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Weekly wrap-up: Minnesota’s congressional delegation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Here’s a look at what the Minnesota delegation was up to in a week of health-care reform advancement, transportation standoffs, and a Supreme Court confirmation hearing to boot.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both Democrats, represented the North Star State in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Rep. John Kline led the Republican critique this week of the Democrats’ health-care reform bill, which is being marked up in the House Education and Labor Committee.

“Democrats’ stubborn insistence on voting when the ink had scarcely dried on the page belies a frantic rush to ratify unsound policy before its inadequacies – and consequences – could be fully realized,” Kline, who is ranking member of the committee, said in a statement.  

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the House health care bill, which was introduced earlier this week, will cost $1.04 trillion. But this does not take into account the “offsets,” which include taxing the wealthiest Americans.

GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen celebrated the passage of his amendment to provide $15 million for the Financial Crimes and Enforcement Network to upgrade and modernize their information technology capabilities and infrastructure. The freshman’s measure passed by voice vote.

Rep. Betty McCollum continued to lead the charge against inequities in the Medicare funding model, which puts Minnesota at a disadvantage. Democrat McCollum will be hosting a federal health-care reform forum in Minnesota Monday morning to talk about the health care bill being debated in the House.

Rep. Keith Ellison secured $400,000 for the Summit Academy Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) in Minneapolis. Ellison, a Democrat, said the money was “vital to green job funding.”

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann introduced a bill that would limit the amount of personal information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Rep. Collin Peterson drew attention to his efforts to protect agricultural interests in the recent climate change legislation that passed the House. In a statement, the Democrat pointed out a few key revisions, including one that exempts agriculture and forestry from any cap on emissions and another that creates a voluntary, USDA-run, carbon offset program “that allows [agricultural producers] to earn money for practices that they implement to sequester carbon or avoid greenhouse gas emissions.”

“I know the climate change bill the House passed isn’t perfect,” Peterson said. “But it’s much better than it would have been if I hadn’t made it more farm-friendly, and it’s certainly better than if Congress had not acted and just let EPA bureaucrats regulate everything under the sun.”

Rep. Jim Oberstar, a Democrat, continued to push his transportation legislation despite resistance in the Senate and the administration.

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