Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Efforts by Rep. Matt Rosendale and a small group of House Republicans to block a federal spending package that's needed to fund the federal government, including veteran care and public lands, appeared to be on a path toward failure on Tuesday.

The $1.7 trillion spending package would fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year. The package has the support of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and House Democrats, but has created a rift among some Republicans in the House.

Rosendale is one of a few House Republicans attempting to block the bill's passage by imploring party members to not pass a “'lame duck' spending bill just days before members fly home for Christmas and two weeks before a new Republican majority is sworn in.”

Rosendale joined the letter with Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, both of whom have been referred to the House Ethics Committee for failing to comply with a subpoena regarding efforts to interfere with the 2020 election results.

Three other names on the letter have yet to be sworn into Congress.

“This slated 'omnibus' spending bill' is an indefensible assault on the American people. It is an assault on the separation of powers. It is an assault on fiscal responsibility. It is an assault on basic civic decency,” Rosendale's letter reads. “A vote for any omnibus in the remaining days of a Democrat led government is a vote in favor of that assault.”


The letter went on to say that if their GOP colleagues didn’t prevent the bill from moving forward “there is no point in pretending we are a united party, and we must prepare for a new political reality.”

Rosendale hasn't publicly clarified what that new “political reality” may be.

Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, praised aspects of the bill, including its funding and provisions to expand medical care and benefits for veterans and its support for the military.

That includes $118 billion for VA medical care, including mental health, women's health and veteran homelessness. It also provides $88 million for a construction project at Fort Harrison to improve healthcare services.

“I’m proud to have worked with Republicans and Democrats to craft a bill that includes a number of my top priorities, including benefits for toxic-exposed vets, streamlining claims filing, supporting veterans facing homelessness, bolstering suicide prevention, and better services for veterans,” Tester said. “These investments are key to taking care of our service members and their families both during and after their time in uniform.”

The bill also increases funding for public lands and habitat conservation. According to Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service would see an increase, including $23 million more for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act would receive $50 million, and $81 million is allocated for sage grouse habitat conservation. The bill also includes funding to address the threat of chronic wasting disease, and it leverages projects within the Land and Water Conservation Fund to secure access to public lands.

“We are excited that our congressional champs found a way to include important provisions to our community and get them over the finish line,” said Land Tawney, the organization's president. “Their recognition of the vital roles public land, water and wildlife play in our everyday lives is much appreciated. Their investment in science and overall management is applauded.”