Earlier this year, Republican party bosses in the U.S. House of Representatives took a big gamble by putting the TEA Party’s favorite boat crash survivor in charge of an important subcommittee–the one responsible for funding health care, financial aid, community health centers, and Head Start–just to name a few.
That means Dennis Rehberg, best known for naming post offices and suing firefighters, is now responsible for what could be his first real bill, and it happens to be an important one.
Here’s the hitch: Rehberg is the only subcommittee chairman (there are a dozen of them) who has yet to introduce his funding bill for the next fiscal year. He was supposed to unveil his plan in July like everyone else. Then he was supposed to do it last week, but he canceled again. Now, who knows?
With a matter of days until the deadline, Congress is now waiting for Montana’s Congressman to make some big-kid decisions about what to do with his “Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Act.”
But what is Rehberg’s committee up to? The thing he does best. Nothing.
Doing nothing is what Rehberg is best at, but in this case, his doing nothing means keeping Montana citizens who want a voice in these important budget proposals in the dark. Dennis Rehberg likes to preach transparency and open government, but we’re all still waiting for it.
What is Rehberg planning to cut? What does he want to spare? What have Montanans told him during his August town hall meetings? Oh, wait. Strike that. Only Jon Tester and Max Baucus held public events in August to hear from the people they serve.
Below the fold there’s a closer look at just some of the things Dennis Rehberg is responsible for, but refuses to talk about:
Health and Human Services
· Community health centers
· Head Start, which provides comprehensive early childhood services, including educational, health, nutritional, and social services for low-income children before they enter school
· Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), which ensures all households can stay warm in the winter
· Nutrition and other services for seniors, including nutrition, transportation, and other supportive services for elderly Americans
· Public health efforts administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
· Training for students across health professions, nursing fields, and dental care workers
· National Institutes of Health (which conducts research to help improve the quality of health care)
· Mental health services and treatment programs administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, including programs for children and homeless
· Nursing home and medical facilities inspections
· The Social Security Administration
· Pell Grants (or as Rehberg calls them, “welfare”) which help ensure access to higher educational opportunities for low- and middle-income students by providing need-based financial assistance for college costs
· Title I Grants to school districts help ensure that approximately 20 million disadvantaged children in nearly 55,000 public schools obtain the educational skills they need to compete in a global economy.
· Assistance to schools across the country with chronically poor academic performance
· After-school centers, which provide tutoring, mentoring and enrichment activities for children
· Teacher Incentive Fund, which supports school districts and States that aim to reward effective teaching through compensation systems that reward entire high-need schools for raising student achievement
· Charter Schools
· Striving Readers, an initiative that helps struggling students build their literacy skills
· The High School Graduation Initiative, which targets assistance to high schools that disproportionately contribute to the nation’s dropout crisis
· Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which provides Federal support for special education
· Adult Basic Literacy Education State Grants, which help adults to acquire basic literacy skills, complete a secondary education
· The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
· Veterans Employment and Training
· Programs providing training and supportive services to workers affected by mass layoffs and plant closures
· YouthBuild, which allows at-risk youth to gain high school credentials and construction skills training while building affordable housing for low-income families.
· Green Jobs programs that help workers enter careers in emerging green industries
· Career Pathways Innovation Fund, which provides competitive grants to community colleges and partnerships with local adult education providers to prepare workers for careers in high-demand and emerging industries
· Older Americans Community Service Programs, which provide community service opportunities for low-income seniors
· Unemployment Insurance Operations, helping states process Unemployment Insurance benefits
· Centers of Excellence for Veterans Success, which provide college and university-based support centers for veterans seeking to obtain a post-secondary education
· Worker protection agencies, including the Employment Benefits Security Administration, Employment Standards Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration
· Corporation for National and Community Service, which supports AmeriCorps members