Steven David Daines (born August 20, 1962) is an American politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Montana since 2015. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as the U.S. Representative for Montana's at-large congressional district from 2013 to 2015. In the 2014 Senate election, Daines won an open seat, defeating Democratic nominee Amanda Curtis.
Balanced Budget & No Budget, No Pay
Daines introduced his first bill, the "Balanced Budget Accountability Act," in February 2013. Daines' bill would require Congress to pass a budget that would balance in 10 years or have their pay terminated. Daines also voted in support of No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-3) which required both chambers of Congress to pass a budget by April 15, 2013, or the salaries of Members of that chamber would be put in an escrow account.
Violence Against Women Act
In February 2013, Daines voted in support of the Violence Against Women Act, which passed the House with 199 House Democratic and 87 House Republican votes.
Daines has been vocal in his support for Second Amendment rights. In 2013, he called the Senate legislation to expand background checks "the wrong approach" and has been a vocal opponent of the bill, which failed to pass the Senate that April. He opposes any restrictions on gun purchases. Daines has also pledged to "block" any legislation that poses a threat to Second Amendment rights. In an April tour of a Billings, Montana, sporting goods shop and shooting range, Daines adopted the nickname "Dead-Eye Daines" after reaffirming his opposition to gun control measures and demonstrating his marksmanship skills.
Energy and natural resource development
Daines has criticized President Barack Obama for the Obama administration's positions on natural resource development, calling the President's June 2013 climate change proposal a "job killer" and a "war on American energy." Daines co-sponsored the "Northern Route Approval Act" which would allow for congressional approval of the Keystone pipeline. Daines has expressed strong support of Montana's coal industry and oil production in eastern Montana and the Bakken formation.
Daines has also called for the need for litigation reforms to clear the way for more active forest management and the revitalization of Montana's timber industry. In April, Daines 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.
In July 2019, Daines was one of nine lawmakers to become a founding member of 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.
North Fork Watershed Protection Act
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. The law would forbid mountaintop removal mining and other natural resource development. The affected lands lie adjacent to Glacier National Park and already have some protections. Rep. 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. According to Daines, both conservationists and energy companies support the bill. The bill, also supported by Tester and Walsh, passed in the House; but Senate Republicans prevented it from being voted on, killing it in the Senate.
Daines supported the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill which reauthorizes nutrition and agriculture programs for the years 2014-2018.
Daines has opposed an Internet sales tax, which would allow states to collect taxes on online sales. He has characterized legislation to provide the authority as "a job-killing tax hike that hurts American small businesses.
Daines supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. He stated that "We are at war with Islamic extremists and anything less than 100 percent verification of these refugees' backgrounds puts our national security at risk. We need to take the time to examine our existing programs to ensure terrorists aren't entering our country. The safety of U.S. citizens must be our number one priority."
In January 2019, Daines was one of eleven Republican senators to vote to advance legislation intended to block President Trump's intent to lift sanctions against three Russian companies.
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" U.S. states Alaska, Idaho, Washington, and Montana. The senators requested British Columbia replicate American efforts to protect watersheds.
In August 2017, Daines co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, 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.
On February 8, 2017, Senator Daines, while presiding over the U.S. Senate invoked Rule 19 of the U.S. Senate to prevent Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) from reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King and first introduced during the 1986 U.S. Senate confirmation hearing for then-United States Attorney for Alabama Jeff Sessions to become a United States federal judge. King's letter, addressed to Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC), describes a 1984 prosecution by Sessions of Albert Turner and other members of the Perry County Civic League for voting fraud. Since Sessions was (in 2017) a sitting United States Senator (R-AL), the reading of the letter from 1986 during the 2017 confirmation hearing for Sessions's appointment as United States Attorney General would be impugning Senator Sessions. Daines was assisted by Elizabeth MacDonough, the current Parliamentarian of the United States Senate, who read the language of Rule 19 to freshman Senator Daines. Senator Daines "carefully repeated the language of Rule 19" while censuring Senator Warren.
Daines is one of the Senate Republicans arguing in favor of the "nuclear option", "to speed up consideration of President Trump's nominees". Changing the Senate's rules to a simple majority vote would "ensure a quicker pace on Trump's court picks".