Gianforte: 'The American Dream is coming back'


October 23, 2018

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., talks in a Quality Inn meeting room Monday during a campaign stop in Havre.

"The American Dream is coming back," U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., said Monday at the Quality Inn in Havre.

Gianforte, who is facing a re-election challenge by former state Democratic lawmaker Kathleen Williams and Billings attorney Elinor Swanson, a Libertarian, came to Havre to speak with local Republicans about his campaign and the progress that he has made in the past year in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He said he wanted to thank everybody who supported him during the special election last year.

The economy is on the rise, unemployment is at a 49-year low and wages are rising fast for low-income families, Gianforte said, showing the country is becoming stronger.

"We have always believed in this country that if you work hard and you persevere and you follow the rules, you can make a better life for yourself," he said. "That's the American Dream."

Tax Reform and "The Wall"

Gianforte said he recently heard a story about a single mother who is raising three kids.

"That's a tough job," Gianforte said.

He added that he heard that after the tax reform passed, which doubled the child tax credit to $2,000 per child and doubled the standard deduction for a single individual to $12,000, her monthly paycheck saw a $400 increase. That is the success of the tax reform, Gianforte said

"(It) made the light at the end of the tunnel a little brighter," he said.

He added that not a single Democrat voted for the tax reform and it was passed entirely by the Republicans in Congress and the president.

Gianforte said that as he has traveled through Montana he has talked to law enforcement officers who told him that Montana methamphetamine has nearly been completely replaced with "Mexican meth" that is coming across the southern border. He said that is why it is vitally important for Montana to support securing the border. He said that he was proud the country gave the president $1.5 billion for the wall to be built along the U.S.-Mexican border, adding that this investment will pay dividends in reduced law enforcement and the destruction that drugs are causing.

Military and human trafficking

The U.S. military has also received the largest raise in nine years, Gianforte said, adding that the military was starved under the continuous resolution but now there is an effort to rebuild the armed forces.

"If we have to send them in harm's way, they gotta be able to go there, get the job done and get home safely," Gianforte said.

Another issue that is being worked on is human trafficking, he said. Gianforte said a loophole existed that was abused, although earlier this year Congress closed that loophole. He added that within 30 days 80 percent of the major websites in the United States that were trafficking humans, mostly girls and young women, were shut down. One of the largest shut down was Backpage, he said.

"I'm proud that we got that done and, as a result, our communities are safer," Gianforte said.

Forest service and electronic logging data

Six months ago, he was also appointed as chair of the interior energy and environment congressional subcommittee, Gianforte said, adding that the committee's jurisdiction includes the Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.

He said with him in that position, Montana now has a "bright light to shine in dark places."

The first hearing Gianforte chaired was about the Forest Service putting gates across 21,000 miles of road in Montana, he said, cutting off access to public lands. He has also dealt with grazing allotments and hearings on energy development on reservation lands, he said.

He said he introduced a bill last summer to end the practice of paying legal fees to people or groups he called environmental extremists. Gianforte said the government does a good job managing the forest and effectively removing hazardous fuels. The problem is that whenever the Forest Service puts timber up for sale the department gets sued by these groups, he said, and after a fire it is difficult to utilize the timber because of these lawsuits.

It's not a forest management problem but a litigation problem, Gianforte said.

His Resilient Federal Forest Act has passed through the House and is attached to another appropriation that is going through the Senate, he said.

The bill allows for landscape-size salvage timber operations, Gianforte said, and requires reforesting 75 percent of the timber harvested so the process is effective and the timber can be salvaged when it is still profitable.

He added that this bill would exclude judicial review so "extremists" can't sue and shut down work.

"I believe when you manage forests, that is to remove hazardous fuels and all the dead, down, trees, it is a healthier forest," Gianforte said. "There is more wildlife. The conservationists win, we have timber going to our mills and the fires are less severe, everyone wins except the environmental extremists and the lawyers who represent them."

Electronic log data recording requirements for vehicles hauling livestock and agricultural products is another example of federal overreach, Gianforte said, and it negatively impacts Montana life.

Electronic logging limits how long a user can operate a truck, he said, and has no accommodation for rural America or the ag industry.

He said he and other members of the House sent four letters to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration in order to get an exemption for agricultural producers, and they are still woking on the issue.

He added that he has also introduced and co-sponsored several bills that would exempt anybody with 10 or fewer trucks and a bill to make ag producers completely exempt.

Gianforte said what needs to happen is a change to loosen some of the rules so loading time does not count and local transportation on a truck prior to loading does not count.

He said this effort is pushing forward and there has been some encouraging feedback from the Federal Motor Carriers.

Campaign, Social Security and Medicare

"I will always protect Social Security for seniors," Gianforte said.

He added that Social Security is a contract citizens have with the federal government and the only thing that jeopardizes Social Security is the growth of government and access spending.

The economy under the Trump Administration is the best possible thing for the some programs such as Social Security and Medicare, he said. He added that there is no reason to touch the funding for seniors' Medicare. Democrats want to provide Medicare for everyone, Gianforte said, and that will bankrupt the program and make people pay a large amount of taxes, such as a higher income tax.

Gianforte said the race has some real consequences. This election is about competing ideas, he said, adding that Montana's lone seat in the House can either stand with the president or it can be part of the resistance and stand with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Gianforte said the Trump Administration has delivered results and has created a stronger country but the Democrats can't see past their own plans.

He said their plan is to impeach the president, which he has voted against twice since he has been a member in the House; raise taxes and repeal the tax reform; open borders; provide single-payer health care, which he added would bankrupt the country, and threaten the Second Amendment.  

Elections are important, local or federal, and people should get out and vote, Gianforte said after the event, adding that he fully endorses state House District 32 Republican candidate Gilbert Bruce Meyers, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, in his bid for re-election and was at the event.

Since getting elected into the House, Gianforte said, he has traveled to all 56 counties of Montana, he said, and added that he is proud to have not spent a single weekend in Washington, D.C.

"I'm proud to stand with the president and continue to deliver results," Gianforte said, adding that it is a great pleasure to serve the people of Montana.


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