WASHINGTON — With just over 48 hours between the counting of the final votes Tuesday night and his swearing-in on Friday morning, Republican Representative Brad Finstad has been caught in a whirlwind.
The New Ulm farmer, who is also a former U.S. Department of Agriculture official, quickly gathered his family to join him here and undergo a quick tutorial on becoming a new member of Congress.
With his wife, Jackie, in the gallery of the American House and his seven children sitting before him, Finstad promised the residents of the 1st Congressional District right after the House smashed into another day of partisan bickering.
The controversial issue on Finstad’s first day in Congress was a vote on a Democratic priority, a massive health and climate change bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act.
But Finstad’s swearing in by house speaker Nancy Pelosi had a twofold, celebratory feel. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-4eThe dean of Minnesota’s congressional delegation suggested Finstad, praising his “life of public service” and experience in agricultural matters — something the new freshman legislator likes to emphasize.
In his maiden speech to the House of Representatives, Finstad said: “I am extremely honored to be here.”
“As a farmer, we wake up in the morning and don’t wonder if something breaks during the day; we know something will happen, so instead we’re wondering how we’re going to fix it,” Finstad said. “I will come to work in Congress every day with the intention of doing everything I can to fix things.”
During a ceremonial photo op with Finstad after the official swearing-in ceremony, Pelosi told the new legislator that he had the 431st member of the House and repeatedly complimented him on his “beautiful children,” including eight-year-old twin sons.
“This is just a photo shoot, but this is a special day for us,” said Pelosi.
Finstad then went to meet privately with the minority leader of the house, Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, and took a second photo with his hand on a bible. Finstad used that photo in a press release announcing his swearing in.
Finstad won a special election against Democrat Jeff Ettinger to serve the remainder of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn to fill. He continues to run against Ettinger, a former Hormel director, to keep his seat in the next congress starting in January.
Finstad has inherited Hagedorn’s office in the Longworth House office building, but he will not be allowed to keep it during the next congress, even if he is re-elected.
In addition to moving into his new office, Finstad has plenty of other things to do in Washington, DC if he doesn’t run for reelection in his southern Minnesota district.
He has not yet been assigned to any committees, but Finstad said he would like to sit on the Agriculture Committee, just like Hagedorn, and also on the Transport and Infrastructure Committee.
“Transportation issues are important to southern Minnesota,” he said.
Finstad also needs to hire staff for its DC and district offices. He says he does not yet know where those district offices will be located. And he’s still negotiating his office budget, he said.
Finstad should also get to know Capitol Hill’s idiosyncratic culture. But he’s well on his way to getting a good grasp of the GOP talking points of the day.
He said he opposed the Inflation Reduction Act because it would “fund 87,000 additional IRS agents instead of tackling the high cost of groceries and gas.”
“To me, the common sense vote in Minnesota on this is ‘no,'” Finstad said of his first vote in Congress.
Many Republicans, including Rep. Tom Bucket, R-6esay the increased funding to the Internal Revenue Service through the Inflation Reduction Act threatens ordinary Americans with the specter of unfair and even politically motivated audits.
The $80 billion in new funding would enable the IRS to gradually hire nearly 87,000 employees by the year 2031, but most of these hires would replace agency retirees and include not only enforcers but also customer service and technology specialists.
Finstad’s net worth every 1 . to keepst GOP-owned district, at least for now, has excited fellow Republican House members from Minnesota.
Since Finstad is a farmer, Rep. Peter Stauber, R-8epredicted that the newest member of the delegation would “have a strong voice, in the upcoming farm law, massive legislation that would reauthorize all USDA programs for another five years.”
“He’s going to bring all that hard work and the ‘get-it-done’ mentality (to Congress),” Stauber said.
And Emmer said that “as a fourth-generation farmer,” Finstad “really represents the best values of our state.”
Because it was difficult for his supporters to come to Washington DC to celebrate with a celebratory “first day” reception at his Capitol Hill office, Finstad said he could host such a celebration in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, he said he plans to “take a deep breath” and perhaps take his family to some of the sights in the nation’s capital after the congress adjourned on its first day.