Freshman Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., has entered the House with a bold plan to develop America’s natural resources and push back on the agenda of the far left.
Rosendale joined “The Daily Signal Podcast” during a recent trip to the U.S.- Mexico border to discuss why he ran for Congress, his former service in the Montana Legislature, the divisive moment the country finds itself in, and much more.
We also cover these stores:
- House Democrats put forward their case against former President Donald Trump in the impeachment trial slated to begin next week in the Senate.
- Two lawyers representing Trump in the impeachment trial lay out their defense.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says his state is committed to taking action against censorship by big tech companies.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
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Rachel del Guidice: Hi, everyone. This is Rachel del Guidice with The Daily Signal Podcast. I am here joined by Congressman Matt Rosendale of Montana. He is a new congressmen in this new Congress. And I’m just so happy to have you with us today.
Rep. Matt Rosendale: Good to be here. Thank you for having me, Rachel.
Del Guidice: Well, it’s great to have you with us. I want to start off talking about your service in Montana before running for Congress, so tell us a little bit about that and then also what led you to run for Congress.
Rosendale: Actually, 10 years ago, I was riding my horse four or five days a week and chasing cows around the ranch, and I really didn’t expect that I would be in this position right now.
I’ve been very engaged in politics my entire life, but I was building a business, I’m raising a family, and so I never really had the time that was necessary, what I felt, to dedicate to public service.
Once my boys were out of college and the community really came to me, and I found myself as chairman of the local AG association and president of the parish council at the Catholic church.
I’m very active in the church and they said, “Look, we are not getting proper representation in Eastern Montana in the Legislature,” and so folks recruited me to run for the Legislature, and I entered in 2010. I was elected to the [state] House. In 2012, I was elected to the [state] Senate. And in 2014, my colleagues elected me as the Senate majority leader.
It just really happened very quickly. And I’ve always said that I just want to serve where I can be the most effective for my community, and my community means my county, my state, or my nation.
Then the folks encouraged me to run for the open U.S. House seat because Greg Gianforte had disclosed that he was not seeking reelection. He was going to run for governor. And I obviously ran for the House seat and was able to win it.
Del Guidice: Well, congratulations. Before talking about going into Congress, what are some of the issues that you worked on in the Montana State House that you really saw [are] important to Montanans and really affected what you did on day to day there?
Rosendale: Sure. Really, the things that I focused on [were] trying to really lower the regulatory and tax burden on our businesses and put people in a better position to either start or expand businesses and grow job opportunities.
Then the last four years, I have been serving as the state auditor, which in Montana means I was the commissioner of securities and insurance. I’ve really focused the bulk of my efforts on trying to do something about the cost and the access to health care.
It has not been addressed. We still are dealing with these problems, but I was able to make some great strides to reduce the calls, to expand access, to guarantee coverage for preexisting conditions, and actually, in many cases, improve the quality of health care that people were receiving and start beginning to bend the cost curve down. Health care is a really big deal.
I sat on the state land board. We were responsible for managing 5.2 million acres of state school trust lands. Any agricultural lease, any mineral lease, any pipeline easement that protects harvesting of timber, all of those agreements were run through the state land board, and we would approve those.
We were generating somewhere between $40 and $45 million a year to put toward the K-12 education system for the state of Montana.
Del Guidice: Before we get to Congress, I have to ask you, you have a ranch out in Montana. Tell us about the ranch and what you do there.
Rosendale: I miss it a lot is what I do. People often ask me, “Do you get back to the ranch that often?” I said, “Yes, every night, just as soon as I close my eyes.”
It’s a wonderful place. It is about 20 miles north of a little town by the name of Glendive. It is on the Yellowstone River. By the time the Yellowstone River gets to me and my property, it’s been flowing about 600 miles, so it’s a big river. It’s not just a little trout stream.
And I’m very blessed, my wife Jean and I are very blessed to have the ranch and our sons. I have three sons. We have enjoyed every moment that we’ve been there.
Del Guidice: That’s awesome. I want to switch talking a little bit about Congress. You’re a new member there. What have been your reflections, before we get started talking about what you want to do? What have your reflections been on starting off at such a turbulent time in history right now?
Rosendale: It is and I will tell you my initial thought was that I was disappointed on swearing-in day. I have to tell you.
After going through swearing-in at the state Legislature, where we convene every other year, and you haven’t seen your colleagues from across the aisle. Your colleagues that are of the same party, you haven’t seen each other regularly for quite some time. We would come together and people would embrace, and they would greet each other.
The speaker, regardless of who they were, gave a very, very positive message to try to set the tone on trying to get work done.
Complete opposite, Day One, United States Congress, and I was disappointed. I thought that [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi delivered a very divisive message, and it was just not the same tone and tenor that I had hoped that we were going to start off with.
You deal with that, and you can’t let that one unfortunate day affect the work that you want to accomplish as you go forward.
Then, obviously, we’ve had a tumultuous time over the last three weeks, and we have gotten through that. We are beyond that and now, finally, I was told what committees I’m going to serve on.
I’m going to be on [the] Natural Resources and Veterans’ Affairs [committees], two committees that are going to be extremely important to the state of Montana. I’m looking forward to getting to work, quite frankly. I mean, this is what the people elected me for, and this is what I want to do.
Del Guidice: You talk about getting to work. What are some of the things that are top-line on your heart and mind as issues that you want to work on in Congress as you go forward?
Rosendale: Sure. On natural resources, there are so many natural resources that are located within our state that I want to make sure that they can be developed and utilized in a safe and environmentally sound method, and we can do that.
We’ve seen the practices have changed over the last several years and whether we’re talking about the new copper mine that has been permitted near White Sulphur Spring or whether we’re talking about a better management of our public lands where our national forests are located, so that we don’t have to watch them burn thousands and thousands of acres in the summer, we can actually harvest that timber and put it to good use.
Certainly, we want to make sure that our oil and gas resources are developed. That is a place where we’re going to have conflict with the new administration.
President [Joe] Biden has demonstrated by revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and revoking, at least for a stated period of time, any leases or drilling on public lands, that’s a problem. …
We have four refineries located in our state and in addition to having four refineries located in our state, we have a lot of people that work for those refineries and the ancillary businesses that feed them. The development of those energy resources not only drives a pretty good segment of our economy, but it also contributes dramatically to our national security.
This is something that we’ve seen over the last just four years under the previous administration, where we were able to go from being dependent upon other countries that were not friendly to the United States, to actually being not only energy independent, but energy dominant, so that we can start looking to our allies and helping them with their energy needs, so that they’re not dependent on some of these unfriendly nations either.
Del Guidice: Let’s talk a little bit too about the state of play where things are at. As you mentioned, we have a Democrat in the White House. President Biden is there. Now the House and Senate are both in Democrat control.
As you look forward into the coming weeks and months and years, we’ve heard talk of possibly Democrats voting to make D.C. and Puerto Rico a state; different policies like the Green New Deal—talk of that being implemented—the Equality Act.
In your perspective, where do you think and how do you think conservatives should work so that that type of policy is responded to in an adequate way?
Rosendale: That is [a] very good question. Obviously, in the House, the majority rules anything and so that is all it takes.
I hope that all my friends that are out there listening right now recognize when they were calling for the end to the filibuster, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea because, obviously, we’re going to end up being in the minority sometime or another, which is right now, where that could work against us.
Quite frankly, thank goodness there is still a filibuster in place because what I’m hoping is that the most damaging of those agenda items will be able to be stopped in the Senate, because they won’t have a 60-vote majority to be able to start pushing any of those issues forward onto the floor.
However, the Democrats do have control over the reconciliation process through budget, and it’s my understanding that they have not only this year’s budget, but they have ’21, ’22, and ’23 fiscal years that they’re able to utilize for reconciliation.
I also understand that right now, none of those most damaging agenda items can be attached to reconciliation to be pushed through.
I’m thinking that the Biden administration is going to try to use their executive powers to implement some of these things and fortunately then, it’s going to fall to our attorneys general across the country to be able to file lawsuits and keep these things from being implemented upon the states.
I have a very good relationship with my state attorney general. We came into the state Legislature as freshmen together in 2010. We’re very good friends. And I’ve already had a meeting, sat down and talked with him, and said, “We need to make sure that we are working together to push back on some of these most damaging issues.”
Del Guidice: Well, we were just on a trip to the border, got to see a bunch of different things.
One of the things that stood out to me was in different areas, since President Biden’s administration has stopped construction on the border wall, there’s these big areas of border wall that had been completed, but there’s so many different spots where they still need to finish and all of that’s being halted.
Congressman, can you tell me a little bit about your reflections from what you’ve seen and also just your thoughts on what else needs to happen here?
Rosendale: A couple of points that I took away from the border trip were, No. 1, as you said, to have just an immediate halt to all that construction was unfortunate.
On Day One, President Biden started killing jobs. And this isn’t rhetoric. These are just plain, simple facts—whether we’re talking about the closure of the Keystone pipeline, whether we’re talking about the halting of oil and gas permits on public properties. I mean, all of this started killing jobs immediately.
What we also saw was it was killing jobs immediately as we went down to the border, and we saw equipment parked and, like you say, construction on the wall halted and construction sites that were not complete. They hadn’t even finished the work that they were doing.
In the conversations with the different law enforcement people, the Border Patrol security and the local residents, they have major, major concerns about how this is going to impact the area going forward.
It was interesting to hear them say that the populations of people that are coming across the border on different areas are different types of people that they’re dealing with.
You have more of a criminal element in the mountainous, more isolated areas, as opposed to more of people that are just trying to seek an improvement in their life that are closer to the urban areas, as they are trying to come across the border.
I think one of the takeaways that everybody in our country needs to understand is that the people that I spoke to down at the border—whether we were talking about Border Patrol, whether we were talking about the local ranchers or the local authorities, the sheriff’s departments, and things like that—were very compassionate and cognizant of what was going on with these people that were coming in illegally to enter our country, and they felt bad for the ones that were being so harshly treated by this criminal element that was helping get them into our country.
They want to see the suffering, the human suffering stop. And the best way for us to keep that human suffering from taking place is to stop providing an incentive and a free pass for people to enter into our country.
Once they’ve recognize that they cannot just walk in and the deterrent is there, you won’t have this wall of humanity that’s trying to attack the border.
Del Guidice: Well, as we wrap up, we talked a little bit about how divisive everything is right now and as a man of faith, also as a leader in your community, and now in your country, what are some parting words you’d like to leave, not only to your constituents in Montana, … but the rest of the country, and what our outlook should be as we just try to move on and move up?
Rosendale: I think that, again, as a man of faith, I do place my faith in God and I pray daily that we can improve what is taking place here.
My hope is that I will be able to connect with enough other like-minded individuals in Congress, regardless of what side of the aisle that they’re sitting on, that we can basically take personalities and set them aside and look at what has proven to work to benefit our country in the past.
Because, look, you can talk about personalities all day long, but if we are really focused on improving the economy, expanding jobs, trying to make sure that we do something about health care, then let’s talk about those things and get everything else off of the table. And that’s what’s going to put our country in a better position, which means that the lives will be better for the people that we serve.
Del Guidice: Congressman Rosendale, thank you so much for joining us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.” It’s been great having you with us.
Rosendale: Thank you so much, Rachel. Good to see you.