Congress could soon close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam as part of a deal on an $8.2 billion water-infrastructure bill.
House and Senate conferees last week reached agreement after nearly six months of negotiations on their respective versions of a bill to authorize funding for improvements to ports, waterways, and projects tied to flood protection, drinking water, dams, and environmental restoration.
The bill is up for votes in the Senate this week and the House next week.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Reps. Keith Ellison, Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen and Tim Walz celebrated the agreement. Ellison and Klobuchar wrote provisions in the House and Senate bills that helped incorporate the lock closure in the final legislation.
Proponents of closure say the effect on a handful of Minneapolis companies pales in comparison to what could happen to Minnesota’s $11 billion-a-year tourism industry if Asian carp, an invasive species that crowds out native fish, begin breeding in the state’s lakes and rivers.
“Closing the little-used St. Anthony Falls Lock is the best way for us to slow the spread of invasive carp in Minnesota and to protect the natural resources that are critical to Minnesota’s economy and our way of life,” Ellison said in a statement.
Television and radio ads already airing to influence Minnesota voters in races for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and the governor's race and are unlikely to let up until Election Day.
Although the ads are coming late -- during the competitive U.S. Senate race in 2008 the air war was already months old by this point -- their appearance presages a barrage through November.
With potentially heated races for governor and U.S. Senate as Republicans work to wrest both offices from Democrats who won their first races by narrow margins, candidates and their allies will battle across the state's airwaves. National interests see the 8th Congressional District, which has flopped between Democratic and Republican control in recent years, as ripe for a turn over and therefore overdue for more ads.
In the governor's race, Republican Marty Seifert plans to launch his first ad this week, his campaign said on Wednesday. It is the first TV spot in the race that will determine whether DFL Gov. Mark Dayton keeps his job. Andy Post, Seifert's campaign manager, said the ad will run during the Minnesota Wild's Friday night game.
Seifert is in a pitched battle to woo Republicans at the party's endorsing convention this month and the GOP will likely also have a crowded primary in August. Businessman Scott Honour, another contender for Republican votes, has also been running radio ads.
Dayton, who has amassed larger campaign coffers than any of the Republicans running against him, has not yet started television ads. He is focused on the legislative session and unlike in his first election, does not face a primary. His campaign manager Katharine Tinucci said he has the resources to run ads when the time comes but, "that time is not now."
Minnesota viewers may see and hear more ads in the other statewide contest -- the race for the U.S. Senate.
In that race, the most significant candidate media spending has come from Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken. This week started a six figure television ad campaign. He has raised more than all but a few sitting senators so likely has the resources to keep it up.
Republican Senate candidate Mike McFadden started running cable ads a few weeks ago and Republican rival Julianne Ortman began radio ads late last month.
That's only a taste. When Franken first ran, he and then-Sen. Norm Coleman, spent millions on dozens of television ads blasting Minnesotans right until their recount began.
Outside groups are also gearing up. A conservative group launched an anti-Franken ad way back in March.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce included Republican U.S. House candidate Stewart Mills in its $3 million television ad campaign to jump-start Republican campaigns "and unite the business community around their efforts,” Scott Reed, the chamber’s senior political strategist, told the New York Times.
Minnesota’s Democrats and Republicans have selected their candidates to do congressional battle this year.
Over the last several months, activists have gathered in small meetings across the state to pick their favorites. Now their slates are complete.
In most districts, those picks are expected to have clear sailing to the general election. In at least one, the party-endorsed candidate will still face a primary.
In the map below, find out about this year's congressional combatants.
Graphic: Jamie Hutt, Star Tribune
Star Tribune staff reporter Allison Sherry contributed to this post.
Congressman Keith Ellison and other black Democrats emerged from a Wednesday meeting with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan on reducing poverty with a similar frustrated message: We still don't agree on solutions.
The session was set to find common ground between members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who want to tackle poverty largely by boosting federal spending on programs for the poor, and Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman whose recent budget bill would slash hundreds of billions of dollars from those same initiatives.
“The point that his budget basically goes after the poor, cuts taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the middle and working classes … that points was very well made in the meeting,” Ellison said during a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.”
“We should cut taxes and we should cut the social safety net because we have to cut the debt. That’s pretty much where he was coming from.”
Ryan, who angered black lawmakers in March with his comments about the causes of inner-city poverty, met with the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday and pledged to study its proposal to help the poor.
Congressional Black Caucus members said Ryan did not directly address his remarks, including when he said there was a "tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value of work."
Many Democrats blasted the comments as a criticism of black culture.
“In terms of him accounting for his inaccurate … claim that generations of urban men don’t want to work. No, he never did really address that and certainly didn’t apologize for it,” Ellison said.
Ryan made the remarks on a talk-radio show, and said later he had been "inarticulate."
Ryan's budget plan, passed with only House Republican support earlier this month, proposes deep cuts to domestic safety-net programs, including many that aid the poor, in order to eliminate deficits within 10 years. But he will review the black caucus proposal, the so called “10-20-30” plan, that would direct 10 percent of federal anti-poverty spending to communities where at least 20 percent of the population have lived below the poverty line for at least the last 30 years.
“He said that he’d been on a tour to talk to people in areas where the poverty was high and he has a lot to learn,” Ellison said Wednesday. “I think he’s right about that.”
The soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial Museum will include reflections from Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, on the effects of the attacks on America, the museum said.
Ellison will appear in the “Reflecting on 9/11” exhibition, which features video segments from elected officials and family members affected by the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks.
The exhibit will also include recording booths, where visitors will record their reflections about the attacks. Over time, their thoughts will be added to the main presentation.
The museum is set to open May 21 at the World Trade Center site in New York City.
With the exhibit still under construction, museum officials don’t have a breakdown of Ellison’s exact statements, said communications manager Anthony Guido.
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