Protecting our nation from those who would do us harm is the first and most important responsibility of Congress.
In an increasingly interconnected global economy with rapid advances in technology, America faces new kinds of threats to our security—cyberattacks and disinformation operations, malign foreign influence campaigns, and coordinated efforts to damage our economy.
As we vigilantly work to deter aggressive actions from hostile nations and prevent terrorist networks intent on harming our country, we must recognize that foreign adversaries seeking to sow distrust of our democratic process can be as dangerous to our national security as a physical attack on our shores.
In recent years, we have seen cybersecurity breaches affecting our government, our businesses, and our citizens, and we need to better defend our information systems against these assaults. We also need to better protect our critical infrastructure, intellectual property, and the integrity of our elections. Domestic-based strategic security efforts are especially crucial to preventing both foreign and domestic terrorist ideologies from developing and spreading here at home.
We need to strengthen both our economic security—including critical domestic manufacturing—and our energy security. We need to increase our capacity to respond to domestic emergencies and disasters, especially those from climate change, and limit vulnerabilities within our borders, ports, and transportation infrastructure.
Finally, by renewing our economic alliances with friendly nations and reaffirming our life-saving humanitarian assistance to nations facing environmental, public health, and other challenges, we can present a united democratic front against adversaries.
As Minnesota’s U.S. senator, I will continue to focus on these priorities:
- Protecting our citizens and our democracy. American leadership is critical to defending freedom and countering authoritarianism around the world, including China’s efforts to undermine international rules and norms and Russia’s attempts to damage and disrupt our democracy. We must invest in diplomacy; support our military, including our National Guard and Reserves; and defend democracy, freedom, a vigorous press corps, and the rule of law abroad. We also have to protect our country against cyberattacks and unfair trade practices that undermine our economic security.
- Strengthening our Armed Forces, National Guard, and Reserves. Our men and women in uniform have consistently performed above and beyond the call of duty, but they have been overstretched by numerous deployments around the globe. We need to focus our defense budget on retooling and reinforcing our military capabilities and rewarding those who have sacrificed for this nation, regardless of their service branch. We also need to identify and eliminate wasteful spending in our defense budget, while fully providing our servicemembers with the tools and training they need to carry out their duties. Our military spending should be as cost-effective as possible, and that means investing in the National Guard with its dual federal and state missions. We need to ensure that our National Guard is capable and well-equipped for the full spectrum of missions, and I will oppose disproportionate reductions directed at the Guard.
- Improving our cybersecurity. Modern warfare is evolving to target cybernetworks. Countries like Russia, North Korea, China, and Iran have engaged in cyberattacks on U.S. information systems. Enhancing our country’s cybersecurity to ensure that hackers cannot access or compromise our public and private networks is essential. In recent years, cybersecurity breaches have affected our government as well as our businesses, nonprofit organizations, and consumers. Since I came to the Senate, I have worked to provide the Department of Defense and our law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to strengthen our cybersecurity posture. In the twenty-first century, our adversaries will continue to use cyberattacks against our democracy, and we need to be prepared to defend our networks against this growing threat.
- Protecting our elections from foreign influence. Our top intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russia attempted to interfere in our 2016 and 2020 elections and launched cyberattacks against all 50 state election systems, and that foreign countries continue to wage influence campaigns aimed at undermining our democracy. In 2019, election officials in more than 40 states reported that they rely on electronic voting systems that are at least 10 years old and that they do not have the information they need about potential cyberthreats. That is why, as Chairwoman and the former Ranking Member of the Rules Committee, I am leading several pieces of legislation to make our elections more secure and combat foreign interference. I led the effort to secure funding for states to make needed election security improvements, implement cybersecurity guidelines, and modernize their election infrastructure.. As the coronavirus pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for our democracy, it has been critical to provide states with resources to expand voting options while keeping our elections secure. This means providing voting options that protect health and safety, whether that is voting by mail, early voting, or safely voting on Election Day. Ultimately, nearly 160 million Americans voted in the 2020 general election—more than ever before in the history of our country. Federal agencies and state and local election officials have agreed that the 2020 election was the most secure election ever administered. The freedom to choose our leaders and know with full confidence that those leaders were chosen in free and fair elections is critical to our democracy. Preventing foreign interference in our elections is a national security priority.
- Countering violent extremism. ISIS and other violent extremist groups are a serious threat to security in the Middle East and beyond. They are responsible for executing American civilians, killing and persecuting religious minorities, and trafficking and enslaving women and girls. While territory once held by ISIS has been taken back by coalition forces in recent years, we must remain committed to rooting out the ideology that gave rise to ISIS in the first place. We have to take a similar approach in going after the people who finance terrorism. It is critical that we continue our efforts to track and cut off the financial resources of terrorist groups. These terrorist threats extend to our own country, as the terrorist groups recruit Americans to join their ranks. We need strong programs that work with our communities to counter violent extremism and prevent recruitment by militant groups seeking to exploit our citizens.
- Remaining vigilant against terrorism. Since 9/11, we have made significant improvements to our counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities. However, terror attacks and attempted attacks at home and abroad show that terrorists remain intent on causing us harm. Our military forces and intelligence agencies must continue to go after terrorists, including working with our allies to defeat our enemies. We must develop new technology to detect and mitigate threats to our nation by air, land, and sea. We must also strengthen our federal, state, and local intelligence and law enforcement operations and streamline coordination between our national security agencies. By strengthening our security efforts at home and investing in efforts that help prevent terrorist ideologies from developing and spreading in our own country, we can diminish the threat of terrorism to our nation.
- Addressing challenges with China. China is a country that consistently uses its economic, diplomatic, and military position to challenge a stable and open international system. By focusing on strengthening our economy and institutions at home, investing in diplomacy, revitalizing our network of international allies, and making smart investments in our military, we can address the challenges posed by China from a position of strength and with a strategy consistent with our values. No country should be allowed to manipulate currency, and steal U.S. intellectual property.
I opposed the previous Administration’s trade war with China because it cost jobs and hurt Midwestern farmers without seeing Beijing change its unfair economic practices. I believe we need to focus on trade enforcement efforts and more targeted tariffs that actually help America, including by working more closely with allies and improving the global competitiveness of the U.S. economy. I also believe that human rights must play a larger role in our relationship with China. The U.S. Department of State has reported that the Chinese government has detained more than one million Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in internment camps or detention facilities, where many have been subjected to inhumane conditions and human rights violations including forced labor and torture. We cannot turn a blind eye to this. Standing up for human rights must be a fundamental part of our nation's foreign policy, and the United States should be leading the international community in making clear to China’s leaders that its treatment of the Uyghurs is not acceptable and they will face economic and diplomatic consequences if they do not change course. I will continue to work to combat these abuses and to ensure that those responsible for these policies are held accountable.
- Ensuring stability in the Middle East. We need a regional strategy in the Middle East that addresses the threats from Iran and extremism, while also supporting human rights and addressing the terrible humanitarian situations in places like Yemen and Syria. I am a strong supporter of the alliance between the U.S. and Israel, and believe we should find a constructive approach to advance a peace process that has buy-in from Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab world. This is the best route to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and a two-state solution.
- Combating Iran’s destabilizing activity in Syria. The Syrian conflict has led to one of the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crises and the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, and more than five million Syrians have registered as refugees since the Syrian conflict began in 2011. This crisis requires an international response and clear U.S. policy to address Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region. I have repeatedly supported sanctions against Iran, which are an important part of our policy to counter Iranian support for terrorism. In particular, I supported the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act, which was signed into law on August 2, 2017. This bill called for a comprehensive regional strategy and imposed mandatory sanctions on those involved with Iran's ballistic missile program, those who fund terrorist organizations, and those who commit human rights violations.
- Addressing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The situation in Yemen constitutes another of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Out of a total population of 28 million, over 24 million Yemenis are in need of assistance and over 14 million are in acute need. Ongoing hostilities between the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and Houthi forces have only exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. We have a responsibility to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those who need it. Doing so enhances our security by thwarting those who wish to radicalize youth in the region.
- Support for Israel. America and Israel are close allies whose interests in the Middle East and around the world remain strongly aligned. The deep and enduring friendship between our nations is based on values rooted in democracy and mutual strategic goals, and we must remain steadfast in our commitment to Israel’s security. With dialogue, patience, and resolve, our ultimate goal of peace throughout the region can be realized. As staunch allies of Israel, we must also stand up again the resurgence of anti-Semitism and those who enable it.
- Curbing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is one of the most important objectives of our national security policy, and I strongly supported the sanctions that helped bring Iran to the negotiating table. After extensive review, I concluded that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the agreement reached between Iran and the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China—was our best available option to put the brakes on Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, and I opposed the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. Although the JCPOA was not perfect, Iran’s commitments under the pact—including an agreement to give up 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, disconnect two-thirds of its centrifuges, limit uranium enrichment to a single research facility, open its nuclear facilities to continuous monitoring, and allow stringent inspections of its uranium supply chain—represented a significant step in the right direction. I strongly disagreed with the previous Administration’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA, since it was at odds with the guidance given by military leaders, diplomats, and our nation’s closest allies. The previous Administration’s withdrawal from the agreement has made monitoring Iran’s nuclear program more difficult, isolated us from our allies, and undermined U.S. leadership to confront Iran’s aggression in the region.
- Deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have supported bringing our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, but we must do so responsibly and in keeping with the advice of our senior national security officials. We must also continue to work with each government to maintain stability and to ensure that the countries are not again used as bases for terrorism. This could include a limited troop presence focused on counterterrorism and training. This strategy puts the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan in the lead for security and economic development and allows the United States to continue to conduct counterterrorism operations. The international community must work together to emphasize security and economic development for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. I will continue to push for strong and necessary oversight of U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and a responsible approach to U.S. troop engagement to ensure that these countries cannot be used as a safe haven for terrorists again.
- Combating aggression by authoritarian regimes. According to the Intelligence Community’s latest Worldwide Threat Assessment, authoritarian governments have intensified their efforts to undermine the United States through election interference, weapons proliferation, and cyberattacks. In response to this threat, we must continue to defend America’s democratic system and position in the world.
- Russia. Our intelligence agencies have confirmed that the Kremlin attempted to use cyberattacks, espionage, and propaganda to undermine the 2016 and 2020 elections, and that Russia has continued to wage influence campaigns intended to undermine our democracy. Russia also launched an extended information war designed to divide our country and destroy Americans’ confidence in our political system. We must act to protect our democracy against this kind of foreign interference. As the Chairwoman of the Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, I am leading numerous pieces of legislation to counter interference in our elections by foreign adversaries like Russia.
Since annexing Crimea, Russia has become even more emboldened and aggressive, and the Russian military maintains a significant presence in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s threatening behavior also includes large cyberattacks against the U.S. government and private companies’ computer systems and providing weapons to Iran and Syria. Our commitment to NATO is more important than ever. Our allies and adversaries around the world need to know that we will stand together to protect each other against military aggression. If President Putin continues to ignore international law and engage in hostile behavior, we must continue to escalate political and economic pressure on his regime and reinforce the global coalition against Russian aggression, not further isolate ourselves from our allies.
The United States and our allies should work to help the government in Kiev and deescalate the violence in eastern and southern Ukraine. I supported legislation that was signed into law in March 2014, which provided loan guarantees and other assistance to help support the new Ukrainian government and imposed targeted sanctions on Russian officials who have contributed to the crisis.
- North Korea. North Korea’s accelerating nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose a serious threat to the United States and our allies. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is a ruthless dictator who has committed horrible crimes against his own people. We need a comprehensive strategy on North Korea that includes diplomacy, economic pressure, and engagement with our allies in the region.
- Strengthening relationships with North American trading partners. By working together, North American nations can improve our ability as a region to compete in the world economy and enhance our collective security. We need a revamped approach to our North American partnerships.
- Seizing the opportunity for a new day in North America. As the three largest countries on the continent, the United States, Canada, and Mexico are strong democracies with a combined population of more than 490 million people. Our increasingly integrated economies are worth more than $20 trillion and produce almost 30 percent of global goods and services. This secure international position gives us the potential for achieving continent-wide energy independence. This would include developing a North American competitiveness agenda focused on fair trade; increasing cross-border investment, innovation, private-sector integration; and improving coordination on regulatory practices, border management, and energy. With countries working together, North America can more effectively export its products to new and emerging markets in Asia, South America, and Africa. As the chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, I strongly supported including Canada in the previous Administration’s trade negotiations and worked with other senators to oppose efforts to exclude them. I also supported the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). With the additionally negotiated pro-labor and environmental changes and the elimination of a provision that would have benefitted pharmaceutical companies at the expense of consumers, I felt the agreement provided 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.
- Modernizing our relationship with Cuba. I strongly support lifting the embargo and travel ban on Cuba. Increasing travel and commerce between our two countries will create new economic opportunities for American farmers and businesses and help improve the quality of life for Cubans. Our policies toward Cuba should emphasize our economic interests in expanded commerce and travel and our political interest in cultivating new freedoms for the Cuban people. More than fifty years of the embargo have not secured these interests, and it is time to try another approach. That is why I lead the bipartisan bill to lift the trade embargo against Cuba.
- Securing our borders, travel entry points, and infrastructure. International arrivals to the United States totaled around 79 million in 2019, over 250 million tons of cargo are received here each year, and there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors with assets, systems, and networks we consider vital. In the face of global and domestic threats, securing our borders, points of entry, and infrastructure remains a top priority.
- Welcoming visitors and refugees while ensuring a strong vetting process for visitors. I have been a committed advocate for our refugees, and I opposed the Trump Administration’s “Muslim ban” as well as other efforts to reverse long-standing U.S. refugee policy. I have also long supported a strong vetting process for visitors and refugees. The current vetting process for refugees requires layers of security checks, including health checks, repeated biometric checks, biographical and background screening, and in-person interviews by trained officers. This involves multiple agencies, including the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Defense, and U.S. intelligence agencies. The Department of Homeland Security has added an additional country-specific layer of review for Syrian refugee applications. A refugee applicant cannot be approved for travel until all required security checks have been completed and cleared. Another way to enhance our security is to strengthen the Visa Waiver Program. That’s why I worked with members from both sides of the aisle to introduce the Visa Waiver Program Security Enhancement Act signed into law in 2015. This legislation requires additional biometric information and electronic passports for participation in the program and increased information sharing between countries.
- Increasing security at our borders, ports, airports, and critical infrastructure sites. It is essential that we carefully screen cargo entering U.S. ports, enact effective security regulations for nuclear and chemical plants, and guard our food supply. We must provide our first responders and emergency personnel with the full resources they need to respond to disasters, natural or manmade. We must also continue to do everything we can to strengthen security at airports and at train stations. We need to continue to focus our attention on improving aviation security and ensuring that our mass transit and rail systems are prepared for new, changing, and more sophisticated threats. We must also ensure that our airports are safely screening passengers in an efficient way. I support smart security at our borders and opposed the Trump Administration’s efforts to build a wall across our entire southern border.
- Supporting domestic energy production for greater security. According to the Department of Defense, climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, and thus we must develop stable and sustainable homegrown energy sources. To transition to net zero carbon emissions, our energy supply must include a greater use of biofuels, wind power, solar, and other sources of renewable energy, in addition to domestic oil, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear, geothermal, and waste-to-energy technology. Minnesotans know that the renewable fuels industry creates good jobs and strengthens our economy while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels more generally.
- Strengthening diplomacy and foreign aid. The United States must support the work of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to return diplomacy to the center of our national security strategy and to improve relationships with foreign governments and international organizations like NATO. We must also continue our life-saving humanitarian assistance to nations facing environmental, public health, and other challenges.
- Reaffirming our commitment to NATO and keeping the State Department strong. The United States must continue to lead the global community and renew our commitment to international organizations such as NATO, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization. With U.S. leadership, international organizations and institutions can be vehicles for achieving our objectives and serving our national interests, and we must make the most of them.
- Responding to global poverty, public health, and environmental and climate change challenges. As the world population continues to grow, so will the demand for essential resources like food and water. The effects of climate change are leading to more global instability due to rising poverty, mass migrations, increased border tensions, and greater demands for rescue and recovery efforts. We must help those who lack access to stable food and water supplies, work to develop and distribute stockpiles of medicine and vaccinations to prevent future global epidemics, and take steps to combat climate change. I strongly supported President Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and I support efforts to be prepared to respond to natural disasters, both at home and around the world. As we work to combat the coronavirus pandemic, we must also continue to lead the global fight against AIDS, Zika, Ebola, malaria, and other diseases that are devastating entire regions already facing significant poverty.
As Minnesota's U.S. senator, I am fighting to make America more secure by:
- Protecting our citizens and our democracy. At the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris, I made clear that it falls on all of us to take up the torch of our democracy, not as a weapon of political arson but as an instrument for good. That means protecting our country from both foreign and domestic adversaries who seek to undermine our democracy and endanger our citizens.
- Ensuring that our troops have the resources and support they need to do their jobs. I have seen firsthand the actions of our brave Minnesotans deployed around the globe. I have been impressed by our military leadership, encouraged by the spirit of our soldiers, and honored to meet with Minnesota troops and thank them for their service and sacrifices on behalf of our nation. I came home from my visits with our troops deployed to such war zones as Iraq and Afghanistan strongly committed to giving them the equipment and resources they need to successfully carry out their missions and to ensure they are treated with the respect they deserve when they come home. In the Senate, I have supported funding increases for better and safer equipment, including mine-resistant combat vehicles and body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as addressing shortfalls in critical National Guard equipment. [See Veterans, Servicemembers, and Their Families]
- Stronger oversight in defense budgets. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan revealed disturbing revelations that billions in American taxpayer dollars were lost to corruption, fraud, and waste. There must be accountability for taxpayer funds intended to support military operations as well as economic assistance to those we want to help overseas. Illegal and unethical practices not only undermine reconstruction efforts; they also hurt our troops in the field and impair their ability to carry out critical missions. When I first came to the Senate, I cosponsored a bipartisan provision in the Defense Authorization bill that established an independent commission to increase transparency and accountability in wartime contracting. The commission, modeled after the famous Truman Commission during World War II, helps to ensure accountability for U.S. tax dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have repeatedly called for stronger oversight and voted to cut funding for programs that the Defense Department has found to be unnecessary to ensure that our defense budget is focused on the programs and technologies we need to strengthen our Armed Forces.
- Supporting our National Guard and Reserves. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have also highlighted the importance of our brave citizen-soldiers in the National Guard and Reserves and the unprecedented sacrifices they have been called upon to make over the past decades. I have long advocated for a strong National Guard, which includes benefits and designated resources. Our Guard is providing much-needed help to Americans with everything from natural disasters to building and staffing pandemic testing and vaccination centers to deploying to the U.S. Capitol to protect domestic security. This breadth of mission requires that the National Guard have unique flexibility in today’s challenging times. [See Veterans, Servicemembers, and Their Families]
My work with the Guard and Reserves included bringing Active Association status to the Bulldogs of the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth. This designation helped ensure the base’s long-term future and increased economic activity in the Duluth community. I worked to get new fighter jets—the “Block 50” F-16s—to the 148th Fighter Wing by securing funding to help modernize base facilities and improve infrastructure at the Duluth airport. I also worked to support the Minnesota National Guard’s 133rd Airlift Wing to ensure their continued operation of the C-130, which has played a critical role in deploying overseas and supporting disaster response at home.
- Strengthening our cybersecurity. In 2020, the SolarWinds cybersecurity hack was revealed as one of the most widespread cyberintrusions in our history. This attack penetrated parts of the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Treasury. In the wake of this attack, I joined Senate colleagues in calling for information about the implications of the breach and the steps being taken to mitigate the threat. This breach reinforces my longstanding call for a coordinated federal response, which must include increased public-private cooperation. In 2019, I introduced the bipartisan Cyber Security Exchange Act to address the shortage of cybersecurity expertise in the federal government. The bill would establish a public-private cybersecurity professionals exchange program to recruit experts from the private sector and academia to do limited tours of duty in the federal government of up to two years. Additionally, agencies would create a program for government computer experts to do tours of duty in the private sector to learn best practices, which can then be applied to help further secure government computer systems and critical infrastructure.
- Protecting our elections from foreign influence. To secure our elections from foreign threats and cyberattacks, we must ensure that states have the resources to protect their election systems. That’s why I introduced the bipartisan Secure Elections Act in 2017 with Senator Lankford of Oklahoma, former Senator Harris of California, and Senator Graham of South Carolina. This legislation would establish baseline security standards like voter-verifiable paper ballots and post-election audits, provide states with resources and information to upgrade and protect our election infrastructure, and ensure that the Department of Homeland Security shares election cybersecurity threats and information with state, county, and municipal election agencies. I also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Sullivan in 2018 to create a global election exchange program through the State Department so that election officials from allied countries can learn best practices. In 2019, I introduced legislation with Senator Collins of Maine that would help election workers by providing grants for continuing education in election administration and cybersecurity. My efforts to secure additional funding for states to make election security improvements included $805 million in funding between 2018 and 2020.
We also have to make sure our elections are free from foreign influence campaigns and that there are social media rules in place that include disclaimers on ads and increased transparency and disclosure. The law banning foreign contributions to U.S. elections has not been updated for more than 50 years. This means that current disclosure requirements for online campaign contributions do not fully protect our election system from foreign interference. That is why in 2017 I introduced the Honest Ads Act with the late Senator McCain and Senator Warner to strengthen accountability and transparency by holding political ads sold online to the same standards currently in place for television and radio. In 2019, I reintroduced the Honest Ads Act with Senator Graham and Senator Warner. I have also introduced legislation with Senator Blunt of Missouri to help protect our election from foreign influence by requiring campaigns and political groups to verify that online credit card donations come from U.S. sources. In addition, I worked to pass legislation to establish a center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to combat election interference operations conducted by foreign adversaries, which became law in December 2019. While challenges still exist, much of our work paid off, with the 2020 election the most secure election ever administered despite repeated foreign hacking attempts
- Countering violent extremism and terrorism. In January 2020, I supported a successful effort to override former President Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA included important requirements to address the violent extremism—including foreign influence, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism—that shocked the nation during the January 6th attacks on the U.S. Capitol. The bill mandated that departments and agencies develop new strategies and programs to better evaluate and analyze counter extremism abroad, especially with respect to how foreign countries support terrorists.
- Addressing challenges with China. I am a lead cosponsor of the America LEADS Act, a comprehensive plan that would provide new investments in our economy and national security to help compete with China’s growing influence. This legislation would support efforts to invest in American competitiveness, build American alliances and partnerships, advance a values-centered foreign policy, and hold China accountable for its predatory actions. Additionally, I cosponsored legislation that became law in June 2020 to require the Trump Administration to impose sanctions on Chinese officials who perpetrated human rights abuses and provide a report to Congress on this issue. I am also a cosponsor of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill to ensure that products made with forced labor by the Uyghurs are not imported into the United States. Our nation is stronger, safer, and more respected in the world when we remain true to the values that have always defined us at home and abroad—and that includes standing up for human rights and democratic freedoms.
- Ensuring stability in the Middle East. I have consistently supported efforts to combat terrorist groups in the Middle East and strengthen our response to humanitarian and national security crises in the region. In 2020, I voted to sanction Syrian government leaders and financial backers of Syrian leaders and their allies to end the ongoing war and humanitarian crises. I have also opposed Iran’s ballistic missile program, human rights abuses, and material support for terrorism. That is why I have supported increasing sanctions against Iran, including targeting those who provide financial support to Hezbollah.
- Addressing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. My colleagues and I have refused to overlook the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen. On July 17, 2019, I voted in favor of resolutions to disapprove of the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. In addition, I was a cosponsor of legislation to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition military action in Yemen, which passed the Senate by a vote of 54 to 46 on March 13, 2019.
- Supporting Israel. I have strongly advocated for funding for security assistance to Israel, particularly for the Iron Dome missile defense system. I have consistently supported additional funds to bolster this program, including the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016 that committed $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next ten years. In 2017, I cosponsored a bipartisan resolution objecting to United Nations efforts to undermine direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a secure and peaceful settlement. I also joined my Senate colleagues in voting for the authorization of additional sanctions against Iran. At the same time, I believe that the United States must reinforce its commitment to leading a meaningful peace process of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Furthermore, I support the agreements to normalize relations between Israel and Arab states in the region, which are positive developments that could expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation. I hope these agreements can pave the way for a more constructive, productive, and secure future for the entire region.
- Combating aggression by authoritarian regimes. The United States must continue to impose sanctions on hostile actors to both defend our democracy and discourage belligerent behavior. I fully supported the sanctions against Russia in response to its interference with our democracy. I also strongly supported sanctions against North Korea in response to nuclear tests, and against Iran in response to its support of militants and its ballistic missile program.
- Russia. I have supported sanctions against Russia—including support for Magnitsky sanctions—in response to its destabilizing action to challenge global peace. I also voted for a resolution disapproving of the Trump Administration’s decision to lift sanctions on three companies with ties to a Russian oligarch who is a known ally of President Putin.
We must also stand with our friends when they are faced with aggression from Russia. That is why I traveled to Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Georgia in December of 2016 with the late Senator McCain and Senator Graham. Our allies in Eastern Europe deserve our support in the face of Russian aggression. Russia has used political, economic, and military coercion to exert control over neighboring countries, while also exploiting cyberspace to threaten our critical infrastructure and attempt to influence our democracy. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s assessments of their actions in both the 2016 and 2020 elections are a clear reminder of the ongoing threat they pose. I am continuing work to ensure that we reinforce our bipartisan commitment to strengthening our response, including in conjunction with our allies, to hold Russia accountable for actions such as the SolarWinds hacking operation.
- North Korea. I voted for sanctions against the North Korean government in both 2016 and 2017. Under these laws, foreign governments that buy or sell defense equipment to North Korea are prohibited from receiving certain U.S. assistance. Our country’s financial institutions are prohibited from working with foreign banks that do business with North Korea. These laws also impose sanctions on North Korean cargo and shipping, goods produced by forced labor in North Korea, and people or companies that employ North Korean forced laborers. Unilateral escalation without a plan and without our allies is not in America’s best interest. I am continuing work to ensure that we do everything we can with our allies to address the threat posed by North Korea.
- Saudi Arabia. The Intelligence community has assessed that Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and resident of the United States, was murdered in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, under orders from the Saudi government because of his writings in opposition to Saudi government policies. I introduced the Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act with Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont that would help protect journalists around the world by placing targeted sanctions on, restricting foreign aid to, and increasing human rights reporting on foreign governments found to have committed human rights abuses against journalists. Additionally, I have sought to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its involvement with terrorist groups and the ongoing conflict in Yemen by working to limit weapons sales, imposing sanctions, and allowing justice for victims. I was a cosponsor of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which became law in 2016. This legislation allows families of the 9/11 victims to sue countries, including Saudi Arabia, directly for any role they had in the attack.
- Strengthening relationships with North American trading partners. 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 North American markets is more important than ever.
- Supporting the USMCA. As co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, I have had the honor of leading delegations of U.S. senators to the annual Canada-U.S. meetings to discuss common issues and challenges our two nations face. We are stronger and more secure when we stand together with our neighbors Canada and Mexico.
- Helping Minnesota businesses get access to the Cuban market. For years I have been working to improve relations with Cuba. This work culminated in my leading the bipartisan Freedom to Export to Cuba Act. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has estimated that exports to Cuba would nearly double if the trade embargo were lifted, putting total farm exports at between $40 and $50 million per year. My legislation lifts the trade embargo and knocks down the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba. My bill would help open up new economic opportunities for American businesses and farmers by boosting U.S. exports. It would also help improve the lives of everyday Cubans by allowing them greater access to American products and services, while still keeping in place human rights provisions and allowing individuals and businesses to pursue property claims against the Cuban government. I have successfully pressed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow direct flights between Minnesota and Cuba. I also convened a summit in Minnesota focused on ways to improve U.S.-Cuba relations and testified before the International Trade Commission to highlight the economic benefits of boosting American exports to Cuba.
- Securing our borders, travel entry points, and infrastructure. Secure borders and travel entry points are critical to our national security, and I continue to advance legislation that makes Americans safer from foreign and domestic threats.
- Strengthening vetting for international travelers coming to the United States. I worked with members from both sides of the aisle to introduce the Visa Waiver Program Security Enhancement Act, which was signed into law in 2015. This legislation requires additional biometric information and electronic passports for participation in the program and increased information-sharing between countries.
- Advocating for Minnesota’s border interests. I have worked to cut red tape created by border-crossing laws to help business travelers, tourists, hunters, and anglers. As part of this effort, I pushed for the creation of a U.S. passport card as an alternative document for U.S. citizens crossing our northern border to maintain the flow of commerce and tourism while ensuring security. I also introduced the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act to help improve border screening and infrastructure at our borders. This bipartisan legislation was signed into law in 2016 and helps use public-private partnerships to improve trade and security at our northern border. I was also a cosponsor of the Northern Border Security Review Act, which was introduced by former Senator Heidi Heitkamp and signed into law in 2016. The law requires the Department of Homeland Security to provide Congress with regular security assessment reports on the northern border.
- Enacting into law the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. When I arrived in the Senate, many of the important 9/11 Commission recommendations had been languishing for years. In my first six months as a senator, I helped pass the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act to provide our government with a blueprint to prevent future catastrophes and strengthen the resources available to our first responders. These critical reforms provide increased funding to protect our ports, borders, and critical infrastructure, including enhancing rail and aviation security.
- Providing first responders with life-saving communications tools. I was an original cosponsor of the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act to allow for state-of-the-art technology that will help first responders in both rural and urban communities at no cost to taxpayers. I helped pass legislation to implement a nationwide wireless network to allow our first responders to clearly communicate when disaster strikes and focus on doing what they do best—saving lives. As co-chair of the Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, I worked with members from both parties to successfully reauthorize the federal 9-1-1 Coordination Office to manage the transition to the Next Generation 9-1-1 emergency response system. I have passed legislation to require multi-line phone systems to have direct dial 9-1-1 functionality, which would make accessing first responders easier for those in need. This legislation was signed into law in February 2018. I have also introduced the Next Generation 9-1-1 Act to help state and local governments deploy next-generation 9-1-1 systems across the country. These upgrades will enable 9-1-1 dispatchers to work remotely at virtual call centers, as well as handle text messages, pictures, videos, and other information sent by smartphones, tablets, and other devices in an emergency.
- Increasing the security of our nation’s transportation networks. The 9/11 Commission Act included measures to improve rail and aviation security across the nation. I worked with the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to implement the Secure Flight program, which efficiently modernizes and improves security before travelers even get to the airport. The program also strengthens our ability to identify and prevent potential threats, while reducing delays and inconveniences to American travelers caused by terrorist watch list misidentifications.
- Keeping our airports secure. To improve safety and efficiency at our airports, I supported increasing the Department of Homeland Security’s budget by more than $62 million to hire more than 1,000 additional screeners. In 2012, I introduced the No-Hassle Flying Act, which increases security by encouraging foreign airports to enhance their baggage-screening equipment and helps increase efficiency and improve passenger experience by eliminating the need to have bags re-screened here in the United States. TSA reported a realized cost savings of over $1 million annually as a result of the bill, which was signed into law in 2012. I also fought to pass an amendment that doubles the number of law enforcement teams that secure the ticket lines and baggage claim areas of our airports. That amendment passed in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill that was signed into law in 2016. Finally, I have also worked with the Minnesota Airport Council to ensure that vital security resources went to our airports, including the approval of overtime and the deployment of additional Transportation Security Officers and K-9 teams to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. These measures improved the safety and efficiency of security screening at Minnesota’s airports.
- Promoting domestic energy production. Over the past decade, the United States has reduced its reliance on foreign oil through a number of approaches, including increased domestic production and renewable energy sources like wind power, solar, and biofuels, and increased gas mileage standards like those that I have long advocated for. The United States now has the opportunity to continue reducing its reliance on foreign oil and move to full energy independence. I successfully included provisions in the 2008, 2014, and 2018 Farm Bills to ensure that a strong energy title continues to provide incentives and support for U.S. farmers and biofuel processors to grow and develop the next generation of biofuel crops and biobased products. I have also urged the Biden Administration to support biofuels infrastructure development and have pushed for strong renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. In addition, I have supported efforts to promote the use of renewable fuels in military installations to sustain the long-term capabilities of our forces.
- Restoring diplomacy and foreign aid. I believe we must renew our commitment to diplomacy, global development, and international cooperation in order to effectively address our most pressing national security challenges. That begins with ensuring that the State Department and international agencies receive sufficient funding and that we invest in the dedicated members of our Foreign and Civil Service, who will carry the mantle of American values and ideals. Foreign aid and development assistance can play an important role in promoting U.S. economic and national security by stabilizing volatile regions and decreasing the likelihood of U.S. troops being sent into battle.
- Support for foreign aid and keeping the State Department strong. Helping our friends and allies is not only the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do. Foreign aid is critical to helping address refugee crises, preventing radicalization, and promoting stability around the world. The United States has a long and proud tradition of providing life-saving humanitarian assistance. We must continue that assistance and maintain our standing in the world as a nation that comes to the aid of those in need. We must also provide the resources necessary for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to do their work as the civilian face of the United States overseas—and to recruit young people to join the diplomatic corps. I opposed major reductions to the State Department and foreign aid budget proposed by the previous Administration.
- Global health response. The spread of viruses like COVID-19, Ebola, and Zika threaten our national security, with COVID-19 now presenting a particular threat not only at home but also to the public health and economies of many developing countries that lack the resources to combat the pandemic. The best way to stop the spread of dangerous viruses is to address the outbreaks at the source. I fought to get more than $5 billion in funding to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including more significant investments in humanitarian aid and assistance to improve health care infrastructure. I also pushed for an immediate response to the Zika virus in the United States. As Chairwoman of the Senate Steering and Outreach Committee, I brought together leading medical experts and public health officials from across the country, to discuss the need for congressional action on President Obama’s emergency funding request to control the spread of the Zika virus. I also hosted a roundtable discussion at the University of Minnesota with local and national leaders to discuss Zika educational and outreach efforts in Minnesota and federal efforts to support local prevention measures and research. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $200,000 to Minnesota for Zika detection and preparedness. I also strongly supported the American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021, which provided $11 billion in funding for global coronavirus relief efforts. [see Coronavirus Pandemic]