Checking up on the freshmen

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What have Minnesota’s newest Congress members been doing?

Minnesota sent four new faces to Washington, D.C., in 2007. As the month-long August break approaches next week, how have the new members done now that the 2007 session is over three-fourths finished?

Voting History

All of Minnesota’s representatives have been at the top in terms of attendance. Of 725 votes, Rep. Tim Walz has only missed four (0.6 percent), Rep. Keith Ellison missed six (0.8 percent), and Rep. Michele Bachmann missed seven (0.9 percent). The average for the House was 3.5 percent. On the Senate side, Sen. Amy Klobuchar has a perfect voting record and has missed zero votes since taking office.

Minnesota’s freshman delegation generally votes with its party. Walz has voted with the Republicans and against the Democrats 29 times out of 721 votes, and Ellison three times out of 719 votes. Sen. Klobuchar crossed over 12 times out of 277 votes. Bachmann voted with the Democrats and against the Republicans six times out of 718 votes.

Legislation

Rep. Michele Bachmann has offered one piece of legislation: a bill to allow health expenses to be deducted from income taxes. The bill has not moved out of committee. Bachmann has also offered an amendment to the transportation, housing and urban development appropriations bill to reduce funding for the National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak) by $106 million. That amendment failed.

Rep. Keith Ellison has introduced six pieces of legislation: a bill to prohibit universal defaults on credit card accounts, a bill to make same-day voter registration a federal law, a bill to make the tracking of methamphetamine precursor chemicals electronic, a bill to expand expenses for the HOPE credit, a bill to require electronic recording of interrogations in federal cases, and a bill to create stricter laws surrounding predatory lending. None of these bills has moved out of committee.

Rep. Tim Walz has offered three pieces of legislation: a bill to name the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Rochester, Minn., as the Charles W. Lindbergh Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, a bill to establish traumatic brain injury centers within the Veterans Affairs system, and a bill to provide tax incentives for wind produced energy. None of these bills has moved out of committee. Walz has also offered a resolution commending the 1st Brigade Combat Team/34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard for completing operations as the longest serving military unit in the war.

Sen. Klobuchar has introduced one piece of legislation that has become law: a bill to designate the federal building and courthouse in Duluth as the Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building and United States Courthouse and Customhouse. Klobuchar has also offered five other pieces of legislation: a bill to add greenhouse gases to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, a bill to provide incentives for farmers to grow biofuels, a bill to create grants to create a E85 fuel infrastructure, a bill to gradually increase the amount of renewable energy used by electric utilities, and a bill to increase finding for biodiesel fuel education programs. None of these bills has passed committee.

Klobuchar has also submitted six amendments, one of which was agreed to: an amendment to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to provide support for rural and small communities. Klobuchar also introduced a similar resolution to that of Walz, recognizing the service of 1st Brigade Combat Team/34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard.