MN08 Pete Stauber’s Message on House Resolution 965 : For the next 45 days, even if you are diagnosed with COVID, you gotta go to work

Did you see that on May 7th, Eighth District Representative Pete Stauber joined with 23 of his colleagues to hold a House Problem Solvers Caucus bipartisanvirtual Congress” event in which members participated in an unofficial floor debate ?

Did you see that on May 13th, the House’s Small Business Committee, where Representative Pete Stauber is assigned, held a “Bipartisan Virtual Forum: A Conversation with SBA Lenders” ?

Did you know that on March 26th, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a bipartisan move, the Minnesota Legislature gave themselves flexibility to hold remote hearings and votes ?

Sorta gives you a good feeling that our elected officials realize that in today’s world, they have to adjust … especially after realizing that when Congress was last in regular session, 27 legislators were self-quarantining and six legislators had tested positive for COVID19.

Gone are the days when the House would be in session for 60-63 days ending in March and then back to their farms and businesses … now Congress is in session essentially year round.

So, it was that the House considered a resolution to change this session rules for the next 45 days to formalize rules for committee hearings, legislative debate and proxy voting.

Just looking at the subject of “proxy voting”, ya gotta wonder why the House wouldn’t want to do this as a regular rule in every session of Congress.  [FYI When each new session of Congress starts, the Members “agree” on a set of rules to cover operational procedures – everything from size/name/responsibilities of committees to rules of voting.  The parties may establish their own “rules” … for example, the Republicans provide for “secret ballots” in party operations and allow the party leader to have four votes while members only have one. {ref}  When the session ends, the next Congress establishes their own rules.]

Actually, when you think about it, “proxy voting” would not be a bad thing … let’s say a tornado hits Duluth, or the Zumbro River floods, or a son graduates from the Naval Academy, nobody would be surprised that Pete Stauber, Jim Hagedorn or Tom Emmer decided to skip a legislative day in Washington.  Of course, when they do, that means their congressional district did not have a voice in the legislative activity that day.  Could there be abuses … sure — the idea that someone would miss a vote to participate in campaign fundraising events is something that needs to be addressed.

House Resolution 965 is structured that a member could instruct another member to vote in the district’s interests … so Pete Stauber could ask Tom Emmer to vote in the Eighth District’s interests — one Republican Minnesotan voting for another Republican Minnesotan.  And there is a caveat that no member may hold more than ten proxies.  Further, the resolution is only being offered because of the coronavirus pandemic … if the House of Representatives’ Attending Physician determines that the public health emergency due to a novel co­ro­na­vi­rus is no longer in effect, the Speaker shall terminate the rule change.  There is no requirement that members must use the proxy voting procedure, they can still vote in person.

So a simple question was asked : If you became ill, should your constituents be denied a voice in legislative matters … or do you ignore medical advice, risk infecting other members and present yourself for a vote ?

The rule change was passed … and what should have been a commonsense “yes” vote became an opportunity for partisan fireworks.

Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn and Pete Stauber all voted NO … with Pete Stauber issuing a press release calling it “the Proxy Voting Scheme.

Yep, “Representative” Stauber denounced as a “partisan power grab” yet there is no ban on proxy voting in the Republican-controlled Senate rules, and all Senate standing committees permit the practice.  “Representative” Stauber also does not acknowledge that the practice of proxy voting has been used in House committees in past congresses. 

For all the image-making that Pete Stauber wants to present as a reasonable bipartisan representative for the Eighth District, his press release and vote shows he will follow Party Of Trump orders … and rest assured that if the Republicans were still in the majority, that he would be in favor of proxy voting.