Sen. Amy Klobuchar saw firsthand Tuesday that Hibbing Taconite had been cleared of its stockpiles of finished pellets. She said she was happy to see that the rail industry, clogged with product from the North Dakota oilfields, had finally remembered where Hibbing was.
“I called the Burlington Northern CEO three times,” Klobuchar said. “He’ll tell you where Hibbing is.”
Klobuchar’s ability to get things done with short conversations and persistence will be put to the test in 2015 when she navigates a Republican-majority U.S. Senate for the first time since she was elected in 2006.
Where others see pessimism, she sees opportunity. Klobuchar and her camp are touting eight smaller bipartisan bills turned law that she was a part of in 2014 as the basis for optimism.
“We have an opportunity to do more of that,” she said, citing the ABLE Act, which levels the financial playing field for people with disabilities, as an example of practical legislation for which she can garner across-the-aisle support. “I’m a little more optimistic than some others.”
Klobuchar said she believes Republicans when they say they’re concerned about matters of governing. She cited working on tourism legislation with Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri as further proof of what’s possible. They worked to reauthorize Brand USA — an initiative that markets tourism to states such as Minnesota all over the world, using international tourist dollars to fund the program.
Klobuchar will enter 2015 in a new position as chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. She’s tasked with bringing together community leaders, policy experts and legislators to identify common ground. She’s familiar with that territory and sounds eager to get things off to a good start. She anticipates heightened gridlock come 2016 and its presidential election.
“Next year,” Klobuchar said of 2015, “is pretty critical.”