Taking My Oath to Uphold The Constitution
As you probably already know, the impeachment trial has come to the Senate. I, along with all of my Senate colleagues, were sworn in by Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts.
When the trial began, and the House managers came onto the Senate floor, I felt the weight of history, and a small catch in my throat. It was a relief to hear Representative Adam Schiff present the articles dispassionately, clearly and rationally. Looking out at my colleagues, I was struck by how rare it is that we are all on the floor together, sitting down free from technology, and focused on one thing. What would the Senate be like if we came together like this more often? What would happen if we did less tweeting and more listening?
I will be sending other updates but here is my promise to Minnesotans: I take my oath extremely seriously and I will do impartial justice at this important moment in our nation's history.
I'll also be posting my notes from the trial on social media each day. Here's my latest.
Securing a Pathway to Citizenship for Liberians in Minnesota
After decades of living and working legally in Minnesota, thousands of Liberians in Minnesota will finally have a chance to become citizens, thanks to the organizing and advocacy of the Liberian community and an amendment that I fought for in the Senate and worked hard to get passed into law.
Liberians, many of whom fled a violent civil war in Liberia, were granted what's known as DED status, a humanitarian protection that had allowed them to live and work in this country for more than 25 years. But their status had to be renewed each year, and for some time, it looked like the Trump Administration might terminate these important protections, even though conditions in Liberia are still dangerous and uncertain.
That's why I championed an amendment with Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, all while working closely with the Liberian community, that gives Liberians a pathway to citizenship in the United States and allows them to apply for green cards. It passed both chambers of Congress and was signed by the President himself. I could not be happier. We did it.
You can see some photos of the celebration I attended in St. Paul here.
Successfully Fighting to Make Protections for Federal Health Benefits During Government Shutdown Law of the Land
Last year, I received a heartbreaking note from a furloughed federal worker in Minnesota whose son was born prematurely during the most recent government shutdown. There was uncertainty surrounding what government functions were operating, and his family faced confusion about the status of insurance coverage for their son's stay at the newborn intensive care unit.
No family should have to deal with something like this. I fought hard to make sure federal employees who have qualifying life events are able to make the proper adjustments to their health insurance plans and continue dental and vision benefits during lapses in federal funding. And now, that's the law of the land after passing as part of measures signed into law in December as part of the National Defense Reauthorization Act (NDAA). Similar bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who fought to include these measures in NDAA before his passing.
I made a promise to help families and workers in Minnesota and across the country, and I'm proud to say that this bill makes good on that promise.
You can read more about the bill here.
Working Across the Aisle to Combat Lyme Disease
With the number of Lyme disease cases on the rise, I worked with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine to include a bill that would improve research, prevention, diagnostics, and treatment for vector-borne diseases, which are spread by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas.
The incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases has increased significantly since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting began in 1991. Minnesota had 950 confirmed cases of Lyme diseases in 2018 and last month, our bipartisan bill was signed into law to address this serious problem.
I worked closely together with Senator Collins to get the Kay Hagan TICK Act passed, but now we are making sure that our bill is properly implemented. We recently pressed the Trump Administration to make implementing this bill a top priority. That means we are looking for them to develop a national strategy to address this along with delivering support to states so we can build a public health infrastructure that can combat tick-borne diseases effectively.
You can read the letter we sent to Secretary Alex Azar here.