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New Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, administers the House oath of office to U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., during a ceremonial swearing-in on Thursday, Jan. 3 at Capitol Hill in Washington, during the opening session of the 116th Congress. Pictured with Steil and Pelosi is Steil's mother, Tricia.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., is starting his political career in an intense time in our nation’s capital.

The partial government shutdown over border security is officially the longest in history, and President Donald Trump’s campaign is being investigated for possible connections with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign; former FBI Director Robert Mueller is serving as special counsel to investigate the matter.

It is against this backdrop that the freshman congressman, representing Wisconsin’s 1st District, steps into an unfamiliar role as elected public official.

On Wednesday, during his first speech on the House floor, Steil tried to push his colleagues to find an end to the shutdown.

“Put all 435 of us in a room with no phones and no televisions until the job is done,” Steil said. “I came from the private sector, and in the private sector you do not leave until the job is done. Is our job done here in Washington?”

Republicans are in the minority in the House, and Steil said the Democratic House leadership “has refused to bring any serious attempt to open the government and address critical border security needs to the House floor.”

“Rather than playing political games with government funding, let’s work on solutions,” Steil said. “I’m ready to stay here until we get the job done.”

No rubber stamp

For those who thought Steil would be a rubber stamp for Trump, Steil has given some signs that he’s willing to break with the president on issues.

On Thursday, the House voted on a bill that would have lifted sanctions against the Russian government, which Trump was in favor of, but the legislation was defeated. Steil, along with 129 other Republicans in the House, broke with Trump to vote against lifting sanctions and said “Russia poses a real and dangerous threat to the United States.”

“Vladimir Putin cannot be trusted and has continued to undermine us, our interests, and our allies,” Steil said. “Lifting these sanctions sends the wrong message to Moscow and our allies across the globe.”

With the partial government shutdown continuing, Steil plans to return to Wisconsin this weekend for ceremonial swearing-in ceremonies in the district.

One of those is scheduled to take place at noon Sunday at Memorial Hall, 72 Seventh St., Racine. Steil is also planning to hold a similar event in Janesville later that day.

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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