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Maya Rao

Reporter | Washington Bureau
Phone: 651-925-5043

Maya Rao covers the federal government for the Star Tribune and is based in Washington, D.C.


Rao wrote for The Press of Atlantic City and The Philadelphia Inquirer before moving to Minnesota in January 2012.
Recent content from Maya Rao
Dr. Mae C. Jemison, the first woman of color in the world to travel to space, addressed the audience during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday “Wom

At St. Paul celebration, Dr. Mae Jemison recalls Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'revolutionary' words

The event at the Ordway recognized women of color in science, technology, engineering and math careers.
Assistant foreman Myint Soe, a Karen refugee, ties trees together in the Bailey Nurseries warehouse.

Minnesota sees dramatic drop in refugee arrivals

Minnesota took in just 663 refugees last year, the lowest number in more than a decade for a state with a history of accepting several thousand people annually.
James Burroughs

In an effort to end health care disparities in Minn., Children's Hospital hires diversity specialist

James Burroughs wants to address Minnesota's health care disparities.
The Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge is one of the sites affected by the federal shutdown. Its trails are still open, but the visitor center is closed

Minn. begins to see impact of federal agency shutdown

Home buyers in flood areas and those relying on FHA help can't close on their loans. Residents can't consult the IRS on end-of-the-year tax questions. Small businesses can't get federal loans, and the Ag department won't be open to help farmers.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, seen after a news conference in June.

Nolan frustrated as he exits Congress, calling it 'dysfunctional'

U.S. representative said demands to raise money, lack of influence took a toll later in his career.
U.S. Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar's influence already expanding in Congress

Incoming House member takes on leadership role in party's biggest block.
In this Oct. 26, 2018, file photo the rising sun silhouettes the U.S. Capitol dome at daybreak in Washington. Minnesota’s top budget official said h

Minnesota braces for effects of federal government shutdown

Minnesota has nearly 17,000 federal workers. It's not clear how many of them would be furloughed or have to work without pay, but about 25 of all federal workers nationwide would be impacted.
FILE - Leech Lake Tribal Chair Faron Jackson, Sr. presenting the tribal flag at the Juvenile Justice Center last month. Jackson testified before lawma

Congress weighs returning 12,000 acres to Leech Lake tribe

The federal government wrongfully seized the popular recreation land in the 1940s.

Congress passes juvenile-justice bill

It culminates a lengthy bipartisan effort to provide more federal oversight of how young people are treated in their first interactions with the system.
Sen. Tina Smith on Election Night in St. Paul.

Sen. Tina Smith visits detainees at Mexico border

Minn. senator worries about children in detention.
Gov.-elect Tim Walz, shown last week, declined an invitation to join a bipartisan group of new governors in a meeting with President Donald Trump on T

Gov.-elect Tim Walz skips meeting with President Trump

Minnesota House Republican leaders hope the new governor will forge productive relationship with president.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and ranking member of the House agriculture panel, highlighted the bill’s protections for struggling dairy farme

U.S. House passes $867 billion farm bill, which President Donald Trump is expected to sign

The U.S. House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed the final version of the farm bill that dictates most of the country's agricultural and food programs for the next five years.
Democrat Dean Phillips, right, defeated Rep. Erik Paulsen.

Outside political money poured into Minnesota's congressional races

Most of the $72 million spent on key races came from outside Minnesota. Advocacy and political organizations spent more than $43 million trying to flip key competitive congressional seats in the Twin Cities suburbs, southern Minnesota and the Iron Range.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale said in an interview that, about five months ago, he urged Sen. Amy Klobuchar, shown on election night, to run fo

Fresh from win, Klobuchar swept up in presidential speculation

It hasn't been a month since Election Day, but Democrats are starting to search for an opponent to President Donald Trump in two years.
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Emmer takes lead role in rebuilding effort by U.S. House Republicans

Sixth District congressman has ascended rapidly in national politics since 2015.
Democrats Dean Phillips and Angie Craig defeated GOP incumbent U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis, respectively.

Minnesota is sending big freshman class to Congress

Minnesota's five new representatives are replacing members with 42 years of accumulated seniority and several influential committee assignments. "The more seniority you have, the bigger difference you're able to make," said retiring Rep. Rick Nolan.

Jim Hagedorn picks up Minnesota's First District for Republicans

Republican Jim Hagedorn narrowly defeated Democrat Dan Feehan in southern Minnesota's First Congressional District, declaring victory Wednesday morning after a close race that saw the…
Jim Hagedorn, GOP, is a candidate for Minnesota's First Congressional District seat

GOP's Jim Hagedorn wins Minnesota's First District seat on fourth try

Republican Jim Hagedorn was elected to Congress in southern Minnesota’s First District, defeating the DFL’s Dan Feehan in a fiercely contested race that was closely…
Rep. Collin Peterson

DFLer Peterson re-elected to U.S. House in Seventh District seat he's held since 1991

Longtime U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson on Tuesday won re-election over Republican Dave Hughes to represent a largely rural and right-of-center district that blankets much of…
Angie Craig spoke to supporters after winning the 2nd congressional district on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at an election party for her at the Lone Oa

DFLer Craig unseats GOP's Lewis in Minnesota's Second District

Craig defeated the freshman congressman in the Second Congressional District after losing to him two years ago.
Republican Karin Housley, left, and Democrat Tina Smith

'Try to find common ground': Smith, Housley spar in their final debate

Rivals for U.S. Senate tackle tax cuts, health care, immigration.
Rep. Erik Paulsen and DFL challenger Dean Phillips squared off at a debate in August.

GOP tax cuts are campaign fodder in race between Erik Paulsen, Dean Phillips

Campaign 2018: GOP candidate is touting his work on the bill despite a mixed verdict in national polls.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, left, the Democrat who represents Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District, and Dave Hughes, his Republican opponent.

Rep. Collin Peterson tries to hold on as GOP's Dave Hughes hopes to harness Trump support

Race for Minnesota's Seventh District not as hot as other Minnesota congressional contest, but strong Trump support leaves opening for GOP.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke with attendees of the Blacks in Tech Conference breakfast before speaking during the program in St. Paul, Minn., in Octo

Amy Klobuchar, favored in her own race, spreads money to other Dems

WASHINGTON – Even as she runs for a third term this year in Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been spreading donations to Democratic…
Mounted Border Patrol agents ride along a newly fortified border wall structure Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, in Calexico, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

GOP ads raise immigration concerns in MN Congress races

In southern Minnesota's First District, Dan Feehan is the target of new ads.
Democrat Angie Craig, left, and Republican Jason Lewis, debated for the last time as they battle for Minnesota's Second Congressional District at the

Jason Lewis, Angie Craig spar one last time, fight for suburban support in U.S. House race

Jason Lewis touts tax cuts and Angie Craig warns of entitlement cuts to pay for deficit reduction during their debate in Rosemount.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn into office on Oct. 8, as his family and President Donald Trump looked on.

Minnesota Poll: Divisions linger over Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh

Poll finds support among 57% of men and 42% of women.
Outside groups have spent $9.1 million in the Third District race between Democrat Dean Phillips, left, and Rep. Erik Paulsen, one of several Minnesot

Outside groups flood Minn. with $29M in four key House races

Minnesota sees more than $29M in political group cash for four House races that will help determine which party controls Congress next year.
Actor Samuel Jackson appears in a campaign ad for Minnesota's Angie Craig.

In campaign ad, Samuel L. Jackson scoops 'kitty treasure' for Angie Craig

It's one in a series of ads with Jackson doing household chores for Democratic candidates and sponsored by the national group Swing Left.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Increasingly high-profile Klobuchar seeks third term in Senate

After a dozen years in the Senate, Klobuchar played part in the Brett Kavanaugh drama that pushed her further into the Washington spotlight.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen listens to DFL candidate Dean Phillips at their debate at the UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul on Friday, Oct. 5,

TV ads draw fire in hard-fought Twin Cities congressional races

Accuracy of allegations called into question.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, followed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., arrives at the chamber for a proced

Amy Klobuchar blasts Kavanaugh legal record, says Ford allegations changing views of sexual assault

Republicans muster slim majority to move to final debate on Kavanaugh nomination; Minnesota Democrats oppose.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the DFL candidate for attorney general, spoke at the Minnesota State Fair in August.

Allegation against Keith Ellison plays out against Kavanaugh controversy

Republicans charge hypocrisy in Democratic critiques of Brett Kavanaugh as Keith Ellison faces abuse allegation, which he denies.
The national battle for control of Congress runs right through Minnesota, and that means TV ads. The Second and Third District races have drawn a heav

Campaign ad wars now heating up on screens across Minnesota

State is at the epicenter of battle for control of Congress, with the Second and Third Districts under extreme focus.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) fought back tears as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 'Where is the bravery in this room?'

Minnesota Democrat criticizes quick push to confirm Kavanaugh as "not normal," asks Republicans what they're hiding.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in

Sen. Amy Klobuchar spars with Kavanaugh over drinking and draws an apology

"You're asking about a blackout — I don't know, have you?" Kavanaugh retorted, as viewers in an overflow room gasped and groaned.
A new Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll shows that a majority of likely voters disapprove of President Donald Trump's job performance.

President Trump's approval falls in new Minnesota Poll

But Republican and northern Minnesota voters still give him high marks.
Dave Hughes, the Republican opponent to U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, spoke at the Republican state convention in Duluth on June 1, 2018.

Peterson's opponent looks for opening in Trump-backing district

In the Seventh, longtime Democrat is facing a challenge from the right.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) holds up documents during the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Dona

Klobuchar joins Senate Democrats in pushing back on Kavanaugh

She cited an article he wrote for the Minnesota Law Review to question his views on presidential power.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., headed to a closed-door briefing to update lawmakers on cyberattacks on the U.S. election system, at the Capitol in Washi

Amy Klobuchar's Secure Elections Act stalls in the U.S. Senate

Some secretaries of state question audit requirements.

In rematch with Jason Lewis, Angie Craig seeks stronger connection with voters

Rival Jason Lewis still has more name recognition.
DFL Gubernatorial Candidate Tim Walz and his running mate Peggy Flanagan attended a DFL Unity press conference with Governor Mark Dayton and State Rep

Ellison faces mounting pressure over domestic violence claim

National Organization for Women calls for him to drop out of race for the Minnesota attorney general's race, while top DFL leaders say they still back him.
Rep. Keith Ellison spoke the the crowd on the stage at campaign party after winning the DFL nomination for Attorney General at Nomad World Pub in Minn

Democratic National Committee looking into Keith Ellison allegation

DNC Chairman Tom Perez told reporters while he was campaigning in Georgia that the party is "absolutely taking a careful look."
Rep. Ilhan Omar celebrated with her children after her primary victory.

Ilhan Omar rolls to victory in primary to replace Ellison in Congress

The Fifth District, which includes all of Minneapolis and several of its neighboring suburbs, has a long history of voting heavily Democratic.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison

U.S. Rep. Ellison denies allegation of domestic violence

The alleged incident between Keith Ellison and Karen Monahan came to light Saturday night after her son posted about it on Facebook. Ellison responded Sunday in a statement.
The DFL hopefuls for the Fifth Congressional District seat have had only two months to knock on doors and reach out to voters after Keith Ellison drop

With few policy differences, candidates in Minneapolis congressional primary look for ways to shine

Tuesday's DFL primary winner is the prohibitive favorite to succeed Rep. Keith Ellison in Washington.
From left, Sen. Tina Smith, Richard Painter, state Sen. Karin Housley.

Sen. Tina Smith, 4 challengers woo farmers at Farmfest

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and her four opponents took the stage together for the first time, voicing support for farmers struggling with reduced commodities prices and a trade war.
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis at a press conference at the State Capitol. Lewis is dismissing concerns about newly surfaced audio of the former talk radio hos

Lewis again grapples with fallout from old on-air remarks

CNN has aired reports about sexist comments he made as a talk-show host.
Jamal Abdulahi

DFLers tout experience at heavily attended Fifth District forum

5th District hopefuls point out differences in debate.

Minnesotans in Congress worked on new workforce law

President Donald Trump signed the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act last week.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, left, waves to the audience with Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, at a rally to give support for his attorney general bid at

'Medicare for All' proposal splits Minnesota Democrats

More than 60 House members launched a Medicare for All caucus last week in Washington. The issue offers fodder for Republican ads.
The Third Congressional District race between GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen, left, and Democrat Dean Phillips is shaping up as one of the most expensive 2018

Paulsen-Phillips race for Congress shaping up as one of most expensive in Minnesota

Minnesota's candidates are in some of the most competitive races in the country, raising at least $14 million so far, according to federal election filings.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen

Emmer quiet on Trump and Russia as Paulsen criticizes anew

Minnesota's three GOP congressmen respond — or not — to summit.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke to supporters from the stage after securing the party's endorsement during the DFL State Convention Friday.

Condemnations from Minnesota Dems in D.C. on Trump and Russia

Erik Paulsen, a Republican, called Trump's performance "embarrassing."
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen

GOP's Erik Paulsen, in first TV ad, highlights break with Trump

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen used the first TV ad of his re-election campaign to highlight how he went against President Donald Trump in his opposition to mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks to the crowd after U.S. President Donald Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court during a ceremony in the East Room of t

Minnesota politicos split by party over Kavanaugh pick for Supreme Court

Minnesota's two U.S. senators are joining their fellow Democrats in raising concerns about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, even as Republicans urge a quick confirmation for President Donald Trump's high court pick.

Minnesota lawmakers in D.C. hope to settle farm bill soon

Rep. Collin Peterson says he's out of the loop after a falling-out over GOP food-stamp policy.
Rep. Ilhan Omar listened as State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray spoke. After the first ballot put State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray far behind Rep. Ilhan Omar

DFL choice in 5th District: Experience vs. symbolism

The suddenly-open slot has sparked a debate over how much and what kind of experience matters in a politically volatile era in which many party activists are looking, most of all, for a fighter.
Minnesota's U.S. Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar in January.

Minnesota's Democratic senators say Supreme Court appointment should wait

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that will get the first chance to vet the nominee.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Minn. voting chief urges U.S. senators to shore up election security

Secretary of State Simon urges U.S. senators to stay "ahead of the bad guys."
U.S. Senate candidate Richard Painter appears in his "dumpster fire" ad.

Richard Painter's 'dumpster fire' ad is the talk of social media

Painter's video is drawing a lot of attention on social media, with reactions spanning praise to befuddlement.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith spoke at the DFL State Convention in June. Smith has gotten behind a land swap to accomodate construction of a copper-nickel mine

Sen. Tina Smith gets behind PolyMet land exchange

Smith is sponsoring a Senate measure to codify a land exchange to make way for PolyMet Mining's long-in-the-works project.
State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion was interviewed by journalists after he joined the race for the congressional seat Keith Ellison is leaving. He subseque

State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion suspends campaign for Ellison's congressional seat

WASHINGTON – State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion on Monday suspended his campaign to succeed U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison in Congress, pleading with fellow DFLers…
State Rep. Ilhan Omar, shown filing to run for the congressional seat that Rep. Keith Ellison is leaving, got backing from Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday.

DFL endorsing convention adds to scramble for Rep. Ellison seat

The party announced the special convention, set for June 17 in Minneapolis, giving the hopefuls just over a week to win over activists and donors.
Maria Rosario and Bill Jungbauer, delegates from Inver Grove Heights wanted to take their photo by cutouts of President Trump and First Lady Melania T

Minnesota Republicans in Congress split over Trump, Mueller probe

Paulsen, Emmer, Lewis all have different response.
Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson talked with delegates during the DFL State Convention Friday.

Attorney General Lori Swanson loses DFL endorsement

Swanson did not immediately reveal whether she plans to run in the DFL primary in August against party endorsee Matt Pelikan.
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis sponsored a juvenile justice measure and is now focusing on adults.

U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis joins bipartisan push for criminal justice reform

The Minnesota Republican is advocating changes to federal law that would favor rehabilitation over imprisonment for first-time, nonviolent offenders — particularly juveniles — and reduce exploding incarceration budgets.
Sen. Tina Smith, shown in January.

Sen. Tina Smith touts Planned Parenthood past in taking on Trump plan

Smith and Sen. Patty Murray denounced the proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning money.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

N.Y. Sen. Gillibrand says she couldn't stay silent about Franken conduct

The New York senator defended her decision at a forum on women in politics.
“I just feel it’s time to … make sure that we can have votes on bipartisan bills,” said Rep. Erik Paulsen, shown in 2016.

Paulsen joins effort to force House vote on Dreamers

The Minnesota Republican joined a group of 20 fellow Republicans in defiance of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Steve Carlson, with Carlson Farms, harvested soybeans in his combine near Welch, Minn. in 2017.

Vows to try again after farm bill is voted down in the U.S. House

Conservative House members joined Democrats in rejecting the nearly $870 billion bill.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, shown in 2016, opposed the legislation citing concerns about how the government would pay for it in the long run — and how it wo

Walz says U.S. House veterans' health care bill causes 'long-term problems'

The VA Mission Act, a major overhaul of veterans health care, passed 347-70 with no Republicans voting against it.

National Democrats to give Minnesota DFL $100,000

It's aimed at increasing outreach to rural communities and small towns.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, in a 2016 Star Tribune file photo.

Rep. Erik Paulsen gets behind gun violence measure in Congress

He is joining a bipartisan effort to encourage states to pass laws that let law enforcement take firearms from people determined to be a danger to themselves or others.
Minnesota sample identification card and drivers license. This is a sample provided by the Minnesota department of Public Safety

Minnesota says licenses will work for flights through 2020

Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers finally approved a process last year to get Minnesota in full compliance, and the state will start issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses this October.
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