It’s not very often that you see the schedules take center stage in Montana’s Congressional Delegation relations. However, this August is different, as what Montana’s members of Congress are (or are not) doing in their spare time is front and center in the debate between Republicans and Democrats.
As Lee Newspaper’s Mike Dennison notes, Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) is taking advantage of the August congressional recess to hold his 72nd townhall meeting, while Montana’s Democratic US Senators offered a mixed reaction. Nonetheless, the issue of holding townhall meetings lies at the heart of the debate over the policies of the current Democratic-controlled Congress and White House.
While conventional political wisdom says Democrats are under fire and Obama’s popularity is sagging, particularly in rural states like Montana, Tester says he’s not afraid to tout the accomplishments of the president and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
“It’s been an amazing year, when you look at having to have 60 votes (to pass big bills in the Senate), how much work we’ve got done,” he says, pointing to health care reform, financial reform, jobs bills, financial aid for students, tax credits to buy homes and more money for veterans’ health care.
Meanwhile, its not too often that you hear of a member of Congress being criticized for holding open townhall meetings, but here’s what Democratic Congressional Candidate Dennis McDonald had to say:
“There is a difference between a true listening session and a session that is set up for the purpose of campaigning,” McDonald says. “I think it’s pretty clear that what Rehberg has been doing is asking taxpayers to pay for his campaign.”
I noted in a separate post that Senator Baucus has finally broken the seal and held at least one semi-open listening session. As for when Senator Tester will be holding an open listening session? Judging by Dennison’s report, he’ll get back to us on that.