SOUTHERN MINNESOTA - With hardly any time to celebrate his Tuesday election victory, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz is pivoting to focus on major legislative issues to need to be resolved before the start of next year.
Walz said the biggest issue that will need to be addressed is the "fiscal cliff," which is the pending end-of-the-year expiration of tax items the Bush-era tax cuts and the automatic, deep budget cuts to everything from the military to Medicare as part of last year's failed debt ceiling deal. He said that a long-term deal was needed to bring stability to the country, and that he is willing to make compromise to secure the deal.
He also repeated his calls for a finalized federal Farm Bill before the end of the year. He has argued since earlier in the year that farmers need to know the federal government's plan ahead of time so they can plan their businesses and take out loans. He said that since the bill cuts cost and ends things like direct payments to farmers, the bill should be supported by both sides.
Walz said he will be seeking a bipartisan deal that please both side in each case so that the country can get the legislation is needs.
"I'm under no illusion that [my election victory] was an affirmation of just DFL policies. It was about being willing to approach legislation with an open mind and a willingness to compromise," said Walz.
Looking forward, Walz said there was a few pieces of legislation he was looking into pushing forward.
Back in early months of the year, Walz lead the big push the lead to the signing of the STOCK ACT, which made it illegal for congressional members to make money off of the insider information they learned during the legislative process. He said that part of his deal with Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was to remove some legislation regulating political intelligence firms, which sell information learned from Congress members, in exchange for a congressional study this year on the firm. He said that the study will have to be acted on this next April, with intention of possibly leading to future legislation.
He also said he wanted to push the transparency and reporting requirements put in place by the STOCK Act even further, with further financial reporting required of members of Congress.
Walz said he thought next year could also be a good chance resurrect the long-term transportation bill and the energy bill he pushed this year. He said they were gaining strong bipartisan support, but got cut short by the political situation at the time. He said that he felt they now have a good chance of passing.
Finally, he said legislation will be needed to continue to help incoming veterans as the United State's foreign wars come to their conclusions.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org