KTVH: Montana Republicans oppose infrastructure bill; Tester touts its impact

by Mike Dennison

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, one of the architects of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed Congress on Friday, says it will bring good jobs to the state and make it easier to do business in Montana.

“I am proud to have worked with Republicans and Democrats to get this done and grow Montana’s economy,” he said in a statement shortly after the House approved the measure Friday night and sent it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

But the two Republican members of Montana’s congressional delegation – Rep. Matt Rosendale and Sen. Steve Daines – said they remain opposed, and called it part of Democrats’ “reckless tax and spending spree.”

Rosendale voted “no” on the measure Friday, when it passed the U.S. House 228-206, with 215 Democrats and 13 Republicans in favor.

“It is irresponsible for Congress to force the American taxpayer to fund an infrastructure bill that barely touches on infrastructure,” he said. “This bill will add to our spiraling national debt and burden Americans with the crippling impacts of the left’s inflationary policy.”

Daines, who voted against the bill in the Senate, made similar comments Saturday, saying the infrastructure bill is a “stepping stone” for Democrats to pass their social-program bill next that will “push the U.S. down the path of socialism.”

The bill does contain billions of dollars for Montana infrastructure, including:

  • Almost $3 billion for Montana highway construction and maintenance.
  • An additional $225 million for replacing and repairing bridges.
  • $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water and irrigation projects through the Bureau of Reclamation.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand high-speed Internet into rural, unserved areas of Montana.
  • Money to reduce wildfire risk and for projects to mitigate floods.
  • Money to bolster public transportation and long-distance Amtrak rail travel.

Tester also said the bill will accomplish its goals without raising taxes or adding to the national debt.

Rosendale focused most of his criticism on the bill’s initiatives to promote clean energy and conservation – the “left advancing their radical climate agenda” — such as a program to encourage children to walk to school, money for electric-vehicle charging stations, pilot projects for carbon capture, and development of wind and solar power.

“This bill is a trojan horse, filled with billions of dollars to fund Green New Deal priorities, push the left’s social-justice agenda and invade Americans’ privacy,” he said.

Daines also said if Biden really wants to promote infrastructure, he should reinstate approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which was nixed by the president earlier this year. The pipeline would have been constructed through portions of eastern Montana, creating potential loading spots for oil development and property-tax revenue for rural counties.