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D.C. Memo: Finstad campaign calls Omar ‘anti-America’ in fundraising appeal, Omar strikes back

Plus: Minnesota Dems split over D.C. criminal code and Biden unveils budget

Details from a fundraising email sent by Finstad for Congress.
Details from a fundraising email sent by Finstad for Congress.
Finstad for Congress

WASHINGTON — Rep. Brad Finstad, R-1st District, has joined other Republicans in trying to raise money among conservative supporters by bashing Rep. Ilhan Omar, a progressive whom the right loves to hate.

Finstad’s campaign recently sent a blast email “poll alert” that proposed “Let’s talk about Omar’s failures” and said “the Minnesota Democrat (sic) Representative has quite the history of promoting extreme, socialist, and anti-Semitic views throughout her political career.”

The blast email said Omar was rebuked by colleagues for remarks about Israel in 2012, ousted from the House Foreign Relations Committee by the new House GOP majority and “consistently shows up with anti-Minnesota proposed legislation.”

Omar, D-5th District, ripped Finstad’s appeal, saying it “is not only offensive and wrong, but beneath the dignity of a member of the Minnesota congressional delegation.”

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Finstad’s appeal  said Omar was “anti-Minnesota” and “anti-America” and provided recipients with buttons to vote on whether the Democrat’s “socialist agenda is too extreme for Minnesota.”

Another button on the release takes you to a donation page that urges people to “Contribute to protect Minnesota values.”

Omar said Finstad’s blast email was a slap in the face to her constituents.

“Whatever our disagreements with members of the opposing party in the Minnesota delegation, we were all duly elected by our constituents,” Omar said. “To label another Member ‘anti-Minnesota’ and ‘anti-America’ is an insult to the over 700,000 Minnesotans I proudly represent in Congress.”

She also questioned whether it was “anti-Minnesota” to secure more than $40 million in special projects for the district and fight against pollution and for universal access to school meals during the pandemic and universal health care.

“I have spent my career representing the community I call home,” said Omar, who was born in Somalia.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR MN, said he was “horrified by the congressman’s offensive, xenophobic email targeting a prominent member of the East African community.”

“Language calling Somali-Americans and Muslims ‘Anti-America’ and “Anti-Minnesota’ is steeped in hateful tropes against our communities that we have heard all too often in recent years,” Hussein said.

Finstad is not the only Republican in Minnesota’s congressional delegation to use Omar’s progressiveness to energize conservatives.

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Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th District, now the House Majority Whip, helped drum up votes to oust Omar from the House Foreign Relations Committee and, as former head of the National Republican Campaign Committee, sought to link vulnerable Democrats to Omar’s progressive policy stances, including her criticisms of the Minneapolis police.

Minnesota Dems split over D.C. criminal code overhaul  

Minnesota’s Democratic lawmakers have split over whether Washington, D.C. has the right to revise its criminal code.

After President Biden said he supported GOP-led efforts to block the District of Columbia from redefining some crimes and reducing penalties for others, the Senate voted Wednesday 81-14 to block the proposed overhaul by the D.C. city council.

Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith were among the Democrats voting to block the Nation’s Capital from making any changes.

But Smith seethed that she was forced to take vote on the legislation.

“Forcing Congress to have this vote was nothing more than a political ploy by Republicans,” she said. “The chairman of the D.C. City Council has already withdrawn the bill from Senate consideration. The only reason Republicans are pushing this vote through is to score political points.”

Klobuchar said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had “raised concerns about certain provisions of the proposal.”

“I am glad the mayor is planning to work with the D.C. Council to address the safety concerns and complete the work on these reforms,” Klobuchar said.

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But many D.C resident’s including those who protested outside the U.S. Capitol during the vote, viewed Congress’ action as a blow to their efforts at self-determination.

Last month, the House voted to block D.C.’s proposed criminal code reform.

Reps. Dean Phillips, D-3rd District, and Angie Craig, D-2nd District, were among the 31 Democrats who crossed party lines to support the effort. Reps. Omar Ilhan, D-5th District and Betty McCollum, D-4th District, voted against blocking D.C.’s proposed criminal code overhaul.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Republican House members joined their GOP colleagues in voting to block the D.C. Council’s plan.

The House vote occurred on the same day Craig was assaulted in the elevator of her D.C. apartment building by an apparently homeless man. Punchbowl News, a political newsletter, determined there was a link.

“Don’t underestimate the impact of the Craig incident,” Punchbowl wrote. “Every member and senator thinks about the safety of themselves, their families and their aides while in Washington.”

Biden unveils budget, Emmer immediately pans it  

President Biden released the outlines of his 2024 budget this week, which would boost money for social programs and raise taxes on the rich.

Ultimately, Congress is responsible for crafting next year’s federal budget, but Biden’s proposal signals what he will promote in his presidential campaign and sets the stage for a looming fight with the GOP over raising the debt ceiling and government spending.

While Biden’s proposed budget would spend more than $2 trillion on dozens of new domestic policy initiatives, it would also cut the deficit by raising more than $4.5 trillion in new revenue through new taxes on the wealthy and negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs in the Medicare program.

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Biden’s plan would also extend Medicare’s solvency by increasing the Medicare tax rate on all earned and unearned income above $400,000 to 5% from its current 3.8%.

“This modest increase in Medicare contributions from those with the highest incomes will help keep the Medicare program strong for decades to come,” the president wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times. 

While Biden’s proposals are not likely to pass the GOP-led House, its leaders, including Emmer, immediately condemned the plan as “reckless.”

“This is a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” said a statement signed by Emmer, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.,  Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. “Yet President Biden’s unserious budget proposal includes trillions in new taxes that families will pay directly or through higher costs.”