Answering an appeal by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and other liberal lawmakers, President Obama will use his executive power to raise the minimum wage for workers on new government contracts.
Obama will formally announce his plans during his State of the Union address, while also renewing his call for Congress to pass legislation to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour by 2015.
“Working class people in Minneapolis and all over the country are dealing with debt and low pay,” Ellison said in an interview with the Star Tribune prior to the White House announcement. “The president has to chart a reliable path toward economic security.”
Ellison has spoken out frequently about the need for such action and joined low-wage worker rallies around the nation.
The Minnesota Democrat was among 50 members of Congress who signed letters to the president last year, urging him to circumvent Congress on the issue, to “provide labor stability for the low-wage workers on whom these federal agencies rely to fulfill their mission.” Ellison personally handled one of those letters to Obama.
During an interview on News-Talk Radio 1130-AM, Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline said he found Obama's use of unilateral presidential authority "disturbing."
"He's got a pretty solid record of doing that," Kline said. "To threaten more of that, is not helpful."
Last week, Minneaplis Mayor Betsy Hodges heard a preview of Obama’s plans to bypass Congress.
At a White House reception, Obama told 250 members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors that he is prepared to take executive action on a variety of items if Congress can't or won't pass legislation.
"Where Congress is debating things and hasn't been able to pull the trigger on stuff, my administration is going to move forward and we're going to do it in partnership with all of you," Obama said.
Hodges will attend the State of the Union as Ellison’s guest. The two plan to work together to tackle the city’s racial disparities in education, employment and other matters.
“I like the tact that [Obama] is taking around the middle class, making sure that aspiration doesn’t die for people. That belief that if you work hard in the United States of America you can get somewhere,” Hodges said Monday during a joint interview with Ellison.
“As we tackle the disparities that we have in Minneapolis, that is incredibly important.”
Seats at President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night will be filled with the legislative priorities of the 113th Congress.
On a night when the president lays out his blueprint for the year, members of Congress often choose their guests to convey a message of their own: the person often symbolizes a policy or issue the lawmaker is promoting.
In Minnesota, those issues range from job training and fighting poverty to ending child sex trafficking and repealing President Obama’s health care law.
Here’s a member-by-member look at the guests of the state’s congressional delegation:
U.S. Sen. Al Franken will host Erick Ajax, vice president and co-owner of E.J. Ajax and Sons, a Minneapolis-based metal-stamping company. Franken has introduced legislation that would create a multi-billion dollar grant program to fund partnerships between businesses and two-year colleges to fill job openings in high-demand fields.
Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy will be U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s guest. A supporter of Mayo's partnerships to help match students' skills with jobs, Klobuchar has introduced legislation that would fund 100 new science, technology, engineering and math-themed high schools and support scientific research.
Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz will be U.S. Rep. Tim Walz's guest. Walz and Kuntz released a joint statement this month calling for passage of transportation funding bills in both houses of Congress in 2014.
U.S. Rep. John Kline will host Keith Anderson, vice chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The tribe is the largest employer in Scott County, which is part of Kline's district in the southern suburbs and exurbs of the Twin Cities.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s guest for President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday will be Vednita Carter, founder and executive director of Breaking Free, a St. Paul-based organization that helps women escape prostitution. Paulsen, the author of two bills designed to combat child sex trafficking, wrote a letter to Obama this month, requesting that he address the issue during the speech.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s guest will be Clarence Hightower, executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties, an anti-poverty agency. This year, McCollum plans to push for more federal grant money to be distributed to not-for-profit agencies, such as the Community Action Partnership, to tackle poverty.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges will attend President Obama’s State of the Union speech as the guest of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. The two are working on plans to close the achievement gap in the city’s schools and radically reduce the amount of garbage the city sends to landfills, with the eventual goal of reaching "zero waste."
Dr. Julie Anderson, a family physician from St. Cloud, will be U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s guest. A University of Minnesota Medical School graduate, Anderson has concerns about how the Affordable Care Act will affect her practice. Bachmann has been one of Congress’ most vocal critics of the health care reform law.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, who will not bring a guest, gave his pass to U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, according to staff.
As a result, Nolan will have two guests – Carri Jones, chairwoman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Melanie Benjamin, executive director of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Nolan's northeastern Minnesota districts includes five of the six Minnesota Chippewa Tribe bands.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is among a group of Senate and House Democrats teaming with the White House on a campaign to tout benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
The White House and Democratic allies will highlight a potential benefit of President Obama's health care law each day, aiming to remind voters of elements that Democrats say would disappear if Republican repeal efforts are successful.
The Obama administration is hoping the strategy will help shift public opinion after the law's rocky rollout.
Though a majority of Democratic and independent voters don’t support Republican efforts to repeal or defund the law, national polls show the electorate isn’t happy with the Affordable Care Act’s problems.
Millions of Americans, including an estimated 140,000 Minnesotans, have received cancellation notices from their health insurance companies, violating a key promise from the president that if “you like your plan you can keep it.”
Democrats acknowledge the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Ellison predicted that people will turn their attention to the law's benefits as the healthcare.gov website's troubles diminish.
“I’m working to make sure Minnesotans and working families around the country have the facts about health care reform,” Ellison said in a statement. “Now individuals and families will have free preventive care, no more lifetime cost limits, and an end to the days when insurance companies could take away your health care when you got sick.”
The messaging will continue until December 23, the deadline for people to enroll for January coverage.
Thus far, Republicans have mocked the effort, saying they’re ready to train the spotlight on the law’s shortcomings. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of U.S. House Republicans, said the “strike team” that Ellison belongs to is “Congress’ liberal all-star team.”
“We look forward to talking about the law even more than Democrats do,” said Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum are among the House Democrats who plan to fast today in support of activists pushing the House to take up comprehensive immigration reform.
The lawmakers took over for three activists who had camped on the National Mall without food for three weeks to raise awareness and make the case for reform.
The U.S. Senate passed an immigration bill this year, but work on legislation has stalled in the Republican-led House.
“It is imperative that the House of Representatives follow the bipartisan lead of the United States Senate and pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation before the end of this year,” McCollum said in a statement.
“Immigration reform is one of the most pressing issues facing our country today and it has the support of the business community, faith leaders, law enforcement, labor, and families throughout Minnesota.”
The Minnesota Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann favored Domino's. Ron Paul's presidential campaign preferred American Pie.
And last year, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and northern Minnesota Democratic congressional hopeful Jeff Anderson went for Pizza Luce while U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who bested Anderson in a primary, bestowed Sammy's Pizza in both Hibbing and Duluth with his business.
Since Minnesotans can get as passionate about pizza choices as they are about politics, Hot Dish asked the Center for Responsive Politics to generate a list of all the pizza purchases from Minnesota's federal campaigns of late.
Check out the map of pizza payments below and perform your own pizza partisanship on the data here.