As a former U.S. Air Force air traffic controller for six years, I saw payday lenders prey on men and women in uniform. Financial distress is the top reason military personnel take their own lives. The Military Lending Act gave relief to active duty service members. Payday loans are prohibited under the Act; a protection Montana voters extended to Montana residents in 2010. Soon after the MLA passed, payday lenders around military bases shut down. The MLA only applies to active duty service members, not veterans. This act helps the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau go after illegal debt trap loans that target service-members. Problem is, once you're out, it no longer applies.

What happens if payday lenders make loans to active duty service members? Or veterans in Montana? You’ll need the Consumer Bureau or attorney general to go after payday lenders who break the law, and offer debt relief to veterans and families affected. USAF’s Chief Master Sergeant James Cody told Congress this himself. The Consumer Bureau recently issued protections for veterans, and civilians; not as strong as Montana law, but still some much-needed help for Americans.

Montana Rep. Gianforte got the opportunity to continue to allow the CFPB to enforce payday regulations. He chose to support payday lenders, turning his back on veterans. This vote shows that Rep. Gianforte is not voting on behalf of Montana values, and that he is against enforcing protections that support service-members and our families. Supporting the Consumer Bureau's new protections, gives him an opportunity to represent us better.

Caleb Harper