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Incumbent Rehberg strives for choice seat of House seniority

| October 27, 2004 12:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Dennis Rehberg is seeking a third term in the House of Representatives, a term he hopes begins to bear fruit for Montana as he gains more seniority.

³As you know everything in Congress is based on how long you¹ve been there,² Rehberg said. He has his eye on an appropriations committee. He presently sits on the Agricultural, Natural Resources and Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

The two primary issues he hears from Montanans are the War on Terror and the present five-year drought which is hitting the east side of the state hard. A third issue is the growth that Montana is presently experiencing.

Being a cattle and goat rancher from the Billings area, Rehberg has worked hard for agricultural issues. And he has supported the Bush Administration in the war on terrorism.

But the Montana representative has deviated from the Republican ranks on seeking to open re-importation of cheaper Canadian prescription drugs and he worked hard to secure a prescription drug benefit for low income seniors. He defends those positions by saying they are good for Montanans.

He said there is a lot of criticism of the burgeoning cost of the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

³There is a cost to it, of course there is a cost and we need to keep working at it into the future,² he said.

Rehberg is concerned that the Senate hasn¹t passed the administration¹s proposed energy bill. ³We still need energy,² he said. And the bill would benefit Montana by opening up coal development as well as oil and gas.

He talks about developing a tax credit for people who conserve energy, giving them an incentive to drive more energy-efficient vehicles.

³The same with health,² he said. ³Why not a tax credit for people who lead healthy life styles. Why not prevention as the first line in health care?²

He continued, ³The same thing with energy. We create disincentives to doing the right thing in this country.²

He suggested instead of paying an incentive to energy producers, it should be paid to the consumer for doing the right thing. ³That benefits both,² he said. ³We get too wrapped up (with the proposed legislation) on who it¹s going to benefit.²

Education is another area of concern for the representative. He said he works toward a public education system that enables every child to reach their potential.

He believes No Child Left Behind is the right step toward that and said it is adequately being funded despite cries of it being another ³unfunded mandate.²

³Is it perfect. No,² Rehberg said. ³But it identifies children with learning problems and provides the resources to solve that problem.²

On the recent controversy of the House letting the assault weapons ban lapse, Rehberg said it came down to a question of what was the problem.

³Is it a weapon or a person that is a problem,² he asked. ³It was allowed to sunset to show that the weapon is not a problem.²

The same approach was taken for the Patriot Act, he said. A sunset was written into the law to protect personal rights.

Libby remains a priority for Rehberg.

³My priority is the EPA funding for the Libby cleanup,² he said. ³I¹m trying to improve my position in Congress by getting on the appropriations committee. Then I can be involved in spending.²

Rehberg has been married to his high school sweetheart, Janice, for 25 years. They have three children. He graduated from Billings West High School and Eastern Washington University.