Rep. Pete Stauber spent last week in his district telecommuting and working locally to convince everyone he could about their responsibility to practice social distancing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are so many moving parts as this continues, but the bottom line is we cannot inundate our medical facilities — that’s what happened in Italy,” Stauber, the 8th Congressional District representative, said, citing the country hardest hit by the new coronavirus. “The way we do that is by flattening the curve.”
"Flattening the curve" has become a buzz term during the health crisis, and references the effect of slowing the spread of the virus in order to give the medical establishment time enough to treat people. It’s why state and federal guidance has advised social distancing and isolation practices.
Because federal lawmakers are required to be present to vote, Stauber will likely return to Washington, D.C. this week to vote in the House of Representatives on approval of a massive $1 trillion economic rescue package, which began in the Senate, to combat the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on American life.
In the meantime, Stauber has been working in concert with Minnesota’s federal lawmakers in a bipartisan manner. Over the weekend, they announced access to disaster loans for small businesses through the U.S. Small Business Association.
“Small businesses are the engine of our economy and they are hurting right now,” he said. “We need to get them access to capital as quickly as we can, so they can meet short-term obligations. It’s critical.”
Stauber wasn’t of a mind to address slow coronavirus test roll-outs or shortages of personal protective equipment in hospitals and long-term care facilities. He said the “full force” of the federal government is addressing those issues in real-time, and that there will come a time later to judge the response.
“Through no fault of our own, we are in this situation,” Stauber said. “We will come out of this as a nation stronger, and we will have learned a lot after reviewing all the after-action reports both federally and at the state and city levels.”
Stauber made a point of addressing the country’s supply chains, and how the crisis has cast a positive light on the country’s food delivery system and energy independence.
“We are not dependent on OPEC nations anymore,” he said. “We have an abundance of oil and gas right here.”
That self-reliance, for Stauber, has been emphasized by the COIVD-19 pandemic. One of the reasons for the slow test roll-out, he said, is there is only a small, single manufacturer in the United States of one of the reagents used in the testing kits.
“We now very well understand the supply chain and how critically important it is to have that in the United States,” Stauber said. “We are relying right now … on certain countries that don’t have our best interests at heart.”
He mentioned pharmaceuticals, minerals and precious metals as being required for use both in everyday life and in the strategic defense of the country. Those sorts of resources ought to originate in the United States whenever possible, he said.
“That’s exactly right — we want to build support for (a supply chain) that is made in America, mined in America, and manufactured in America,” he said.
It’s the sort of notion that has found Stauber being labeled of late as a "pro-Labor Republican." The News Tribune asked him about the label, and how it will hold up if Republican colleagues continue to bring up Social Security and Medicare as entitlements in need of cuts.
Stauber first said that President Donald Trump had restricted his proposed entitlement cuts to Medicaid, and cutting waste and abuses within that federal health insurance program used by low income people and people needing long-term care.
Stauber then said he’d protect Social Security and Medicare.
“Appropriations start in the House, and I am not going to support or vote on anything that cuts Social Security and Medicare,” he said. “I will not let our seniors down.”
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