WASHINGTON -- In her final few weeks in office, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann squeezed in a trip to the Mexican/American frontier Friday, a day after President Barack Obama unveiled a sweeping executive order that will protect millions of people from deportation.
Obama traveled to Las Vegas Friday to promote his order at a high school. Bachmann opposes the order, which she called amnesty that flouts the Constitution. She is traveling with Republican Rep. Steve King, of Iowa.
“While President Obama travels to Las Vegas to give another speech about his executive amnesty plan, I want to hear firsthand from those tasked with patrolling the border about their thoughts on the impact of the president’s actions," Bachmann said, in a statement. "We need to secure the border, stand up for American workers, and follow the Constitution—and the President’s unilateral decree undermines them all.”
The outgoing congresswoman sparked controversy this week in comments she made to the Washington Post calling immigrants "unskilled" and "illiterate". Bachmann tweeted out a link of the story and called it a "perfect example of the media sensationalizing a headline and creating a false perception."
*Will update with photos from the Bachmann/King trip as soon as they're made available by the congresswoman's office.*
Over a lunch of pork and potatoes at the governor's residence in St. Paul on Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton and Rep. Kurt Daudt -- soon to be the Republican speaker of the House -- discussed the upcoming legislative session, and also took a few minutes to talk about their dogs.
Dayton and Daudt, R-Crown, met privately for a little over an hour. Shortly after Republicans retook the House majority earlier this month, Daudt's GOP colleagues chose him to be the next speaker. He'll officially ascend to the post in January, when the new session starts.
"The governor said it was a congenial conversation, and a great opportunity to get to know the new speaker better," said Matt Swenson, Dayton's spokesman. Dayton and Daudt share a love of dogs, and both own two.
While the lunch chatter may have been friendly, the new Republican majority is likely to complicate the DFL governor's efforts to pursue an ambitious second-term agenda. The last time Dayton shared power with Republicans at the Capitol, in 2011-12, it led among other things to a 21-day state government shutdown amid disputes over taxes and spending cuts.
Swenson said the two men didn't talk with too much specificity about issues, although he said both transportation and education were among the discussion topics.
Democrats and Republicans have both argued that the state needs to put more money into upgrading the state's transportation infrastructure, but the two parties differ in how best to do that. While Democrats are more likely to look for new sources of revenue, Republicans will argue that should be accomplished by spending less in other areas of state government -- including money for transit projects prized by many Democrats.
Dayton has been meeting privately with the Legislature's top leaders in recent days. Prior to Thursday's meeting with Daudt, he met with Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and with Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, who in January will transition from speaker to minority leader.
Swenson said Dayton was also seeking to meet soon with Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, the leader of Senate Republicans.
(This post has been updated)
Minnesota House Republicans, preparing to take over the majority following the results of November's election, have announced a roster of 26 House committees that put a particular focus on rural Minnesota issues.
New committees include a separate Agriculture Finance Committee, to be chaired by Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake. Republicans from outstate Minnesota complained bitterly two years ago when Democrats rolled agriculture finance issues into a broader Environment and Agriculture Finance Committee, which was chaired by a lawmaker from Minneapolis.
Republicans also created or re-tooled several committees that seem geared toward rural Minnesota concerns. An Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee will be chaired by Rep. Joe Schomacker of Luverne, and comes amid concerns about lack of funding for nursing homes in small communities.
In addition, the Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee has become the "Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Committee." It will be chaired by Rep. Bob Gunther of Fairmont. Another new committee is the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee, to be chaired by Rep. Tom Hackbarth of Cedar.
"I'm proud to say that more than half of our chairmen represent communities in greater Minnesota and will be an integral part of a renewed effort to represent the entire state in policy-making," said Rep. Kurt Daudt, who Republicans chose to take over as speaker in January.
Rep. Paul Thissen, the Minneapolis DFLer who will transition from speaker to minority leader in January, said the new committees reflect a "divide and conquer" approach to integrating urban and rural concerns.
"It is disappointing to see Republicans in the House continue to focus more on talking points than solutions," Thissen said.
A handful of veteran Republican lawmakers will lead the most influential committees. Rep.-elect Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud, who is returning to the Legislature after eight years away, will once again chair the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which assembles the state budget. Knoblach previously chaired Ways and Means from 2003 to 2006. Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, will resume chairmanship of the Taxes Committee, which he previously led in 2011-12.
Funding for transportation is expected to be a major issue in the 2015 session, which starts Jan. 5. To lead the Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, Republicans tapped Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing. It's an unconventional choice in that Kelly does not currently serve on any transportation committees. But he has a moderate reputation, and it could be a signal that House Republicans want to engage with DFL Gov. Dayton and the new Senate DFL majority in tackling what all agree is a growing shortfall in funding for the state's transportation system.
A full list of the new committee chairs can be found here.
State House Speaker-designate Kurt Daudt annouced that veteran political operative Ben Golnik will be the executive director of the Republican caucus. That's the top staff job of the newly elected majority caucus.
Golnik stepped down today from the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, a Republican-aligned group of which he was chairman. That group was credited with helping Republicans take back the state House by dumping money into closely contested races. Republicans flipped 11 seats, including 10 in outstate Minnesota, to take a 72-62 majority.
Kevin Magnuson, a co-founder of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, will replace Golnik as the new chairman of that group.
Golnik has had his own public affairs firm, Golnik Strategies, and has worked at the top of state Republican Party politics for nearly a decade. He was executive director of the Minnesota Republican Party beginning in early 2005. Later, Golnik was regional campaign manager for John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008, and in 2010 he managed the gubernatorial campaign of former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert.
WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's newest GOP congressman-elect Tom Emmer spent Wednesday on Capitol Hill, participating in an orientation for freshmen members, which includes finding a place to crash here and making a bid on committees.
Emmer, who is replacing Rep. Michele Bachmann from the Sixth Congressional District, said Wednesday he was seeking a spot on the House Financial Services Committee, which regulates banking, commerce and securities and exchanges. Bachmann had a spot on the committee.
Emmer, who made a failed attempt to be Minnesota's governor four years ago, said he looked forward to listening and learning as a newbie on the Hill. He said the gubernatorial bid and this most recent campaign has taught him some lessons.
"Maybe it's focus, maybe it's discipline," he said, over a coffee on an unseasonably warm day in Washington. "I may have grown dramatically ... I'm really excited to get a chance to do some policy."
In addition to Financial Services, Emmer said he was interested in the agriculture and transportation committees. House members generally serve on three primary committees and some subcommittees.
He said among his top priorities is to bring some influence to the Sixth district.
"This office needs to have some influence," he said. "I don't know how long that takes, but I'm willing to learn."