Agreement advances many of Klobuchar’s legislative priorities, which include efforts to invest in medical research, protect Great Lakes, support National Guard, honor veterans, combat sex trafficking, protect consumers, promote rail safety, and suspend the medical device tax, among others
Also extends several tax credits that will provide certainty for Minnesota businesses and families while boosting Minnesota’s investment in clean energy
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today announced that a bipartisan year-end agreement she backed has passed the Senate in the form of two pieces of legislation with key Minnesota priorities. The agreement is comprised of a tax extenders bill and omnibus appropriations bill that have passed the House and are now expected to be signed into law. The agreement advances many of Klobuchar’s legislative priorities, which include efforts to invest in medical research, protect the Great Lakes, support the National Guard and honor our veterans, combat sex trafficking, protect consumers, promote rail safety, and suspend the medical device tax, among others. It also extends several tax credits that will provide certainty for Minnesota businesses and families while boosting Minnesota’s investment in clean energy.
“This compromise deal is good for Minnesota and it is good for our country,” Klobuchar said. “It includes important investments in renewable energy like wind and solar, critical funding for the National Institutes of Health, funding for our transportation networks and conservation programs, and important provisions to make our country safer and more secure. It also includes a two year suspension of the medical device tax, which I have long advocated for because of its harmful impact on manufacturing and innovation in Minnesota and across our country.”
The agreement advances many of Klobuchar’s priorities, including:
Investing in Cutting-Edge Medical Research
At $32.1 billion, the agreement includes the largest funding increase for National Institutes of Health (NIH) in over 10 years, this includes funding for the Precision Medicine Initiative. Klobuchar has long been a leader in efforts to provide increased funding for NIH and medical research in order to boost cutting-edge biomedical research. She has consistently pushed her colleagues to support NIH funding in budget and appropriations negotiations.
Protecting the Great Lakes
As Vice Chair of the U.S. Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Klobuchar is a leader in efforts to protect the Great Lakes. The agreement includes over $1 billion to protect the Great Lakes. It includes provisions to support restoration, prevent the spread of invasive carp, and improve water quality in the Great Lakes.
Supporting our National Guard
The agreement includes funding for National Guard programs important to Minnesota. The programs funded include Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, a program pioneered in Minnesota that works to connect organizations, agencies, and companies to service members to help provide resources for issues ranging from the challenges of deployment to employment. In addition, the bill preserves STARBASE, a National Guard program that promotes learning in science, technology, engineering and math. As a member of the National Guard Caucus, Klobuchar has worked to expand the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program and has consistently called for strong funding for Minnesota’s STARBASE program.
Honoring our Veterans
Klobuchar has introduced legislation to reduce the disability claims background, end veteran homelessness, and expand access to mental health services for veterans. To ensure our vets get the care they deserve in a timely manner, the agreement includes funding for an additional 770 processing employees. It also includes $7.5 billion for mental health services at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and fully funds the VA’s homeless programs at $1.4 billion.
Combatting Sex Trafficking
Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight against sex trafficking and her bipartisan legislation was signed into law this year to crack down on traffickers while supporting victims. The agreement provides $72 million to work with nongovernmental organizations, partner governments, and others to prevent human trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and provide necessary services for victims.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Klobuchar is a leader in the U.S. Senate in protecting consumers and holding those responsible for wrongdoing accountable. The bill provides the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) with $125 million to protect consumers from unsafe products.
Promoting Rail Safety
Klobuchar has introduced legislation to improve rail safety and service across the country. The agreement includes $50 million for Railroad Safety Grants to be used for track improvement projects that improve safety on rail routes, such as constructing grade-separations at highway-rail crossings.
Supporting Drug Courts
Klobuchar has been a strong advocate for drug courts, including leading bipartisan letters to the Appropriations Committee calling for strong funding. The agreement allocates $42 million to support drug courts to divert non-violent low-level offenders from prison into treatment and onto a path to become productive citizens.
Provide People with Disabilities Opportunity to Save for Future
Klobuchar passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act this year to allow people with disabilities and their families to save for their futures by establishing new tax-advantaged savings accounts. The agreement includes a provision that allows ABLE accounts to be established in any state, which will allow people with disabilities to choose the state program that best fits their needs.
Suspending Harmful Medical Device Tax
After efforts from Klobuchar and Representative Erik Paulsen, the agreement includes a two-year suspension of the medical device tax. The agreement suspends the 2.3% excise tax on the sale of medical device products like pacemakers, ultrasound machines, ventilators, and artificial hips through December 31, 2017. Klobuchar and Paulsen have led efforts that would repeal the tax permanently. Minnesota is home to more than 700 medical device companies that employ approximately 35,000 people.