Stauber takes questions on Afghanistan, other issues

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Dist. 8) called the Biden administration's withdrawal from the Central Asian country a "colossal failure," and also spoke about border issues, a possible vaccination mandate, unemployment benefits and election integrity.

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Dist. 8) held a Q-and-A session with constituents Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 at the C'mon Inn in Park Rapids. Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise
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U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Dist. 8) visited with his constituents Friday, Aug. 20 at the C’mon Inn in Park Rapids.

Stauber serves on three House committees: natural resources, small business, and transportation and infrastructure (T&I).

He said he is working through his committee assignments to ensure that rural America matters at the federal level. “Members of Congress know more about this district than they ever have,” he said, “because every single week, I tell them what we have and the opportunities we have.”

A former police officer, Stauber said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has asked him to participate in drafting common-sense police legislation.

Stauber added that in response to the ongoing drought, lawmakers are working on ways to help farmers, including emergency grazing on conservation lands.


Despite what the “mainstream media” reports, he said, “there’s a lot of good stuff happening behind the scenes” on Capitol Hill.

“The future is bright,” he said. “We’re fighting for our kids’ future, our grandkids’ future.”

Afghanistan pull-out

“The crisis in Afghanistan is on a lot of our minds,” Stauber said regarding the U.S. military’s recent retreat from the central Asian country after decades of occupation.

Stauber said the focus needs to be on getting Americans out of the country safely and quickly.

“We can do it,” he said. “We have the personnel. We have the technology. We have to have the will to do it. And that’s what we’re asking our administration to be doing.”

He reported hearing about the Taliban forcing people to pay large amounts of money to get to the airport in Kabul. He said Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told congressional leaders that the military left behind billions of dollars worth of military equipment, including ammunition and Black Hawk helicopters.

“This colossal failure will be with us for a lot of years,” said Stauber, calling it the No. 1 priority in Congress at this time.

Southern border

Stauber said he recently visited the U.S.-Mexican border in Yuma, Ariz. and El Paso, Texas, where Border Patrol agents reported frustration with an unprecedented situation.


For example, he said, large groups of unaccompanied minors cross the border in so-called “give-ups,” tying up Border Patrol resources while drugs and guns cross the border on their flanks.

“If you don’t think those drugs make it to Wadena County, you are mistaken,” said Stauber. “We have to stop them.”

He said more fentanyl was seized at the border in the first six months of 2021 than ever before, and that people on the U.S. terror watch list have been caught on the border. He said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is not responding to queries about where children are being shipped from a facility at Fort Bliss, Texas.


Hubbard County Commissioner Char Christenson reported hearing that an estimated 86,000 people need to be evacuated from Afghanistan, including Afghan Christians and translators who worked with U.S. personnel.

She voiced outrage about the military equipment being left behind intact, despite soldiers being trained never to do so. “We have dropped the ball,” she said. “There’s millions of people that will die as a result of this.”

Stauber said military personnel were given a time frame to remove “every stick” of military equipment from the country, and admitted that the weaponry now in Taliban hands is “very, very concerning.”

He said the government agencies drafted five different plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, “and this administration chose none of them.” He also reported hearing about American missionaries not being allowed to return to the U.S. but being accepted by France. He said the White House will have a lot of questions to answer.

Regarding the infrastructure bill, Stauber said Republicans haven’t had much say and that with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “it’s been her way or the highway the last seven months.”


Prior to Biden’s presidency, he recalled, “every COVID bill was bipartisan. … We can’t do that anymore. I think the American people see that.”

Among those attending Stauber's meet-and-greet Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 at the C'mon Inn in Park Rapids were State Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids, front row center), Hubbard County Commissioner David De La Hunt (standing) and, not pictured, County Commissioner Char Christenson and State Rep. Steve Green (R-Fosston). Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

The dignity of work

County Commissioner David De La Hunt pleaded, “Whatever you do, do not let the unemployment benefit get extended.”

He said it’s killing employers, whose prospective hires aren’t interested in coming back to work while they can do better on unemployment.

“That’s one of the many reasons I didn’t vote for that,” said Stauber. “That’s not who we are as a nation.”

Recalling an op-ed piece he wrote about “the dignity of work,” he said, “Before you could have a better job, you first have to have a job. … This is who we are as Americans: work. Nothing is free. Somebody has to toil.”

Stauber said the eviction moratorium is also hurting property owners, including a friend of his who was unable to evict a tenant for nonpayment while the tenant was collecting rent by subletting the property.

Asked what Congress is doing to help property owners, Stauber said the Small Business Administration is working on it. State Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids) added that state rental assistance is available through RentHelpMN, and if tenants will apply for it, this will also help property owners.

Vaccine mandate?

Participants also voiced concern about a possible federal vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, which some believed would lead many healthcare workers to quit.

A woman from Menahga said that her daughter, a nurse with the Veterans Administration, objects on religious grounds to vaccines based on aborted fetal tissue. She said if this mandate goes forward, her daughter may end up owing the VA for her nursing degree.

Stauber said he believes Minnesota has religious exemptions, but State Rep. Steve Green (R-Fosston) said he thought Pres. Biden eliminated them.

Stauber called being vaccinated “a personal choice between you and your doctor.” Nevertheless, he said the military will likely require service members to be vaccinated, and if they decline, they could be dishonorably discharged. He said Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) is working on legislation to prevent that.

Participants raised other objections to vaccination mandates, including under-reporting of side effects, censorship of scientific dissent and the vaccines’ lack of FDA approval.

“We can’t just gloss over this,” said Tanja Larson of Nevis. “When we’re being pushed to do this, of course people will be quitting. I feel like people are rising up on this, and this is just gonna get really, really ugly.”

Richard Houghtelling of Menahga called the administration’s tactics on this issue a description of dictatorship, and asked why the Republicans aren’t “raising hell.”

Stauber said Pres. Biden may go forward with the mandate without knowing whether it’s constitutional, reasoning that by the time the courts rule on it, the pandemic will be over.

Finally, Stauber was asked what he is doing about election integrity. He replied that he opposes House bills HR 1 (For the People Act) and HR 4 (Voting Rights Advancement Act), which he described as a federal takeover of elections.

Stauber stressed the importance of the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers to the states that the Constitution doesn’t assign to the federal government.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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