I believe ethics are the heart of our democracy and must be woven into the very fabric of our government. Public trust in our government and elections is essential to the health of our Constitutional system. When I first arrived in the Senate, scandals in Washington had eroded the public's confidence in government and cast a shadow over the legitimacy of the laws and policies coming out of Congress. Our elected leaders should be focused on public service, not paid perks and privileges.

We've made progress in strengthening the ethics laws and standards for members of Congress and their staffs, including passing the first meaningful ethics reform legislation since Watergate and the first mandatory sexual harassment training for Senate employees. But I believe there is so much more we can do to restore the public's trust in our institutions, including reforms that cut red tape and make government work better for people.

Restoring that trust also requires us to preserve our free and fair elections. Our country is stronger when our campaigns are transparent and accountable to the people and when all Americans are able to participate freely in our democracy, confident that no foreign interference has occurred and that their votes have been counted and have not been suppressed.

Minnesotans hold their elected representatives, government, and elections to the highest standards. Our state has a proud tradition of civic participation – Minnesota has had the highest voter turnout in the nation during the last two presidential elections. As I have traveled across our state, Minnesotans have joined me in emphasizing the need for strong ethics rules, free and fair elections, and government reform that restores both integrity and common sense to our nation's capital.

As Minnesota's U.S. senator, I will continue to focus on these priorities:

  • Protecting the voting rights of all Americans. The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and we should be doing all we can to make sure people’s voices are heard. In many states, voters are facing barriers to the ballot box in the form of long lines, unreasonable identification requirements and shuttered polling locations. At a time when the right to vote is under attack and foreign adversaries are targeting minority communities with deceptive information about our elections, we must do more to protect voting rights. As Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, making voting easier and securing our elections are my top priorities.
  • Preventing foreign interference in our elections. The six heads of our intelligence agencies unanimously agree that a foreign government interfered in our 2016 elections and will most likely interfere future elections. I believe we must do more to ensure our elections are secure and free from foreign influence, so the American people can choose their own leaders, government, and future.
  • Setting a higher ethical standard in Washington. I came to Washington determined to restore responsibility and accountability to the way business is done in our nation's capital. I will continue to work to strengthen the ethical standards in Washington to make sure that government lives up to the values and expectations of the American people.
  • Restoring reasonable campaign finance rules and increasing transparency of campaign spending by special interests. In 2010, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the door for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on federal election activity. Special interests have had too much influence in our political process for too long, and the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision in 2014 only expanded that influence. I believe we must address the problems created by these harmful Supreme Court rulings and that we must restore the right of individual Americans to have their voices heard. In the meantime, I have worked to increase the transparency of outside spending that seeks to influence the outcome of our elections.
  • Ensuring transparent and accountable social media policies and protecting Americans’ personal data. Major social media platforms store an enormous amount of data and have a user base larger than all of the major broadcasting companies combined, but the lack of oversight on how data is stored and how political advertisements are sold raises concerns about the integrity of our elections as well as Americans’ privacy rights. That’s why it’s never been more important to ensure that our social media is secure, transparent, and accountable to the American people.
  • Making clear Congress plays by the same rules as the rest of the nation. Americans have always believed in the principles of hard work, fair play, and personal responsibility. Those of us who have the privilege of writing the rules have a responsibility to follow them. In these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever for members of Congress to make clear that no one is above the law in this country, least of all lawmakers.
  • Reforming outdated rules to allow the Senate to function more effectively. Too often gamesmanship and gridlock have prevented elected officials from doing their jobs. While we've instituted important reforms in recent years, I will keep fighting for additional changes that would increase accountability and transparency in how the Senate conducts its business.
  • Strengthening oversight at our federal safety agencies. In this complex economy, consumers need advocates in Washington, people who will fight to make sure that there is a "cop on the beat" to police the safety and integrity of consumer goods and services. Americans should be able to trust that the products they buy or use are safe – that products have been tested and meet strong health and safety standards. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I am fighting to make sure that the federal agencies charged with keeping Americans safe and financially secure are being vigilant in doing their job to protect all American consumers. Americans deserve to know that government regulators are working for them – not for the industries they are supposed to supervise.
  • Eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in government spending - both at home and overseas. As we continue to work to move our economy forward and reduce our nation's debt in a balanced way, it is critical that Congress exercise fiscal restraint and strong oversight of government spending. I strongly believe that we need transparency and other safeguards to protect American taxpayers' money.
  • As Minnesota's senator, I have fought for stronger ethics laws and standards in Washington:
  • Protecting the voting rights of all Americans. As Ranking Member of the Committee on Rules and Administration, I’ve introduced legislation to make it easier to vote, like the Register America to Vote Act, which would automatically register eligible voters when they turn 18. I have also introduced the Same Day Registration Act, modeled after Minnesota law, which would allow individuals to register to vote on the same day as the election. I am also an original cosponsor of legislation that would update and re-authorize the Voting Rights Act to make sure that no American is disenfranchised.
  • Shining a light on Foreign Influence Campaigns. When we learned that foreign entities were using American social media platforms to conduct foreign influence campaigns during the 2016 election, I introduced the Honest Ads Act with former Senator McCain of Arizona and Senator Warner of Virginia that would strengthen accountability and transparency by holding political ads sold online to the same standards currently in place for TV and radio. I also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Blunt of Missouri that would help protect our elections from foreign influence by requiring federal campaigns and political groups to verify that online credit card donations come from U.S. sources.
  • Ensuring that Americans’ personal data is secure. In 2017, I was one of the Senators who successfully led a nationwide effort to protect sensitive voter registration information—including the names, addresses, dates of birth, voter histories and social security numbers of Americans. And after a data breach involving the personal data of millions of Americans through social media, I urged the CEOs of social media companies to testify before Congress and asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the extent of the harm involved as well as the redress and whether other entities had obtained Americans’ personal data through social media without their consent.
  • Pushing for common sense reforms to campaign spending laws and disclosure requirements. I support the For the People Act – comprehensive democracy reform legislation – because it contains crucial measures to ensure that American’s voices are heard at the ballot box and not drowned out by dark money and corporate interests. I believe we should overturn Citizens United by passing our Senate resolution to advance a constitutional amendment that would restore the authority of Congress and the states to establish reasonable limits on campaign spending. I have also cosponsored a bill that reforms our campaign finance and lobbying laws by requiring organizations spending money in federal elections to disclose major donors, reforming the Federal Elections Commission to ensure greater accountability, and strengthening the prohibition on coordination between SuperPACs and candidates. The bill would also permanently ban lobbying by former Members of Congress and close the reporting loopholes that allow consultants not to register as lobbyists.
  • Strengthening our election infrastructure. In 2017, I introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Lankford of Oklahoma, Senator Harris of California, and Senator Graham of South Carolina that would provide states with the resources to better protect their election systems from cyber-attacks. Resources to make election security improvements, implement cybersecurity guidelines, and replace outdated electronic voting machines were signed into law in March of 2018. I have also introduced the Election Security Act, comprehensive election security legislation to require backup paper ballots and provide more than $1 billion in election security grants to states for cyber improvements and post-election audits.

As Minnesota's senator, I have fought for stronger ethics laws and standards in Washington:

  • Enacting meaningful ethics reform. I used my first floor speech in the Senate to emphasize the importance of ethics in elective office and the public's trust in government, and in my very first month in office, I joined with my fellow Senate freshmen to push for meaningful ethics reform. With broad bipartisan support, we succeeded in passing the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which was signed into law in September 2007. This ethics law makes our government more accountable to the American people by:

      • Banning gifts from lobbyists. Lobbyists, as well as the corporations and organizations that employ them, are now prohibited from giving gifts (including free meals and tickets) to members of Congress.

      • Restricting corporate-sponsored jet travel. Under past rules, members of Congress were able to travel on corporate jets at significantly reduced rates. This practice allowed undue influence by the lobbyists and corporations who arranged for members of Congress to travel in this privileged manner. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act requires members of Congress to pay fair market value when flying on these planes.

      • Stopping the "revolving door" in Washington. The 2007 ethics law includes new restrictions on both former members of Congress and senior Congressional staff to limit their ability to profit from their public service and gain lobbying access to their former colleagues. The law also revokes floor privileges and the use of exercise and parking facilities for former members of Congress.

      • Requiring disclosure of political contributions and "bundled" contributions by lobbyists. The American people deserve to know who has contributed to the campaigns of their elected representatives. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act requires registered lobbyists to regularly disclose their campaign contributions and to disclose all contributions to campaign committees, charities, inaugural committees, and events to honor or educate elected officials.

      • Ensuring greater transparency in the legislative process. The American people deserve to know what their elected representatives are doing in Congress. The 2007 ethics law contains a number of provisions to open the legislative process to greater public scrutiny and understanding - including reforming the practice of "secret holds" in the Senate, requiring that the financial disclosure forms of every member of Congress be posted on a searchable database, and limiting "dead of night" additions to conference reports (when the new matter was not approved by either chamber) unless 60 Senators vote in favor of keeping the matter in the conference report. 

  • Reforming sexual harassment policies in the Senate. I championed bipartisan legislation that reformed the way harassment claims in Congress are handled. In 2017, I passed my bill with a bipartisan group of Senators requiring anti-harassment training for senators, staff, and interns of the United States Senate—which would send the message that harassment of any kind would not be tolerated in Congress. In 2018, I passed landmark bipartisan legislation that provides comprehensive harassment reform for the entire Legislative Branch of government. The new law protects victims and holds Members of Congress personally accountable for misconduct.

  • Updating the Rules of the Senate for the 21st Century. Every day moms and dads balance being great parents and successful professionals, and workplaces – including the Senate - need to recognize that reality. Last year, when Senator Duckworth became the first U.S. Senator to give birth, I worked with her to change the Senate rules so that members can bring their infants onto the Senate floor. In 2011, I helped lead an effort to make further changes to the Senate's outdated rules, including eliminating the use of "secret holds" that allowed a single senator to anonymously block a bill or nomination from coming to the Senate floor. The bipartisan agreement also reduced the number of executive nominations subject to the Senate confirmation process and eliminated the delaying tactic of forcing the reading of an amendment that is publicly available and has been submitted for 72 hours. These changes will allow senators to better serve the American people.

  • Banning industry-paid travel by staff and members of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I introduced an amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform (CPSC) Act of 2008 to ban industry-paid travel, after it came to light that commission members and staff had taken dozens of trips paid for by the very industries they regulate. Our amendment was accepted as part of the CPSC Reform Act and was signed into law in August 2008 as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. As a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee to produce final CPSC legislation, I fought for the tough reforms we adopted in the Senate.

  • Combating fraud and abuse. I was a cosponsor of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, signed into law in May 2009, to give law enforcement greater resources to root out and prosecute financial crimes like mortgage fraud and Ponzi schemes. I supported the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—and have stood up for the independence of the Bureau—which plays an important role in combatting financial fraud and illegal banking activity. To help deter health care fraud, I cosponsored bipartisan legislation that was signed into law that helped save billions of dollars each year by preventing fraudulent billing practices in Medicare and Medicaid. In 2016, I also called for a nationwide investigation that determined that misclassified drugs may have cost the Medicaid program—and American taxpayers—over a billion dollars from 2012 to 2016.

  • Investigating wartime contracting waste, fraud, and abuse. My fellow freshman senators and I introduced legislation during my first year in the Senate, which was included in the 2008 Defense Authorization bill, to create a bipartisan panel to investigate wartime contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This Commission has provided important oversight of wartime contracting, helping us separate the abuse from the good work. In 2011, I cosponsored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to put a maximum limit on the taxpayer-funded salaries of defense contractors.

  • Strengthening aviation safety standards. In 2009, I chaired a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee to investigate reports that Federal Aviation Administration inspectors were not exercising rigorous oversight of the airline industry. I also introduced the bipartisan Aviation Safety Enhancement Act to toughen airline safety rules and bring an end to the cozy relationship that has developed between airlines and some federal regulators. A number of the important provisions from this bill were included in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which was signed into law in February 2012. I have also pushed the Federal Aviation Administration to issue much-needed updates to airline safety standards to combat pilot fatigue. Updated standards went into effect in January 2014 for passenger pilots and I’m working to ensure the same standards are put in place for cargo pilots as well.