Last month, a Medill News Service analysis of legislative data from the independent congressional tracking website GovTrack ranked Klobuchar first on a list of all 100 senators for bills signed into law during this Congress
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has passed more than 30 bipartisan bills into law during this Congress. The bipartisan bills Klobuchar passed included measures to treat and prevent opioid abuse, improve job opportunities and access to medical care for veterans, fight human trafficking, support fish and wildlife restoration in the Great Lakes, and develop a strong science and engineering workforce for a 21st century economy. Klobuchar also led the push to crack down on steel dumping and strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard, among other efforts. Last month, a Medill News Service analysis of legislative data from the independent congressional tracking website GovTrack ranked Klobuchar first on a list of all 100 senators with bills signed into law during this Congress.
“When we put partisanship aside and put people first, we get results. This year, we passed legislation that will really make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans,” Klobuchar said. “As we head into the new Congress, I’m committed to finding common ground and working on solutions to our toughest challenges—from reducing prescription drug costs and improving infrastructure to bolstering rural America and reforming campaign finance laws.”
Below are some highlights of legislation passed and efforts that Klobuchar led in 2016:
Treating and preventing opioid abuse
Klobuchar was one of four senators, along with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), to lead the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). This bipartisan bill, which was signed into law this summer, encourages states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies in the fight against opioid addiction. At the end of this year, $1 billion was made available by Congress to fund the national effort.
Increasing job opportunities and improving access to medical care for veterans
Klobuchar’s legislation with Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), the Veterans to Paramedics Act, makes it easier for veterans to secure jobs as paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and nurses and helps reduce the shortage of much-needed emergency medical personnel in rural communities across the country. The Faster Care for Veterans Act with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) cuts red tape and wait times for veterans by establishing a patient self-scheduling appointment system at Veterans Affairs Medical Facilities. She also led the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act with Senator John Thune (R-SD) to improve the Veteran Suicide Crisis Line (VCL) to ensure that each call to the VCL is answered by a qualified person in a timely fashion. All bills were signed into law.
Fighting human trafficking
Building on her Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, Klobuchar led legislation to ensure funding for the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which was passed and signed into law in December. Klobuchar also introduced the Stop Trafficking on Planes (STOP) Act with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) to require training for certain airline industry employees to recognize and report human trafficking. A provision based on the STOP Act was signed into law as part of theFederal Aviation Administration (FAA) Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016.
Recovering missing and exploited children
Klobuchar was one of the lead sponsors, along with Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), of the Recovering Missing Children Act, which was signed into law in June and allows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to disclose tax records to state and local law enforcement agencies while maintaining privacy protections to assist in the investigation of missing or exploited children. In an examination of 1,700 Social Security numbers for missing children and their alleged abductors, an Inspector General study found that the IRS had new addresses on file in more than a third of the cases. Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) led the bill in the House.
Combating eating disorders
Klobuchar led the Anna Westin Act, the first legislation specifically designed to help the millions of Americans who are affected by eating disorders, along with Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Her bill builds on Paul Wellstone’s mental health bill by increasing training and education on eating disorders and ensures parity for insurance coverage of residential treatment of eating disorders. It was signed into law earlier this month as part of the bipartisan 21st Century CURES Act.
Supporting fish and wildlife restoration in the Great Lakes
The recently passed Water Infrastructure Improvement Act included Klobuchar’sGreat Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, which provides critical resources and funding to conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations in the Great Lakes. The bipartisan bill reauthorized efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to partner with other federal agencies, states, and tribes to develop and implement proposals for the restoration and management of Great Lakes fish and wildlife resources. It also plays an important role in implementing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and would encourage continued cooperative efforts to address impacts associated with invasive species throughout the Great Lakes Basin.
Improving national security and trade across the U.S.-Canada border
Klobuchar was the lead Democrat on the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2015 with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). The bill, which President Obama signed into law in December, encourages public-private partnerships to strengthen border commerce and make infrastructure improvements at U.S. ports of entry. The legislation applies to both the Canadian and Mexico borders and expands the authority of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the General Services Administration to enter into innovative partnerships with local governments and private sector entities.
Developing a strong science and engineering workforce for a 21st century economy
Several of Klobuchar’s key bipartisan provisions were included in the recently passed American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which reauthorizes the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act. Klobuchar’s provisions cut red tape to allow researchers to spend less time on paperwork for procurement solicitations, require the Director of the National Science Foundation to consider recommendations from organizations representing underrepresented groups for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Advisory Panel, and allow for research to better understand factors relevant to the retention of STEM teachers from underrepresented groups, including women and minorities.
Curbing steel dumping and to protect iron ore miners and steelworkers
Klobuchar invited White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to the Iron Range last December and urged him to bring the concerns of Iron Rangers and all those affected by steel dumping directly to the president. She then invited Dan Hill, a laid-off steelworker from Eveleth who attended the meeting, to be her guest at President Obama’s State of the Union Address. In February, after efforts from Klobuchar, Senator Al Franken, and Representative Rick Nolan, the Administration announced new actions to combat steel dumping. The actions included new Customs and Border Patrol personnel to enforce our trade laws, stepped up inspections of steel imports at our ports of entry, and increased personnel at the Commerce Department to help ensure tariffs are enforced against those who dump steel in the United States. President Obama also signed legislation that provides additional tools to more aggressively enforce anti-dumping provisions under existing federal law. Workers are back on the job, but we will not have success until every worker has their job back.
Promoting competition that benefits consumers
As the Ranking Member on the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, Klobuchar has scrutinized mergers in major markets – such as the cable and agricultural industries – to ensure that the nation’s competition laws are being enforced for the benefit of consumers. She has also called for aggressive enforcement of antitrust laws to stop anticompetitive practices that increase prescription drug costs. Following her efforts, the Federal Trade Commission challenged two branded-generic agreements, alleging that companies delayed low-cost competition and harmed consumers. Combined, the two products had sales of over a billion dollars.
Klobuchar was among the first senators earlier this year to respond to Mylan Pharmaceutical’s excessive price increases for the EpiPen Auto-Injector. Klobuchar called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to consider investigating whether Mylan Pharmaceuticals violated the law when it apparently misclassified its EpiPen product in order to pay a lower rebate to states and reap huge profits at the expense of taxpayers. In October, Mylan announced it reached an agreement with the DOJ to pay $465 million agreement for the misclassification. Mylan has also issued a cheaper, generic version of the EpiPen, increased the value of its discount coupon, and expanded eligibility for a program to aid under- and uninsured EpiPen users.
Advocating for the expansion of renewable fuels
Following efforts from Klobuchar, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2017 and biomass diesel volume for 2018. Klobuchar worked with Secretary Vilsack and pushed EPA officials to release a strong RFS that will support U.S. jobs and the economy, reduce the environmental impact of our transportation and energy sectors, and decrease dependence on foreign oil.
Protecting consumers and improving product safety
Klobuchar led efforts to push for a recall of the IKEA Malm dresser to prevent tip-over injuries and death. As a result, IKEA recalled 29 million dressers, the largest furniture recall in U.S. history. Klobuchar also pushed for consumer advocates and the industry to start the process of updating the voluntary standard for window coverings to address the strangulation risk for small children posed by accessible cords. Klobuchar’s calls for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to fully investigate and provide more information to consumers on the threats from hoverboard fires led to a recall of 500,000 hoverboards in July 2016.
Following revelations of emissions violations from Volkswagen, Klobuchar called on DOJ to take strong action against Volkswagen and for the company to address the consumer, environmental, and public health issues caused by this deception to prevent any further loss of life. In June, DOJ reached a $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen for the emissions violations.
After reports of defective Takata Corp. airbags, Klobuchar repeatedly called on Takata to immediately issue a nationwide recall and to ensure all vehicles with defective components were removed from the road. After her calls for action, Takata expanded regional recalls of Takata passenger-side inflators to nationwide recalls involving 16 million vehicles. It also expanded the nationwide recall of driver-side inflators to more than 17 million vehicles. In May, Takata announced that it would further expand its recall efforts to include another 35 million air bag inflators, adding to the current nationwide recall of nearly 30 million inflators.