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 was teaching a classroom of thirty second graders at age 70. 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, infrastructure, homegrown energy, and fiscal responsibility.
I believe we need a Competitive Agenda for America. The truth is, our country can no longer afford to be a country that simply churns money and shuffles paper on Wall Street. 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:
- Advancing a Competitive Agenda that promotes long-term economic growth and private sector jobs. As a member of the Commerce and Joint Economic Committees, my focus has been on moving our economy forward by strengthening the fundamentals that lead to sustained economic growth. I believe these efforts must begin with a return to 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, and immigration reform. Second, we must increase our emphasis on exports, including for small- and mid-sized businesses. Third, our tax policies should be aimed at both encouraging economic growth and giving a fair shot to all Americans, not just the wealthiest. Fourth, we need to responsibly address our nation’s debt. Finally, we need to responsibly reduce red tape. Specifically, our economic focus should include:
- Revitalizing America’s innovative edge. Innovation has always been a powerful force in the American economy. This is particularly true in Minnesota, which 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.
- Educating the next generation of American innovators. In a comparison of 30 industrialized countries, American students rank 30th for math and 19th 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 so we can train the scientists, engineers, tech entrepreneurs, and global leaders of tomorrow in our classrooms today.
- Opening up new markets abroad for U.S. producers. Ninety-five percent of the world's potential customers live outside of the U.S., and yet less than one percent of American businesses export. It is more important than ever that we ensure that our businesses and farmers, small and large, are able to capitalize on potential opportunities in overseas markets, thereby increasing revenues, creating jobs, and driving economic growth that includes policies aimed at fair trade and enforcement, positive global engagement and export help for small businesses. Exporting is literally a world of opportunity.
- 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 Republican tax bill because it added $1.5 trillion to the debt, created new loopholes that could encourage companies to move jobs overseas, and will have significant negative consequences for the American people and our economy.
- Bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington. Families across the nation sit around the kitchen table making tough choices about their household budget. The American people expect their leaders to do the same. Since 2009, the deficit has been cut in half but is now on an upward path due in large part to changes in tax laws. We must continue to address our nation's long-term fiscal imbalances, and we should close tax loopholes which were not addressed in the 2017 Republican tax bill. Instead of taking that rare opportunity to close tax loopholes like the carried interest loophole and the loopholes that benefit Big Oil—this legislation opened new ones, hurt the middle class, and added over a trillion dollars to the national debt. There are many ways we can help middle class families and build a stronger, more prosperous America while still being fiscally responsible—and I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do so.
- Cutting Red Tape. We need a regulatory framework that sparks innovation while still protecting consumers and public safety. In the Senate, I have worked to cut red tape by reducing wait times for tourist visas and pushing to ensure farmers are represented in the decision-making process for regulations affecting U.S. agriculture. I have also worked to ensure that regulatory burdens do not prevent the delivery of lifesaving medical devices to the patients who need them after approvals for many life-savings devices had languished for years. That’s why I introduced the bipartisan Medical Device Regulatory Improvement Act, key provisions of which were included in legislation that passed the Senate by a vote of 92-4 and was signed into law by President Obama in July 2012.
- Reforming our immigration system. Comprehensive immigration reform is a key part of moving our economy forward. 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. And, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, I was part of the successful effort to pass the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate that included the DREAM Act, an accountable pathway to earned citizenship, prioritized enforcement of existing laws, addressed border security, and provided for reforms to our visa system. Unfortunately, despite President Obama’s support, the bill was not allowed a vote in the House. I continue to work in every way I can to pass immigration reform.
- Supporting our small businesses. The success of Minnesota’s small businesses is vital to the success of our overall economy. Minnesota’s over 115,000 small businesses and nearly 390,000 self-employed people account for about half of the state’s private-sector employment, and this sector’s job growth rate exceeds that of large businesses. Small businesses are engines of job creation. Nationally, they were responsible for over 60 percent of net new jobs since 1993. I fought to reopen the Export-Import Bank so that small businesses can have the financing they need to reach overseas markets. I have supported programs to help promote small business exports by providing funding to small businesses to go on trade missions, attend export shows, and undertake international marketing. I have also supported programs to help businesses with 10 or fewer employees get the loans and technical assistance they need to grow, to provide loans to start-ups and expanding businesses, and to allow small businesses to harness crowdfunding as an alternative funding source.
- Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. The collapse of the I-35 bridge was a tragic reminder that we have failed to maintain the roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure that keeps our citizens safe and our economy strong. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure a grade of “D+” for 2017. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 130,000 of the nation's 600,000 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Traffic congestion alone costs our country billions in wasted time and fuel. If our deteriorating infrastructure goes unaddressed, it will cost our economy nearly $4 trillion by 2025, leading to the loss of 2.5 million jobs. But if we address it, we can create millions of jobs. We need a 21st-century infrastructure network that meets the demands of our 21st-century economy, including safe bridges, modern highways, forward-looking public transportation, increased broadband access, and integrated planning decisions. I was one of the first Democratic senators to support the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which is a long-term transportation reauthorization bill that became law in December 2015. Minnesota will receive over $4 billion in funding for transportation over the five years of the bill. The FAST Act will provide $36 million in additional highway, bridge, and transit funding for Minnesota in fiscal year 2016 growing to a $107 million increase in fiscal year 2020.
- Supporting Mining. Mining has always been a way of life for families on the Iron Range. Throughout our state’s history 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 mining in northern Minnesota, it’s critical that companies are able to grow and expand. 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.
- Supporting Iron Range Mining. 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. 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 generates $14.4 billion in sales and provides approximately 11 percent of Minnesota’s total private sector employment. I led the effort to reauthorize Brand USA in 2014 with Senator Roy Blunt. Brand USA helps advertise American destinations to people around the globe using fees from visas, so no taxpayer dollars are spent on the ads. In 2016, this program increased visitation to the U.S. by over 1 million people. We also need to address U.S. Customs and Border Protection wait times at our ports of entry and invest in infrastructure and public-private partnerships that will encourage international visitors to continue coming to the U.S. We can and must do better to promote tourism and boost local economies in communities throughout Minnesota and across the country.
- Giving People a Fair Shot. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes, and retirement savings during the financial crisis and many are still recovering. While Minnesota’s unemployment rate has recently been averaging between 3 and 3.5%—often a full percentage point lower than the national rate—opportunities are not evenly distributed throughout the state or our country. It is simply not enough to say we have stabilized banks on Wall Street—we must also make sure that families on Main Street are given the opportunity to succeed. We must ensure that the necessary safeguards stay in place to build our economy, bring accountability back to our financial system and address the growing issue of income inequality by making it easier for American families to be able to afford a home, send their kids to college and pay the bills.
- Increasing the federal minimum wage. If we are going to build a stronger middle class, we need to make sure that Americans can work their way into it. I support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
- 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 fighting 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 two-year degrees at community and technical colleges 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. I have often heard from Minnesota business leaders who cannot find enough workers to match the jobs they have. In a Minnesota 2017 State of Manufacturing report, 68 percent of respondents said it was difficult for them to find workers with the right skills and experience this year. This is up from 40% in 2010. 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. We must make these degrees and programs a more central focus of our higher education system. America’s future economic prosperity depends on it. I have introduced 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. And I have also introduced 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. I am also focused on helping our workers, including our miners and factory workers, who lose their jobs as a result of global trade. I have introduced legislation that would make sure these workers can access retraining programs right away, without waiting for the state to gain federal approval.
- 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 is a beginning, not an end, and that improvements will need to be made including legislative changes. At the same time, I strongly support efforts to improve the Affordable Care Act, like providing cost-sharing reductions and reinsurance. I oppose efforts to dismantle it that hurt Americans’ health care. To make health care more affordable we must address factors that lead to increased costs, including skyrocketing prescription drug costs. In order to bring down prescription drug costs, I have introduced multiple pieces of legislation that would expand access to cost-saving generic drugs, deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives, allow personal importation of more affordable drugs from Canada, and empower Medicare to negotiate for the best possible price of prescription drugs on behalf of the nearly 43 million seniors in Medicare Part D. I will continue to work to push for sensible changes and improvements in the law so that families across Minnesota and the country have access to the health care they deserve and the law aims to provide.
- Addressing the burdens middle-class families are facing. In my first year in the Senate, we passed the first federal minimum-wage increase in a decade. Since the passage of this legislation, I have fought for policies aimed at putting more money in the pockets of working Minnesotans. That is why I support legislation that would once again raise the federal minimum wage. 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 giving our businesses the customers they need with more money in their pockets to buy their goods. If we’re going to build a strong middle class, we need to make sure that Americans can work their way into it.
- In addition to helping families by increasing the minimum wage, 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% 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. 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.
- I am fighting to strengthen the middle class by creating jobs, supporting unions, providing training and education, and sustaining families and workers to help them get ahead. 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 to provide paid sick leave, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act to provide paid family and medical leave, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to protect the rights of pregnant workers. I continue to advocate to make education and health care more affordable 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 sections.)
- Helping homeowners. I am committed to keeping the housing market stable and responsible homeowners in their homes. I authored a new 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.
Assisting families in caring for seniors. 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 have taken 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. Additionally, I introduced the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act to create an office at the Federal Trade Commission specifically to help protect seniors from becoming victims of scams and fraudsters.
- Rural communities. Rural communities face unique economic needs, including housing, healthcare, and transportation. [See Agriculture and Rural Communities Section.] Broadband infrastructure is of critical importance. 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 will provide those rural businesses and families increased access to education, healthcare, and business opportunities. I led an effort with Senator Thune of South Dakota calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize rules intended to ensure that rural Americans have access to affordable broadband services. With the support of 59 senators, we successfully pressured 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. 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” – passed the Senate as a provision in the MOBILE NOW Act. I also introduced the Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act, which passed the Senate in December 2018, to require the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a study of the effects of broadband deployment and adoption on the U.S. economy. 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. Finally, I continue to weigh in with federal agencies on ways to improve broadband investment, access, and adoption in rural regions. I have also sponsored and supported legislation to strengthen and expand access to healthcare in rural areas. The Improving Access to Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act, which allows physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to supervise cardiac, intensive cardiac, and pulmonary rehabilitation programs, and the CHRONIC Care Act, which expands the use of telehealth and makes additional reforms to the health care delivery system, were signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act in February 2018.
- 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, and the bill’s provisions allowing states to develop STEM specialty schools and build on existing STEM programs was 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. Supporting inventors and making it easier for them to get their technology to market will help create more high-tech, high-wage jobs for all workers. 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.
- I continue to advocate for our national aviation system to ensure that it is safe and efficient. I also supported the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which was signed into law in June of 2014. This legislation makes crucial investments in our ports and harbors, such as the Port of Duluth, upgrades the locks and dams on the inland waterway system, and advances critical flood protection. I will continue to work to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and ensure our competitiveness in the 21st-century global economy.
- Securing funding to replace the I-35W bridge. In the aftermath of the I-35W bridge collapse in August 2007 – one of Minnesota’s worst tragedies in recent history – 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
- Advancing and Completing the St. Croix River bridge project. In early 2012, Congress passed and the President 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 Senators Herb Kohl, Al Franken, and Ron Johnson in the Senate and Representatives Michelle Bachmann, Ron Kind, Chip Cravaack, and Sean Duffy in the House. It was also supported by both Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The new St. Croix River Bridge opened in August 2017 to critical acclaim.
- Reforming our immigration system. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I helped pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate in 2013 that included an accountable pathway to earned citizenship, enforcement of existing laws, border security, and reforms to our visa system. The bill would have reduced the deficit by $158 billion over 10 years. It also included the DREAM Act, a bill that I have cosponsored and continue to support, which allows immigrants brought to the United States as children, through no choice of their own, to stay in the only country they consider home. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives did not pass this legislation. We must continue to work in a bipartisan manner to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which is critical to moving both our country and our economy forward. I will not stop working to find a solution that includes a path to citizenship for our DREAMers and other immigrants, as well as continuation of temporary protected status programs. I will continue to confront mean-spirited rhetoric and policies that hurt our immigrant and refugee communities.
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 recent attempts to dismantle and weaken it and have consistently opposed the Administration’s recent attempts to undermine the mission of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Preventing harmful consolidation. Competition is essential to vitality and continued growth of our nation’s economy. It allows consumers to pay fair prices for goods and services, and it allows innovative companies to thrive and grow in an open, competitive marketplace. Consolidation within an industry can eliminate competition and increase prices for consumers. That is why I have worked to prevent mergers that harm consumers. As Ranking Member of the Senate’s Antitrust Subcommittee, I have spoken out against excessive consolidation and the harm it can inflict on consumers and on the growth and competitiveness of our national economy. I have also worked with the federal antitrust agencies to support and oversee their efforts to stop anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions. I have worked with both Democrats and Republicans to promote antitrust enforcement and prevent excessive consolidation. Antitrust laws serve as the first line of defense against anti-consumer and anticompetitive mergers and transactions. The Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission enforce those laws, but they need the tools to meet today’s challenges. That’s why I introduced the Merger Enforcement Improvement Act, which would modernize antitrust enforcement by improving the agencies’ ability to assess the impact of merger settlements, requiring studies of new issues, adjusting merger filing fees to reflect the 21st century economy, and providing adequate funding for antitrust agencies to meet their obligations to protect American consumers. I also introduced the Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act to restore the original purpose of our antitrust laws to promote competition and protect American consumers. The bill would clarify that mergers that increase consumer prices, lower the quality of goods, exclude competitors, 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,” shifting the burden to the merging companies to prove that their consolidation does not harm competition.
- Emphasizing “Made in America.” I’ve traveled across our state to showcase how Minnesota businesses are creating jobs and winning in the global marketplace. These businesses and their workers are leading the way to show that “Made in America” means more than just a catch phrase. It’s an emblem of quality and value–and it means real jobs. To help support “Made in America” manufacturing and services, I’ve pushed the Defense Department to ensure that domestically-produced armor steel plates are used to make U.S. military vehicles.
- Addressing our nation’s long-term deficit and debt challenges. In January 2010, I worked with a group of 14 senators to set up the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility–a commission tasked with reining in the nation’s debt. While I did not agree with every idea in the report produced by the Commission, many of the ideas that came out of the Commission can be the foundation for debt reduction discussions. I supported the Bipartisan Budget Acts of 2013, 2015, and 2018, which prevented government shutdowns, reversed some of the harmful sequester cuts, and reduced the deficit while making targeted investments that will help grow the economy and create jobs. I will continue to push for legislation that promotes sound tax policy, eliminates unsustainable spending, and puts in place a long-term plan to responsibly reduce the deficit with a balanced approach.
- Promoting domestic energy production. I have successfully included legislation in the Farm Bills to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by providing incentives for U.S. farmers to grow the next generation of biofuel crops. In the 2014 Farm Bill, I worked to include a strong energy title to expand homegrown renewable energy production. In the 2018 Farm Bill, I again included an amendment that will make critical investments for many of the programs in the energy title, including REAP, the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, and the Biobased Markets Program or “Bio-Preferred”. I also worked on the bipartisan bill to ensure that the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required a significant increase in biofuel production by the year 2022. This law included new provisions to promote the installation of blender pumps at gas stations across the country, which will provide consumers with the choice of using higher blends of ethanol. Under the USDA’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) Minnesota received support to install approximately 620 pumps–the third most of all states receiving grant funding. I am also pushing to maintain a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to support Minnesota’s rural communities and economies. When the EPA published its proposed rule on the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) for 2018, it represented a step back when it came to advanced biofuels, resulting in less biofuel being mixed into our transportation fuel supply than in 2017. That’s why I led a bipartisan group of 38 senators to urge the EPA to implement the RFS as intended by Congress and release a strong final rule that would give consumers more choices at the pump, strengthen our economy, and make our country more secure. The final rule for 2018 maintained the volume requirements for 2018 and 2019, but more work needs to be done for advanced biofuels. This will help support jobs and rural communities, reduce the environmental impact of our transportation and energy sectors, and decrease dependence on foreign oil.
- 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 the fifth-largest industry in Minnesota–generating $14.4 billion in sales and nearly 11 percent of the state’s total private sector employment. 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 2016, Brand USA generated more than one million additional visitors who spent an estimated $4 billion, strengthening local businesses and boosting economic growth. I led the bipartisan effort to successfully reauthorize the Travel Promotion Act in 2014 so that it can continue to build on its progress through 2020. I have also authored a bipartisan bill to address the visa delay problem head-on, which was included in the Senate-passed immigration bill.
- Providing our small businesses the tools they need to succeed. I supported the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, which became law in March 2010. This legislation 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 continued to support measures that will help private businesses grow, including extending expensing and depreciation tax provisions, which would allow businesses to write-off the cost of investments in new property, equipment, and renovations for commercial leased buildings, retail property, and restaurants. I have cosponsored legislation to provide small businesses with much needed access to capital by extending and enhancing proven Small Business Administration lending programs such as the 7(a) and 504 Loan programs, as well as the SBA microloan and intermediate loan programs. I authored the bipartisan Export Promotion Act, which was included in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, to help small- and medium-sized business promote their products overseas. I support the State Trade and Export Promotion Grant Initiative to help small businesses market overseas. 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. The Promoting Rural Exports Act, which I introduced with Senator John Hoeven of South 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 recent 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. Last Congress, I fought to reopen the Export-Import Bank after its charter was allowed to expire. The Export-Import Bank helps businesses finance their exports. Over the past five years, it has supported the exports of nearly 150 Minnesota companies, including 95 small businesses. 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.
- Reducing regulatory burdens on our business and farmers. I have worked with Republican Senator Susan Collins on the bipartisan SCORE Act, which would require that regulations that have been in place five or more years be reviewed to see if they are working as intended. I 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 the Obama Administration 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 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. And 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 fought to include similar language in the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in February of 2014. I also authored the Small Airplane Revitalization Act in the Senate, a bill that was passed into law in 2013, which cuts red tape for small aircraft manufacturers and improves safety by streamlining the safety certification processes at the Federal Aviation Administration.