WASHINGTON -- There has been so much drama with funding the Department of Homeland Security that the effort basically sucked all the energy out of the last two weeks of Congress.
Yet, today, the divided Minnesota House delegation all voted the same: To support a "clean" bill to fund the Department through this September.
The three Republican Reps. Tom Emmer, John Kline and Erik Paulsen joined Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson in a yes vote.
Some Republicans last week disagreed with fully funding the Department because they didn't support -- or want to give money to -- enforcing President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. Obama's executive action prioritized deporting felons, not people working without papers and provided temporary stay in the U.S. for people who have been here more than five years and pass a background check.
Back and forth, the House and Senate squabbled about a so-called "clean" bill -- without restrictions to funds -- versus a bill that stripped money from immigration enforcement.
Emmer, who was elected to replace Rep. Michele Bachmann last November, notably criticized his Republican colleagues over the weekend after the Department came within about an hour of shutting down.
Rep. Nolan said after the vote: "I am pleased to see that one-third of the House Republicans supported this clean bill, and I hope that we can all continue to support full-long term funding measures in the future."
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 -- Republican Rep. John Kline is among three House chairmen picked this week to draft a GOP-approved alternative to Obamacare – should the Supreme Court deem the act unconstitutional in an upcoming court case.
Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who leads the Ways and Means Committee, and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, will join Kline, chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, to create a fallback plan in case the Supreme Court votes the Obamacare subsidies illegal in King v. Burwell, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Friday. The case, which centers on whether the government can help citizens pay for their health care services, will start arguments in March.
Obamacare proponents have pointed to the the Republican Party for criticizing the Affordable Care Act, yet lacking a viable alternative. A release from McCarthy's office Friday said the group recognizes “that full repeal requires a thoughtful replacement strategy” and they will formulate a replacement and a larger full plan if Obamacare is repealed.
The team promises its plan will be more patient-focused, saying it wants to give the American people the option to be “in the driver’s seat” of their own healthcare, the team and the majority leader said in a statement.
“If the Supreme Court rules as we expect – that the law clearly doesn’t allow subsidies to be offered on the federal exchange – then millions more families will have their coverage in danger because Obamacare is fundamentally flawed,” the joint statement said.
WASHINGTON -- Angie Craig, a vice president at a medical device company, announced Monday she was planning to run against GOP Rep. John Kline in the Second Congressional District next year.
Craig told the Star Tribune that next month she planned to step down from the executive leadership team at St. Jude Medical to prepare to seek the DFL nomination in 2016. She plans on staying with the company, where she has worked in various management positions for a decade, in a strategic capacity.
She has never run for political office before.
Craig, 42, said she felt compelled to challenge Kline, who is serving his seventh term and chairs the House Education Committee, because she is increasingly disappointed in his voting record.
Craig called him "out of touch" with residents of the Second District. She cited two recent votes: one to defund President Barack Obama's executive immigration order and another GOP measure requiring the work week to be defined as 40 hours, rather than 30 hours.
"I don't think that represents who we are," she said. "I believe we need new perspectives and leaders willing to work toward progress more than ever."
Minnesota's Second Congressional District is slightly Republican leaning and is dubbed an R+2 by political observers, meaning a generic Republican would beat out a generic Democrat by two points in a hypothetical election. Kline beat Democrat Mike Obermueller by 17 points last year.
Craig said she hopes to build a platform that "further strengthens the economy and make sure we have economic security for the middle class."
Craig is married to Cheryl Greene and together they have four sons, two 17 year-olds, a 16 year-old and an 11 year-old. They live in Eagan. She said she was raised by her mother and grandmother in a trailer park in Arkansas. She has lived in Minnesota for 10 years.
"I'm incredibly fortunate and humbled," she said. "I believe my business background and my life experiences make me uniquely qualified to advocate for policies for every family in America."
Republican David Gerson, who has twice before challenged and lost to Kline in the primaries, said Monday he hoped to challenge him again next year.
A Kline spokesman declined comment on Craig or Gerson.