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Around 50 people gathered at the steps of the Gallatin County Courthouse Friday evening to hear Sen. Steve Daines stump against President Joe Biden’s near $2 trillion social infrastructure and climate bill.

Montana’s Republican senator said in Bozeman that the key to the bill’s demise is recruiting one Democratic senator to vote against it.

Daines’ speech was part of a rally held by the Montana chapter of the Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit political advocacy group. The rally was part of the group’s campaign, dubbed the “End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree,” against the president’s social spending bill.

Rep. Matt Rosendale was also supposed to give a speech, but could not make it to the rally.

“This country is on a rapid slide towards socialism,” Daines said. “This is a battle between freedom and socialism, and it’s got to be stopped, and we need just one, just one Democratic senator, to stand up and say no.”

At the end of the rally, participants gathered on the steps for a photo with Daines, and began to chant “Vote ‘no’ Tester.”

The social infrastructure and climate bill was introduced in late September, and has since undergone many changes. Most notably, the cost decreased from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion over a 10 year period.

When asked by the Chronicle if there was any part of the bill that he supported, Daines said there was a reason that no Senate Republicans supported the bill. That reason, he said, was because of the “reckless” spending that could come with the $1.75 trillion package.

Daines said that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law in March, added fuel to the “burning inflation fire,” placing blame on the bill, which he voted against, for increased fuel and food prices.

Americans for Prosperity launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign against Biden’s bill in September, too, according to the group’s website. The campaign, known as “End Washington Waste: Stop the Spending Spree,” connected the proposed bill to an increase in gas prices and “replacing personal freedom with government control.”

Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were featured in the ads, which said the bill Biden-Sanders bill “would only make things worse.” Americans for Properity’s ads have not been updated to reflect the lower spending.

The money from the updated version of the bill would put roughly $550 billion toward combating climate change. The bill also includes $400 billion for universal childcare for pre-K children between 3 and 4 years old. The Child Tax Credit would be extended to next year, giving roughly 35 million families about $3,600 in tax breaks.

However, paid family and medical leave, two years of free community college and cutting prescription drug prices, did not make it to this latest version.

The fate of Biden’s bill is intertwined with the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which passed through the Senate in August on a 69-30 vote. Sen. Jon Tester voted in favor of the bill. Sen. Daines voted against it.

But that bill has remained in limbo as factions of House Democrats continue back and forth negotiations with the White House over the social infrastructure bill.

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which could bring billions of dollars to Montana to pay for highway projects, rural waterway projects, wildfire management, and broadband expansion, was supposed to be voted on by the House on Thursday.

However, the vote was swept to the side while progressive members in the House argued over the framework for Biden’s bill.

The framework of the bill could be paid for by a 15% minimum corporate income tax for corporations that report profits of over $1 billion, and an increase in income tax for Americans making over $10 and $25 million a year.

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Alex Miller is the county and state government reporter and can be reached at amiller@dailychronicle.com or by phone at 406-582-2648.

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