On the same day that Islamic State Leader Bahdadi issued a rare statement warning “crusaders” not to fight them on the ground and declaring that “with the help of Allah….we will surround you,” Minnesota’s freshman Congressman tells the public that the Islamic State has “nothing to do with religion.”
In the year-end interview with the Associated Press that covered mostly foreign policy issues, Minnesota Congressmen Tom Emmer sounded off on his new found political style, one that seeks to build bridges while he “bides his time” before becoming a bigger player in the U.S. House.
Emmer has a resolution pending in Congress to declare war on the Islamic State telling a local radio station this week why he’s pushing the move. “We need to give this executive (President Obama) all the authority available to go take care of this problem before it comes to our shores.” As he advocates more military action, he declared that the Islamic State, which now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq, only uses religion as an excuse, telling the AP: “These people are animals. It has nothing to do with religion, They’ll kill. They’ll intimidate. They’ll steal. … Religion is an excuse.”
The AP interview also highlighted Emmer’s change of position on foreign aid. “I was the guy who sat on the radio and said, ‘Why are we spending a dollar over there when we could be spending it to build a road or a school or a hospital here,” Emmer said in a “lengthy recounting of his shift.” “Maybe we don’t have to spend as many dollars on bombs, bullets and, God forbid, boots on the ground.” Emmer said.
The 6th district Congressman, who replaced Michele Bachmann after her retirement last year, has worked to become a worldly member of the U.S. House, making trips to Ethiopia, Cuba, Kenya, and Mexico. Shortly after his August trip to Mexico with lobbyists and business leaders, Emmer spoke at a Minneapolis event and said that GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump appealed to people’s “basest instincts” after Trump called for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and deporting illegal aliens.
In July he poo-pooed the concerns of constituents at a townhall meeting who questioned the economic impact of the refugee resettlement program in St. Cloud, telling them that is was a “myth” that any Syrian refugees would be headed to the central Minnesota city.
The freshman Congressman from Delano has spent his first year in Washington building bridges with the most liberal members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation. First, in a move praised by the Star Tribune editorial board, as a co-founder of the Congressional Somalia Caucus with Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison, and then launching the bipartisan Cuba Working Group Steering Committee along with Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum.