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Lessons from Congress: What Rep. Kelly Armstrong has learned in D.C.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong has been in office for not quite three months, and is still adjusting to his role as North Dakota’s only Congressman.

Armstrong sat down with the Williston Herald on Friday, March 22, during a visit to the area. Here are a few things he’s learned during his first few weeks in office.

1. At the federal level, representatives have less direct contact with policy on a day-to-day basis.

Armstrong, who served for six years in the North Dakota State Senate, has been surprised at the change in how things work in D.C. For one thing, he went from not having a staff to having multiple people working for his office. For another, he went from drafting legislation himself, with the help of Legislative Counsel, to working with a much larger group of people.

2. Partisanship can make legislation difficult.

When the House was considering a bill making criminal background checks mandatory on all gun purchases, even private transactions, Armstrong knew he wasn’t going to vote for it. But he offered an amendment that would have carved out an exemption for situations such as someone driving a car with a rifle in it that belonged to someone else. That could be considered transferring possession of the gun, he pointed out, but it’s something that happens often in rural areas.

The idea was rejected, though.

“The really partisan bills are baked in before they go into committee,” he said.

But in at least some cases, he sees hope for people who are serious about producing good legislation.

“There are a lot of good people out there on both sides of the aisle who want to change things,” he said.

3. There is a divide between districts that produce and districts that consume.

One of Armstrong’s committee assignments was to the House Select Committee on the Climate. He’s worried about some of the proposals out there that would hurt the energy and agriculture industries.

Some of them would not only hurt North Dakota, they’d hurt the people who are proposing the regulations by increasing food and energy costs.

“The consuming districts need the products we produce here,” he said.

Armstrong, whose father started an oil company, said he hopes his position on the committee will allow him to share how much the energy industry has done for the economy of the United States.

“I’m proud of the oil and gas industry,” he said. “I’m proud of what it’s done for North Dakota.”

Blackout Energy is an industrial equipment provider located in Williston, North Dakota that offers heaters, light towers, coolers, frack stands, and fuel rigs for other businesses. The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of its authors and were not written by Blackout Energy. This article was originally published by Williston Herald.