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Stauber getting feet wet on Capitol Hill

BRAINERD, Minn. — Capitol Hill is buzzing — ushering in a new Congress, with an ongoing government shutdown looming around legislative proceedings — and in the midst of this is Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, the 8th District’s new freshman congressman.

Stauber, 52, spoke in a phone interview during a short respite in his schedule-packed days.

“It’s humbling and surreal, but it’s just a privilege and an honor serving the 600,000-and- something people from Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District,” Stauber said.

He was sworn into office on Jan. 3.

“I’m looking forward to really getting to work and diving into the things and the problems and what-have-yous that we’re about to get into in the 116th Congress.”

And so — with all the meetings, briefings, retreats, introductions and formalities for a new congressman — how’s it been so far?

“It’s like drinking out of a firehouse,” said Stauber, who’s fresh off a bipartisan three-day retreat in Williamsburg, Va. “A lot of stuff, a lot of information is coming to you. Every day, we’re learning. I’m just trying to gather it all in and use what I learn during the next project or during the next day to be successful.”

Primarily, Stauber said, legislation coming down the pipe has been suspensions — or, essentially, when the House opts to fast-track noncontroversial bills generally accepted by both parties.

However, Stauber said the House has approved a package of bills that includes increased taxes on individuals and corporations.

“To me, that’s the wrong way,” said Stauber, who voted against it. “I’d like it for hardworking families in the 8th District to keep more of what they’ve earned.”

Stauber announced Monday, Jan . 7, that he would donate his congressional pay to the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program in Duluth during the partial government shutdown.

“As a father of four, I know that going without a paycheck will be a setback for my family. However, I strongly believe it isn't right for members of Congress to be paid while parts of the federal government remain shut down and thousands of federal workers are furloughed,” Stauber said in a news release. “Rather than asking for my pay to be withheld and sending it straight back to the federal government, Jodi and I have decided to give this money to those who need it most. In my 22 years serving as a Duluth police officer, I saw firsthand the incredible work that the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program does to keep battered women safe and ensure that their abusers are held accountable, and I am pleased to contribute to their cause.

“Nobody wants the government to be shut down. We want our employees to be working,” said Stauber, who expressed support for President Donald’s Trump’s push for $5 billion in funding for a southern border wall and increased border security.

U.S. representatives make $174,000 per year, or $3,346 per week.

With committee assignments likely to take place next week, Stauber said he is in talks with steering committee members to get a seat at the table for two committees -- the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (where representatives from the Minnesota 8th District have served for more than 70 years) and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

“I think I have a very, very good reason for each of those,” Stauber said.

Stauber said residents of the 8th Congressional District can reach his office at http://stauber.house.gov, or via phone at 202-225-6211. Locally in the 8th District, he noted he is in the process of opening offices for constituents to contact — including a new office at Brainerd City Hall for lakes area residents, as well as the flagship office at 5094 Miller Trunk Highway, Suite 900, Hermantown, and others in Chisholm City Hall and Cambridge City Hall.

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