters.

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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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