Working for Minnesota in Washington

I am lucky to represent you in Washington D.C. and to work every day in the United States Senate to make progress for Minnesotans. I’ll be honest, this can be a frustrating and divisive place. But it’s knowing that every win we have is for the people of Minnesota that continues to inspire me. These past months have been busy––but I am excited to give you an update on the work I’ve been doing in Washington. 

Working for a Cleaner Future

 I am working to advance a Clean Electricity Standard (CES) as part of the major budget package now being debated in Washington, D.C., building on my 2019 bill that would eliminate all net greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. We have a climate crisis threatening our economy and our security; but choosing a clean energy future––done well––can provide cheaper energy, improve health, and create more jobs, opportunity and fairness in our economy. My plan, which would move electric power generation to net-zero carbon emissions, is a powerful and achievable tool to get us there. It would require utility providers to include more clean energy in their mix over time. This plan will allow every utility and region to start where it is and build from there. 

    A CES is a great start as we address the climate crisis and can put America on a rapid path to net-zero electricity emissions. It’s not one-size fits all and it does not promote one kind of clean energy over another. Best of all: We can actually pass it! My bill was endorsed by environmental groups, utility providers, and labor unions–– the broad support necessary for it to pass and be implemented. 

In the coming days and weeks, as the Senate takes up and passes once-in-a-generation infrastructure legislation that will jumpstart the economy and create jobs in communities all across Minnesota, I will keep you updated on the impact of that work

 Fighting Major League Baseball’s Effort to Close a Minnesota Factory, Send Jobs to China 

I recently wrote to the Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner to express my outrage about the impending closure of Miken Sports’s facility in rural Caledonia, Minnesota that will cost about 80 employees their jobs.  The facility is owned by MLB and a wealthy private equity firm run by the owner of the San Diego Padres, with most of the jobs going to China.  This goes against all expectations of a league that calls itself America’s favorite pastime, and I’m pushing them to reverse their action. 

The closure would be a huge economic blow, not only to the Miken employees and their families, but also to this community of 2,800 because the plant is a long-time major employer and did so much good locally.

Major League Baseball and its teams are the beneficiaries of billions of dollars in taxpayer support, and the league has long benefitted from an exemption to federal anti-trust law and relaxed overtime rules.  Americans should be able to count on MLB to, at a minimum, avoid being complicit in the offshoring of U.S. jobs to China. 

Alleviating the Impact of Minnesota’s Severe and Worsening Drought

With severe and worsening drought causing Upper Midwest cattle producers to run out of hay for their herds, I am pushing for federal action to help.  I urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to open up some Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land early for emergency haying this year. I’ve also teamed up with Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota on bipartisan legislation to allow emergency haying on federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land during future droughts. Our bill, the CRP Flexibility Act would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture  the tools to allow emergency haying on CRP land when certain conditions are met and in consultation with the state conservation experts. When severe droughts hit, the USDA should have the tools to allow farmers to access reserve land for haying and grazing. This will lessen the impact on the farm economy.

Increasing Safety Measures in Public Housing 

I vividly remember the tragic fire at the Cedar High Apartments in Minneapolis the day before Thanksgiving in 2019, when fast-moving flames engulfed the upper floors of that high rise killing five people. That tragedy inspired a recent Senate hearing that I chaired to explore what we need to do to prevent future tragedies and keep families safe. 

At the hearing, we heard from experts that a key factor in those deaths was the building’s lack of fire sprinklers.  There are over 21,000 public housing units across Minnesota.  Units built before 1992 are not required to have a sprinkler system, and we know this could mean life or death if there’s a fire.

Far too many people are living in unsafe housing.  They are often elderly and disabled, and they deserve a safe, decent place to live.  That’s why I continue to press for my bill, the Public Housing Fire Safety Act.  The bill, which has bipartisan support in the House, provides funding for local public housing authorities to retrofit their buildings with fire sprinkler systems to make them safer for all residents. At the same time, I am pushing for fire sprinkler funding in the major budget package now being debated in Washington.  President Biden has proposed dedicating $40 billion over 10 years to make public housing improvements – including sprinklers – so these structures are safe and fit to live in.