Steve Daines

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Steve Daines
Steve Daines, Official Portrait, 116th Congress.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
United States Senator
from Montana
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with Jon Tester
Preceded byJohn Walsh
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's at-large district
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byDenny Rehberg
Succeeded byRyan Zinke
Personal details
Born
Steven David Daines

(1962-08-20) August 20, 1962 (age 59)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Cindy Daines
(m. 1986)
Children4
RelativesJay Owenhouse (brother-in-law)[1]
EducationMontana State University (BS)
WebsiteSenate website

Steven David Daines (/ˈdnz/ DAYNZ; born August 20, 1962) is an American politician and former corporate executive[2] serving as the junior United States Senator for Montana since 2015. A Republican, he served as the U.S. Representative for Montana's at-large congressional district from 2013 to 2015. In 2014, Daines won Montana's open U.S. Senate seat. He was reelected in 2020, defeating the Democratic nominee, Montana Governor Steve Bullock. Before entering politics, Daines worked for Procter & Gamble and RightNow Technologies.

Early life and education[edit]

Daines was born in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles[3] to Sharon R. and Clair W. Daines. The family moved to Montana in 1964. He was raised in Bozeman, where he attended school from kindergarten through college.[4]

Daines graduated from Bozeman High School, where he served as student body president.[5] He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Montana State University. At Montana State, he became a brother of Sigma Nu.[6]

Early political involvement[edit]

In his senior year, Daines was one of the youngest delegates at the 1984 Republican National Convention. "I was a big fan of Ronald Reagan. He was the first president I got to vote for," he has said.[7] Daines was also the president of MSU College Republicans. In 2007, he and his wife started a website, GiveItBack.com, which urged governor Brian Schweitzer to return the state's $1 billion surplus to taxpayers. From 2007 to 2008, he served as Montana state chairman for Republican Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign and as a national surrogate for Huckabee.[8]

Business career[edit]

Daines spent 13 years with Procter & Gamble.[9] After seven years managing operations in the United States, he and his family moved to Hong Kong and China for six years, opening factories to expand Procter & Gamble's Asian business.[9] During his 2014 Senate campaign, Democratic opponents alleged that Daines had outsourced U.S. jobs to China. He stated that he created hundreds of jobs in Montana when he worked for RightNow Technologies.[10]

In 1997, Daines left Procter & Gamble to join the family construction business in Bozeman. Three years later, he met Greg Gianforte, founder of RightNow Technologies, and was put in charge of running RightNow's customer care division.[5] Daines went on to become vice president of North America Sales and vice president of the Asia-Pacific division. During his tenure, the cloud-based software company became publicly traded and Bozeman's largest commercial employer. Daines remained with the company until March 2012, when he left to campaign for Congress full-time.[5]

2008 gubernatorial election[edit]

Daines ran for lieutenant governor of Montana in 2008 with Roy Brown, the Republican nominee for governor. They challenged incumbent Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer and his running mate John Bohlinger. Brown and Daines lost the election 65%–33%, winning only seven of Montana's 56 counties.[11][12][13]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 election[edit]

On November 13, 2010, Daines announced he would run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jon Tester in 2012.[14]

When U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg announced his intention to challenge Tester, Daines dropped out of the Senate race and announced his candidacy for the House seat Rehberg was vacating.[15] He won the three-way Republican primary with 71% of the vote.[16][17] In the general election, Daines defeated Democratic state senator Kim Gillan, 53%–43%. He won 48 of the state's 56 counties.[18][19]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Western Caucus
  • Congressional Rural Caucus
  • Republican Study Committee
  • NW Energy Caucus
  • Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus

U.S. Senate[edit]

Freshman portrait (2015)

2014 election[edit]

In July 2013, Daines attended a NRSC fundraiser in Washington, prompting speculation that he would run for Max Baucus's soon to be vacant U.S. Senate seat.[20] In the second quarter of 2013, he disclosed raising $415,000 in campaign funds, fueling more speculation.[21] On November 6, 2013, Daines announced his candidacy.[22]

In February 2014, Baucus resigned from the Senate to accept a post as U.S. ambassador to China. Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, appointed lieutenant governor John Walsh to the vacant Senate seat for the remainder of Baucus's term. Walsh had already declared his intention to run for the Senate in 2014, and it was suggested that his appointment might give him the advantage of incumbency, improving Democratic chances of holding the seat.[23][24][25]

Daines won the Republican primary on June 3, 2014, with 83.4% of the vote against Missoula state representative Champ Edmunds and political newcomer Susan Cundiff.[26][27] Walsh won the Democratic primary with 64% of the vote.[28]

In August 2014, Walsh withdrew from the race following the publication of a New York Times article that accused him of plagiarism in a paper written as part of his master's degree work at the U.S. Army War College. With only 50 days until the election, a special convention called by the Montana Democratic party nominated Butte legislator Amanda Curtis.[29][30][31]

Daines won the general election with 57.8% of the vote to Curtis's 40.1%.[32]

2020 election[edit]

Daines was reelected in 2020, defeating Bullock with 55% of the vote.[33][34] Democrats outspent Republicans by $19 million on the race, $82–63 million; it was one of the most expensive Senate races in the 2020 cycle.[35]

Tenure[edit]

117th Congress (2021–present)[edit]

Before the 2021 United States Electoral College vote count, Daines said he would object to certifying the electoral count over unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.[36] He was participating in the certification when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. During the attack, he tweeted "I condemn any kind of violence and intimidation. This is unacceptable."[37] Daines changed his mind on objecting to the certification during the attack. He also called the insurrection "a sad day for our country" and said, "destruction and violence we saw at our Capitol today is an assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law, and must not be tolerated." He called for a peaceful transfer of power.[38][39] The Billings Gazette electoral board called for Daines to apologize to Joe Biden for his role in opposing the certification. Daines rejected calls for Trump to resign or be impeached in the wake of the attack.[40][41]

During the Biden administration, Daines sought to block Deb Haaland's nomination as Interior Secretary.[42]

Committee assignments

Current

Previous

Political positions[edit]

Daines is considered politically conservative. The American Conservative Union's Center for Legislative Accountability gives him a lifetime rating of 84.79.[43] The politically liberal Americans for Democratic Action gave him a score of 5% for 2019.[44]

Abortion[edit]

Daines opposes legalized abortion except to protect the life of the mother.[45]

Budget and taxes[edit]

Daines introduced his first bill, the Balanced Budget Accountability Act in February 2013. The bill would have required members of Congress to pass a budget that would balance in ten years or have their pay terminated.[46] Daines supported the No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013, which would put members of Congress's salaries in an escrow account unless they passed a budget by April 15, 2013.[47]

Daines has opposed an internet sales tax, which would allow states to collect taxes on online sales. He has called legislation to provide the authority "a job-killing tax hike that hurts American small businesses".[48]

D.C. statehood[edit]

In June 2020, Daines argued against statehood for the District of Columbia, saying that most Americans oppose statehood for the U.S. capital and suggesting that members of Congress "get out of this city, go out to where the real people are at across our country and ask them what they think."[49] Critics objected to his implication that D.C., a city of more than 705,000, nearly half of whom are Black, are not "real people". Further pressed, Daines explained that people outside the D.C. "bubble" oppose statehood, while those in D.C. support it.[49][50]

Donald Trump[edit]

According to the Helena Independent Record, Daines had by 2020 "aggressively tied himself to Trump, both backing and defending the president over the last three years".[51] During Trump's presidency, Daines voted with Trump's stated public policy positions 86% of the time.[52]

In the 2018–2019 United States federal government shutdown, when Congress would not meet Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds for a U.S.–Mexico border wall, Daines voted for a bill that put $5.7 billion towards the border wall and against a bill that would have funded the government without putting resources toward a wall.[53]

Daines voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to his request that Ukraine announce an investigation into Joe Biden.[54] He said Trump had not committed a crime, that Democrats had "not done their complete homework", and that it was the most partisan impeachment trial in history.[55] Daines said the purpose of the impeachment was to "[overturn] the election of 2016 and [try] to define the election of 2020".[55] During the trial, he voted not to hear witnesses and to block the Senate from subpoenaing documents from the White House.[51][56]

Daines was supportive of Trump's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[57][58][59]

In June 2020, amid protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Daines defended Trump's decision to disperse protestors with a chemical irritant so that he could stage a photo op in front of St. John's Church, saying he was "grateful for the president's leadership".[60][61][62]

In October 2020, during the lead-up to his reelection bid, Daines began to shift his rhetoric about Trump.[63][clarification needed]

On January 2, 2021, Daines joined 11 other Republican senators in an attempt to overturn the presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.[64][65] Trump and his allies made false claims of fraud in the election.[66] Daines later withdrew his objection to counting the two states' electoral votes.[67]

On May 28, 2021, Daines voted against creating an independent commission to investigate the 2021 United States Capitol attack.[68]

Education[edit]

Daines has proposed abolishing the United States Department of Education and in 2019 co-authored the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act, to allow state and local governments to withdraw from federal education requirements.[69]

Energy and environment[edit]

Daines rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. In 2019, he said, "to suggest that [climate change] human-caused is not a sound scientific conclusion."[70]

Daines criticized President Barack Obama for his administration's positions on natural resource development, calling Obama's 2013 climate change proposal a "job killer" and a "war on American energy".[71][72] He co-sponsored the Northern Route Approval Act, which would allow for congressional approval of the Keystone pipeline.[73] Daines expressed strong support of Montana's coal industry[74] and oil production in eastern Montana and the Bakken formation.[75]

On June 5, 2013, Daines introduced the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013, which would withdraw 430,000 acres of federal lands in Montana from programs to develop geothermal and mineral resources.[76][77] The law would forbid mountaintop removal mining and other natural resource development.[77] The affected lands lie adjacent to Glacier National Park and already have some protections.[76] Daines emphasized his desire "to rise above partisan politics, preserve the pristine landscape, and 'protect this critical watershed'" when he announced that he would be introducing the bill,[77] and said that both conservationists and energy companies supported it.[77] The bill, also supported by Tester and Walsh, passed in the House, but Senate Republicans prevented it from being voted on.[78][79]

Daines has called for litigation reforms to allow more logging in Montana's forests.[80][81] In April 2016, he signed on to the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, legislation to address the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools program by renewing the federal government's commitment to manage forest resources.[82]

In July 2019, Daines co-founded the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, a group of Republican members of Congress meant to focus on environmental issues with specific priorities including reducing water and ocean plastic pollution, and heightening access to public lands and waters in the United States for outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing.[83]

In February 2021, while Texas was suffering power outages amid a snowstorm, Daines tweeted, "This is a perfect example of the need for reliable energy sources like natural gas & coal" in a criticism of renewable energy such as wind turbines and solar energy. Failures in natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy systems caused nearly twice as much power outage as frozen wind turbines and solar panels.[84]

Foreign policy[edit]

Daines was a supporter of strong China-US relations, but became more critical of China during the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]

In August 2017, Daines co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison,[85] for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[86]

In January 2019, Daines was one of 11 Republican senators to vote to advance legislation intended to block Trump's lifting of sanctions against three Russian companies.[87]

In June 2019, Daines was one of eight senators to sign a letter to Premier of British Columbia John Horgan expressing concern over "the lack of oversight of Canadian mining projects near multiple transboundary rivers that originate in B.C. and flow into" Alaska, Idaho, Washington, and Montana. The senators requested that British Columbia replicate American efforts to protect watersheds.[88]

In January 2020, Daines expressed support for the US military's assassination of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani by drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport.[89]

Gun policy[edit]

Daines opposes gun control legislation. He has signaled opposition to proposals for expanded background checks and red flag laws, saying he does not believe such legislation would reduce gun violence.[90]

Health care[edit]

In 2017, Daines voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[91][92]

Immigration[edit]

Daines opposes allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to apply for temporary protection to stay in the United States; he believes the program is an executive overreach.[93]

Daines supported Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.[94]

Internet and technology[edit]

Daines opposes net neutrality and praised its 2017 repeal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).[95] In May 2018, he voted against legislation to overturn the FCC's ruling and restore net neutrality.[96]

In May 2020, Daines and Ron Wyden co-sponsored an amendment that would have required federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to obtain federal court warrants when collecting web search engine data from American citizens, nationals, or residents under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[97][98]

Judiciary[edit]

In May 2018, Daines announced his support for the so-called nuclear option "to speed up consideration of President Trump's judicial nominees". He has argued that changing the Senate's rules to a simple majority vote would "ensure a quicker pace on Trump's court picks".[99]

In September 2020, after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, Daines supported moving forward with Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the court before the November presidential election. He tweeted that he wanted to "protect our Montana way of life". In March 2016, after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, Daines said Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court should not be considered, as the "American people have already begun voting on who the next president will be" and Americans should "have their voices heard" via the 2016 election.[100]

LGBT rights[edit]

Daines opposes same-sex marriage and said he was "disappointed" in the Supreme Court's decision that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional.[101]

Personal life[edit]

Daines and his wife have four children. He enjoys mountain-climbing and has scaled Granite Peak and Grand Teton.[5]

In 2009, his sister, Susan Marie Owenhouse, died of primary sclerosing cholangitis. Owenhouse's husband was magician Jay Owenhouse.[1]

On October 4, 2018, Daines announced that he would be walking his daughter down the aisle during her wedding on October 6. This was the same day the US Senate was scheduled to vote on the nomination of Federal Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the position of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to replace the retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Daines did not vote, as the Republicans secured the necessary votes to confirm Kavanaugh. Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte offered Daines his private plane in the event he needed to fly to Washington D.C.[102] Kavanaugh was confirmed 50–48.[103]

Electoral history[edit]

2008 Montana gubernatorial election – Republican primary
Party Candidates Votes % +%
Republican Roy Brown/Steve Daines 65,883 80.81%
Republican Larry Steele/Harold Luce 15,643 19.19%
2008 Montana gubernatorial election
Party Candidates Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schweitzer/John Bohlinger 318,670 65.47%
Republican Roy Brown/Steve Daines 158,268 32.52%
Libertarian Stan Jones/Michael Baker 9,796 2.01%
2012 Montana's at-large congressional district election – Republican primary
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 82,843 71.25%
Republican Eric Brosten 21,012 18.07%
Republican Vincent Melkus 12,420 10.68%
2012 Montana's at-large congressional district election
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 255,468 53.25%
Democratic Kim Gillan 204,939 42.72%
Libertarian David Kaiser 19,333 4.03%
2014 U.S. Senate election in Montana – Republican primary
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 110,565 83.37%
Republican Susan Cundiff 11,909 8.98%
Republican Champ Edmunds 10,151 7.65%
2014 U.S. Senate election in Montana
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 213,709 57.79%
Democratic Amanda Curtis 148,184 40.07%
Libertarian Roger Roots 7,933 2.15%
2020 U.S. Senate election in Montana
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Steve Daines 333,237 55.01%
Democratic Steve Bullock 272,531 44.99%

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's at-large congressional district

2013–2015
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Montana
2008
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Montana
(Class 2)

2014, 2020
Most recent
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Montana
2015–present
Served alongside: Jon Tester
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
United States senators by seniority
69th
Succeeded by