Reporting Pat Kessler
MINNEAPIOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota senator is one of the key players hammering out a deal that could end the federal government shutdown.
Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar is helping write a compromised version of a plan drafted by Republican Senator Susan Collins and credited Republican moderates.
“We are friends,” Klobuchar said. “Senate Republicans really came to the fore, more moderates, saying ‘We want to work on a compromise,’ and that’s exactly what’s happening today in the Senate.”
Backed by Senate Republicans, the proposal would fund the government at its current level for six months and raises the debt limit through the end of January.
The deal could also include a later modification or delay of a controversial medical device tax used to help fund the new federal health care law.
Klobuchar told WCCO-TV that failing to act by Wednesday could be disastrous for the economy.
“We know what happened in 2011 leading up to the day of the debt ceiling,” she said. “The Dow Jones dropped 2,000 points. We lost $2 trillion in American household wealth.”
But as the shutdown drags on, there is frustration mixed with optimism in Minnesota. Eighth District Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan used a barnyard metaphor while blaming “Tea Party Republicans” for the shutdown, but he’s confident of finding a way out.
“You know, we have a saying in the country with regards to optimism,” Nolan said. “With all this horses–t, there’s got to be a horse somewhere.”
But not everyone’s willing to settle. Minnesota 6th District Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who founded the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, told the Values Voter Conference Friday that President Obama is turning the U.S. into a “police-line state.” She’s urging conservatives to stay strong.
“We’re supposed to be ashamed that this fight is about Obamacare. I’m not. I’m not ashamed,” Bachmann said. “This is consequential because it is life and death for the American people and for the American economy. It’s worth fighting over.”
But 2nd District Republican Congressman John Kline said he’s still looking for a bi-partisan agreement to end the shutdown. Kline spokesman Troy Young issued this statement:
“Minnesotans don’t want a government shutdown and neither does Congressman Kline. He’ll continue to fight on their behalf by putting principle ahead of politics and encourage members from both parties from the House and Senate to work together toward a long-term solution that responsibly tackles our nation’s debt and spending crisis.”
Minn. Fifth District Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, who is co-chair of the U.S. House Progressive Caucus, says he welcomes a possible compromise, but not if it includes changes to the Affordable Care Act.
“I don’t know what I am going to vote for because I want to read the bill first,” Ellison said. “But I will tell you short term doesn’t work, and we will not go back to the days when people went bankrupt because they got sick.”
Sen. Klobuchar credits moderate Senators from both parties for helping negotiate a deal, but specifically singled out moderate, female U.S. Senators. Klobuchar says they got “sick and tired” of people throwing insults at each other on TV.
“There’s 20 women Senators out of 100 Senators,” she said. “And we have dinner together about once a month. We work on bills together constantly, and so we talk. We have good, strong relationships of trust.”