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D.C. Memo: Gonna get mine

Office of Rep. Pete Stauber
Reps. Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber watch as federal officials renew mineral leases for Twin Metals.

The D.C. Memo is a weekly recap of Washington political news, journalism, and opinion, delivered with an eye toward what matters for Minnesota. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week in Washington, places that aren’t Washington, like China, Minnesota and Palestine. Let’s get on with it.

Trade negotiations with China fall apart

Last Friday, long term trade negotiations between the U.S. and China collapsed, continuing an unresolved conflict that has lead to, you guessed it, more tariffs. President Donald Trump announced additional taxes on imports on $200 billion of Chinese goods. In turn, China responded with $60 billion in tariffs.

Underscoring the tariff battle, the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement has stalled. Prominent lobbyists have been called in to push the effort forward, including former Rep. Joe Crowley, who was defeated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and former Minnesota Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen.

“There’s obviously a separate issue going on with China and tariffs right now, but the reality is that we’ve had really good relationship with Canada and Mexico for a long time,” Paulsen told MinnPost. “Hopefully there’s a speedy resolution for that, but I think the USMCA is not the proper way to address those concerns.”

Addressing Islamophobia and anti-Semitism

Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, published an op-ed at CNN arguing that coalition building is crucial to fight white nationalism: “Whatever our differences, our two communities, Muslim and Jewish, must come together to confront the twin evils of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic violence.”

It’s worth noting that Omar, who happens to be one of two Muslim women in Congress, has received substantially more scrutiny for her positions on Palestine than her colleague Rep. Betty McCollum, who has long been a forceful advocate against human rights violations in Palestine.


Twenty six interfaith advocacy organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace and the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, came out in support of McCollum’s bill this week: “The Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.” The bill seeks to ban Israel from using military assistance money from the United States to detain, interrogate or torture Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank.

Omar’s colleague, Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, also a Muslim woman, similarly received outsized scrutiny for comments she made last week that were taken out of context about the Holocaust. Jewish Telegraphic Agency Editor Andrew Silow-Carroll said this week that “If you read or listen to the Michigan Democrat’s comments, it is crystal clear that she said no such thing.”

Related: American Muslims In Public Life Say They Face Outsize Scrutiny, NPR

Twin Metals leases renewed

On Wednesday, The Bureau of Land Management renewed mineral leases owned by Twin Metals Minnesota, moving the company closer to building a copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Read more at MinnPost.

(Side note: As late as 2018, President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were renting a home in Washington owned by Chilean billionaire Andronico Luksic, who has a controlling stake in the Twin Metals project.)

Both representatives Stauber and Tom Emmer, MN-6, attended the signing of the lease renewal. “In northern Minnesota, mining is our past, our present, and our future. With 21st century technology, we can responsibly develop the resources needed for the modern world and unleash the economic engine of northeastern Minnesota,” said Stauber, who represents the area.

Rep. Dean Phillips, MN-3, released a statement today that approved of mining as a whole, but staunchly opposed the renewal, calling it irresponsible.

“The Boundary Waters is a Minnesota treasure, the most-visited wilderness area in the United States, and must be protected,” Phillips said. “I support responsible mining, but since the Trump Administration cancelled the environmental review that would determine the safety of this project, it has not earned that distinction.

Fox no’s

There have been two Democrats to host town halls on Fox News: the first by Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT, and then by Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Now it appears other candidates are not up for the same treatment.

This week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, has pledged to not go on Fox News, laying out her reasoning on Twitter.

“Fox News is welcome to come to my events just like any other outlet,” she said. “But a Fox News town hall adds money to the hate-for-profit machine. To which I say: hard pass.”

HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel has an excellent breakdown of the dynamics at play.

Warren’s pledge was quickly followed up with a briefer announcement from Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, whose campaign who told independent journalist Yashar Ali they have not even entertained the idea.

What else

  • Rep. Collin Peterson, MN-7, said he may considering suing the United States Department of Agriculture for making changes to the Conservation Reserve Program that Peterson says they do not have the authority to do yet, adding that farmers may find the changes to the process confusing.
  • Omar introduced legislation late last week to hold the Sultanate of Brunei accountable for mandating stoning for adultery, consensual same-sex relations, blasphemy, and theft by imposing sanctions.

Quote of the week

“I want people to know: At every point in my life that I needed help, it was right there. And understanding that isn’t the case for everyone is just — well, I know what a difference it made for me,” Sen. Tina Smith discussing mental health in a profile written by the Star Tribune’s Patrick Condon.

What I’m reading

The Daily Beast: Trump Administration to LGBT Couples: Your ‘Out of Wedlock’ Kids Aren’t Citizens

Trump administration policy is preventing children of U.S. citizens from obtaining citizenship in certain circumstances.

Washington Post: HUD says 55,000 children could be displaced under Trump plan to evict undocumented immigrants

Department of Housing and Urban Development plans pushed by White House Advisor Stephen Miller to purge undocumented immigrants from public housing could displace more than 55,000 U.S. children who are citizens as well.

NiemanLab: Assigned to the 2020 campaign trail? Consider a Google form on your way out

Finally, NiemanLab at Harvard has a nice analysis of how LA Times reporter Matt Pearce plans to cover 2020. He asked readers how they think he should cover 2020. On that note, feel free to send over an email anytime if you have thoughts on how we should be covering 2020, congress, or what’s happening in D.C.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider.

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