Minnesotans believe in hard work, fair play, and personal responsibility. We believe that no matter where you come from, if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams, give the gift of education to your children, and have security in your later years.
My grandpa was a miner, working 1,500 feet underground in the iron ore mines in Ely. He didn't graduate from high school, but he and my grandma saved money in a coffee can in the basement to send my dad and his brother to college. My dad went on to be a sportswriter and a newspaper columnist. My mom was a second-grade teacher who, at age 70, was still teaching a classroom of 30 second graders. I grew up in a middle-class suburban neighborhood, and I knew I’d always have to work hard to get where I wanted to go.
That’s why I'm committed to working for economic policies that benefit all Americans and give everyone an opportunity to succeed. This means having a laser focus on jobs, wages, affordable health care, education, child care, family leave, housing, and retirement, in addition to infrastructure, homegrown energy, and fiscal responsibility.
As we look to rebound from the serious hit our economy has taken as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we need big economic goals and long-term vision—a competitive agenda for America. We can no longer afford to be a country that simply churns money. We need to be a country that thinks, that invents, that makes stuff, and that exports to the world. Minnesota has always been a national leader in innovation and now more than ever innovation will be the key to moving our economy forward.
As Minnesota’s U.S. senator, I will continue to focus on these priorities:
- Promoting a competitive economy, long-term economic growth, and jobs. As a member of the Senate Commerce and Joint Economic committees, my focus has been on moving our economy forward by strengthening the fundamentals that lead to sustained economic growth. While the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to focus on the immediate needs of providing relief to our workers and small businesses, we must continue developing a vision for long-term growth to lead us forward once the immediate health crisis is behind us. To make that happen, we must first double down on economic basics like science, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. We also need a strong commitment to education, updating and enhancing our current policies and programs to focus on training the next generation of workers to compete in a global economy. We must increase our emphasis on exports, including for small and mid-sized businesses. Our tax policies should be aimed at both encouraging economic growth and giving a fair shot to all Americans, not just the wealthiest. We need to responsibly reduce red tape that stifles growing businesses, pass immigration reform, and support small businesses. We need to invest in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, support iron ore mining on the Iron Range, and promote tourism if we are going to have long-term growth and a vibrant economy.
- Revitalizing America’s innovative edge. Innovation has always been a powerful force in the American economy. This is particularly true in Minnesota, a state that brought the world everything from the pacemaker to the Post-It Note. That’s why innovation has been the centerpiece of my work in Washington, where I have consistently advocated for a stronger commitment to federal and private-sector research and development.
- Opening up new markets abroad for U.S. producers. Ninety-five percent of the world's potential customers live outside of the United States, and yet less than 1 percent of American businesses export. Ensuring that our businesses and farmers, small and large, are able to capitalize on potential opportunities in overseas markets is more important than ever. This includes policies aimed at fair trade and enforcement, positive global engagement, and export help for small businesses.
- Exporting is literally a world of opportunity. Canada is Minnesota’s largest trade partner, and in January 2020 I voted to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade. Given the agreement’s additionally negotiated pro-labor and environmental changes, as well as its elimination of a provision that would have benefitted pharmaceutical companies at the expense of consumers, I supported the USMCA. It provides much-needed stability and economic opportunity for American farmers, producers, and consumers. A North American trading bloc is also an essential strategy to competing with China on a global scale.
- Keeping markets competitive. Competition is the bedrock of a strong, dynamic economy that fosters new business growth and creates jobs for millions of Americans. But America’s markets are not as competitive as they once were, and we are seeing rising levels of monopoly power across our economy. We see it in the dominance of the big digital platforms and in industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, telecommunications, online ticket sales, and transportation. Our antitrust laws were passed to protect competitive markets, but after decades of Supreme Court decisions that have weakened those laws and years of declining enforcement budgets, they are no longer accomplishing that goal. And consumers, workers, and small businesses are paying the price.
As Chairwoman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, I am working to bring antitrust law enforcement into the twenty-first century. We need to crack down on anticompetitive mergers and conduct—and that includes pursuing the Justice Department’s monopolization case against Google and the Federal Trade Commission’s monopolization case against Facebook. We also need to update our antitrust laws.
- Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. The 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge was a tragic reminder that we have failed to maintain the roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure that keep our citizens safe and our economy strong. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure a grade of “C-” for 2021. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 46,000 of the nation’s more than 600,000 bridges are in poor condition. Traffic congestion alone costs our country billions of dollars in wasted time and fuel. If our deteriorating infrastructure goes unaddressed, it will cost our economy nearly $10 trillion by 2039, leading to the loss of 3 million jobs. We need a twenty-first-century infrastructure network that meets the demands of our twenty-first-century economy, including safe bridges, modern highways, forward-looking public transportation, increased broadband access, and integrated planning decisions.
- Supporting our small businesses. The success of Minnesota’s small businesses is vital to the success of our overall economy. The coronavirus pandemic poses an existential threat to our nation’s small businesses, putting proprietors and their workers under incredible stress. The measures necessary to help prevent the spread of the virus have resulted in canceled events, closures of schools and businesses, and a dramatic decline in revenues in key sectors of our economy. I will keep working to ensure that we are doing everything we can to help small businesses weather this economic turmoil, stay in operation, and keep workers employed. And I will continue to press for long-term measures that expand the markets of small businesses and help them grow.
- Reforming our immigration system. When I first got to the Senate in 2007, Senator Ted Kennedy asked Senator Whitehouse and me to be members of the Immigration Reform Working Group, and I was proud to work with Senator Kennedy on that bipartisan effort. Senator Kennedy knew then what we all know now: comprehensive immigration reform is a key part of moving our economy forward.
While securing our borders must be a priority, we cannot afford to shut out the world’s talent or drive away those who call our country home—including immigrants who are now working as health care professionals and other frontline employees, often in rural and underserved urban areas. The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants is a great asset to the American economy. [See Immigration]
- Reforming the tax code. I have long called for a bipartisan approach to tax reform. If done right, we could help all Americans, simplify the tax code, close wasteful loopholes, and provide incentives to keep jobs in America. While I have supported tax reform and middle-class tax cuts, I opposed the 2017 tax law because it added over $1 trillion to the debt, created new loopholes that could encourage companies to move jobs overseas, and disproportionately benefited the wealthy.
- Promoting domestic energy production. Homegrown energy production can reduce our dependence on foreign oil while bringing jobs to our rural communities. In order to expand our homegrown energy technologies and supplies, it is important for investors to have a stable, reliable set of economic guidelines. That’s why I’m fighting to maintain a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and have continually pushed back against any effort to weaken the RFS—including the granting of multiple refinery waivers by the previous Administration, some of which were granted to multi-billion-dollar oil companies. During the coronavirus pandemic, demand for fuel has decreased, and many renewable energy plants in Minnesota and across the Midwest have idled production or closed down completely. I am working to provide assistance to the biofuel industry and its workforce so that they can continue operating safely through these market disruptions and so that they can continue to boost rural jobs and market opportunities for farmers.
- Supporting iron ore mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Iron ore mining has always been a way of life for families on the Iron Range. Throughout our state’s history, iron ore mining has not only brought jobs to the region; it has also built our country—from our roads, bridges, buildings, and railways to the tanks and ships critical to our nation’s defense. When it comes to the success of iron ore mining in northern Minnesota, it’s critical that companies are able to grow and expand while ensuring that projects undergo thorough environmental review. We also must make sure we have a strong transportation system to get the iron ore and taconite pellets to market and good programs to train our workers.
- Promoting tourism. Minnesota is a diverse state that has an abundance of travel and vacation opportunities. As co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, I know how important tourism is to Minnesota’s economy. Tourism has been one of Minnesota’s largest industries, generating $16 billion in sales and 11 percent of Minnesota’s private-sector employment in 2019. That’s why Senator Roy Blunt and I led the effort to reauthorize Brand USA in 2014 and again in 2019. Brand USA helps advertise American destinations to people around the globe using fees from visas, so that no taxpayer dollars are spent on the ads. The travel and tourism industry has been hit particularly hard due to the coronavirus pandemic. I will continue working to ensure that these industries, their workforces, and the communities that depend on them recover from this downturn.
- Giving people a fair shot. Well before the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, opportunities were not evenly distributed throughout our state or our country. After the financial crisis of 2008, Congress put in place fundamental safeguards to build our economy and bring back accountability to our financial system. But as Americans faced ever-increasing income inequality, we could see that stabilizing banks on Wall Street was simply not enough. We needed to ensure that families on Main Street have the opportunity to succeed—to be able to afford a home, send their kids to college, and pay the bills. When the coronavirus shut down local economies across the nation, the financial security of many American workers and their families was threatened. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, and the economy has contracted. We need to help these families regain the economic footing they lost with the pandemic but also give them the opportunities they have been lacking since the Great Recession—opportunities for a fair shot at success for themselves and their children. We especially need to help our rural communities, which often see disproportionate impacts from natural disasters, market volatility, and global economic events like the coronavirus pandemic. Access to broadband is also critical in helping rural communities meet these housing, health care, and transportation challenges. We will accomplish these goals by:
- Providing a living wage and a path to homeownership. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour and has remained unchanged since 2009. This wage has not kept pace with the cost of food, clothing, and basic life necessities. Nearly 60 percent of workers earning this minimum wage are women, and they are disproportionately people of color. This wage has made it harder for families to support themselves and their loved ones or pursue the American dream of homeownership. According to a July 2020 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, low-income Americans suffer the most severe affordability challenges and reside in poor-quality rental housing at a much higher rate than higher-income groups. I support a $15 an hour minimum wage. If we expect to provide people a fair chance in life, it must start with a fair wage.
- Educating the next generation. In a comparison of 37 industrialized countries, American students rank 31st for math and 11th for science. Our young people are our next generation of innovators, the people we are counting on to lead the way on everything from discovering cures for chronic diseases to developing new forms of renewable energy. That is why we need to improve our education system and increase our focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in our schools. It will help us train the scientists, engineers, tech entrepreneurs, and global leaders of tomorrow in our classrooms today.
- Making college more affordable. Minnesotans have always believed that every student should have the opportunity to pursue higher education. High education costs prevent many qualified students from attending college and force many others to end their education prematurely. At the same time, student loan debt has spun out of control, becoming a crippling financial burden to many young people and their families. It is time to provide real help for students and their families to make college more affordable. I am pushing for stronger federal support for higher education opportunities because our future success as a state and a nation depends on making sure that quality education is accessible and affordable.
- Strengthening our commitment to community- and technical-college degrees and apprenticeships. From paper mills to poultry lines, American industry is changing. Increasingly, economic success depends on advanced technology and workers who have specialized skills to get the job done. In a Minnesota 2019 State of Manufacturing report, 7 out of 10 respondents said it was difficult for them to find workers with the right skills and experience. We must do a better job of preparing students for the jobs that will be available to them when they graduate—positions that may not require a Ph.D. or even a four-year degree but nonetheless demand specialized training and experience. Two-year degrees offered by community and technical colleges may often be a better option for students who plan on entering the skilled workforce immediately after graduation. Apprenticeships offer the opportunity for on-the-job training with in-class education.
- Making health care more affordable. I support universal health care. I strongly believe that every American deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care, and that we must work to expand quality health care coverage to all families across Minnesota and America. I have supported many proposals that would help us reach that goal, including a public option and Medicaid and Medicare expansions. I have always said that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a beginning, not an end, and that improvements—including legislative changes—will need to be made. At the same time, I strongly support efforts to improve the ACA, like providing cost-sharing reductions and reinsurance. I oppose any efforts to dismantle the ACA that negatively affect Americans’ health care. To make health care more affordable, we must address factors that lead to increased costs, including skyrocketing prescription drug costs. [See Health Care]
As Minnesota’s U.S. senator, I’ve been working hard to move our economy forward while standing up for all Americans:
- Boosting the pandemic economy to help workers and families. In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act to deliver needed assistance for families, businesses, and local governments. It was a good start, but it quickly became evident that more relief was needed. That’s why I continued to call on my colleagues to pass a relief package that meets the needs of struggling families and small businesses. We took an important step toward that end by passing a bipartisan relief package, signed into law on December 27, 2020. The bill was not perfect, but it delivered much-needed funding for vaccine distribution, coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and additional support for our hospitals. The law helped keep our transportation system operational, and provided schools and childcare providers funds to begin to reopen and operate safely. It provided $325 billion in relief for small businesses, and made it clear that forgiven loans to small businesses should not be taxed. Finally, the law included my Save Our Stages Act, bipartisan legislation that I led with Senator John Cornyn of Texas that will provide financial support for small, independent live entertainment venues that have been particularly hard-hit by this pandemic, including many small venues in Minnesota. Then, with a new administration, I worked with President Biden to pass the American Rescue Plan which provided direct relief to workers and families; more funds for vaccines, testing, schools, and child care facilities; and relief to local governments because now is not the time we should be laying off teachers and first responders.
- Strengthening America’s ability to compete in the global economy. I introduced the bipartisan Innovate America Act to help America retain its competitive edge by cutting red tape, targeting successful education programs and promoting U.S. exports in new markets. The bill’s provisions allowing states to develop STEM specialty schools and build on existing STEM programs were signed into law as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Boosting STEM opportunities is critical to building a 21st-century education system that gives our students the skills they need to be prepared for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.
As co-chair of the Senate Diversifying Tech Caucus and the Women’s High-Tech Coalition, I passed two bipartisan bills in 2017 that support women in STEM. The INSPIRE Women Act requires NASA to encourage more women to study in STEM fields and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act helps women inventors get their products to market. In February 2020, my bipartisan bill with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to encourage veterans and military spouses to pursue careers in STEM fields, the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act, was signed into law.
Supporting inventors and making it easier for them to get their technology to market will also help create more high-tech, high-wage jobs. I supported the United States-Mexico-Canada Act (USMCA), with the additionally negotiated pro-labor and environmental changes, as well as the elimination of a provision that would have benefitted pharmaceutical companies at the expense of consumers. The agreement provided much-needed stability and economic opportunity for American farmers, producers, and consumers. I am also working to fight foreign steel dumping. I’ve introduced legislation to strengthen trade enforcement and have called on the Administration to take actions, including new Customs and Border Patrol personnel to enforce our trade laws and stepping up inspections of steel imports at our ports of entry. American workers can compete with anyone in the world if they have a level playing field.
- Supporting American manufacturing. It is vital to have a coordinated strategy and long-term vision to help our country stay competitive in an increasingly global market. That’s why in March of 2021I led major bipartisan legislation with Senators Wicker, Coons, and Portman to create a new Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy overseen by a Chief Manufacturing Officer in the Executive Office of the President. This legislation will help ensure that we develop a long-term plan to maintain the growth and national security of the U.S. manufacturing industry and workforce, coordinate efforts to support manufacturing across the federal government, improve workforce development and job creation, and enhance research and development. I’m committed to supporting America’s manufacturing industry and workforce and will continue pushing for policies that ensure our long-term health, national security, and economic vitality. A strong manufacturing industry is also key to our nation’s economic prosperity. That’s why I have worked to promote Minnesota- and American-made manufacturing and services, including pushing for the Defense Department to ensure that domestically produced armor steel plates are used to make U.S. military vehicles.
- Preventing harm to competitive markets. In February 2021, I introduced the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act to give federal enforcers the resources they need to do their jobs, strengthen prohibitions on anticompetitive conduct and mergers, and make additional reforms to improve enforcement. This bill will clarify that mergers that increase consumer prices, lower the quality of goods, undermine innovation, or allow a company to unfairly lower the prices it pays can be illegal. The bill further strengthens the Clayton Antitrust Act to guard against harmful “mega-mergers” and other types of mergers that raise significant competitive concerns, shifting the burden to the merging companies to prove that their consolidation does not harm competition. It outlaws anticompetitive conduct by dominant companies that prevents competitors. It also improves the agencies’ ability to assess the impact of merger settlements, creates a new division at the Federal Trade Commission to conduct market studies and look back at old mergers, and requires in-depth studies of new issues.
- Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. From improving highways and waterways to rebuilding historic bridges to advocating for a safe and efficient national aviation system to improving broadband access in rural communities, I continue to work to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure so that America remains competitive in the 21st-century global economy.
- Repairing transportation infrastructure. I was one of the first Democratic senators to support the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a long-term transportation reauthorization bill that became law in December 2015 and provides over $4 billion in funding for Minnesota over the five years of the bill. The FAST Act provided $36 million in additional highway, bridge, and transit funding for Minnesota in fiscal year 2016, growing to a $107 million increase for fiscal year 2020. While the October Continuing Resolution included a clean one-year extension of the FAST Act in 2020, we need a long-term transportation infrastructure bill.
- Rebuilding Minnesota bridges. In the aftermath of the I-35W bridge collapse in August 2007, I worked with other members of the Minnesota delegation to swiftly secure more than $250 million to build a new bridge that opened ahead-of-schedule in September 2008. In early 2012, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law my bill to allow the St. Croix bridge project to move forward after 30 years of delay. My bill allowed Minnesota and Wisconsin to begin the process of building a new bridge to replace the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge and also includes important mitigation efforts to protect the St. Croix River. My bipartisan legislation was sponsored by former Senator Herb Kohl, former Senator Al Franken, and Senator Ron Johnson in the Senate and then-Representatives Michelle Bachmann, Ron Kind, Chip Cravaack, and Sean Duffy in the House. It was also supported by both former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The new St. Croix River Bridge opened in August 2017 to critical acclaim.
- Extending broadband access. In 2021, every American should have access to high-speed internet regardless of their Zip code. In March 2021, I joined House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn in introducing comprehensive broadband infrastructure legislation—the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act—to invest over $90 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure. The bill will particularly help unserved and underserved communities close the digital divide and connect Americans to ensure that they have increased access to education, health care, and business opportunities.
- Fortifying Minnesota waterways. Every two years since 2014, I have worked to pass a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that included provisions vital to Minnesota. This legislation has made crucial investments in our water infrastructure, including the Port of Duluth, upgrades to locks and dams on the inland waterway system, and infrastructure for critical flood protection, including for Fargo-Moorhead and Roseau.
- Providing our small businesses the tools they need to succeed. In addition to supporting the small business emergency relief measures passed by Congress in response to the pandemic, I have long supported small businesses, which employ nearly half of all private-sector workers and make outsize contributions to innovation that helps grow our economy. I supported the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, which became law in March 2010 and helps small businesses by allowing broader deductions to increase their ability to invest in the future growth of their businesses and providing tax credits to help them hire workers as they grow. I have cosponsored legislation to provide small businesses with much-needed access to capital by extending and enhancing proven Small Business Administration (SBA) lending programs such as the 7(a) and 504 Loan programs, as well as the SBA microloan and intermediate loan programs. I also helped lead the successful fight to repeal the burdensome 1099 reporting requirement that would have impacted 40 million American businesses.
In March 2012, I supported legislation passed by Congress to help small businesses access critical capital they need to grow and create jobs in their communities, including the ability to use crowdfunding. I have also worked to help farmers run their businesses, and a measure based on my bipartisan Agriculture Equipment and Machinery Depreciation Act was signed into law in December 2017. The provision will help farmers purchase new equipment and replace worn-out machinery by amending the U.S. tax code to permanently set a five-year depreciation schedule for certain agricultural equipment. In March 2020, I introduced the New Business Preservation Act to help newer businesses survive in the pandemic economy. I will work to keep them open and operating in the months ahead.
- Making it easier for small businesses to export. In March 2010, I authored the bipartisan Export Promotion Act, which was included in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, to help small- and medium-sized businesses promote their products overseas. I support the State Trade and Export Promotion Grant Initiative to help small businesses market overseas.
In addition, the Promoting Rural Exports Act, which I introduced with Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, would establish a Rural Export Center at the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) to provide support to rural businesses to help them export their products to new international markets. Small businesses in rural areas shouldn’t be denied opportunities just because of their location and this bill will boost exports and advance innovation in our rural communities so they can continue to grow. Small businesses on Main Street also deserve a level playing field on which to compete and I welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, which gave states the option to require out-of-state businesses, including online retailers, to collect sales taxes they are already owed. I had previously cosponsored legislation to achieve this result and that legislation passed the Senate in 2015. I will continue to support elimination of loopholes in our tax code that hurt our brick-and-mortar stores.
In December 2019, I worked on and supported Congress’s extension of the authority for the Export-Import Bank to continue operating through 2026. Over the past five years, the bank has supported the exports of nearly 119 Minnesota companies, including 80 small businesses.
- Reforming our immigration system. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I was part of the successful effort to pass the Senate’s 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that included a pathway to citizenship, prioritized enforcement of existing laws, addressed border security, and provided for reforms to our visa system. It also included the DREAM Act. The bill would have decreased the deficit by $158 billion over 10 years. Unfortunately, despite President Obama’s support, the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill was not allowed a vote in the House. In 2021, with the election of Joe Biden, who has pledged to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we have another opportunity to get it done. I was one of four Democratic senators to co-sponsor the bicameral U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, a bill that would greatly improve our broken immigration system. [See Immigration]
- Reducing regulatory burdens on our businesses and farmers. I have fought hard to protect farmers from burdensome regulations, such as proposals to treat milk the same as oil when requiring spill prevention plans, to regulate dust on farm roads and driveways, or to obtain multiple identification numbers to participate in voluntary conservation programs. I introduced the Representation for Farmers Act to ensure that American farmers are represented in the decision-making process for environmental policies and regulations that would affect U.S. agriculture. I then fought to include that legislation in the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in February of 2014. I also authored the bipartisan Medical Device Regulatory Improvement Act to help streamline the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of medical devices without compromising public safety. Key provisions of this bill were signed into law by President Obama as part of legislation that passed the Senate by a vote of 92-4 in July 2012. I have also worked to cut red tape restricting growth in our tourism sector by reducing visa wait times to emerging markets, such as Brazil and China. I authored the Small Airplane Revitalization Act in the Senate. Signed into law in 2013, this legislation cuts red tape for small aircraft manufacturers and improves safety by streamlining the safety certification processes at the Federal Aviation Administration. And in 2020, I supported changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to streamline loan forgiveness for the smallest businesses.
- Promoting homegrown energy production. I have led bipartisan efforts with Senator Chuck Grassley calling for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, which have led to permanent rules that have increased overall renewable fuel volume requirements. I also strongly supported the EPA’s rulemaking process to lift the restriction on the sale of E15 during the summertime driving season, which was finalized on May 30, 2019. Lifting the summer ban on E15 has brought relief to agriculture producers and was an important step toward making our fuel supply more sustainable. I have consistently pushed to make ethanol and biodiesel more readily available to American consumers at the gas pump. I cosponsored the Energy Independence and Security Act, which included provisions to install ethanol and biodiesel pumps in gas stations across the country. In addition, my Right to Retail Renewable Fuels amendment to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is helping to ensure that new fuels can come to market by preventing oil companies from using their market power to stop gas stations from selling renewable fuels. I also advocated for Minnesota to receive funds to expand biofuel infrastructure. In 2016, Minnesota received $8 million in federal funding to install blender pumps for biofuels at fueling stations. The investment boosted local economies across our state, gave drivers more choices at the pump, and reduced dependence on foreign oil. In addition, in 2021 I introduced the Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act with Senator Joni Ernst to create a permanent biofuel infrastructure program at the Department of Agriculture and expand the availability of low-carbon renewable fuels in the marketplace, resulting in cleaner air, lower fuel prices, and rural economic vitality. [See Agriculture and Rural Communities]
- Promoting tourism in America. As chair of the bipartisan Tourism Caucus, I have fought to cut red tape and reduce delays to help promote tourism, which is one of the largest industries in Minnesota—generating $16 billion in sales and 11 percent of our state’s total private sector employment in 2019. I pushed to pass the Travel Promotion Act of 2010 into law, which created Brand USA, a public-private partnership that promotes international travel to the United States. In 2018, Brand USA generated more than one million additional visitors who spent an estimated $4 billion, strengthening local businesses and boosting economic growth. Along with Republican Senator Roy Blunt, I led the bipartisan efforts to successfully reauthorize Brand USA in 2014 and again in 2019 so that it can continue to build on its progress through 2027. The travel and tourism industry has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which is why I reintroduced the Protecting Tourism in the United States Act with Senator Blunt to help drive tourism growth across the country by enumerating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel and tourism industry and identifying policy recommendations to assist this hard-hit sector. Our bill passed the Commerce Committee in November 2020. I also led a major and nationally notable bipartisan bill with Senator John Cornyn to provide relief for independent venues—including live music stages, movie theaters, and museums shuttered by the pandemic—which was signed into law as part of the December 2020 relief package. Finally, I was a strong supporter of the Restaurants Act, a bill that provides vulnerable restaurants grants to help them make it through to the other side of the pandemic and was included in the American Rescue Plan Act. I will continue to work across the aisle to ensure that the tourism industry and its workforce have the resources they need to rebound after the pandemic.
- Putting Main Street ahead of Wall Street. In the wake of the financial crisis that cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, and nest eggs, I fought for comprehensive reform in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to protect consumers and restore transparency. Those measures include efforts to monitor and address systemic risk, increase accountability at financial firms, and reform the complex derivatives markets. To shield consumers from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices, the bill created the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The final bill also included two amendments I co-authored to protect homebuyers from predatory lending practices and to preserve the Federal Reserve’s authority to supervise community banks to ensure that the institution charged with our nation’s monetary policy has a connection to Main Street—not just Wall Street. I believe it is time for Wall Street to start operating by the same rules as the rest of us. By enacting the Dodd-Frank Act, we sought to make sure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for bad bets on Wall Street. I have opposed attempts during the Trump Administration to dismantle and weaken Dodd-Frank and consistently opposed the Trump Administration’s attempts to undermine the mission of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Expanding broadband in rural communities. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I have been a champion for rural broadband, and I am a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus. I believe that connecting rural areas to high-speed internet will provide those rural businesses and families increased access to education, healthcare, and business opportunities. I am the lead Senate author of comprehensive broadband infrastructure legislation with House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn. The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act will invest over $90 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities to close the digital divide and ensure that Americans have increased access to education, health care, and business opportunities. I also led the effort with Senator Thune of South Dakota calling on the FCC to modernize rules intended to ensure that rural Americans have access to affordable broadband services. With the support of 59 senators, we successfully compelled the FCC to update these rules in March 2016. I also introduced the bipartisan Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act with Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska, which provides incentives for wireless carriers to work with rural or smaller carriers to increase wireless broadband access in rural communities. That bill was signed into law in March 2018. Additionally, a proposal of mine to require states to simultaneously install broadband conduits as part of certain federal transportation projects, including when building a new highway or adding a new lane to an existing highway—a provision known as “Dig Once”—was included in legislation signed into law in March 2018.
Accurate, reliable data on the economic impact of broadband is a valuable tool for policymakers and business leaders as they make the case for additional broadband deployment. To this end, I introduced the Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act—which passed the Senate in June 2019—to require the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to conduct a study of the effects of broadband deployment and adoption on the U.S. economy. I also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senators Wicker, Peters, and Thune to improve the FCC’s broadband coverage maps to ensure funding for broadband deployment goes to the areas that need it most. That bill was signed into law in March 2020. Finally, during the coronavirus pandemic, I introduced the Keeping Critical Connections Act with Senator Cramer of North Dakota to help ensure that small broadband providers can continue to provide internet services for students and low-income families during this public health crisis. [See Agriculture and Rural Communities]
- Addressing the burdens faced by middle-class families. During my first year in the Senate, we passed the first federal minimum wage increase in a decade. Since the passage of that legislation, I have fought for policies aimed at putting more money in the pockets of working Minnesotans. That is why I strongly support legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Lifting the minimum wage is part of the solution to get the economy back on track for the middle class and at the same time increasing the purchasing power of our customers. If we’re going to build a strong middle class, we need to make sure that Americans can work their way into it.
- Helping homeowners and renters. I am committed to keeping the housing market stable. The pandemic relief packages that Congress passed in 2020 included major relief for homeowners—including a moratorium on foreclosures for all houses with mortgages backed by government agencies—while the American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021 provided nearly $10 billion for foreclosure assistance and over $20 billion for rental assistance. I also introduced bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator Rob Portman which would address the national housing shortage and skyrocketing housing costs for renters and homeowners by helping states and localities develop and implement comprehensive plans to increase their supply of housing and make more of it affordable. Previously, I authored a law that prevents predatory lending by banning mortgage originators from accepting compensation by placing consumers in a higher interest rate loan or a loan with less favorable terms. In 2011, I supported reforms to the rules loan servicers must follow when dealing with homeowners who are seeking to modify their mortgages. These reforms would help ease the burden and stress for homeowners navigating the process of staying in their homes. I have also worked to extend the program that helps homeowners facing foreclosure stay in their houses without paying taxes on the amount of their mortgages the bank writes off. The program also extends the ability of consumers to deduct the cost of mortgage insurance for personal residences.
- Providing tax credits and direct help for Minnesotans. The work to help middle-class Minnesotans during the pandemic expands on much of my pre-pandemic support for working families. In 2009, I sponsored the Middle Class Opportunity Act, which would increase tax credits for child and dependent care and help families pay for higher education and support for aging parents. I supported the Making Work Pay Tax Credit, which provided a temporary cut in federal income taxes for 95 percent of working families in 2009 and 2010. I supported the Payroll Tax Cut, which put a boost of more than $1,000 in the typical paycheck throughout the year in 2011 and 2012. I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Under this bipartisan agreement, middle-class families had the security of knowing that their income tax rates would stay low. The bill extended enhancements to the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and tax credits for higher education. And in 2015, I supported the Protecting Americans from Tax Hike Act which made permanent the enhancements to the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and tax credits for higher education.
- Supporting technical and vocational education programs. I have introduced bipartisan legislation to allow taxpayers to use tax-advantaged “529” accounts to save money for technical and vocational education programs in addition to traditional four-year colleges. I have introduced legislation with Republican Senator Ben Sasse that would expand Coverdell Education Savings Accounts—tax-advantaged savings accounts for educational expenses—so American workers could use the accounts to pay for skills training, career-related learning, and professional development. And I led the American Apprenticeship Act to provide funding for tuition assistance programs to states for participants in apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in a variety of industries and occupations.
- Extending paid family leave. Minnesota is a leader in providing paid sick leave, paid medical leave, and other policies that support working families. I am working to pass these bills on the national level. I cosponsored the Healthy Families Act, which provides paid sick leave; the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act to provide paid family and medical leave; and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which protects the rights of pregnant workers. I also supported the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which provides federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave and was included in legislation signed into law in December 2019. The coronavirus pandemic has made clear the need for universal paid leave, and I will continue to advocate for paid leave policies that provide all workers with paid family and medical leave. I continue to advocate for more affordable education and health care by working to reduce the cost of college, supporting workforce training programs, and addressing factors that lead to increased health care costs, including skyrocketing prescription drug costs. [See Education and Health Care]
- Marshall Plan for Moms. Throughout the pandemic, women—and especially working moms—have disproportionately suffered job losses, bearing the brunt of the economic fallout. These losses threaten to erase decades of progress women have made in the workforce, and I am working to ensure that moms have the economic support they need. I introduced a Marshall Plan for Moms, which calls for paid leave, funding for childcare, investments in education, expanded child benefits, and access to mental health support for moms. We made significant progress on many of these priorities in passing the American Rescue Plan, but I will continue pushing for these policies, including permanent paid leave; quality, affordable child care; a $15 minimum wage; and a permanent expansion of the child tax credit (CTC), the earned income tax credit (EITC), and the child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC).
- Assisting families with long-term senior care. More than half of Americans turning 65 today are projected to need some type of long-term care in their lives. While nursing homes and paid care providers serve our seniors in some situations, the vast majority of elder care comes from informal caregivers—more than half of whom are adult children taking care of their parents. On the Joint Economic Committee, I took the lead on this critical issue. I introduced the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act, to provide grants for training and support services for families and caregivers of people living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, and the Americans Giving Care to Elders Act, which would establish a federal tax credit to assist with the costs of caring for an aging family member and would help expand programs to provide education, guidance and support to people taking care of loved ones with long-term care needs. [See Seniors]