- Associated Press - Friday, February 17, 2017

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - Sen. Steve Daines fielded questions about his actions during recent Senate confirmation hearings as well as Republican plans to replace the Affordable Care Act during a tele-town hall on Thursday.

Daines told callers he silenced Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts during a Feb. 8 debate on Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general because she was impugning Sessions in violation of rules meant to keep Senate debate civil.

He said he warned Warren when she read the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s criticism of Sessions during a 1986 hearing on his nomination to a federal judgeship. Then Warren read from Coretta Scott King’s testimony, also opposing Sessions’ appointment as a federal judge, in which King said that Sessions used his powers as a U.S. attorney to “chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

After a motion by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Daines told Warren: “The senator will take her seat.”

Montana residents protested at Daines‘ offices around the state for his actions against Warren as well as his vote in favor of confirming Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Teachers unions opposed her appointment.



Daines told callers Thursday that he met with DeVos and that she is for both school choice and public education. He said the nearly $47,000 in campaign donations he received from DeVos and her family members did not sway his vote.

He heard from callers who have had both good and bad experiences with the Affordable Care Act. Daines said thoughtful discussions were taking place regarding a replacement and that a solution led by the states will be better than one coming from the federal government.

Daines said he disagreed with an appeals court decision that blocked President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

When asked if he would hold any town hall meetings, Daines said he decided to answer questions via telephone rather than in face-to-face discussions so more people could participate.

The tele-town hall was announced on Twitter 90 minutes before it began, the Great Falls Tribune reported. Daines‘ chief of staff, Jason Thielman, said about 25,000 people listened in.

Republican lawmakers around the country have faced hostile crowds at recent in-person town halls.

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