BILLINGS- In his first sit-down television interview since becoming Montana’s congressman, Republican Matt Rosendale spoke openly about the election, inauguration, insurrection, and a whole slew of other items facing Montanans.
The freshman representative spoke with MTN News’ Andrea Lutz Friday at the Billings Public Library after spending the last several days touring areas of eastern Montana impacted by the halt of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
When it comes to the pipeline, following an order to revoke the permit from Democratic President Joe Biden, Rosendale said he’s currently working with a group of western U.S. lawmakers asking Biden to reconsider.
“I’m looking at absolutely every opportunity that I can to try and make sure that we can get this permit back in place to get this construction going,” he said.
He says, already about 200 jobs have been lost, but that’s not all.
“When you start talking about counties that have populations of 1,500 to 3,000 people, and they’re going to have a loss of revenue of $2.5 (million) to $5 million a year. That is an enormous hit,” he said.
In Washington, one of Congress’s top projects is a robust $1.9 trillion relief package amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Rosendale says the current bill before Congress is riddled with other expenditures, and now is the time to stay focused on businesses.
“I think that we have to figure out who is actually suffering, because of a job being shut down and make sure that they are made whole,” he said. “So, let’s not just take a big paintbrush and say, everybody, is going to be treated the exact same.”
He’s already been assigned his committees, including being the top-ranking Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization along with a spot on the House Natural Resources Committee.
He says his biggest focuses also include, immigration and healthcare and believes experience through his former role as Montana’s state auditor will serve him well in this next chapter.
“The biggest thing that I see is we’ve got billions of dollars spent on establishing these records or information bases and the Department of Defense has theirs and Veterans Affairs has theirs, but they’re not communicating with each other,” he said. “And for our veterans to really receive the benefits that they’ve earned and that they certainly deserve, we have to have a smooth flow of information.”
He looked back at the past year’s major events, including the election, insurrection and inauguration. But he says in the first 30 days of Congress, little work was done because of it.
“I attended the inauguration. I believe in our institutions. I believe that they are solid and that we must support them,” he said. “But to have to go through a 10-foot fence with a razor wire on top of it, to attend the inauguration. It’s disturbing.”
And when asked about his relationship with Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, he says he plans to move forward. Rosendale called for the removal of the fellow Republican as chair of the House Republican Conference after she voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Rosendale says it’s now water under the bridge.
“Yesterday’s news was yesterday’s news. And what I focus on every day is what do we need to do today. Who can help me accomplish that today?” he said. “And if we have an issue that comes up and it’s going to be beneficial for the country and for our respective states to work together, absolutely I’ll sit down and work with them.”
Speaking for roughly a half-hour, Rosendale left no issue off the table for discussion.
“It’s an honor to represent the people across the state,” he said.
And when it comes to Montana, he says he’s proud.
“I mean we get one representative. And when I walk into a committee meeting or a caucus meeting they know, the guy from Montana, he represents 144,000 square miles, and about a million people and they also know that I keep in touch with all of them and it is an honor to represent the people.”