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Guest opinion: Daines right to gavel down Warren

Guest opinion: Daines right to gavel down Warren

Gazette Editor Darrell Ehrlick’s Feb. 23 column attempts to reprimand U.S. Sen. Steve Daines for not allowing a letter written by Coretta Scott King to be read on the floor of the Senate.

Unfortunately, Ehrlick gets the facts wrong and, more importantly, fails to realize that King or her letter aren’t the issue. To be clear, Americans of from all walks of like, including Daines, have great respect for King and the sacrifices she and her family have endured for the just cause of civil rights for all.

The real issue here is whether Washington begins to work for the American people or remains stuck in partisan gridlock. In November, the American people spoke out loud and clear for a new direction in Washington, one where their government works for the people and not the other way around. Montanans and millions of other Americans chose Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States.

One would think that three weeks would be enough time for a new president to nominate and the Senate to approve President Trump’s team so they can start working for the American people and begin keeping the promises made during the campaign. Unfortunately, Democrats in the Senate didn’t hear the American people. In fact, they have doubled-down on business as usual, finding ways to delay and disrupt the efforts of the new president.

Just eight years ago, the Senate confirmed more picks on the first day of President Obama’s presidency than have been confirmed in the first three weeks of Trump’s term. This isn’t what the American people voted for and Daines was absolutely correct to stand up for Montanans and say enough is enough.

So what happened the other night? Democrats had been forcing the Senate to remain in session 24 hours day, using hours on the Senate floor for their own political purposes, rather than legitimate debate about Trump’s nominees. While Daines presided over the Senate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts – one of the most left-leaning Democrats in Congress – rose to speak against the nomination of fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next attorney general.

But Warren didn’t take the Senate floor to debate or engage another senator in any meaningful discussion. She instead, was speaking to an empty room and the cameras, trashing the integrity of another senator to promote herself, her book and her political ambitions. She knew that she could not have gone down to the senate floor and made the same attacks using her own words so she instead veiled her attack by using the word of others.

Warren was advised that she was violating the rules, but she continued her tirade against the president’s nominee. Having been warned, the chair had no choice but uphold the rules and advise Warren that her time had concluded. When Senator Warren appealed the ruling of the chair, the Senate voted to uphold the ruling of Daines.

Just as we are a nation of laws, the U.S. Senate is a body governed by a set of rules. Rules that ensure that differences on the Senate floor are focused on policy and not each other. Rules that keep the U.S. Senate from becoming a middle-school playground where name calling is the norm. Rules that have established the Senate is the greatest deliberative body in the world.

One can understand why Warren and Ehrlick want to focus your attention on a letter from King – they want you to focus on the branch, not the forest for the trees. It’s disgraceful tactic by Warren and her fellow Democrat senators. And the editor is clearly unhappy that Montana chose the populist Trump over the so-called progressive policies of Clinton by 101,531 votes statewide and 18,749 in Yellowstone County. But to quote former President Obama, elections have consequences.

We need leadership in Washington to get things done for the American people. Montanans and Americans voted for that leadership in November and Daines should be congratulated for doing what was right and serving the people of Montana well.

Rep. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, is chairman of the Montana Republican Party.

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