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D.C. Memo: Major problems

Today in the Memo: Minnesota delegation’s immigration views, superintendents grill Klobuchar on student well-being and a good dog with a bad record.

photo of joe biden’s dog
President Joe Biden’s dog Major has had a couple of biting incidents already, adding a bit of chaos to Biden’s first few months in office.
Adam Schultz/White House/Handout

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. Congress was out of session this week, but there’s still a lot going on with the Minnesota delegation at home. In D.C. this week, a highlight for those lucky enough to attend would have been the Nationals’ season opener yesterday. Lots of excitement in the city. Unfortunately, the game was cancelled at the last minute because three players tested positive for COVID-19. Maybe we’ll get there one day. Today in the Memo: Minnesota delegation’s immigration views, superintendents grill Klobuchar on student well-being and a good dog with a bad record.

Opposing viewpoints on immigration

Rep. Ilhan Omar continues to advocate for immigrant and refugee children, especially after a recent visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. In a tweet on Sunday, Omar said, “These children deserve to be treated with basic humanity and empathy,” in reference to children she met in detention at the border.

The Biden administration has, in the case of children, reverted to the border process as it was pre-pandemic: Unaccompanied children are accepted into the U.S. and transferred into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. The department then becomes responsible for their care.

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Rep. Jim Hagedorn went live with KAAL-TV on Sunday for an in-depth conversation on the situation at the southern border. In the interview, Hagedorn said that “Biden basically invited people to come to the Southern border,” and that “President Trump’s policy was much better.”

To Hagedorn, the solution to the border crisis is in line with policies introduced during the Trump administration. He emphasized continuing to build the border wall and eliminating sanctuary cities.

“They want massive migration to the United States, and it’s kind of overwhelming the system, at least that’s what we’re seeing so far.”

The pandemic has taken a toll on Latin America, where COVID-19 cases and deaths have soared and economies saw a steep decline. The decline in economic growth in the last year is expected to widen the gap of income inequality and poverty in the region, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Combined with the perception of the Biden administration having more lenient policies, the large toll the pandemic has had on Latin America has fueled migration towards the United States, according to the Washington Post.

Superintendents put pressure on Klobuchar

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, at home in Minnesota this week with Congress out of session, met in a conference call with superintendents of four northwest Minnesota school districts to talk about the districts’ experience with online learning during the pandemic and their concerns moving forward.

In a meeting that was supposed to focus on distance learning, nutrition, mental health, and high-speed internet, attendees raised some concerns that seemed to take Klobuchar by surprise, writes Hannah Shirley for the Forum News Service. East Grand Forks Superintendent Mike Kolness asked Klobuchar about what could be done to continue to support students who prefer or need to continue to do online learning even when school districts are back to full-time in-person instruction. Another superintendent brought up his district’s struggle to fill vacant mental health staff positions.

Klobuchar said she is planning to use the superintendents’ questions and concerns to inform her approach to bills that can provide support for smaller and more rural school districts. She is also eyeing President Joe Biden’s recent $2 trillion infrastructure plan and how some of the funding from that proposal can be funneled to help northwestern Minnesota schools.

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Infrastructure overhaul

President Biden announced a sweeping infrastructure plan called the “American Jobs Plan” this week that includes $2 trillion in federal funding for broadband expansion, public transportation, and a slew of other interests including helping consumers purchase electric vehicles.

Another large infusion of money, in addition to the COVID relief bill, could allow Minnesota to pursue big-ticket projects as well as work through its backlog of neglected roads and bridges around the state.

According to Rochester news outlet KIMT, the City of Rochester says it spends about $9 million each year fixing streets, but there is still an annual shortfall of around $23 million to meet needs for road repair over the next 50 years.

In order to pay for the American Jobs Plan, Biden has suggested a corporate tax increase from 21% to 28%, a tax hike that is not favored by Republicans.

The plan includes Biden’s broadband goal: to finish connecting every household in the U.S. to the internet. Earlier this month, Sen. Klobuchar along with James E. Clyburn, D-South Carolina, introduced their own bill that would invest $94 billion to close the digital divide.

Getting territorial at the White House

I’ve heard some D.C. folks saying “it’s good to see a dog back in the White House,” after former President Donald Trump went petless during his four-year stint in the historic building. But President Joe Biden’s dog Major has had a couple of biting incidents already, adding a bit of chaos to Biden’s first few months in office.

According to CNN, the incident involved a National Park Service employee and took place on the White House lawn on Monday afternoon. The employee received treatment from the White House medical unit.

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First lady Jill Biden’s press secretary Michael LaRosa told CNN that Major is “still adjusting to his new surroundings.”

But not to worry: A professional dog trainer assures us that Major Biden is still a good boy. “When you go from a house pet in Wilmington to the White House where there are hundreds and hundreds of people coming in and out, there’s definitely potential for issues,” Wilmington dog trainer Christos Philippou told Delaware Online. “It can happen to any dog, that’s for sure.”

That’s it from me this week. Thanks for reading. And as always, if you have questions, complaints, or pictures of peaceful dogs to share, please feel free to email me at ahackett@minnpost.com or reach me on Twitter.