Congressman Pete Stauber might have appeared caught in the middle of national reporting last week that the White House was canceling $3.6 billion in military projects in favor of spending on the border wall with Mexico.
Married to a former command chief of the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Stauber has been an avowed supporter of the military. But he was unequivocal in his approval of the diversion of military funds for the border wall in a conversation Sunday with the News Tribune.
"At West Point in New York there's $65 million intended for a new parking lot — it's now being prioritized to secure the southern border," Stauber, R-Hermantown, said. "I think that parking lot can wait. We have a crisis on our southern border."
Like anything down to paper straws anymore, the issue at the southern border with Mexico is split. Many think its child detentions and family separations are an affront to humanitarianism. Many others, like Stauber, contend that drugs and criminals pour in among refugees, fueling the American trade in drugs and guns. It's one of the many issues upon which Stauber has aligned himself with President Donald Trump.
Stauber is retired law enforcement, having spent his career in the Duluth Police Department. He has repeatedly said he favors "legal immigration." Shortly after taking his seat in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District, he visited the border with Mexico, traveling to Yuma, Ariz., where he used video and social media to showcase gaps in the border and highlight federal and local authorities' concerns.
Stauber was quick to insert the 8th District into the debate.
"(T)here are no projects in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District that will lose any funding," he said. "Everything scheduled for MN-08 is on task."
When asked if he'd viewed the line items of military projects being impacted by the rerouting of funds, Stauber said, "I want to listen to the experts in the field — the generals and the secretary of defense to make sure they're OK with that. Like I said, the parking lot is something that can wait."
Stauber continued, seeming to clarify his position.
"As you know there's no bigger supporter of the men and women in the military than me," he said. "(Spouse) Jodi is an Iraq War Veteran. We need to make sure that as we move forward that projects are not taken away that will make our military less efficient. I believe those decisions will be made with the secretary of defense and others on these military projects."