Amy Klobuchar on Government Reform

DFL Sr Senator (MN); Democratic presidential contender


Top-to-bottom review of nation's antitrust law is in order

Our nation's antitrust laws should promote robust competition. Improvements to those laws should return to curbing monopolistic and oligopolistic behavior that leads to market concentration and consolidation. A top-to-bottom review of the nation's antitrust laws is in order--the laws have not been updated to keep up with the times.

There are numerous ways in which companies with monopoly market power can engage in anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct, and in digital age we must pass new laws--such as my Anti-Competitive Exclusionary Conduct Prevention Act--to conduct and prevent such acts. As [one analyst] says of that bill's importance, "The proposed legislation would update the previous time Congress passed legislation on the topic of dominant firm conduct, in 1914, when airplanes were new, Archduke Ferdinand's assassination, (that sparked World War 1) was three weeks away, and Ford Motor Company had just instituted an 8 hour workday."

Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.284 , Apr 27, 2021

Increase the budget & staff of Antitrust Division

We must be smart about antitrust enforcement and reform, but we need to be bold. Instead of cutting the Antitrust Division's staff, as the Trump Administration did, we should be strengthening antitrust enforcement. Adding more staff and resources for FTC and Department of Justice enforcement is particularly helpful for reviewing highly complex major tech mergers and continuing and expanding upon tech investigations and legal actions.

To give federal officials the resources they need to both examine and take action against anticompetitive exclusionary conduct as well as evaluate the potential effects of a merger or acquisition, Congress must act or make appropriations, not just give lip service to the issue. Agency budgets matter, and the president and Congress should be willing to better fund agencies that work on antitrust issues given the importance of stopping anticompetitive product, protecting consumers, and safeguarding the health of America's economy.

Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.287 , Apr 27, 2021

Protect voting rights with early voting, mail-in ballots

While President Trump was in the White House ordering a mail-in ballot people in Wisconsin are standing in garbage bags with masks, standing in line having to choose between their health and their right to vote. Now nearly 20 of them are sick, including a poll worker. We can't let that happen in November. That's why Ron Wyden and I are pushing for our bill with the support of Michelle Obama, the civil rights groups, to keep pushing to make sure that we have both vote by mail and early voting.
Source: ABC This Week on 2020 Veepstakes , Apr 26, 2020

Expand early voting, no excuse absentee vote by mail

Klobuchar announced The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 alongside Sen. Ron Wyden, which would expand early in-person voting and extend "no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail" to all states. The bill would specifically "ensure that voters in all states have 20 days of early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail and ensure states begin processing votes cast during early voting or by mail 14 days before Election Day to avoid delays in counting votes on Election Day."
Source: Breitbart News on 2020 Veepstakes , Apr 7, 2020

Voter restrictions hit with surgical precision on minorities

I would make sure that people have the ability to vote, because to make all the changes that we have been talking about, all of the candidates you've heard have been talking about you can't do it without the ability to vote. I'm going to be in North Carolina and there a court actually said that the bill they put forward, was discrimination with surgical precision against African-Americans. It is things like gerrymandering; it is things like making it hard for people to register to vote.
Source: CNN Town Hall on eve of 2020 South Carolina primary , Feb 26, 2020

Push for voting rights for African-Americans

Q: Was the way that Mayor Bloomberg implemented stop and frisk racist?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, and I think that what we need to do instead of just reviewing everything from the past is talk about where we're going to go forward. Martin Luther King once said that we are all "tied in a single garment of destiny, and that what affects one of us directly affects all of us indirectly." So when there is racism in the criminal justice system, then we need to fix it. And to me that means sentencing reform, like the First Step Act, and extending that to the states with the Second Step Act. It means equal opportunity. Because if we don't pass [that bill] to invest in impoverished communities, we're never going to get to that single garment of destiny.

[Editor's note: this phrase comes from the "Letter from Birmingham Jail", where Martin Luther King writes, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."]

Source: 10th Democratic Primary debate on eve of S.C. primary , Feb 25, 2020

Automatic voter registration stops racist voter suppression

I have been leading on these bills to automatically register every kid to vote in this country when they turn 18. There is no reason that we can't do that across this country. To stop the gerrymandering by setting up independent commissions in every single state, and yes, to stop the voting purges. We are not going to be able to get any of these things done if we don't give people the right to vote.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Overturn Citizens United

I can't stand big money in politics, and one of my major focuses is going to be passing that constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. I didn't come from money, and I think people don't look at the guy in the White House and say "Can we get someone richer?" They want someone they can understand. No matter where you come from, you should be able to make it.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Ethics reform languishes due to Senate Republicans

What is making a case for progress about? That is what unites us, which is campaign finance reform. That means passing a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. It means making the first bill we pass when I am president will be HR1 which is the ethics reform passed in the House, which is currently sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk. If you don't think we can get this done, we can, but not by arguing with each other but by finding what united us in getting it done.
Source: Newshour/Politico/PBS December Democratic primary debate , Dec 19, 2019

Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United

Q [to Tom Steyer]: You have spent over $300 million of your own money in support of your political goals. How do you respond to critics who see you as the embodiment of a special interest?

Tom STEYER: I've put together coalitions of ordinary American citizens to take on unchecked corporate power. We have a broken government in Washington, D.C. It's been purchased by corporations. Over the last decade, with the help of the American people, we have taken on and beaten the oil companies, the tobacco companies, utilities, drug companies.

Amy KLOBUCHAR: I'm someone that doesn't come from money, and I appreciate the work of Mr. Steyer. But right now, we have a system that's not fair. I would start a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. That's what we should do, so that we stop this dark money and outside money from coming into our politics.

Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

Experience is needed to get voter rights passed

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: With the White House in the right hands, we can make Election Day a federal holiday. We can use carrots and sticks to induce states to do the right thing with automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, making it easier for people to vote and, in particular, recognizing that we cannot allow the kind of racially motivated or partisan voter suppression or gerrymandering that often dictates the outcome of elections before the voting even begins.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: I agree with what the mayor has said, but this is a good example where he has said the right words, but I have the experience. I think this kind of experience matters. I think having that experience, knowing how you can get things done, leading the bills to take the social media companies to task, to say where these ads come from and how they're paid for, and stop the unbelievable practice where we still have 11 states that don't have backup paper ballots.

Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

Register all to vote; ban gerrymandering and voter purges

I have led the way on voting. One solution that would make a huge difference would be to allow every kid in the country to register to vote when they turn 18. If we had a system like this, and we did something about gerrymandering, and we stopped the voting purges, and we did something significant about making sure we don't have money in politics from the outside, Stacey Abrams would be governor of this state right now.
Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

Russia didn't just meddle in our election; they invaded it

Q: Your response to Putin and Russia?

CEO Andrew Yang: We have to let Russia know, "Look, we get it. We've tampered with other elections. You've tampered with our elections. And now it has to stop."

Senator Klobuchar: I don't see a moral equivalency between our country and Russia. Vladimir Putin is someone who has shot down planes over Ukraine, who has poisoned his opponent, and we have not talked about what we need to do to protect ourselves from Russia invading our election. This wasn't meddling--that's what I do when I call my daughter on a Saturday night and ask her what she's doing. This was much more serious than that. This was actually invading our election. So to protect ourselves in 2020, we need backup paper ballots in every single state. And then we need to stop the social media companies from running paid political ads, without having to say where those ads came from and who paid for them. That's the Honest Ads Act, that's a bipartisan bill that I lead.

Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate , Oct 15, 2019

Pass Equality Act by marshalling public support

Q: What would be your strategy for getting support from Congress from members who are not pro-LGBT?

KLOBUCHAR: It is time to pass the Equality Act. Our problem is you can get married in one state and then you can get fired from your job for being gay. That's why the Equality Act is so important. It's passed the House. It is sitting in the graveyard of legislation that is Mitch McConnell's desk. What I would do to get it passed is to bring people together to make the case for it.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

Election Security Act: mandate paper ballots

Klobuchar on Election Security: Mandate paper ballots.

11 CANDIDATES HAVE SIMILAR VIEWS: Michael Bennet; Cory Booker; Julian Castro; Tulsi Gabbard; Kirsten Gillibrand; Kamala Harris; Beto O`Rourke; Tim Ryan; Bernard Sanders; Eric Swalwell; Elizabeth Warren.

Candidates who back federal legislation that would require states use paper ballots, which election security experts overwhelmingly consider the most secure form of voting. That mandate is part of the Protecting American Votes and Elections Act of 2019, which Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), one of the most vocal advocates in Congress for greater election security, introduced in May. His bill would also require that states conduct post-election risk-limiting audits.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar has her own legislation, the Election Security Act of 2019, that would, among other things, also mandate paper ballots.

H.R. 1, the sweeping House reform bill, would also require paper ballots, but does not require that states conduct audits after elections.

Source: Politico "2020Dems on the Issues" , Jul 17, 2019

Automatically register citizens to vote when they turn 18

Amy Klobuchar is trying to lay claim to the moderate middle. But that can be a tough sell, particularly when many of her rivals are touting big-ticket progressive goals like universal healthcare, free college education and aggressive attempts to address income inequality.

Her big idea: She offered a number of proposals during her time on stage [at the SXSW conference]--bringing broadband to rural areas, lowering prescription drug prices and some kind of transactional tax on technology companies that sell information about their users. When I asked her to name her top idea, she opted for one she hadn't mentioned--passing a law automatically registering all citizens to vote when they turn 18.

Her biggest obstacle: Raising the massive amount of money to fund a presidential campaign was her biggest obstacle, she told me. Allegations that she has been verbally abusive towards her Senate staff have dogged the early days of her campaign, however.

Source: BBC.com on 2020 Democratic primary contenders at 2019 SXSW , Mar 12, 2019

Honest Ads Act: no more foreign meddling in elections

Klobuchar introduced the Honest Ads Act with former Arizona Sen. John McCain and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., in response to Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The bill requires advertisement buys and publishers to publicly disclose information about the ad in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Feb 10, 2019

Washington’s pay to play system hurts the middle class

This week, David Safavian, the former director of procurement policies at the White House budget office will go on trial for involvement in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal. US. Amy Klobuchar comments, “These latest allegations of corruption in Washington should be a wakeup call for lawmakers of both political parties. While we always presume the accused are innocent until proven guilty, the problems of money and political power in Washington must not be swept under the rug.

”People in positions of power & privilege can’t be above the law. As a chief prosecutor, I’ve approached my job without fear or favor. That means taking on powerful people like CEOs, a judge, and white collar criminals, just as we would any other offender.

“It’s time for the people of Minnesota to send a clear message to politicians who have taken part in the ‘pay to play’ system that rewards powerful interests and hurts the middle class. If Washington won’t change itself, it’s time for us to change Washington.”

Source: Press release, “Washington Corruption” , May 22, 2006

Institute MN-style restrictions on lobbyist-funded gifts

Klobuchar issued the following statement about yesterday’s House of Representatives vote for a weak lobbying reform bill: “I am deeply disappointed by last night’s House vote on ethics reform. Despite lots of tough talk, members decided to do what was easy rather than what was right. When it comes to standing up to special interests and cleaning up Washington, Minnesota voters are ready for real change. Now, to restore the public’s faith in government, we need leaders who aren’t afraid to do what I’ve done as a prosecutor: take on powerful special interests and put people first.“

Klobuchar favors stronger ethics reform, including aggressive Minnesota-style restrictions on lobbyist-funded gifts, perks, and travel, as well as tougher provisions to limit the revolving door between Congress and the lobbying world. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call said, ”This bill all but shouts to voters that the GOP is not serious about reform & that it values its ties to K Street more than the public’s trust.“

Source: Press release, “Get Serious on Lobbying Reform” , May 4, 2006

Require full disclosure of independent campaign expenditures.

Klobuchar co-sponsored DISCLOSE Act

Congressional Summary:

Wikipedia & OnTheIssue Summary: