U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
2016 will go down in the history books, to be sure. But in between the bombast and the bickering, we managed to get some really important things done. In this Congress, we passed bipartisan legislation to invest in transportation, strengthen public education and support our rural areas. I was one of four senators who led the prescription drug addiction bill that became law, and I fought for the 21st Century Cures Act, which will help fund treatment and prevention. We also made real progress in the fight against climate change and cracked down on illegal steel dumping.
Looking ahead, we are no longer governing from crisis — we are governing from opportunity. And in Minnesota, especially northern Minnesota, opportunity means rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, strengthening the middle class by bringing down everyday costs, and supporting workers by raising the minimum wage and protecting their jobs.
From the construction on the Port of Duluth Intermodal Project to the new Highway 53 bridge being built into Virginia to the Great Northern Transmission Line project, Minnesotans understand we need to work together to build roads, bridges, dams, broadband infrastructure and rail that work for this century, not the last one.
One bipartisan solution to help us make the kinds of investments we need is fixing our complex, out-of-date and inefficient tax code. As part of comprehensive tax reform, we can incentivize U.S. companies to bring earnings held overseas home, and we can create an infrastructure bank, providing billions of dollars for needed projects in Minnesota and across our country. By making smart investments in our infrastructure, we can create millions of jobs and move our economy forward.
We also need to strengthen the middle class by bringing down everyday costs. Whether it’s the cost of college, cellphones, TV and cable, or prescription drugs, we need to ensure families can afford to make ends meet.
Here’s one example: Mark Poirier from Duluth relies on a drug called Cuprimine to lead a healthy life. In January 2014, Cuprimine retailed at $1,865 a month. Fast forward to November 2016, and Mark’s 30-day supply of Cuprimine now costs $19,950. That’s a more than 1,000 percent increase.
There are solutions to bring the costs of prescription drugs down. I have four bills that would do it. Sen. John McCain and I have a bill to bring in safe, less costly drugs from Canada. We also need to allow negotiation under Medicare Part D, a common-sense step that would save taxpayers money and help more than 40 million seniors currently enrolled in the program. And we need to stop the dangerous practice of allowing pharmaceutical companies to pay generic drug companies to keep their products off the market.
So, yes, we need to lower costs, but we need to raise wages, too. It’s not right that someone can work hard 40 hours a week and still struggle to make ends meet. We can do something about it, starting with raising the federal minimum wage.
And we’ve got to keep working to protect northern Minnesota jobs and bring jobs back.
Rep. Rick Nolan, Sen. Al Franken and I pushed the administration to crack down on steel dumping — and it did, including more personnel to better enforce our trade regulations, tougher inspections at our ports of entry, and a better-staffed Commerce Department to enforce tariffs on countries that cheated and dumped steel in the U.S. Since then, blast furnaces have fired back up, 1,000 Minnesotans are back to work at mines across the Arrowhead, and Cliffs is constructing a $65 million addition to United Taconite processing plant.
Moving forward, we’re going to keep the pressure on China to honor its international trade obligations by rolling back its steel production capacity. And we’re going to keep fighting to promote American-made steel, too. In short, we will not rest until every worker is back on the job.
Now is the time to stand our ground on the progress we’ve made and find common ground whenever possible.
Here’s the bottom line: No matter where you live, no matter what you do, no matter who you voted for, everyone deserves a fair shot. If you work hard in northern Minnesota, you should be able to make it in northern Minnesota. It’s that simple.