West Central Tribune

By Thomas Cheverny

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stopped in Olivia to drop off a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on Monday, and took time to chat about the issues on the local agenda as well as those in Congress.

It’s been a good farm harvest, the seed and genetic companies in Olivia remain the bulwark of the community’s economy, but one issue continues to challenge the local economy, according to Mayor Jon Hawkinson.

“Child care,” he said while greeting the senator at American Legion Post 186 on the city’s west end.

The issue is “gigantic” in terms of its implications for families and economic growth, he told the senator. “We really need some help,” he said.

Klobuchar's visit to Olivia brought her to the American Legion post to deliver a flag that flew over the nation’s Capitol on Nov. 11, 2022. Dan Knight, commander of the VFW Post and a Legion member, accepted the flag on behalf of the Legion.

Overall, veterans are getting good care through the Veterans Affairs health centers serving the area, according to Renville County Veterans Service Officer Lee Stock.

But he told the senator about two veterans issues that he hears concerns about. As he assists a growing number of female veterans, he hears more concerns expressed about sexual trauma in the military service, Stock told Klobuchar.

He also hears from veterans about inconsistencies when they receive care for some medical services from private providers contracted by Veterans Affairs.

Klobuchar anticipates a hectic agenda for Congress as she and other Democrats try to get legislation passed before a new, Republican-controlled House of Representatives is seated next year.

She has been working with colleagues on the other side of the aisle for legislation that would provide media companies a temporary exemption from antitrust legislation. It would allow newspapers and other media providers to collectively negotiate how their content is distributed online by companies such as Google and Facebook.

To get the bill approved before the end of session will be “very, very difficult,” Klobuchar said. Yet getting it passed this session is critical, she said. She believes that U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, currently the ranking member of the House Judiciary, will not allow the bill out of the House next session.

She is also in the midst of attempting to get legislation she co-authored approved this session that would allow Afghanistan refugees in the U.S. to obtain green cards. She said her goal is to help the many Afghanistan refugees who assisted U.S. forces in their country.

Even though they are in the U.S., they face a process that can take as long as 10 to 15 years to get the green cards they need for employment, she explained.

Klobuchar told her hosts in Olivia that she and her colleagues were able to get legislation passed that prevents foreign shippers from “unreasonably” refusing to carry American products for export. The legislation was supported by agricultural groups facing shipping obstacles.

She is optimistic for the rewrite of the Farm Bill that will occur in the next session. She feels things are on track in a good way, she said.

The senator said she also remains optimistic that Congress will continue its strong support for Ukraine, despite rhetoric voiced by some far right and left candidates during the past election cycle. She said many of those people have pulled back on their calls for reducing U.S. support.

Earlier, she was in Kentucky where she said Mitch McConnell, minority leader in the Senate, was very supportive of continued support. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of the Ukraine has made it clear to the world that Russia will not limit its invasion to one country if it prevails in his, she said.

Klobuchar met with the Ukrainian president during a visit to the country earlier this year. She learned recently that she is now banned from Russia, she said. After learning that news, Klobuchar said her husband told folks they should go easy on her: She’s been fighting the four largest companies in the world and is now banned from Russia.