Issues

Kathleen knows how to get things done. These are her priorities:

 

AFFORDABLE, QUALITY HEALTHCARE FOR EVERYONE

Healthcare is personal for Kathleen. When she was eleven years old, her mother Marie started to lose her memory. When Marie got lost driving, Kathleen rode her bike out to find her and help her get home. Marie was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Kathleen and her father were her caregivers for the next seven years.

Kathleen personally knows what a healthcare crisis can do to a family. Fixing our broken healthcare system is her top priority.

CLICK HERE TO READ KATHLEEN'S PLAN

The ACA individual market is absolutely broken. Montanans are paying tens of thousands of dollars in premiums and deductibles before they even receive any service. That’s bankruptcy potential for Montana families.

Kathleen is the only candidate for Congress with a detailed, achievable plan to immediately reduce costs for Montanans. Her plan will stabilize the individual market and move to truly universal coverage. She will fight for the following:

  • Reinstating payments to insurers and individuals to keep the cost of individual plans down.
  • Making CHIP and the federal rural health center fund a permanent part of our healthcare system, not political footballs that get renewed every two or six years.
  • Lifting the restriction that prevents Medicare from bargaining for drug prices, allowing it to lower consumer costs through price negotiations, like Medicaid and the VA can do today.
  • Allowing people 55 and older to buy into Medicare, setting the stage to transform our healthcare system in a cost-effective, achievable way.
  • Devoting federal resources to combating the methamphetamine and opioid crisis.
  • Protecting Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Those are non-negotiable.

In the Montana Legislature  Kathleen had success on difficult healthcare issues. She crafted a law requiring insurers to make life-saving cancer treatment affordable. It took four years, it was tough, but it saved lives. That’s toughness and experience that money can’t buy. Only Kathleen can bring that record to Congress and fix our broken healthcare system.

A FAIR TAX CODE

Kathleen understands that tax policy must be progressive and address the increasing income disparity in Montana and across the country. In the Montana Legislature, Kathleen served as Vice Chair of the House Taxation Committee.  She was one of the first legislators to discuss income inequality and its implications for the state tax code. She laid the groundwork for the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides supplemental income for 80,000 low-income Montana families.

Federal tax policy is moving in the wrong direction, starting with the disastrous tax bill Representative Greg Gianforte championed. The process was completely broken: no public hearings, handwritten amendments, and representatives voting without having read the bill. The outcomes are even worse. Gianforte and his allies ballooned the federal deficit by over $1.8 trillion to pay for a tax cut for corporate shareholders and wealthy special interests, and provided little benefit to everyday Montanans.

In Congress, Kathleen will:

  • Limit the damage of the tax bill. Greg Gianforte’s first piece of legislation was a bill stipulating that Congress should not get paid unless it passes a balanced budget. A few months later, he voted to increase the debt by over $1.8 trillion. Now, as he once again calls for a balanced budget, he turns to earned benefits like Medicare and Social Security to try to find savings. Kathleen will never vote to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, ever.
  • Fix and simplify the tax bill by restoring progressive taxes to the federal code and fixing mistakes resulting from hasty passage of the bill. Many experts say our tax code is on track to become a system where anyone can avoid paying any taxes if their CPA were sufficiently familiar with all the loopholes. That’s not fair and certainly not progress.
  • Ensure the federal tax policy process acknowledges increasing income disparity and works to fix it, not exacerbate it.  
Kathleen has a proven track record of getting elected, working collaboratively and voting progressively; she is the best all-around candidate.Sheila Rice

Reproductive Rights

Kathleen believes both access to affordable contraception and proper education on its use should be protected and expanded. Schools should teach scientifically based sex education. She believes we must further support women and families by supporting affordable daycare, healthcare, and programs to reduce poverty and domestic violence.

Kathleen proudly supports a woman’s right to choose. She opposes the ridiculous war on Planned Parenthood. Early in Kathleen’s career Planned Parenthood was her primary health provider. In Congress, she will fight any bill that tries to restrict access to a woman’s constitutional right to abortion or make the process burdensome.

Kathleen’s stances on this issue are rooted in fundamental truths that should be bipartisan. First, the best way to prevent unplanned pregnancy is through science-based education, family planning, and access to birth control. Second, this fight is not solely about reproductive rights, but about the position of women in society and their ability to make their own decisions.

EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK

Kathleen supports equal pay for equal work. In Montana, a woman makes 73 cents on the dollar for the same work as a man, the fourth worst ratio in the nation. This problem is particularly acute in farming, fishing, and forestry -- industries that are crucial to the economic fabric of Montana and ones that are close to Kathleen’s heart as a sportswoman and conservationist.

The foundation for federally mandated equal pay exists, but it must be improved upon. While the Equal Pay Act of 1963 lays out the principle that people must be paid the same amount for the same work, federal courts have interpreted “equal work” so narrowly that an equal pay case can only be won if a man and woman have almost the exact same job. This is a situation where Congress must step in and modify the statute to clarify and make the requirements workable.

Equal pay challenges will not be successful as long as women fear retaliation for coming forward. Congress should protect women who demand equal pay from retribution by their employers.

Ultimately, equal pay is both a basic fairness issue and a family issue. Single mothers and women who are the primary earners in a household suffer most when they are treated unfairly, especially in part-time or minimum wage jobs. Kathleen strongly supports a living wage which will lift up hard working women and ensure that they can provide for their families.

Kathleen will fervently fight for these issues because she has experienced the injustice of inequality that women face.

PROTECTING MONTANA’S NATURAL HERITAGE

Kathleen has loved the outdoors since she was a small child. It’s her sanctuary, where she gets her renewal. Throughout her 35-year career in outdoor recreation and natural resources, Kathleen has brokered win-win solutions to thorny issues across a variety of landscapes, stakeholder interests, and issues. During her legislative service, she stood up to nefarious proposals that would have weakened our environmental protections and transferred public lands.

As a former employee of public land agencies, she knows how they work and can operate in a creative, bipartisan way to protection their ability to achieve their missions.

Specific proposals include:

  • Support Senator Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, the Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act, the East Rosebud Wild & Scenic designation, and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.
  • Oppose unaffordable entrance fees at our national parks, so that our outdoor legacy remains accessible to all of us and our children.
  • Oppose Senator Daines’ and Rep. Gianforte’s bills to release Wilderness Study Areas by legislative fiat, rather than through public processes like forest plan revisions.

Kathleen is the only candidate with extensive policy experience in public lands and natural resources. She was a strong conservation voice on the House Natural Resources Committee and the Montana Environmental Quality Council. She vice-chaired the Water Policy Interim Committee. She also served for years on the Board of the Greater Gallatin Watershed Council and DEQ’s Water Pollution Control Advisory Council.

She will hit the ground running in DC to reinstate and protect crucial environmental protections that have been rolled back or threatened by this Administration.

ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE

Montana’s new reality is hotter, drier, longer summers, earlier runoff, and more intense wildfire seasons. We are also experiencing aggravated forest health issues and longer and more intense fire seasons. Last year’s historic wildfires burned nearly 1,000,000 acres in Montana, cost the state $53.7 million in direct expenditures and $300 million total. Two firefighters lost their lives.

As an expert in water planning and policy, Kathleen has seen the effects of climate change first hand and has worked to address them. She has spent much of her career brokering win-win-win solutions for senior water right holders, irrigators, and Montana’s rivers.

In Congress, Kathleen will:

  • Work with groups like the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus to agree on common-sense measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions and bolster economic growth.
  • Work with the agricultural community on innovative soil carbon storage to mitigate the risks of climate change.
  • Ensure disaster relief programs work to build resiliency, rather than just rebuild infrastructure that isn't suited to a changing climate.
  • Push to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and support the “we’re still in” movement by cities and states to continue commitments to address and reverse climate change.
  • Consider a carbon tax or fee system that internalizes the environmental costs of fossil fuels.

Kathleen worked to advance alternative energy legislation and projects in the state Legislature. She is personally committed to moving away from fossil fuels, having installed solar panels on her home. She drives a plug-in hybrid.

These personal choices matter, but national action is still needed. In Congress, Kathleen will consider any reasonable proposal that reduces our greenhouse gas emissions in an efficient, cost-effective way.

As a life-long hunter, fisherman, and conservationist I am proud to endorse Kathleen Williams in her quest to become Montana’s Congresswoman. Kathleen has the qualifications, knowledge, experience and personal commitment to effectively represent Montana’s interests in Congress.Gary J. Wolfe, Ph.D.

CREATING HIGH-PAYING JOBS

Kathleen was first elected to the Legislature during the Great Recession. She quickly built a reputation for defending Montana’s small businesses and creating jobs. Kathleen was honored by the Montana Chamber of Commerce for advancing creative business ideas that diversified Montana’s economy.

She strongly values supporting farmers and ranchers who choose to stay on their land, and keeping their land productive. One of her biggest successes was passing Montana’s cottage food bill, which allowed the production and sale of certain products made in a home kitchen. This bill created hundreds of new businesses and thousands of new Montana products in just two years.

To create and retain jobs, Kathleen will:

  • Protect the National Labor Relations Act and fight pernicious (and mischaracterized) “right to work” legislation that would undermine wages and benefits for so many Montanans.
  • Maintain economic development funds, including the Rural Development program in the Farm Bill, that support our economic strategists and momentum across the state, whether at the tribal, federal, state, or local levels.
  • Correct the recent tax bill and ensure the tax code benefits middle class and working Americans, who spend their money locally, trickling up to make the economy stronger.
  • Support public education at every turn, and work on innovative education models such as high school technical training and two-year college programs, as well as union and other apprenticeships that give Montanans cost-effective training for the jobs of the future.
  • Advance renewable energy. The industry fosters many small businesses, well-paying jobs, and helps us advance the ability to combat climate change.
  • Repair healthcare. The healthcare sector will continue to grow in Montana; we need to ensure an adequate workforce that allows us all to receive care in our own communities. Healthcare costs can be crushing for business, and many who would start a business are hesitant to leave their current jobs if those jobs provide health care coverage for their families.  

OPPORTUNITY THROUGH PUBLIC EDUCATION

Kathleen is the proud product of public schools: K-12 and degrees from two land grant universities. When it comes to education, it’s simple: Kathleen will make sure that needed federal funds go to public schools. Public schools are the great equalizer in America; their resources should not be siphoned off to pay for private education.

Public education in Montana and across America is also threatened by Betsy DeVos and her efforts to privatize education and remove student protections. In Congress, Kathleen will exercise her oversight authorities to fight for the following:

  • Federal programs that identify and address discrimination and segregation in public education.
  • Transparent, fair, and affordable federal student grants and loans.
  • Fulfilling federal special education funding commitments to state and local governments. These funds are critical for special education and allow school districts to spend their limited resources elsewhere.

Year after year in the Montana Legislature, Kathleen stood proudly on the side of public education. The MEA-MFT awarded her a perfect legislative rating for her advocacy for students and teachers.

AGRICULTURE AND RURAL JOBS

Montana deserves a member of Congress who will deal comprehensively with issues facing rural Montana. We need to support our farmers, ranchers, and our rural communities.

Kathleen will oppose reckless trade wars that harm Montana’s agricultural economy. She will support free, fair, and consistent trade policies that open the world to Montana’s best-in-class products, and programs that advance value-added products and income diversification.

In Congress, Kathleen will represent all of Montana. She will:

  • Fight for a Farm Bill that works for Montana, one that protects key safety nets, and conservation and rural development programs.
  • Ensure Congress is committed to building rural broadband and fueling economic diversity across Montana.
  • Fight for consistent federal funding for health care services and facilities that make sense in rural Montana, which create jobs and keep Montanans healthy.
  • Make sure we can retire with dignity, by protecting Medicare and Social Security no matter what.

Kathleen has traveled from Superior to Ekalaka, listening to the hopes, struggles, and dreams of Montanans on their farms, on their ranches, and in their towns. In April, Kathleen launched her Montana Opportunity Tour, a 1,044-mile tour of Montana in her truck camper, where she spoke about fostering opportunity with Montanans in Anaconda, Choteau, Browning, Cut Bank, Havre, Rocky Boy, Malta, Glasgow, Wolf Point, Scobey, Plentywood, Sidney, Glendive, Miles City, and in communities and homes in between. She will continue continue to seek out and listen to Montanans across the state, during the campaign and in Congress.

Kathleen is all work and no sloganeering. She knows how to pass policy that works for all Montanans.Dirk Adams

WORKING WITH, AND FOR, MONTANA'S TRIBES

First and foremost, we must respect tribal sovereignty and ensure federal policy incorporates tribal interests. Too often, our government makes misguided policy on behalf of our Native communities without including them in the process.

Montana’s reservations far too often lack opportunities available in other parts of the state. Kathleen will work with tribal representatives to address the intertwined issues of poverty, jobs, wages, and education on our reservations. She also understands that we must confront addiction, suicide, and domestic violence head on. While economic opportunity must be the starting point, these issues demand their own solutions.

As a member of the Reserved Water Compact Commission, Kathleen was a key negotiator of the CSKT Water Compact. The process balanced senior water rights and tribal sovereignty to settle disputes by negotiation and thereby avoid decades of costly litigation across Western Montana. She will see the Compact through to completion in Congress.

In Congress, Kathleen will:

  • Ensure the Indian Health Service is fully funded and that tribes have sufficient input in IHS decision-making.
  • Invest in public education, including K-12 and our tribal colleges.
  • Make sure Congress fulfills its treaty obligations, and advocate to ratify the Confederated Salish and Kootenai (CSKT) Water Compact.
Kathleen Williams is the real deal.Joe Perry

Fighting for LGBTQIA+ Rights and Non-Discrimination

Government should never sanction discrimination. In Congress, Kathleen will stand with the LGBTQIA+ community in Montana and tirelessly fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Kathleen has a record of winning these fights. The day before Indiana adopted their "religious freedom" bill, an even worse version came up for a floor vote in the Montana House. The bill would have prohibited any state or local law or policy from “burdening” religious freedom without providing a compelling interest that it couldn’t be achieved any other way. It was sweeping, dangerous legislation.

Kathleen was the last person to speak on the House floor that day, and she spoke vehemently against the bill. Her speech noted that “religion” wasn’t defined, except for a “sincerely held belief” and that limiting protections of fundamental rights under the guise of religious freedom would open the floodgates. Her colleagues knew Kathleen’s husband had recently spent time in Iraq. She argued that the world was at war with religious extremists, and that this bill would have fostered extremism at home in Montana. The bill then failed in a tie vote, despite being a 59-41 Republican House.

Kathleen isn’t scared to call out discrimination and extremism. She uses arguments that work, and sways her colleagues across the aisle. That’s what we need in Washington to defend equal rights for everyone.

To heal our nation, we need a member of Congress with policy chops, that both knows how to lay the groundwork for successful policy change, and how to craft it. Someone who truly represents you and seeks your best interest, not their own. Together, we can heal our nation and ensure Washington works for us not against us.Kathleen Williams

Fostering A Peaceful World

Our national security is dependent on a stable, peaceful world. As the daughter of a WWII veteran and wife of a Vietnam-era veteran who went to Iraq as a civilian in 2009 to help rebuild their agricultural sector, Kathleen is deeply committed to advancing peace in the world.

Kathleen believes Congress must reassert itself in foreign policy. With this Administration in the lead, we have an incoherent, unstable, and confusing approach to international affairs that is dangerous and has damaged America’s reputation across the world.

We need Congress to fund and staff our diplomatic corps, take responsibility for effective roles in alliances and international institutions, and broadcast a consistent message to the world on where the United States stands on foreign policy and what can be expected of us. We need to minimize conflict where we can and not needlessly risk the lives and limbs of our service members. At a time when so many Montana families are already strained, peace is simply the most economically effective defense program we can have.

PROTECTING SCHOOLS FROM GUN MASSACRES

Kathleen has the courage to say enough is enough; it’s time to do something about the all-too-frequent massacres in our schools.

On the campaign trail, Kathleen has talked to teachers, school staff, and students who are afraid to go to work or go to school because they don’t know if they’ll come back alive. One teacher got into an argument with a parent at a parent-teacher conference, and left school because she thought he might come back with a gun.

Kathleen’s family has shotguns and rifles, but they never felt the need to own an AR-15. Military-style rifles need to be confined to controlled environments, like machine guns are today. We also must regulate bump stocks and ensure our background check system keeps guns out of the hands of people who should not own them.

Kathleen supports the Second Amendment. She is a gun owner. But four courts have declined to extend Second Amendment protections to military-style weapons. These are firearms designed to kill and maim quickly and broadly, not hunting equipment or for self-defense.

Guns factor into domestic violence deaths. Bozeman recently witnessed gruesome murders where former partners hunted women down and shot them in their homes. Federal law protecting women from such gun violence is arbitrarily limited. The law needs to be extended to include violence committed by dating partners. Individuals killed by current dating partners make up almost half of all spouse and partner homicides. Existing federal law should also apply to convicted stalkers and others subject to a protective order. Abused husbands, parents, and siblings must also be protected.

In the Montana Legislature, Kathleen voted against bills that would have deregulated guns on college campuses and allowed people to carry guns in all bars, restaurants, and churches. In Congress, she will work with anyone to pass common sense reforms that keep our children safe from gun massacres.