Darrell Ehrlick

(Daily Montanan) In an hour-long call with constituents on Tuesday night, Congressman Matt Rosendale, a Republican representing the central and eastern part of the state, spoke on a wide range of topics ranging from January 6th protestors to Nancy Pelosi, but gave no indication that he’ll change course to stop a likely federal government shutdown on Saturday.

Rosendale, along with four other House members, placed the blame for the impasse on U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and U.S. President Joe Biden.

Rosendale told listeners to his tele-townhall that conservative House members had agreed in January to debate each of the dozen appropriations bills separately, and McCarthy’s own leadership had failed to bring them to the U.S. House floor with enough time, pointing out that the House’s appropriations committee had finished its work earlier in the summer.

Saying he was standing up to the “D.C. cartel,” Rosendale said he and others are unwilling to agree to a continuing resolution that would keep government funded at the current levels, and hinted that McCarthy is working behind the scenes with Democrats and some Republicans to keep the government running. Rosendale said if a motion to bring a continuing resolution to the floor, or working with Democrats happens, he said McCarthy risks losing his job.

“If a (continuing resolution) is brought to the floor, his job is in jeopardy,” Rosendale said, referring to a legislative procedure called “motion to vacate the chair,” which would trigger a vote on whether McCarthy should be retained as Speaker.

Rosendale said McCarthy has already showed a willingness to abandon his party and work with Democrats during the negotiations on the debt ceiling.

“This is a failure of leadership,” said Rosendale, referring to McCarthy. “Whether it’s negligence or malice, it doesn’t matter.”

The two-term Republican from Glendive instead said debating the dozen major spending bills is the only way to control the federal government. At least a dozen times during the hour-long call, Rosendale referred to the spending bills as “Nancy Pelosi’s budget” and “Joe Biden’s policies.”

Rosendale advocated that he would use the appropriations process to defund parts of the government, including “Biden’s alphabet agencies,” which include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of Justice; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; and the Internal Revenue Service.

He also repeatedly maintained that the same “alphabet” agencies had been “weaponized against the American people,” by prosecuting January 6th rioters while failing to investigate what he said are payments from countries including China and Russia to Biden’s children and grandchildren.

At various points during the phone call, Rosendale called for more investigations into Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, for his role in securing the southern U.S. border with Mexico. And, he said while he couldn’t defund the U.S. Attorney General’s position, Congress could impeach Merrick Garland.

Rosendale also said he was opposed to Russia’s actions against Ukraine, but he opposed any further funding of the war effort there until America’s southern border is secured.

“I have supported any provision to hold Russia accountable,” he said. “But I have not voted to send money and weapons there with no end.”

He said America should stop sending more weapons that will only destroy the Ukrainian country because he said it will be the United States that will probably have to rebuild it.

“Instead, we should be using our strength to force everyone to the table for a peace accord,” he said.

The Senate, transgender issues and Jan. 6

Rosendale took calls from constituents across Montana. The topics were a far-ranging conversation of hot-button issues, including one caller who asked if he would challenge incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat.

Rosendale noted the support of lawmakers in the Legislature, but demurred that he wasn’t going to talk about a possible Senate run on Tuesday night.

However, when the topic of learning about transgender individuals in Montana’s schools was brought up, Rosendale called for new leadership in school boards.

“It’s very disturbing to me that our kids are exposed to that type of lifestyle and beliefs,” he said. “Not one penny should be spent for that kind of information.”

He also called for Montanans to actively resist any further public health mandates related to COVID-19, calling the government’s action during the pandemic “unconstitutional.”

“Don’t consent. Don’t consent,” he said. “It’s outrageous that someone can tell you what you have to shoot in your body or what to cover your face with.”

He also chided the Biden administration and Democrats for not doing more to support American oil and energy, saying he won’t let Montanans forget that on the first day of Biden’s presidency he cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline.

“My colleagues across the aisle seem to think that our energy comes from rainbows and unicorns,” he said.

One of the final callers asked if Rosendale planned to do anything about the people who have been charged, prosecuted or convicted of the Jan. 6 insurrection, and Rosendale used the moment as a way to talk about the appropriations process, saying that more scrutiny needed to be given to the Department of Justice. He suggested that fellow conservatives have considered impeaching one of the judges who has presided over some Jan. 6 cases.

He also said that only those people who were told to leave the Capitol or committed other offenses on Jan. 6 should have been prosecuted. Those who were just part of the crowd who stormed the Capitol should not have been charged.

“I am distraught about Jan. 6,” he said. “I have met with one of the attorneys for many of them, and they’ve been overcharged. They’re being prosecuted in D.C, and it’s terrible and it bothers me deeply.”