I am privileged and honored to represent you in Congress. As we wrap up 2012, I want to reflect on the yearâ€™s events and update you on my work on behalf of Minnesotaâ€™s 5th District in Congress.
The economy is still recovering from the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and my focus continues to be on creating good jobs for Minnesota families. Itâ€™s time we built an economy that works for people who work for a living. Thatâ€™s why, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I introduced a budget this year that would create a School and Park Improvement Corps, a Student Jobs Corps, and invest in an infrastructure bank to put millions of Americans back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges. Minnesota alone has over 1,400 bridges that need repair, including the Highway 7 bridge over Highway 100.
I also introduced the Inclusive Prosperity Act, which would raise billions of dollars from Wall Street to invest in jobs on Main Street. Just by taxing the sale of stocks, bonds and derivatives by less than 1 percent, we could invest in thousands of jobs in Minnesota and across the country.
The housing market crash has made it very difficult for many Minnesotans to find a home they can afford for their family. Ninety-four percent of Minnesota counties lack any affordable rental housing, and nearly 1 in 7 Minnesotans pays more than half their income for housing. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I have made affordable housing a priority since I came to Congress. This year, I introduced the bipartisan Preserving American Homeownership Act. The bill would allow struggling homeowners to qualify for more affordable monthly mortgage payments, ending foreclosure for many Minnesota families and strengthening the housing market.
Civil and Human Rights
Immigrant communities in Minneapolis and across the country have experienced difficulty over the last decade sending money abroad to support their loved ones. The problems became more difficult when many large and medium-sized banks processing these money remittances terminated their services during Somaliaâ€™s famine of 2011. Remittances make up one-third of Somaliaâ€™s economy, and give many Somali families the ability to put food on the table. I have been working all year on an easier way for Somali families to send money home. This month, I worked with Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen to introduce The Money Remittances Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 6637). The bill simplifies oversight for money services businesses (MSBs) and other nonbank financial institutions, and provides financial institutions that collaborate with MSBs more assurance that the federal and state regulators are coordinating.
I also introduced a bill to streamline refugee processing abroad, while taking advantage of that processing time to provide refugees with English classes and work orientation training. Thirty-four thousand refugees have come to Minnesota since 2000. The bill strengthens refugee integration into local communities. In particular, it expands the public-private Matching Grant program, which has been highly successful in helping refugees become economically self-sufficient.
I am committed to protecting Minnesotaâ€™s environment and ensuring that our families have access to clean water. We owe it to our children to address climate change before it becomes irreversible. This year, I joined Senator Bernie Sanders to introduce a bill that would end the over $110 billion in corporate welfare that oil and gas companies receive. We can save money and build a safe energy future if we put people, not fossil fuel companies, back in charge of our democracy.
Protecting our air and water also means preventing the spread of Asian carp in Minnesotaâ€™s waterways. Asian carp would push out our native fish populations, destroying Minnesotaâ€™s fishermen and women and ending many Minnesotansâ€™ livelihood. I teamed up with U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and Reps. Tim Walz and Eric Paulsen to introducee legislation that helps fight the spread of Asian carp in Minnesotaâ€™s waterways. The legislation would start the process to consider closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Dam to help stop the spread of the invasive species, and require immediate closure of the dam if Asian carp are found.
Finally, many Minnesotans are worried about the deadlines Congress faces and the cuts that could force Minnesotans to work harder for less. As I write this, I am working with Minnesotans in the 5th District and my colleagues in Congress to make sure we develop an agreement that meets our deadlines, asks the wealthy to pay their fair share, and fully protects the security our family members receive from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Forty-two members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced a Deal for All this summer that fulfills these goals, and 102 Members of Congress have joined me in calling for Social Security to be protected during the negotiations. Earlier this month, I appeared on ABCâ€™s This Week to discuss the kind of agreement that would strengthen our country.
We still have a lot of work to do to make sure every Minnesotan who wants a good job can find one. As we approach the new year, I promise to continue fighting for Minnesota families. You can stay up to date and give your feedback on the work we are doing on behalf of the 5th District by following me on Twitter and Facebook or by contacting me through my website. I look forward to continuing to serve you in Congress.