WASHINGTON -- Sen. Al Franken said Monday he will not sit in the chamber during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress Tuesday, while his Democratic colleague Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she will be there.
In an e-mail, Franken said the speech had "unfortunately become a partisan spectacle."
The Israeli prime minister, amid his own re-election campaign,accepted an invitation by GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to address a joint session of the Republican-led Congress. The two Republican leaders did not check with the White House or the State Department -- considered a breach of protocol.
Netanyahu is expected to talk about his opposition to talks the United States is having with Iran about its nuclear program. Obama is not expected to meet with Netanyahu when he is in town.
"I'd be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don't believe should be happening," said Franken. "I'm confident that, once this episode is over, we can reaffirm our strong tradition of bipartisan support for Israel."
Franken joins Democratic Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison, who said earlier this month they would boycott the speech.
Republican Reps. Tom Emmer, John Kline and Erik Paulsen said they will be there, as will Democrat Reps. Rick Nolan, Tim Walz and Collin Peterson.
President Obama made good Tuesday on a promise to veto a bill approving construction of the Keystone pipeline. In his veto message, the president called the bill an effort to "circumvent" an established review process that needed more time to consider "security, safety and environmental" issues. Republican leaders in the U.S.. House and Senate must now decide if they will try to override the veto. Without a wildly unlikely change in Democratic votes, it will be impossible to override the president's veto and make the pipeline approval law. An override effort move would begin in the Senate and require a two-thirds majority vote, before moving to the House, where another two-thirds majority would be required to make the bill law. The Keystone bill passed the House with Minnesota's three rural Democrats - Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan and Tim Walz - voting for it with Republicans John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer. Democrats Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum voting against it. In the Senate, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both Democrats, voted against Keystone. Both have said they will not vote to override a Keystone veto. Neither will Minnesota House members Ellison or McCollum.
WASHINGTON -- From students to college presidents to business leaders, Minnesota members are bringing a diverse set of guests to tomorrow night's State of the Union address.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar will bring Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State) President Peggy Kennedy.
Sen. Al Franken will bring University of Minnesota Student Body President Joelle Stangler
Rep. Tim Walz, D, First Congressional District will bring Army Ranger Sgt. Thomas Block. He is a Minnesota native and was named Army Times Soldier of the Year for 2014.
Rep. John Kline, R, Second Congressional District -- Staffers did not respond to requests for comment on his guest.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, R, Third Congressional District will bring Minneapolis Police Sergeant Grant Snyder. He is a leader in the Minnesota law enforcement community in combating sex trafficking.
Rep. Betty McCollum, D, Fourth Congressional District will bring Matt Kramer, the president and CEO of the St Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D, Fifth Congressional District will bring Veronica Mendez, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha’s (CTUL) Co-Director.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R, Sixth Congressional District will bring Brenton Hayden, who was named "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" and started his own business at 20 years-old. He is from central Minnesota.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D, Seventh Congressional District gave his extra ticket to North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp so she could bring a couple from her state. The two were among the first responders to a school bus-train crash site last year and helped rescue kids.
Rep. Rick Nolan, D, Eighth Congressional District will bring Sophie Cerkvenik of Britt, Minnesota. Sophie is the daughter of a lobbyist and a senior at Virginia High School.
WASHINGTON - Some of Minnesota's U.S.. House delegation crossed party lines to support a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline Friday.
The Republican-sponsored legislation drew yes votes as expected from Minnesota's GOP representatives John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer. But a majority of the state's five Democratic representatives - Tim Walz, Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson - also vote yes. They were among 28 House Democrats who supported the bill, which passed 266-153.
In interviews with the Star Tribune, all three said they preferred to ship heavy crude oil squeezed from the tar sands of Canada by pipeline rather than by rail.
But Walz said the pipeline issue should not foreclose a push for more renewable energy sources.
"When you get mired in these issues that become political litmus tests instead of broader-based solutions, it causes you problems," he said. "What I've always said about Keystone is that the people selling it as pushing your gas prices going down are selling you a bill of goods. But those who say if we don't build Keystone, we will not get tar sands crude - that's not going to happen."
With some tar sands oil already being extracted and much more to come, "the question now is what is the safest way to move it," Nolan said.
Peterson had earlier predicted that President Obama would veto the Keystone bill if it passed the House and Senate. The president renewed that veto threat this week.
"I don't know if there will be enough votes to override a veto," Peterson said.
Democrats Betty McCollum of St. Paul and Keith Ellison of Minneapolis opposed the Keystone XL.
WASHINGTON -- Rep.-elect Tom Emmer is staffing his DC and Minnesota offices with Bachmann-ites.
Emmer, a Republican taking over representation of the Sixth Congressional District after Rep. Michele Bachmann's departure, announced Tuesday that seven of the 13 new staffers hired for his offices were previously working for the congresswoman.
"These individuals offer impressive backgrounds, years of experience, and strong Minnesota ties that will be vital to best serving my constituents," said Emmer, in a statement.
The congressman gets sworn in, along with the rest of the 114th Congress, next week.
Among his new hires:
Robert Boland, senior adviser in Washington, D.C. Previously, Boland served as chief of staff and legislative director to Bachmann.
Jason Frye, legislative director. Previously, Frye was a military legislative assistant to Bachmann.
Mikayla Hall, deputy communications director. She was previously Bachmann's press secretary.
Kevin Wysocki, senior legislative assistant. Wysocki was Bachmann's senior legislative assistant and worked himself up from an internship.
Barbara Harper, constituent services director. She worked in this same role for Bachmann for the past eight years.
Montgomery Pace, scheduler. Pace was an intern last year in Bachmann's office.
Caitlin Fontaine, staff assistant. Fontaine was an intern in Bachmann's office last year.
Additional hires include Becky Alery, who was a spox for GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden, who lost to Sen. Al Franken in November. Alery is the communications director and will be based in D.C. Karen Miller, deputy district director in Emmer's Minnesota office.