Republicans in MT delegation support short-term budget fix - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Republicans in MT delegation support short-term budget fix

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U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont.
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.

Montana’s two Republican members of Congress said Wednesday they’ll support a GOP budget plan to keep the federal government open past Friday – including the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

Yet Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte said any budget plan should not be linked to immigration reforms, which are a separate issue.

“We have a deadline this Friday where we have to pass legislation to continue to fund the government,” Gianforte told MTN News Wednesday. “There is no deadline this Friday related to … this illegal immigration stuff.”

Both Gianforte and Daines said they oppose any government shutdown. However, it wasn’t clear Wednesday whether Republicans had enough votes from their own majority in the House to pass a plan.

The plan also may need Democratic votes to clear the U.S. Senate, where Republicans control a 51-49 majority but not the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

In a statement, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester indicated late Wednesday he wouldn't support the GOP plan, saying it funds the government for only four weeks and leaves out money for critical items like community health centers.

"Washington has broken political trust with the American people and it's time for the people who control Congress to start doing their jobs," he said.

The federal government will shut down Friday unless Congress passes a short-term budget bill.

However, some Democratic leaders have said they won’t support the measure unless it includes protection for so-called “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States as children. Without such protections, the dreamers may be subject to deportation later this year.

Daines said he does not favor extending protection for dreamers. Gianforte said he may support it, but only if other immigration reforms are included, such as ending “chain migration,” which allows legal immigrants to bring family members to the United States, and increased security along the border.

“You can’t do one without the other,” he said.

Daines also said he doesn’t necessarily agree with President Trump’s comments last week indicating that immigrants from countries in Africa and Latin America should be barred from entering the United States.

“I think it’s not necessarily a geography issue,” Daines told MTN News. “Number one, do we have processes to ensure that the people coming into this country have been thoroughly vetted, and do not pose a threat to our national security?”

Both Gianforte and Daines said they support the short-term budget fix proposed Tuesday by House GOP leaders – including a reauthorization of federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) and a repeal of some federal taxes that support the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

Federal CHIP funding provides health coverage for at least 23,000 Montana kids in lower-income families. State health officials have said the CHIP money runs out this month, unless its reauthorized.

“I didn’t come here to Washington shut down the government,” Gianforte said. “I plan to vote for the House plan to keep the government open.”

“I think it’s ridiculous that the threat of a shutdown looms over our country today,” Daines added. “I hope that reasonable minds will prevail here.”

About Mike Dennison

MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.
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