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D.C. Memo: A farewell to you all

Continued fallout from the SCOTUS leaked draft, some big endorsements for congressional districts and Emmer tries to protect freedom of speech.

Ashley Hackett
Ashley Hackett
ReJoyce Photo

Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me finally saying a full goodbye to you all. That’s right, MinnPost has finally selected a new Washington correspondent to take my place and take over the Memo! This is of course a bittersweet moment — your new D.C. reporter has deep experience on the Hill and will do an incredible job of keeping you all up to date on the news you need to know about from Washington. Thank you for all the support you’ve shown during my time at MinnPost, and thank you for all of the emails — the nice and the not-so-nice — that always kept me on my toes. With that, I’ll say it one last time. Here’s what happened in Washington this week: Continued fallout from the SCOTUS leaked draft, some big endorsements for congressional districts and Emmer tries to protect freedom of speech.

Still reeling from the leaked SCOTUS draft

As we discussed last week, a draft of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, turning the issue of abortion rights over to individual states, was leaked to Politico. Mere hours after the leak published, protests for and against abortion rights broke out in front of the Supreme Court, across the street from the U.S. Capitol.

According to a poll by KSTP, in Minnesota a slight majority of people say that the landmark Roe v. Wade decision should not be overturned, and that it should remain the “law of the land.”

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Another 29% say it should be overturned while 20% are not sure. When asked for their general views on abortion, 30% of respondents said abortion should always be legally permitted. Another 25% say it should only be permitted with some limitations, while 26% says it should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Meanwhile, 12% say it should always be illegal.

Many activists in support of abortion rights have been urging Congress to pass a law that would codify abortion rights federally. And that bill — the Women’s Health Protection Act — passed in the House. However, the Senate failed to advance the bill Wednesday. It garnered 49 votes, with all Democrats in support, save for West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. The bill needed 60 votes to pass.

According to NBC, “moments before the vote, a group of House members appeared at the Senate side of the Capitol and chanted ‘my body, my decision!’ as they walked along the halls outside the chamber.”

Some major endorsements

Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar announced this week that she’s received an endorsement from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In a press release, Omar called this “support from the national Democratic Party at the highest level.”

“Congresswoman Omar has advanced policy that centers on the needs and rights of workers and improves the lives of vulnerable individuals living on the margins in her district and across our country,” Pelosi said. “She fights to expand access to quality health care, to a stable job paying a fair wage, and to the opportunity to organize for every worker in America. She delivers for her constituents, including over $17 million in community project funding, and is a valuable member of our Congress.”

Omar and Pelosi haven’t always gotten along, but it sounds like the House speaker believes Omar is best suited staying at the head of the Fifth District.

Meanwhile, in District Eight, where Rep. Pete Stauber (R) currently sits, the Minnesota 8th Congressional District DFL made its own endorsement on Saturday.

According to the Mesabi Tribune, DFL candidate Jen Schultz won the party’s endorsement for the upcoming midterm election.

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“I’m honored to earn the endorsement of the 8th District DFL and deeply grateful for the support of people across the region,” said Schultz, a four-term legislator, health care economist, teacher and mother of two. “The 8th District needs someone who listens, works hard, and seeks solutions to help working class people, instead of the ultra-wealthy and powerful special interests.”

Haaland in the homeland

Deb Haaland, U.S. Interior Department Secretary who has ties to Minnesota (her father, a Norwegian Minnesotan, grew up in there), paid a visit to the North Star State on Friday.

According to the Pioneer Press, during a Friday visit to St. Paul to announce nearly $9 million in federal funding for urban parks in Minnesota, Haaland said she is open to visiting northeast Minnesota to learn more about Twin Metals, a controversial proposed copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Haaland couldn’t disclose whether there is any way her agency would allow the proposed mine to move forward. The Interior Department in January canceled two mineral leases for Twin Metals, the company that wants to develop the mine. But Haaland said the significance of the project and its potential environmental impact are worth her traveling to the area.

“This is a really important ecological area not only for Minnesota but for the entire country,” Haaland said. “I think that it’s important for us to make sure that whatever activity is happening on that important land that we assess to make sure that we’re not doing anything that will harm the land.”

Policing free speech?

Sixth District Rep. Tom Emmer (R) announced efforts this week intended to “defend Americans’ First Amendment rights” in response to the Biden Administration’s announcement of a “Disinformation Governance Board.”

The board, which was introduced in April by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, is meant to fight misinformation ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

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What some Republicans, including Emmer, are worried about is that a misinformation board created under a Democrat’s administration may be biased towards the left, marking some valid GOP talking points as misinformation.

“The Biden Administration has no business policing our free speech. We cannot allow Washington bureaucrats to become the arbiters of our precious First Amendment liberties,” Emmer said in a press release.

Since the announcement of the board, Emmer has co-sponsored the Protecting Free Speech Act led by Rep. Lauren Boehbert (R-CO) to disband the board and the use of government funds from being spent on anything similar. Emmer also co-signed a letter led by Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL) to Mayorkas questioning the legal authority of the Biden Administration to establish the board.

As the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Emmer often stands as a figurehead for major GOP issues. Especially in the months leading up to the midterm elections, this is one of them.

What I’m reading

  • “I realized that I don’t want to die: LGBTQ+ people share stories of hope after suicidal ideation,” The 19th*. Okay, definitely a heavy read. If you’re up for it, though, this beautiful piece walks through the struggles that many LGBTQ+ youth experience in America, coupled with the resilience that keeps them here. Talking about suicidal ideation can help destigmatize the experience, making people feel more comfortable about expressing their feelings and seeking help.
  • “Inflation’s biting. Roe’s fraying. Dems are still trying to connect with voters,” Politico. This will not surprise most of you: Some Congressional leaders don’t really understand what inflation feels like to many Americans. At least, that’s what Rep Katie Porter (D-CA) thought after giving an impassioned speech to her House colleagues during a private meeting last week. She said it seemed like the first time the personal toll of high consumer prices had sunk in for some lawmakers in the room.

That’s all from me. Thanks for reading, and thanks for coming along with me on this D.C. Memo journey. Catch you later.