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Stauber casts mixed votes on law enforcement, public safety bills

The Republican and former Duluth police officer said the package of bills was only a political play by Democrats approaching the midterm elections.

File: Pete Stauber speaks behind a microphone
U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber talks in Duluth in July 2021.
Samantha Erkkila / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber cast mixed votes on a package of law enforcement and public safety bills last week.

The Republican from Hermantown, a former Duluth police officer, voted for more funding for small police departments and for funding to support departments solving homicides and non-fatal shootings. He voted against bills that would train mental health professionals to respond to some incidents instead of officers and against funding anti-violence programs in areas facing gun violence among youth.

He had earlier voted against the resolution for the House’s consideration of the four bills.

In a fiery three-minute speech on the House floor Sept. 22 , Stauber said the bills were only introduced because the midterms are coming up and Democrats “want the American people to suddenly and miraculously believe that they care about the crime crisis plaguing our nation.”

“Regardless of how I vote today, I have to tell you that I am furious that days before an election, and for political purposes only, these bills are being brought up by my colleagues,” Stauber said. “The American people have suffered enough, and at the end of the day, the American people and our law enforcement community do not appreciate being used as pawns for political gain.”

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Stauber voted in favor of the Invest to Protect Act, which passed with significant bipartisan support, 360-64. The bill would direct the Department of Justice to award grants to local and tribal governments with fewer than 200 law enforcement officers to buy body cameras, provide de-escalation training and bolster officer recruitment and retention.

He was also one of 30 Republicans to join all 220 Democrats in voting for the Violent Incident Clearance and Technological Investigative Methods Act, which ”directs the Department of Justice to establish a grant program for state, tribal, or local law enforcement agencies or prosecuting offices (or groups of tribal agencies or offices) to establish, implement and administer violent incident clearance and technological investigative methods,” according to the bill’s summary.

Both bills had the support of the National Fraternal Order of Police .

Stauber opposed the Mental Health Justice Act, which would provide grants to states, tribes and local governments “to train and dispatch mental health professionals to respond, instead of law enforcement officers, to emergencies that involve people with behavioral health needs,” the bill summary said.

And Stauber voted against the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to set up an office, committee and center to put on violence intervention programs and track data while also directing the Department of Labor “to award grants for job training and workforce programs in communities disproportionately affected by gun violence to connect youth ages 16 to 24 to in-demand occupations,” the bill’s summary said .

All four bills passed the House.

His Democratic challenger, state Rep. Jen Schultz, of Duluth, criticized Stauber's "no" votes and his speech, pointing out his opposition to investigations into the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection that injured many Capitol Police officers.

Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was attacked by rioters, died a day later from two strokes and died of natural causes, but a medical examiner said Jan. 6 played a role in his condition. Several other officers have also since died by suicide.

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"Stauber’s actions do not support our law enforcement & first responders," Schultz tweeted.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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