Daines on agriculture, climate change and Russia

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) recently participated in a Q&A with NBC Montana to discuss his thoughts on Russia, his agricultural summit, the Paris Climate Accord, health care and U.S. Rep.-elect Gianforte.

NBC Montana: Your ag summit just wrapped up. What did you learn? Why do Montana farmers have reason to be optimistic?

Sen. Daines: Well, we had two of the nation’s top ag leaders at the Montana Ag Summit in Great Falls, we had the new U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, as well as the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Ag Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. Today I’m thrilled to announce for the first time in 13 years U.S. beef will be shipped to China. You know that China is the world’s second largest beef market, and after my two official trade missions to Beijing, including meeting with the Chinese Premier, as well as endless conversations with the Trump and Obama administrations, the ban is over. It’s time to see Montana beef in China.

NBC Montana: It’s the Monday after the “Super Bowl of politics.” What did you make of Thursday’s congressional hearing with Mr. Comey? Does what we learned impact Montana?

Sen. Daines: Well, we have an obligation to hold Washington accountable to the people, up to and including the President, and we need the bipartisan U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to continue its ongoing investigation, and we need a special prosecutor to take care of the criminal aspects of the Russia investigation at the Department of Justice.

NBC Montana: Do you agree with the President’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord? What would you say to Montanans concerned about the shift in the country’s climate policy?

Sen. Daines: Well, withdrawing from this unenforceable agreement is good news for Montanans. It would’ve raised utility rates for hardworking Montana families and cost Montana jobs. We all want clean water. We all want clean air, but this deal was a bad deal.

NBC Montana: How does the American Health Care Act CBO score influence your opinion of the new Republican health care bill? Do you expect it to pass?

Sen. Daines: Well, health care needs to be affordable for rural states like Montana. Obamacare premiums in Montana have increased 27 to 58 percent alone this past year, and they’ve increased 133 percent over the last five years on the individual market. There’s nothing affordable about Obamacare. We need to replace Obamacare with a patient-centered health care solution that is a real Montana-based solution that protects Medicaid for who it was originally intended for — for pregnant women, for the poorest in our society and people with disabilities.

NBC Montana: A question about the CBO score is what prompted an attack on a reporter by Montana’s now U.S. Representative-elect. Have you spoken to Mr. Gianforte since his election victory? Do you expect the incident to impact his ability to be an effective representative?

Sen. Daines: Well, I spoke to Greg after his victory and wished him the very best. I think he’s going to be a great partner with me back here in Washington, D.C., serving the people of Montana.

NBC Montana: With the ag summit wrapped up, what will you focus on now?

Sen. Daines: Well, I’ll continue to bring the voice of Montana to Washington, D.C. There’s a lot of issues facing our country at the moment, and I’ll remain engaged and ensure that we create more good-paying jobs for Montanans.