Democratic U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar are co-sponsoring a bill that would override the Supreme Court's decision last week in the Hobby Lobby case.
The bill would ban employers from refusing to provide any health coverage, including contraceptives, guaranteed under the federal Affordable Care Act.
In a split decision, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held corporations did not have to provide coverage under the new federal health care laws if doing so would violate the owner's religious beliefs. The case was filed by Hobby Lobby, whose owners specifically objected to the requirement that companies provide coverage for emergency contraceptives.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington is the lead author on the legislation, which is still being drafted. If the Senate passes the bill, it would face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House.
Women's rights are shaping up as a pivotal issue in U.S. Senate races across the country.
Franken has been critical of the Supreme Court’s decision since it was issued.
“The Supreme Court made a terrible decision when it decided that a woman’s boss can make health care decisions for her,” Franken said in a statement. “Those choices should be between a woman and her doctor, plain and simple. The Court’s ruling will deny women access to the health care services they need, and that’s why we have to pass this important legislative fix.”
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a group backing Democratic candidates, is pressuring one of Franken’s Republican rivals, businessman Mike McFadden, to discuss his stance on the case. The Minnesota DFL has also targeted McFadden on the issue.
WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Al Franken and his GOP rival Mike McFadden are both decamped in the critical 8th Congressional District this holiday weekend riding Independence Day parade routes.
McFadden is fishing with four of his sons today on the Lake of the Woods in Baudette. On Friday, McFadden will walk in both the Delano and Walker Fourth of July parades and stop for lunch at the Old Creamery Cafe in Rice, where he will talk to voters "about what their frustration with Washington and what they're looking for in a U.S. Senator," campaign officials said.
Franken will walk parades in Aurora and Gilbert tonight and tomorrow will walk in the Eveleth, Tower, Ely and Biwabik parades, staffers said.
Both sides see the 8th CD as critical to a victory in November. It's known to be a swing district and subject to the whims of the national mood.
President Obama will land in Minnesota today at noon and stay through Friday.
Today, the president will arrive shortly after noon and participate in an invitation-only town hall at Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Park at 2:10 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m., he will attend a high-dollar fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at Sam and Sylvia Kaplan's Minneapolis home. The Kaplans have long been major Democratic donors and Obama appointed Sam Kaplan as U.S. ambassador to Morocco.
On Friday, Obama will speak about the economy at Minneapolis’ Lake Harriet Band Shell. The event is open to the public, but advance tickets are required.
The trip to the state will be Obama’s seventh, and his first overnight stay here as president. He also visited Minnesota three times as he campaigned for the office in 2008.
WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar will ride out with President Barack Obama Thursday to Minneapolis and attend events with him both days, staffers confirmed Wednesday.
Both Franken and Klobuchar say they want to talk to the president on the plane about the recent flooding in Minnesota.
Klobuchar will speak at the Lake Harriet Bandshell Friday, where Obama is scheduled to make a speech on the economy.
Neither office was able to confirm attendance Tuesday because the Senate voting schedule was still in flux.
Other confirmed Democrats from the Congressional delegation attending at least some of the events with Obama: Rep. Rick Nolan, Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Keith Ellison. Rep. Collin Peterson will not go to any of them.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton was enthusiastic about the visit earlier in the week, telling the Strib: "I would be glad to appear with President Obama," he said. "I would want to appear with any president of any political party."
VIRGINA, Minn. -- DFL Gov. Mark Dayton urged iron miners to step up the fight against foreign countries illegally dumping steel in the U.S. and threatening the local mining industry.
“The story of the Iron Range is one of standing strong against exploitation and oppression, and too often of a government that will not stand with them,” Dayton said to a cheering crowd of 1,500 iron miners. “Today’s enemies are not the companies, but the countries that dump their steel in the U.S. market, depress the prices and take away your jobs.”
The Iron Range miners were rallying against alleged illegal steel dumping from Asian countries, and pressed for the federal government to impose tariffs on steel from those counties. The issue is particularly raw on the Iron Range, where the steel mining industry has been socked with more than a decade of mine closures and bankruptcies, in part due to pressure from low-cost foreign competitors.
Standing with blaze orange hard hats, the crowd chanted, “Mine it here, make it here!” and “Stand up, fight back! Stand up, fight back!”
Click the photo above to see it in 360 degrees.
In advance of President Obama’s visit to Minnesota later this week, Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, urged the president to return to Washington with a renewed commitment to ending the dumping of low-cost foreign steel.
“Iron mining has been the lifeblood of the Iron Range for four generations, and it can be the lifeblood for four more,” said Bakk, who is the Senate majority leader.
The event took broader election-year implications as Republican candidates have tried to make inroads in an area that has been a stronghold for Dayton and other Democrats.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour’s running mate, state Sen. Karin Housley, drove up to attend the rally.
“Scott Honour and I support the mining jobs in northern Minnesota,” Housley said. “We are all about mining jobs.”
After the rally, Housley toured the proposed copper-nickel mine in Hoyt Lakes, where PolyMet Corp. is seeking approval for a mine that could bring hundreds of jobs and millions in new investment. But the 20-year mine would also require environmental clean-up that could stretch 500 years.
Housley said she has a long connection to PolyMet. She is a member of a small group of hobbyist investors who first invested in PolyMet about eight years ago and even toured the facility.
“There is room for common-sense growing jobs and protecting the environment,” she said. “We are all over creating jobs up here.”
GOP-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson issued a statement saying Dayton is not leading on job-creation issues on the Iron Range.
“Attending rallies is not leading – it is standing,” Johnson said. “When I am governor, I am not just going to stand with people who are losing their jobs, I am going to do everything I can to ensure that mining jobs aren’t just protected, they are expanded.”
Dayton and other Democrats took direct aim at Republicans at the rally, saying that the GOP has repeatedly tried to raid special Iron Range funds whenever the budget got tight. Democrats said the Republican’s sudden interest in the Iron Range is a fleeting political ploy.
Republicans tried to raid an Iron Range fund, "and we said, ‘No way, it’s not going to happen.’ And it didn’t,” Dayton said. Dayton and other Democrats fought for projects and jobs “that would improve your quality of life on the Iron Range, across Minnesota and across the country.”