When Northeastern Minnesota re-elected me to Congress last month, I reaffirmed my commitment to serving all my constituents, whether they voted for me or not. I stand by this promise. We find ourselves in unprecedented times, and our nation is calling for its leaders to find bipartisan solutions to help every American.
I was eager to return to Washington, D.C., this week to complete the critical items pending in Congress. Over the course of the next few weeks, we need to authorize military spending (including a pay raise for our troops), pass a spending bill to avoid another government shutdown, and, finally, provide American businesses and workers with targeted COVID-19 relief. However, I was quickly disappointed to learn that Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House back with no intention of addressing any of these pressing issues. Instead, she called us back to vote on bills to legalize drugs and criminalize owning tigers.
Every day, my office is flooded with calls from Minnesotans whose livelihoods and businesses have been devastated these last nine months. These calls and messages have only increased after Gov. Tim Walz unilaterally reinstated massive and crippling restrictions on businesses across the state. My constituents are furious, tired, and frustrated with these painful restrictions. On one hand, they are being forced to shutter their doors in the busiest time of consumer spending. On the other, they are disappointed to learn that, at the federal level, Speaker Pelosi’s top priority is legalizing drugs.
Quite frankly, Minnesotans should be offended by Speaker Pelosi’s partisan antics and tone-deaf priorities. Not only does this drug-legalization bill have nothing to do with helping Americans during this difficult time, it would exacerbate our nation’s drug crisis. As a former Duluth police officer, I have seen firsthand the terrible toll drugs take on families and communities.
As Speaker Pelosi pushes this reckless partisan bill, I am reminded of some of my most difficult moments on the police force: the countless times I had to knock on a parent’s door, knowing I was about to deliver the worst news of their life, that their child had died of a drug overdose. I don’t want to see another family destroyed by drugs or addiction. I worked to prevent this as a police officer, and my commitment remains steadfast as your congressman.
Rather than pushing partisan and irresponsible legislation to legalize drugs, Speaker Pelosi should be pushing bipartisan legislation that will save jobs and businesses and that will create opportunity. For example, there’s still more than $130 billion sitting idle in the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept countless small businesses and employees afloat back when the COVID-19 economic crisis began. I have been fighting for months for the release of these unused funds to help millions of other businesses, yet Speaker Pelosi continues to block this legislation. I know this bill would pass with bipartisan support if the speaker would only bring it to the House floor for a vote.
We need to return to working together on pragmatic solutions that will truly help Minnesotans during this time. This crisis is impacting our entire way of life, and now more than ever calls for bipartisanship. This moment calls for common-sense legislation that would truly help the American worker and taxpayer.
In our neck of the woods, common sense is not legalizing a gateway drug with so many detrimental effects. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi’s weekly agenda proves, once again, her priorities are out of touch with the needs of Minnesotans.
Pete Stauber, R-Hermantown, represents Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.