WASHINGTON -- From students to college presidents to business leaders, Minnesota members are bringing a diverse set of guests to tomorrow night's State of the Union address.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar will bring Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State) President Peggy Kennedy.
Sen. Al Franken will bring University of Minnesota Student Body President Joelle Stangler
Rep. Tim Walz, D, First Congressional District will bring Army Ranger Sgt. Thomas Block. He is a Minnesota native and was named Army Times Soldier of the Year for 2014.
Rep. John Kline, R, Second Congressional District -- Staffers did not respond to requests for comment on his guest.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, R, Third Congressional District will bring Minneapolis Police Sergeant Grant Snyder. He is a leader in the Minnesota law enforcement community in combating sex trafficking.
Rep. Betty McCollum, D, Fourth Congressional District will bring Matt Kramer, the president and CEO of the St Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D, Fifth Congressional District will bring Veronica Mendez, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha’s (CTUL) Co-Director.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R, Sixth Congressional District will bring Brenton Hayden, who was named "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" and started his own business at 20 years-old. He is from central Minnesota.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D, Seventh Congressional District gave his extra ticket to North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp so she could bring a couple from her state. The two were among the first responders to a school bus-train crash site last year and helped rescue kids.
Rep. Rick Nolan, D, Eighth Congressional District will bring Sophie Cerkvenik of Britt, Minnesota. Sophie is the daughter of a lobbyist and a senior at Virginia High School.
WASHINGTON - Some of Minnesota's U.S.. House delegation crossed party lines to support a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline Friday.
The Republican-sponsored legislation drew yes votes as expected from Minnesota's GOP representatives John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer. But a majority of the state's five Democratic representatives - Tim Walz, Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson - also vote yes. They were among 28 House Democrats who supported the bill, which passed 266-153.
In interviews with the Star Tribune, all three said they preferred to ship heavy crude oil squeezed from the tar sands of Canada by pipeline rather than by rail.
But Walz said the pipeline issue should not foreclose a push for more renewable energy sources.
"When you get mired in these issues that become political litmus tests instead of broader-based solutions, it causes you problems," he said. "What I've always said about Keystone is that the people selling it as pushing your gas prices going down are selling you a bill of goods. But those who say if we don't build Keystone, we will not get tar sands crude - that's not going to happen."
With some tar sands oil already being extracted and much more to come, "the question now is what is the safest way to move it," Nolan said.
Peterson had earlier predicted that President Obama would veto the Keystone bill if it passed the House and Senate. The president renewed that veto threat this week.
"I don't know if there will be enough votes to override a veto," Peterson said.
Democrats Betty McCollum of St. Paul and Keith Ellison of Minneapolis opposed the Keystone XL.
WASHINGTON -- Rep.-elect Tom Emmer is staffing his DC and Minnesota offices with Bachmann-ites.
Emmer, a Republican taking over representation of the Sixth Congressional District after Rep. Michele Bachmann's departure, announced Tuesday that seven of the 13 new staffers hired for his offices were previously working for the congresswoman.
"These individuals offer impressive backgrounds, years of experience, and strong Minnesota ties that will be vital to best serving my constituents," said Emmer, in a statement.
The congressman gets sworn in, along with the rest of the 114th Congress, next week.
Among his new hires:
Robert Boland, senior adviser in Washington, D.C. Previously, Boland served as chief of staff and legislative director to Bachmann.
Jason Frye, legislative director. Previously, Frye was a military legislative assistant to Bachmann.
Mikayla Hall, deputy communications director. She was previously Bachmann's press secretary.
Kevin Wysocki, senior legislative assistant. Wysocki was Bachmann's senior legislative assistant and worked himself up from an internship.
Barbara Harper, constituent services director. She worked in this same role for Bachmann for the past eight years.
Montgomery Pace, scheduler. Pace was an intern last year in Bachmann's office.
Caitlin Fontaine, staff assistant. Fontaine was an intern in Bachmann's office last year.
Additional hires include Becky Alery, who was a spox for GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden, who lost to Sen. Al Franken in November. Alery is the communications director and will be based in D.C. Karen Miller, deputy district director in Emmer's Minnesota office.
WASHINGTON -- In her final floor speech, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann started talking about a statue on the top of the U.S. Capitol, moved onto Moses and the Ten Commandments, and then capped it with gratitude for her staff, her donors and the guy who literally drives the trains in the basement of the Capitol.
"It's an honor and it's the ride of a lifetime," she said. "I'm so filled with joy and so much happiness and understanding that the privilege that I have is one of being really a link on a chain. It's gone on for hundreds of years and I stand right here on the soil in the square feet that are the freest square feet in the world."
She said the reason why there is government is to secure for everyone "the rights God gave us." She talked about Moses, who the Bible says delivered the Ten Commandments.
"It's an honor. Where else could we find this level of freedom anywhere in the world?" she said, standing alone on the House floor. "This is the room where the laws of our nation's laws are formulated."
Bachmann thanked her donors. She thanked her "prayer warriors" -- people who prayed for her through her political ups and downs -- and she thanked her staff and some Capitol employees, including James, who drives the train between House Office Buildings and the Capitol. She thanked the constituents in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. And she thanked veterans
"It is our job not to think only of ourselves but to think of the generations that are yet to come," she said. "My favorite Americans are people who didn't know they were Americans. They were the Pilgrims."
The 113th Congress is finishing up its work this week. The new 114th Congress is sworn in early January. GOP Rep.-elect Tom Emmer will replace Bachmann, who hasn't said what she is going to do next.
WASHINGTON -- Calling President Barack Obama "lawless," Rep. Michele Bachmann said Wednesday that he had forgotten the voters' mandate a month ago and urged her colleagues to support a spending bill that would defund the implementation of his executive action on immigration reform.
"I want to know, have members of this body in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate forgotten the message that the American people loud and clear and unmistakably on Nov. 4?" Bachmann said. "Secure our borders, keep our families safe, uphold the laws of the land ... We stand in solidarity with the American worker and the American people and we are going to uphold ... the laws of the land."
The retiring congresswoman from the Sixth Congressional District shared a microphone outside the Capitol Wednesday with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, among others. The gatherings had the trappings of a small Tea Party rally, with several people dressed in period clothing and carrying "Don't Tread on Me" flags.
Bachmann's message arrives at a time House and Senate leaders are trying to hammer out a plan to fund the federal government through next September. Senate Democrats are hoping for a "clean" spending bill that doesn't defund any aspect of the federal government, which technically runs out of money Dec. 11. GOP House Speaker John Boehner earlier this week indicated support for a clean bill, as well, but he vowed they would take a closer look at the president's executive action on immigration next year.
Cruz urged Congress to use its "power of the purse" to defund the president's plan. Several people stood by and yelled "monarchy!" in chorus and said they think Obama has overstepped his bounds.
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