Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide general election candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 150 words per question. These are their unedited responses.
Matt Rosendale is the 2020 Republican candidate for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat.
The country is feeling health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. What steps should Congress and national leaders take to slow the virus’ spread and repair the economy?
Protecting the health and wellbeing of people across our state and nation is critical and need to take all necessary precautions to ensure the we can protect the most vulnerable and keep our economy open. A critical part of that is ensuring that the federal government works cooperatively with the state to ensure Montanans are safely able to go back to work as soon as possible. In the meantime, the federal government must prioritize economic growth and the elimination of regulations that burden Montana businesses and impede job creation. It is also crucial the federal government support our agriculture, hi-tech and manufacturing industries, and allow us to sustainably harness our state’s natural resources — including coal, minerals, and timber — to create jobs. For more details on the specific policies I have proposed to get Montanans back to work, you can see my comprehensive plan to reignite our economy at www.mattformontana.com.
As potentially one of the newest members of the 435 representatives serving in the U.S. House, what kind of impact do you believe you can have representing the people of Montana?
I have a strong record of working across the aisle with people of all political stripes to get things done for Montanans. From lowering healthcare costs, to protecting pre-existing conditions and advocating for pro-business policies in the Montana State Legislature, I have shown I can facilitate bi-partisan results. I will do the same in Congress. With only one seat in Congress, it is critical that Montanans have a strong, decisive leader with a proven record to fight for people of our state. Unlike my opponent, I will not be a rubber stamp for radical liberal groups in D.C. I will listen to and represent the people of Montana first above everything else. 3. How many terms do you hope to serve and do you support term limits? I have always been a firm supporter of term limits and I have signed a pledge to support a constitutional amendment implementing term limits. I think all too often the individuals who are elected become entrenched in playing politics and lose touch of the fact that it is their job as an elected official to execute the will of the people they represent. I believe that being elected is about service to the people who elected you.
What areas of federal spending should be increased and what should be cut? Do you think Congress should make it a priority to pay down the federal deficit and, if so, how should it be paid down?
With our deficit reaching unsustainable levels and the national debt exceeding $27 trillion, something has to be done to ensure financial security for our children and grandchildren. We are in this situation because we spend too much, not because we tax our people too little. I have demonstrated the ability to reduce spending in both the Legislature and the Auditor’s Office. As your congressman, I will oppose any tax increase on Montana families or businesses, and I will support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It’s clear that career politicians in Congress are not interested in living within our means, and we need to amend our Constitution to make them. If elected I will bring conservative leadership and fiscal discipline to Washington and work to end its spending addiction. One of the first pieces of legislation I would introduce would be the Truth in Legislation Act, which would increase transparency and prevent frivolous spending from being attached to completely unrelated bills.
What, if any, changes do you believe Congress should make to Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare? Do you support repealing, replacing or changing the Affordable Care Act? (300 word limit)
The Affordable Care Act has been anything but affordable. In fact, people across our nation have been faced with skyrocketing healthcare costs as a direct result of Obamacare. We can, and we must, do better. As Montana’s State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner, I have been able to successfully put in place provisions that have increased the quality and affordability of healthcare and have made it more accessible. We need to do the same on the federal level while making sure we decrease the cost of insurance, increase the affordability of care, protect those with pre-existing conditions, and pass legislation that will decrease the cost of prescription drugs. Unlike my opponent who believes in a Bernie Sanders-style government takeover of our healthcare system, I believe we should focus on decreasing the actual cost of care, increasing access to quality care, and that individuals should be able to choose the type of coverage that best suits their individual needs. I believe Montanans should be treated as individuals, not as numbers in a government-run healthcare system. As for Medicare and Social Security, thousands of Montanans have paid into both and are depending on their benefits. I believe we need to do all we can to ensure that both systems are fiscally sound and can continue to meet their obligations to those who are counting on receiving their hard-earned benefits.
Do you support transferring federally owned land to the control of the state of Montana? Why or why not?
I oppose a federal lands transfer, and will work tirelessly to protect public access to our public lands. As a member of the State Land Board, I’ve expanded public access to over 45,000 acres of state public lands, while protecting environmentally sensitive areas and putting our natural resources to work for our state. As congressman, I will prioritize opening Montana’s public lands that have been closed by the federal government, working to improve federal land management, and encouraging natural resource development in a way that respects the environment and fosters job creation.
Do you support changes to federal gun laws? If so, what specific changes do you want to see?
No—the Constitution could not be clearer: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Our Second Amendment Rights are not up for negotiation. I will always protect our gun rights and you can count on me to fight back against any attempt by Washington bureaucrats or any politician who tries to take our guns away or erode our right to keep and bear arms. In stark contrast to my opponent who has actively advocated for strict gun control measures and has said she is proud of her “F” rating from the NRA, I am proud to have received the endorsement of, and “A” rating from, the NRA, as well as the Montana Shooting Sports Association. I will always be a staunch defender of our 2nd Amendment rights, extensive hunting heritage, and the ability of each individual to protect themselves.
What role, if any, should the federal government take in addressing the effects of climate change?
While I believe that we must continue to be cognizant of pollutant levels and protecting our environment, the anti-fossil fuel, Green New Deal policies of my opponent are radical and unacceptable. The Green New Deal policies would decimate our already fragile economy, dramatically increase energy costs, and destroy Montana’s energy, agriculture, and natural resource industries. Over the last several decades, Americans have gotten more environmentally conscious and private industry has responded with incredible innovation and the development of new green technologies that are more energy efficient and emit far fewer pollutants. These technologies have come from private companies being given the freedom to innovate, not from the heavy hand of government. We must continue to foster green innovation, not stamp it out with big government mandates on our businesses.
Protests this summer called for reforms in policing systems across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. What, if any, changes do you think should be made in response to these requests and what is the role of Congress in changing policing systems?
The death of George Floyd was a tragedy, and people across our nation were right to call for change and voice their concern by expressing their First Amendment right to peacefully protest. Unfortunately, much of what has gone on across our country in recent months were not peaceful protests, but violent riots and criminal activity that threatened the lives of law enforcement and innocent bystanders. And while I believe that policies should be reviewed to see how they can be improved, I find the efforts to chip away at funding for law enforcement incredibly troubling and irresponsible. Calls to defund the police are ridiculous. If anything, we need to be providing our law enforcement officers with more resources and more training—not asking them to put their lives on the line without the resources to do their jobs. I will always support law enforcement and the incredibly difficult job they do.
If elected, what legislation would you make your top priority during your first term in office?
If elected, one of my first tasks will be focusing in on legislation that can speed the economic recovery of our state. The pandemic has forced economic hardship on many Montanans and doing all I can to lessen the regulatory burden on businesses and make it easier for them to stay open, keep their employees, or hire more people is my first priority. I believe we need to do more to shield businesses that are following the recommended CDC public health guidelines from pandemic liability. Without certainty and protection, many businesses are fearful of remaining open or increasing their capacity due to the potential liability to their business if someone tests positive for COVID-19 after they are in contact with the business, even if there is no way to prove that the individual’s exposure is in any way linked to that business. I believe providing small businesses this certainty is a necessary part of ensuring that our economy gets back on track. 11. Would you have voted to impeach President Donald Trump? Why? Absolutely not. The only thing the impeachment sham proved is that Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats will do whatever it takes to overturn the will of the people and obstruct the Trump Administration’s America first agenda. I am proud to have President Trump’s endorsement, and I look forward to helping him advance his agenda and continue his good work on behalf of the American people.
Both Congress and the country are deeply politically divided. Would you take steps to bridge this divide and, if so, how?
I don’t care about labels and I don’t think most Montanans do either. I care about advancing the core Montana values of faith, freedom, and family, and I am willing to work with anyone, Democrat or Republican, who is committed to doing the same. As Montana’s lone representative in Congress, I would represent all Montanans, regardless of party affiliation, and fight to protect our Montana way of life.
What steps will you take to make sure you are accessible and heard by your constituents if elected? Will this focus on in-person or remote town halls?
I believe that being elected is about serving those who elected you, and that means listening to their input and taking direction from the people of Montana. We are fortunate enough to be living in a time where there are numerous ways of connecting and communicating with people across our state—and I intend to use all of them that I can to be as accessible and responsive as possible.
What other issues are important to your campaign?
While many of our elected officials have taken steps to improve veterans benefits and access to healthcare, there is still much work to be done. As Montana’s Congressman, I would fight tooth-and-nail to make sure our veterans are receiving the benefits they have been promised. They certainly kept their promise to our nation, the very least we can do is keep ours.
I also believe we need to continue to build on the great work that President Trump has done to remove unnecessary red tape and unleash our natural resource industries. Developing our natural resources and protecting our environment are key components of creating economic growth and are not mutually exclusive—both play a critical role in ensuring the health of our economy. Now more than ever, in order to get our country’s economy back on track, we will need to make sure we are not bogging down businesses with overly burdensome, duplicative regulations.