WASHINGTON – Separate groups supporting the environment and unions targeted Sen. Amy Klobuchar this week for stances — or lack thereof — on key issues coming to votes in the coming weeks.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) railed against Klobuchar's vote to limit bodies of water that the EPA can protect. On another issue, groups that oppose "fast track" legislation urged the senator to expedite trade agreement approval instead of sitting indecisively.
On the trade issue, union leaders were annoyed that Klobuchar, D-Minn., hasn't taken a stance on trade promotion authority, which gives President Obama permission to enact a 12-nation free trade deal without congressional changes. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the largest trade agreement since the North American Free Trade Agreement under the Clinton administration.
About 125 people, including representatives from Education Minnesota, SEIU Healthcare, the Teamsters and other groups, rallied for an hour outside Klobuchar's Minneapolis office, calling for her to make a decision on an agreement that would affect them all, said Mona Meyer, president of the Communications Workers of America Minnesota State Council.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has come out in opposition to the fast-track legislation.
A Klobuchar spokeswoman said her office is waiting and pushing for the strongest bill for U.S. workers.
"For the last month, she has been pushing for strong provisions to stop the illegal dumping of foreign steel that has had a major impact on workers on the Iron Range," said Klobuchar spokeswoman Julia Krahe. "Some of these provisions are included in one of the four bills that passed through the Senate Finance Committee, but it is not clear at all whether these changes … will be included in the final bill."
In addition, the National Resources Defense Council started an ad campaign this week to promote the Clean Water Rule, which included a full-page ad in the Wednesday Star Tribune urging Klobuchar to restore the Clean Water Act and protections for streams and small bodies of water.
The NRDC is hoping Klobuchar changes her mind on a non-binding amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution. It mandated that the EPA not regulate small streams and wetlands — but the measure could also leave them with a greater chance of being polluted. Klobuchar was one of five Democrats to support the amendment.
Historically, Klobuchar has been supportive of clean water issues, said Karen Hobbs, senior policy analyst with NRDC.
Klobuchar's office noted that the senator supports the Clean Water Act, but she had problems with the EPA's Clean Water Rule proposal.