“We need to make sure people have the kind of quality of life that they want in small towns.”

Stauber & Fischbach Point to Police Reform and Rural Development as Priorities for Congress to Address This Year

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber (MN-8) and Michelle Fischbach (MN-7) appeared this past Thursday before a virtual meeting of The Ripon Society and the Franklin Center, where they delivered remarks about some of the top priorities they are working on in Congress and how the COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out in their home state.

“One of the things that I’m really working hard on in addition to my committee work is The Justice Act,” Stauber said, kicking things off. “The Justice Act is a common sense solution to police reform that we’ve needed for quite a while. I started police work in the early ‘90s and spent 23 years as a police officer. I held all the ranks, from patrol officer all the way up to area commander for the City of Duluth, Minnesota, which was the third largest city in the state at the time.

“And so when we talk about police reforms, I’m well aware that many of them should have been done a long time ago. The George Floyd Justice and Policing Act that Pelosi brought to the floor had zero input from Republicans. It also had zero input from many members of the law enforcement community. That’s why no law enforcement organization supported it. We can do better than that. Our communities are calling for reform.

The Justice Act that Senator Scott and I wrote is really a pragmatic, common sense piece of legislation. There’s transparency, accountability, and performance measures in there. I’m working very hard behind the scenes because I don’t care who gets the credit for it. The American people are asking for it, they deserve it, and we’re going to try and get it done.”

Stauber was elected to the House in 2018. In addition to his over two decades of service as a law enforcement officer, he also served as a St. Louis County Commissioner and as a City Councilor in Hermantown. He currently serves on the Small Business Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is also a member of the Natural Resources Committee, where he serves as the Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

He talked about this role in his remarks, and expressed hope that the new President will work with Republicans in Congress to not only strengthen energy security in the United States, but protect the jobs and livelihoods of those who are employed in the energy sector and are working to keep America energy secure.

“I was at the inauguration and I heard President Biden talk about unity and working together,” the Minnesota lawmaker stated. “And yet five hours later, his Executive Orders started, and one of the first ones was an Executive Order stopping the Keystone Pipeline. That’s what we call energy independence, good jobs, good paying blue collar jobs. And it’s disappointing because we are an energy exporter. And we want to be an energy exporter and have energy dominance because that helps the middle class. When energy prices rise, it really affects the middle and the lower class the most.It’s the most painful on them. So we want to be able to continue to bring these jobs to our economies.”

Stauber also pointed to another area that was critical to the economic security of both the people of Northeast Minnesota and the rest of the United States — the mining of critical minerals.

“We have been safely mining iron ore for 135 years,” he said of the area of Minnesota that he represents. “We have now discovered a massive critical mineral find with copper, nickel, gold, platinum, palladium, and other metals in what we call the Duluth complex. There are several companies going through the environmental assessment process to be able to safely mine these critical minerals. I think it’s important that we work on that because we have the ability to do so much with our mining and keep it in our supply chain.

Stauber then turned the virtual floor over to Fischbach, who opened her remarks by also talking about one of the top priorities she is working on this year.

“One of the things that I’m really very interested in is making sure that we have strong rural communities,” she stated. “Broadband is particularly important to me. The pandemic has served to highlight the fact that broadband is a huge necessity, and we are lacking it in portions of rural Minnesota.I will continue to fight for it, particularly on the Ag Committee, where I serve as the Ranking Member on the Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee and which has jurisdiction over the issue.”

Fischbach is currently in her first term in the U.S. House after serving over 20 years in the Minnesota Senate, including four as the President of the Senate.In addition to now serving on the House Agriculture Committee, she is also a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Rules.

“What I really want to make sure is that we’re not only getting money to companies to put in the wire,” she said, returning to the issue of rural broadband, “but we are making sure that once that wire gets to people’s doors, they’re able to access it through technology. We look at tele-health and it’s doing wonderful things now during the shutdowns and things like that. But do people have the ability in their home to access the video call?I’m not a technology geek, but we need to simplify those things for folks in their homes.”

“The bottom line is that we need to make sure people have the kind of quality of life that they want in small towns. That includes education. That includes healthcare. And that includes broadband and internet access. They may come for a job, but a spouse may work from home. I would love to see moreyoung people working from home, using the internet in rural Minnesota, because it’s a great place to raise your kids.”

Following their remarks, Stauber and Fischbach were asked a number of questions, including one about the fight against COVID-19 and how the rollout of the vaccine is progressing in their home state.

“I will say this,” Stauber began. “When you have a governor who’s making unilateral decisions on how the vaccine is being rolled out; he’s making these decisions without any input, and that is a problem. We just want to make sure that rural communities have the same opportunities. If he had his way, our Governor would take Minneapolis and St. Paul or Hennepin or Ramsey County first and then go out, because he did that with the COVID relief.

“He gave Hennepin and Ramsey the first relief and waited nine weeks before he sent the other money out. But it is getting out slowly but surely. And I think that people are getting their second vaccines already. I know my Mom and Dad, who are in their mid-80s, are getting the second one this Saturday. So it’s rolling out slowly but surely.”

Fischbach agreed.

“We need to continue to make sure that we are getting shots in arms,” she stated. “And as we look at what we call essential workers, we’ve got a lot of agriculture workers that I would consider essential workers. So we need to make sure that we’re getting shots in their arms and those folks at our grocery stores, where they worked the whole time through the pandemic. We need to make sure we’re getting those shots out, and I hope that we are able to improve on that in Minnesota.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.