Dishonest Steve Daines is Still Taking Credit for Unemployment Benefits He Voted Against

It makes sense that Steve Daines is desperate. Despite never being a particularly effective campaigner and tethered to the sinking ship of the Trump Presidency, I suspect even he was surprised to see that he is behind Governor Bullock 46-39 in their likely Senate matchup this fall.

So Daines resorted to the strategy he knows best: he lied. In a truly bizarre story, KPAX is reporting that Daines is angry that an ad exposed his vote against expanded unemployment benefits for Montanans during the COVID-19 pandemic. From the story:

For example, the ad refers to Daines’ votes for Republican amendments that would have capped unemployment benefits at a worker’s pay level and removed a requirement that certain workers get paid sick leave during the pandemic…. Daines’ campaign said he supported the sick leave for workers affected by the coronavirus and spoke on the Senate floor in favor of the additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits – which sometimes have resulted in payments over what workers had been getting paid while on the job.

What Daines apparently wants Montanans to believe is that he spoke in favor of the expanded $600/week in unemployment benefits before turning around and voting against them.

That’s some defense: either he lied before the vote, lied with his vote, or lied after the vote.

Now, I can’t find a record of Daines speaking in favor of the expanded benefits on the Senate floor, and the story provides no evidence he did, but here is what we do know. Daines received national and local coverage for the con he was trying to pull on Montana voters when he took credit for the expanded payments.

We know that he agreed with Senator Lindsey Graham, who was horrified to imagine that essential workers might get paid the princely sum of $23 an hour to keep our country running during the crisis.

We know that on his official Senate web site, Daines posted a Billings Gazette story indicating that he both voted against the additional $600 and “fought to secure” it:

Any person receiving unemployment for claims filed between March 29 through July 25 gets the additional $600. The bump in unemployment wasn’t without political controversy in the Senate. Republicans, concerned that the extra $600 would result in better compensation for some jobless individuals than their previous salaries, had voted for an amendment to cap the amount at paycheck levels.

The amendment, which all Republicans supported, except for Sen. Cory, Gardner, of Colorado, failed. Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia was the only Democrat to support the amendment, which didn’t change the outcome for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. After the amendment failed, Republicans joined

Democrats in unanimously voting to pass the CARES Act with the $600-a-week unemployment increase included.

“Montana workers need relief immediately. I fought to secure an additional $600 a week for folks on unemployment insurance on top of what they already would take home. 

We live in a fascinating time, a time when a news story can contain a claim made by a Senator’s staff without providing evidence that it’s true, and a time when a news story about a bill passed in Congress can contradict itself without resolution over the course of three paragraphs, but we don’t live in a time when Montanans are foolish enough to believe Steve Daines.

Before Steve Daines voted to give billions to airlines, massive corporations that pay no taxes and real estate developers like himself, Steve Daines made sure to vote against the expanded unemployment benefits that are helping tens of thousands of Montanans keep themselves afloat.

Steve Daines is a desperate, dishonest demagogue, and he’s lying to you and the press about what he’s “fought for.” And as his poll numbers get worse, the lies are just going to get bigger.

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.

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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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