Notes From The Capital: June 2019

Introducing Bipartisan Legislation to Lower the Price of Insulin and Hold Manufacturers Accountable

Thousands of people struggle to afford the insulin that keeps them alive. And a recent study found that one in four diabetes patients admitted to cutting back on insulin prescribed by their doctor because of cost. Some Americans are even paying with their lives because of this dangerous practice—people like the late Minnesotan Alec Smith, who died at 26 because he couldn’t afford his insulin. It shouldn’t have to be this way. While I support long-term solutions to bring down prices, no one should have to suffer Alec’s fate. People should have access to insulin when they need it—period.

Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec’s mom, along with other strong Minnesota advocates like Lija Greenseid joined me in announcing a new bipartisan bill that would allow states, tribes, and territories to set up programs to provide insulin on an emergency basis. For over a year, I worked with Nicole, Lija, and others in Minnesota and Washington to develop this legislation. The bill puts insulin manufacturers on the hook by requiring drug companies who make insulin to foot the bill of these new programs. This bill would also promote market competition to drive down the price and hold manufacturers accountable by penalizing them if they price gouge on insulin.

The bill has the support of Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota because this isn’t a Republican issue or a Democratic issue—whether you’re in a red county, a blue county, or anywhere in between, this bill is about saving lives and putting forth a solution to address a national emergency. I introduced this legislation on the anniversary of Alec Smith’s tragic passing, and I’ll be working to get more colleagues on board to honor Alec and bring immediate relief to patients.

Learn more here.

Moving My Bipartisan Measures to Lower Health Care Costs One Step Closer to Law

The Senate should look like Republicans and Democrats coming together to improve Americans’ lives. That’s what our bipartisan bill to lower health care costs aims to accomplish. The legislative package—which is a very Washington-y way to say “a bunch of different bills included together in one larger bill”—recently took a step forward when it passed out of the Senate Health Committee, of which I am a member. 

The package includes my bipartisan bill with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana to bring lower-cost products like insulin to market sooner, and my bill with Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas to put a stop to drug companies making slight changes to drug formulations—sometimes as minimal as adding salt to a drug—so that they can extend their monopolies. (This is a practice known as “evergreening.”) The package also includes a measure I helped introduce with Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin to require drug manufacturers to disclose and provide more information about planned drug price increases, including research and development costs. This will make Big Pharma think twice before they raise prices and keep them accountable to consumers and policymakers alike.

And while this bipartisan package is an important first step, it is just a first step. There is much more we need to do to lower health care costs for Americans and I’m committed to doing that work because patients can’t wait any longer.

Learn more here

Calling for a Clear National Trade Strategy

You know, if Minnesotans don’t like something, they say “that’s interesting.” When it comes to President Trump’s tariffs, Minnesota farmers are way past interesting. They’re frustrated. They’re angry. Farmers already face challenges with low prices and the uncertainty we see in agriculture every day. And now, on top of all this, they’re feeling pressure from trade, tariffs and global market access issues.

We need fair trade policies that lift up American farmers and workers. I’m calling for a clear, detailed plan for minimizing the negative effects of President Trump’s tariffs as well as a long-term plan to resolve our trade disputes. Ag trade is an issue I’ve long focused on. As Lieutenant Governor, I led a trade trip to Cuba to build our agricultural relationship and create opportunity for our farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses.  

I appreciate hearing from Minnesota farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses, and I’m working hard to lift up their voices and share their ideas in Congress. I’ve always believed that the best ideas come from the people closest to the work. Most recently I met with farm leaders in Eagan. If you have input you’d like to share with me, feel free to email

At the end of the day, farmers need and deserve more certainty, and we need to make sure our rural communities, farmers, clean energy producers, and value-added businesses thrive. As a member of the Senate Ag Committee, I’m going to bat each day for Minnesota ag.

Learn more here.  

Working to Improve Safety for All Native Communities

Right now, there is a crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) in this country, and the federal government is failing to address this issue. We are not responding adequately to violence committed against Native communities, and we are not fulfilling our trust responsibility to keep those communities safe.

So this month I helped introduce a bipartisan bill with some of my colleagues on the Indian Affairs Committee, led by Senator Tom Udall, to meet critical public safety needs in Indian Country and in urban Indigenous communities. Our bill will provide tribes and states with resources to coordinate responses to this crisis and increase the effectiveness of federal missing persons databases. It will also bolster law enforcement recruitment and retention on tribal lands. This bill has bipartisan support thanks to Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Martha McSally of Arizona, and I’m going keep working to pass this critical legislation. 

We made progress toward that goal this month when the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing to receive testimony on this bill, as well as my bipartisan Justice For Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act, and other legislation that addresses the MMIW crisis. That hearing was an important step to moving these critical public safety bills forward. At the same time, I’m calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the Violence Against Women Act up for a vote. We need to update this critical legislation, and make sure that the bill includes strong protections for the safety of Native communities.