Great Falls Tribune: Montana’s federal lawmakers split on vote to reopen government

Montana Republicans Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte voted Monday to end the three-day government shutdown and reauthorize a children’s health care program. 

The bill passed with 81 votes – with 18 senators voting no, Daines said.

He said the bill includes a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which 24,000 Montana kids use, and will keep the government open until Feb. 8.

“It was pointless to shut the government down,” he said.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester opposed the bill, saying it failed to provide certainty for Montana.

“Montanans deserve better. A short-term, 17-day budget is no way to run a household or business, and it certainly isn’t an acceptable way to run a government,” he said. 

Gianforte voted to reopen the government and said he was thankful as it would help the military troops get paid and help 24,000 kids in the Childrens Health Insurance Program in Montana.

“We need to move beyond petty politics and get back to the issues that really matter to Montanans – creating good-paying Montana jobs, strengthening our national defense, taking care of our veterans, and protecting our public lands,” Gianforte said.

Tester said it showed a “failure of leadership in Washington and I will keep fighting tooth and nail for a long-term budget that funds Montana’s rural health clinics, strengthens border security, and provides our military with the certainty they need to keep our nation safe.”

He said the budget did not include any funding for Montana’s Community Health Centers or more resources for border security.