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Jim Spencer

Washington Correspondent | Newsroom
phone: 202-383-6123
Jim Spencer works in the Star Tribune’s Washington, D.C., bureau. He covers the intersection of Minnesota businesses and industry with national politics, legislation and regulation. Spencer has more than three decades’ experience as a news reporter, columnist, feature writer and sports writer.
Recent content from Jim Spencer
Protest seeks to block Medicare policy changes on prosthetics payments

Protest seeks to block Medicare policy changes on prosthetics payments

They say proposed changes would prevent technology from getting to those in need.
Delta says Minn. jobs threatened by Persian Gulf's airline growth

Delta says Minn. jobs threatened by Persian Gulf's airline growth

Subsidies allow carriers from UAE and Qatar to undercut U.S. airlines, “Big 3” contend.
Cow power — manure — seen as part of climate change strategy

Cow power — manure — seen as part of climate change strategy

Capturing methane from manure from Minnesota dairy cows can reduce pollution and save energy, but technology can be tricky and too expensive to make money.
EPA rule on coal power plants is push toward clean energy and efficiency

EPA rule on coal power plants is push toward clean energy and efficiency

New EPA rules dictate less coal burning and more clean energy, efficiency

Senator asks Justice Department to investigate sale of Cargill pork unit

The senator from Iowa said the deal could hurt competition.
Cargill signs White House pledge to combat climate change

Cargill signs White House pledge to combat climate change

At White House, the company agreed to take action to help mitigate climate change.
Consumer angst at forefront of GMO labeling debate

Consumer angst at forefront of GMO labeling debate

Regulators long ago blessed the use of genetically modified organisms to grow such staple foods as corn and sugar beets. But in an age of “Big Food” skepticism, consumers have increasingly become wary of GMOs.

Ex-Im vote Sunday could make bank's reauthorization part of transportation bill

Authorization for the Export-Import Bank ran out in June.
U.S. House votes to ban state GMO food labeling laws in overwhelming vote

U.S. House votes to ban state GMO food labeling laws in overwhelming vote

The bill prohibits state laws that make food producers disclose genetically modified organisms.
House ag committee approves bill that would ban state GMO labeling laws

House ag committee approves bill that would ban state GMO labeling laws

Ag committee sends bill to House floor despite outcry from states’ rights, consumer groups.

After lengthy wait, effort begins to update GMO safety rules

WASHINGTON – By almost any measure, the U.S. system that judges the safety and effectiveness of genetically modified ­organisms is out of date. Despite…

Medtronic paid millions to docs to back Infuse

Controversial back-pain treatment has sparked hundreds of patient injury lawsuits.
Obama nominates former UnitedHealth exec Slavitt to run Medicare and Medicaid

Obama nominates former UnitedHealth exec Slavitt to run Medicare and Medicaid

Senate must approve nomination of Andy Slavitt, who helped fix the ACA website.
Mayo makes case for Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine

Mayo makes case for Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine

Mayo Clinic says electronic intensive care unit services could pack a bigger punch if lawmakers would bolster Medicare reimbursement.
Embassy reopening could help efforts to end Cuban trade embargo

Embassy reopening could help efforts to end Cuban trade embargo

Cargill, Klobuchar are among Minnesota leaders pushing for an end to trade embargo, new markets for local goods.
Corn syrup's DC attack on sugar could hit Minnesota beet industry

Corn syrup's DC attack on sugar could hit Minnesota beet industry

Cargill-backed refiners attack loans that aid Red River Valley beet growers.
Congress plans no votes on Export-Import Bank as authorization set to run out

Congress plans no votes on Export-Import Bank as authorization set to run out

No vote has been scheduled to save the 80-year-old bank, which supporters say helps businesses large and small sell abroad.
Paulsen's medical device tax repeal bill garners near veto-proof House majority

Paulsen's medical device tax repeal bill garners near veto-proof House majority

White House threatened to veto Paulsen-sponsored legislation without a revenue offset.
White House threatens veto of Paulsen's bill to repeal medical device tax

White House threatens veto of Paulsen's bill to repeal medical device tax

OMB said Paulsen’s bill benefits corporations at expense of health care.

Minnesota's Democrats in U.S. House defy Obama on trade deal

Impact of free-trade deals on jobs among concerns.
House dumps country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork and poultry

House dumps country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork and poultry

Rules about listing country of origin didn’t pass muster with the WTO.
Senate committee passes bill that overturns EPA clean water rule

Senate committee passes bill that overturns EPA clean water rule

Proposal that would overturn federal water rule heads to full Senate.

Patriot Act overhaul includes part pushed by Franken on feds, customer info

Minnesota firms are wary of the provision allowing companies to let the public know whenever federal investigators seek private consumer data about their customers.
U.S. House committee approves device tax repeal without alternative revenue

U.S. House committee approves device tax repeal without alternative revenue

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen, would take $26 billion from health law over a decade.
USDA Secretary Vilsack defends Obama's record on ethanol

USDA Secretary Vilsack defends Obama's record on ethanol

Vilsack says USDA’s new $100 million blender pump program offers latest proof.
EPA proposes more ethanol in U.S. fuel supply, but less than biofuel industry wants

EPA proposes more ethanol in U.S. fuel supply, but less than biofuel industry wants

Ethanol supporters in Minnesota are not pleased. They want an even larger blending mandate.
Meat labeling sparks debate over national sovereignty, free trade

Meat labeling sparks debate over national sovereignty, free trade

The U.S. court system upheld rules that require meatpackers to tell consumers where animals used in their products are born, raised and slaughtered. But the World Trade Organization may have killed the rules.

Minnesota senators remain opposed to 'fast-track' authority for Obama

Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken maintained their objection to the bill to give President Obama "fast track" trade negotiating authority before and after…
U.S. House ag panel votes to repeal beef, pork, poultry labeling rules

U.S. House ag panel votes to repeal beef, pork, poultry labeling rules

The U.S. requirement to disclose country of origin ran afoul of the World Trade Organization.
Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety, efficiency

Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety, efficiency

WASHINGTON – Bob Zelenka, executive director of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, sums up the current rail shipping conditions for Minnesota grain farmers…

Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety and efficiency in shipments

Regulators and railroads work to keep oil train restrictions from slowing down a system that has just started to move again.
Senate reverses course and allows fast track trade debate

Senate reverses course and allows fast track trade debate

Klobuchar and Franken vote no; others join Republicans to move trade promotion authority for Obama into discussion.
Senate looks to have deal to debate fast track

Senate looks to have deal to debate fast track

Senate votes should lead to negotiating authority on free trade agreement.
Senate Democrats break with Obama on key trade measure

Senate Democrats break with Obama on key trade measure

Klobuchar, Franken join in denying Obama in Senate.
New rules may make oil train info harder to get

New rules may make oil train info harder to get

New disclosure rules would require communities to request information.
Appeals court rejects case claiming Medtronic's Infuse device harmed patient

Appeals court rejects case claiming Medtronic's Infuse device harmed patient

Three-judge panel rules patient can’t sue over Medtronic device.
Regulators toughen safety standards for rail cars carrying Bakken crude

Regulators toughen safety standards for rail cars carrying Bakken crude

Worried about increasing oil train traffic, the U.S. and Canada ordered cars to have thicker shells, more insulation and better valve structures.
Rural phone woes persist in Minnesota, across the country

Rural phone woes persist in Minnesota, across the country

Critics claim that some cut-rate long distance routers moving calls in the middle of the nation’s telecommunications network simply do not connect rural calls to avoid expensive connection fees.
Minnesota's food expertise reaches across the ocean

Minnesota's food expertise reaches across the ocean

General Mills and Cargill workers are spearheading Partners in Food Solutions, an effort to improve food production and distribution in Africa.
Poor U.S. steel dumping sanctions add to Iron Range woes, politicians say

Poor U.S. steel dumping sanctions add to Iron Range woes, politicians say

Three state politicians say the industry is dragged down by poor regulation enforcement.

Teamsters pension trustees to pursue benefit cuts

Law co-sponsored by Rep. John Kline allows changes in multi-employer funds. Proposal for cuts was unveiled Wednesday.
Mayo researcher appeals for increased Alzheimer's funding

Mayo researcher appeals for increased Alzheimer's funding

Funding is seen as far short of what is needed to reduce the disease’s impact by 2025.
Reroute oil trains? History suggests it's a long shot

Reroute oil trains? History suggests it's a long shot

Industry says reinforced cars on current routes are better than trying to avoid heavily populated areas.
Minnesota congressional delegation split on fast-track trade measure

Minnesota congressional delegation split on fast-track trade measure

Fight over fast-track authority puts Republicans with Obama, Democrats against him.
Insurers UnitedHealth, Medica have stake in health subsidy decision

Insurers UnitedHealth, Medica have stake in health subsidy decision

Medica, UnitedHealth have big stake in Supreme Court health subsidy case
Minn. delegation slow to propose ways to pay for repeal of medical device tax

Minn. delegation slow to propose ways to pay for repeal of medical device tax

While many in the U.S. Senate and House pay lip service to ending the sales tax on medical devices that was instituted to help pay for national health care reform, no consensus exists about exactly how.
Obama administration again pushing for free trade agreements

Obama administration again pushing for free trade agreements

White House lists export gains by state, including Minnesota.

Minnesota companies travel to Washington to support Export-Import Bank

Minnesota companies say they need the financial help.

Business may be open to trading tax on overseas profits for tax reform

But if it has to happen, leaders of big businesses want other changes to the tax code as well.
Feb. 14: Minnesotans in Congress split over Keystone

Feb. 14: Minnesotans in Congress split over Keystone

The GOP controls Congress but lacks votes to override the president's veto.
Experts think Target will follow Wal-Mart's lead on raises

Experts think Target will follow Wal-Mart's lead on raises

If Target’s pay scale slips below Wal-Mart, the turnover in personnel could affect productivity and customer satisfaction.

Hormel, General Mills among food companies fighting label changes

Minnesota’s food giants are fighting an FDA proposal to list “added sugars” separately on nutrition labels.
Industry abandons lawsuit against meat origin labels

Industry abandons lawsuit against meat origin labels

Cargill and Hormel were part of trade groups seeking to avoid packages that say where animals are born, raised and slaughtered.
Medtronic pays $2.8M to settle off-label promotion charges

Medtronic pays $2.8M to settle off-label promotion charges

The devicemaker will pay $2.8 million after feds said it encouraged unapproved use of neurostimulation product.
Obama proposes tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations

Obama proposes tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations

President Obama wants to impose a one-time mandatory 14 percent tax on foreign profits that U.S. companies have stashed abroad, a move that would force Minnesota’s major companies to pay the government billions of dollars.

Mayo genetic data bank could boost Obama's new 'precision medicine initiative'

The president proposed a national initiative to help research, fight diseases.

Industry says device tax cost 4,500 jobs in 2014

Survey is at odds with other analyses that saw little change.
Congressional Research Service refutes device tax claims, puts tax foes in a bind

Congressional Research Service refutes device tax claims, puts tax foes in a bind

Conclusions differ sharply from the case the med-tech industry is making against the tax.
Minneapolis mayor says fixing income inequality is key to city's growth

Minneapolis mayor says fixing income inequality is key to city's growth

Mayor Betsy Hodges says city’s future as “majority minority” requires closing income gap.
Ex-UnitedHealth exec named acting Medicare chief

Ex-UnitedHealth exec named acting Medicare chief

Andy Slavitt led UnitedHealth’s Optum subsidiary.
Mayo fights stricter oversight of lab tests

Mayo fights stricter oversight of lab tests

Proposed FDA rules would require new premarket approval of certain diagnostic tests.
Cargill takes the lead in urging end to Cuba trade restrictions

Cargill takes the lead in urging end to Cuba trade restrictions

Cargill and the new U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba — more than two dozen trade associations representing virtually every crop and meat produced in the United States — have engaged Minnesotans in Congress for help.
Keystone XL pipeline poses a political dilemma

Keystone XL pipeline poses a political dilemma

Environmentalists dislike Keystone XL, but without it more oil trains could roll through Minnesota.
Paulsen touts device tax repeal as proof Congress can work together

Paulsen touts device tax repeal as proof Congress can work together

Rep. Erik Paulsen hopes Congress can negotiate a way to offset the lost revenue with health care savings.
BNSF must provide emergency coal delivery plans

BNSF must provide emergency coal delivery plans

BNSF fought order sought by power companies and politicians to address low stockpiles in Minnesota and surrounding states.
Meat industry prevails on Congress to roll back origin labeling rule

Meat industry prevails on Congress to roll back origin labeling rule

The change, and the fact that it was included in a spending bill, doesn’t sit well with some farmers.

U.S. agency sues U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo over losses

Regulator says banks failed to protect credit unions from bad mortgage-backed securities.
Watchdog group asks: How are you going to pay for that?

Watchdog group asks: How are you going to pay for that?

Deficit hawk says leadership now is key to avoiding painful entitlement cuts.

Members of Congress hold up to $39 million in Minnesota companies' stock

Questions inevitably arise, whether there are any conflicts of interest or not.
Utilities, railroads guardedly optimistic about coal deliveries

Utilities, railroads guardedly optimistic about coal deliveries

They worry that if weather turns harsh this winter, the rail system could be overtaxed
Rep. Kline's proposed cuts catch pensioners by surprise

Rep. Kline's proposed cuts catch pensioners by surprise

Minnesota Rep. John Kline’s push to get it into the omnibus budget bill needed to keep the government running has enraged retirees. The Republican says it's necessary to prevent insolvency.

Bar Association warns corporations: Clean up supply chains

Bar Association initiative focuses on human rights.
Minnesota paid $40B more to the feds than it got back in 2013

Minnesota paid $40B more to the feds than it got back in 2013

Minnesota ranks near the bottom in federal contracts, jobs, grants and benefits.
Minn. revenue growth third-fastest in country since before Recession

Minn. revenue growth third-fastest in country since before Recession

The state’s diversified corporate base serves as a hedge against revenue losses, Commissioner of Revenue Myron Frans said.
June 3: Feds point to Minnesota as example of how to cut greenhouse gases

June 3: Feds point to Minnesota as example of how to cut greenhouse gases

The EPA cited the state’s efforts as an example for others to follow as new regulations regarding greenhouse gases and clean energy goals are set.
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