Rehberg votes against Montana firefighters, for another pay raise

As Montana burns, Congressman rejects $800 million in firefighting funding

No stranger to controversy, Rehberg sued his own fire department

September 14, 2012

BILLINGS, Mont.—Lobbyist Dennis Rehberg has turned his back on Montana firefighters yet again, voting this week against a critical $800 million in funding for emergency wildfire efforts in Montana and across western America–and for another pay raise for himself.

In an election-year move, Rehberg voted against bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that includes critical funding for wildland firefighters.

So far this year, wildfire has burned across 950,000 acres of land in Montana.

Despite Thursday’s vote against firefighters, Rehberg continues to support controversial tax breaks for millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas.

This is hardly Rehberg’s first irresponsible decision hurting Montana’s wildfires.

  • In 2010, the former lobbyist sued the City of Billings and its fire department after firefighters tried to put out a brush fire that threatened his former ranchland.  The small wildfire damaged no homes, and the lawsuit was dropped because it had not merit—after costing Billings taxpayers $21,000.
  • In 2007, Rehberg jetted off to Europe and South America as firefighters battled raging wildfires across Montana.  That year, as 1,800 wildfires scorched more than 800,000 acres of Montana, Rehberg enjoyed luxury hotels and gourmet meals paid for by taxpayers and special interest groups.
  • Rehberg also voted against a measure that would give collective bargaining rights to firefighters to ensure that they get paid for their service.

“Lobbyist Dennis Rehberg has turned his back on Montana once again, putting his own election ahead of what’s best for Montana,” said Montanans for Tester campaign spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff.

The legislation Rehberg rejected also included funding to allow the VA to process veterans’ disability claims more quickly, and funding for U.S. troops overseas.

Rehberg’s vote would have resulted in a pay raise for members of Congress.  This week’s vote was Rehberg’s sixth vote to raise his own pay raise since taking office 12 years ago.  Rehberg previsoulsy promised he would never vote for or accept a pay raise.