Key coverage in the race for U.S. House
Contributions by zip code: Kathleen Williams (D)
On the issues
Particularly as the nation deals with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, what federal action would you support to help create good, high-paying jobs for Montana workers?
Now, more than ever, it’s critical that every Montanan and American has the opportunity to craft and pursue their own American dream. The first jobs focus for the federal government related to the pandemic is to work hard now to effectively keep small businesses viable and to keep laid-off workers whole when it comes to income, health care, and other immediate needs. We need to ensure public resources go where they are needed most, including major employers. I’ve helped Montana through a crisis. I was first elected to the Montana Legislature just after the Great Recession and I got to work right away. I worked with both parties to pass a law that cut red tape and created over 200 new businesses, as well as created a new type of corporation attractive to entrepreneurs, worked to attract the film industry to the state, and reduced taxes for small businesses. I’ll continue that work to make sure all of Montana can succeed.
What separates you from your primary opponents as your party’s best candidate to represent Montana in Washington, D.C.?
Results. Over my 37-year career, and three terms in the Legislature, I’ve delivered results on complex and challenging issues. I’m running to bring true, honest representation for Montana to the U.S. House and to be an effective voice for the people of Montana. These are challenging times, and we need a member of Congress who can hit the ground running, whose strength and approach allows for effective action legislatively, with agencies, and on the ground.
I love this state — I’ve worked statewide, hunted statewide, and, as a legislator, worked to balance Montanans’ interests statewide. I’ve traveled from Plentywood to Darby, Troy to Broadus, to listen to Montanans’ needs and ensure I’m grounded in Montanans’ hopes, struggles and dreams, the needs of those communities and so many more in between. I’ll take that grounding to Congress and always put Montanans first. It’s past time we had that in our lone member of Congress.
If elected to the House, how would you attempt to bridge partisan divides to represent the concerns of Montanans who don't share your political orientation in Washington D.C.?
There’s much more that unites us than divides us. In Washington, I would continue what I’ve always done — bring people of all political stripes together to find creative solutions to the problems facing Montana and the nation. Despite being in the minority while serving in the Legislature, I was able to pass key protections for cancer patients, work to stop surprise billing, and create hundreds of new Montana businesses. And during my time working with farmers and ranchers across the West, it was about finding solutions to problems, not playing up our differences. There’s too much of that already in our politics, and I believe Montanans are tired of the same old arguments that get us nowhere.
Would you have voted to impeach President Donald Trump based on the evidence presented to the U.S. House last year? Why?
The president was accused of serious crimes and was afforded his opportunity to defend himself in the Senate. I’m incredibly concerned by this president’s actions, and I’m also concerned about the growing power of the executive branch, no matter who the president is. Congress must reassert its authority over important policy-making and ensure its oversight responsibilities are fulfilled. The president was impeached and his future is now in the hands of the voters.
Do you see reining in the federal debt as a priority? If so, how should that be accomplished? If you support new taxes, whom specifically should that burden fall on? If you support spending cuts, which specific places in the federal budget should be targeted? (We assume that working to minimize waste, fraud and abuse is a given.)
Fiscal responsibility needs to be more than just a talking point. As a member of (and vice chair in my final term in 2015) of the House Taxation Committee, we worked to advance an equitable system and ensure the state could balance its budget and fund important services that help Montanans. That’s why the revenue giveaway that was the 2017 tax bill continues to be so concerning. Not only will 83% of the benefit go to the top 1%, it also gave huge benefits to large corporations instead of small businesses. Stimulus bills should be used when they are needed, not when the economy is already improving. That action increased the national debt by 26% in 2018 alone.
We need to close the tax loopholes that allow some corporations to pay nearly 0% in taxes. If your business is truly based in America you should pay taxes just like everyone else. As for spending cuts, I’m all for efficiency in government; good audits can identify areas that need reform that could also save public dollars.
Do you support keeping the Affordable Care Act in place? What if any alternate federal policies would you support to promote Montanans’ access to safe, affordable health care?
Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care. The ACA created critical protections for those with preexisting conditions, allowed people to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, and created more competition in the marketplace — not to mention it tried to protect consumers from junk insurance. I have proposed allowing those 55 and older to be given the option to buy into Medicare. This would immediately lower costs for those in Medicare as well as those on private insurance and help us start to solve our patchwork of a health care system.
We must also allow Medicare to bargain for prescription drug prices. That could save $11 billion for use to help lower health costs overall. We must fully fund CHIP, the Community Health Center Funds, and protect Medicare and Medicaid from cuts. Mental health must always be included in comprehensive health policy. We need to ensure rural health care availability and improve services in Indian Country and for our veterans.
Do you believe the federal government has enacted effective policies to keep Montana’s family-owned farms viable businesses? If not, which pieces of federal policy would you push to change?
The family farm is the backbone of our heartland, but increasingly under threat. These threats are being aggravated in this pandemic. Multinational meat processing companies are increasing prices to consumers and decreasing payments to producers. We need to reinstate the PSA rollbacks that reduce producers’ ability to hold buyers accountable. Currently, non-U.S. meat can be labeled as a U.S. product if it’s processed here. We must make true Country of Origin Labelling the law of the land.
All businesses seek stable, predictable markets for their products. That’s not happening. Montanans spent 50 years developing a strain of wheat attractive to Japan, and now we’re losing market share to Canada and Australia. I worked with farmers and ranchers through much of my career — protecting their water rights, helping diversify their incomes, and working to address predator issues. I look forward to being the champion Montana agriculture needs and deserves in Congress.
Should the federal government consider transferring some federally held land into state ownership?
Do you support the Montana Water Rights Protection Act implementing the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes Water Compact in its current form before Congress?
Water rights across Montana are critical to our economy and future success. I was proud to be one of the key negotiators on the CSKT Water Compact and helped get it passed. That agreement ensures the rights of Tribes are clarified and secured. It protects state-based water rights across the western half of the state, and solves many additional issues as well for Montanans both on- and off-reservation. Whereas Senators Tester and Daines have shown leadership on this issue, Greg Gianforte has been noticeably absent. As your next member of Congress, you’ll have a continued champion for these solutions, and I’ll work hard to finally get the federal component of this agreement enacted.
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