Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar

Senator, Minnesota

Amy Klobuchar is serving her third term as a senator from Minnesota, having been elected in 2006, 2012, and 2018. During her tenure she has been a leading proponent of more vigorous oversight of technology firms, stronger election security, and measures to protect U.S. steel producers, a major Minnesota industry. 

She was previously a criminal prosecutor and served as the lead attorney for Hennepin, Minnesota’s most populous county, from 1998 to 2006. Born in Plymouth, Minnesota, she earned her law degree from the University of Chicago in 1985.

China

Klobuchar says that China is “in economic terms” the United States’ top national security threat. She has favored stronger trade measures to protect American workers from what she calls its unfair economic practices, especially its dumping of subsidized steel in the U.S. market given Minnesota’s leading role in domestic steel production. 

  • She promises to “aggressively combat illegal Chinese steel dumping” by expanding existing trade enforcement efforts and has expressed support for President Donald J. Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. As a senator, she pressed the Barack Obama administration to take action on Chinese steel.
  • But she has also criticized Trump’s broader trade war with China, which she says is hurting midwestern farmers, as China has dialed back purchases of U.S. agricultural goods. She says Trump should quickly negotiate an end to it.
  • She cosponsored legislation, passed in 2018, to strengthen the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a federal body that reviews foreign acquisitions and investments for potential national security risks. CFIUS has in recent years intensely scrutinized Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. technology companies and blocked several high-profile deals.

Climate and Energy

Klobuchar believes that climate change is a crisis and should be an “urgent priority” for policymakers. She says it is already causing devastating floods, drought, and storms in the Midwest, and she proposes a plan to quickly transition the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels.  

  • Klobuchar’s climate plan promises to introduce sweeping climate legislation in her first one hundred days, with the aim of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. She says her first priority on “day one” is to return the United States to the Paris Agreement, from which Trump withdrew in 2017.
  • Her plan would include “massive” direct federal investments in energy research and technology, as well as further incentives for clean energy at the state and local level. This includes $1 trillion in infrastructure investments. She says she would also end all fossil fuel subsidies.
  • She says she would restore the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to reduce state-level emissions that Trump has since abandoned. She would also seek higher vehicle emissions standards and stronger enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other pollution regulations.
  • She would increase staffing levels and resources for the Environmental Protection Agency, and she promises a comprehensive review of environmental regulations rolled back by Trump.
  • She supports some form of carbon tax or pricing, as long as it avoids falling hardest on lower-income people. 
  • She is in favor of nuclear power and so-called clean coal technologies in order to cut U.S. emissions. She wants to tighten regulations on fracking but not ban it altogether. She opposes expanding offshore oil and gas drilling, and would end fossil fuel extraction on public lands.
  • She cosponsored the resolution on the Green New Deal framework put forward by congressional Democrats, though she calls it “aspirational” and in need of more specifics.

Counterterrorism

Klobuchar has supported expanding the use of air strikes and U.S. special forces to combat Islamist extremism in the Middle East and North Africa, but she has also called for greater transparency in how these operations are conducted. She argues that controversial surveillance and data-collection programs are necessary for stopping terrorist attacks. 

  • Klobuchar pledges to immediately issue an executive order reinstating the requirement that the U.S. military and intelligence agencies issue an annual report on civilian deaths caused by U.S. drone strikes.
  • As a senator, she supported intensified air strikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, as well as terrorist groups across Africa. 
  • She also proposed tighter airport security measures, stricter visa requirements, and more funding for the Transportation Security Administration.
  • She says encryption technologies on consumer devices, such as iPhones, unduly hinder counterterrorism investigations.
  • In 2013, she defended a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program that secretly collected bulk metadata from domestic telephone calls. “Dozens of potential terrorist attacks were averted” because of the program, she says.
  • In 2007 she was one of sixteen Democratic senators to vote for an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that allowed for easier warrantless surveillance of terrorism suspects. 

Cybersecurity and Digital Policy

Klobuchar highlights the “critical need” to improve U.S. cybersecurity, particularly around elections. She promises cybersecurity reforms to “stay one step ahead of China and Russia.”  Saying she “doesn’t trust” Silicon Valley, she wants to establish stricter “digital rules of the road” on consumer privacy, data collection, and election funding. 

  • Klobuchar promises immediate executive action on cybersecurity, including updating technology used by federal agencies, increasing Defense Department staffing on cybersecurity issues, and launching a cabinet-level task force on election cybersecurity.
  • She promises to push legislation to increase funding for election security, require backup paper ballots, and increase information sharing among agencies. In the Senate, she cosponsored the Secure Elections Act, which included many of these measures, several times.
  • She proposes stricter oversight of large technology firms, including federal investigations into potentially anticompetitive practices at Amazon, Facebook, and Google, which she says “may well be broken up” under her administration.
  • In 2019, she proposed the bipartisan Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act, which would require tech companies to provide greater transparency on how they use customer data, allow consumers to opt out, and immediately inform consumers of any security breaches.
  • In 2017, she proposed the Honest Ads Act, which would have mandated greater transparency on who pays for political advertising on digital platforms such as Facebook.

Defense

Klobuchar promises to return U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but criticizes Trump’s plans to withdraw from foreign theaters as erratic and irresponsible. She has supported several recent U.S. military missions, but argues Congress should play a bigger role. 

  • Klobuchar says “it is time to bring our troops home” from Afghanistan, and promises to do so during her first term. 
  • However, she criticized Trump’s 2018 announcement that he would withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, arguing that a sudden withdrawal would prove chaotic and expose U.S. allies to retaliation.
  • She ran for Senate in 2006 as a critic of the Iraq War, saying she opposed it from the beginning, but she has supported other U.S. military interventions, backing the 2011 military action in Libya and arguing for a no-fly zone in Syria. She also supported Trump’s 2017 air strikes against the Syrian regime, but said Congress should be more closely consulted.
  • She argued in 2015 that Congress needed to approve ongoing military operations rather than allow the White House to rely on legal authorities dating back to 2001 and 2002.
  • She says she would direct her secretary of defense to undertake a review of all Pentagon spending in order to identify wasteful or duplicative spending.
  • Her plan for veterans calls for immediate changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system, including expanded benefits for women and better mental health facilities, particularly in rural areas, and increased oversight of the VA.
  • She proposes an expanded GI Bill to give veterans better educational options, expanded job training and apprenticeship opportunities, and programs to address homelessness and hunger.
  • She promises to overturn the ban on transgender personnel in the military.

Diplomacy and Foreign Aid

Klobuchar charges that Trump is disrespecting U.S. allies and dangerously isolating the United States by withdrawing from international agreements such as the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and Paris climate accord. 

  • Klobuchar promises to “rebuild the State Department,” which has seen personnel cuts under Trump, and says she would immediately direct her secretary of state to accelerate hiring for the diplomatic corps.
  • In order to “rebuild the relationship with our allies,” she says her first foreign trip would be to visit North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies in Canada and Europe. 
  • She says her approach to foreign assistance programs would be the opposite of Trump’s, who has sought deep cuts to foreign aid budgets during his first term. 
  • In the Senate, she has backed more humanitarian aid for Syrian and other refugees, as well as funding for global health programs to combat Ebola, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.

Economic Policy

Klobuchar criticizes growing monopoly power in the United States, arguing that the government must address this “new gilded age” through stronger antitrust enforcement. She also wants a major federal spending program on infrastructure, higher taxes on corporations and high earners, and stronger financial regulation. 

  • She calls infrastructure her “top budget priority,” proposing a $1 trillion plan that would include $650 billion in direct federal funding and the rest in loans, loan guarantees, and other financial incentives. 
  • She proposes paying for the program through changes to the tax system, including raising the corporate rate to 25 percent, increasing taxes on corporate foreign earnings, and imposing a “financial risk fee” on big banks. 
  • She says she wants to repeal the “regressive” 2017 tax reform, raise taxes on capital gains, and apply the “Buffett rule”—a proposal to ensure millionaires pay at least a 30 percent income tax rate. 
  • As the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, she has supported stronger oversight of mergers and more aggressive antitrust action.
  • She wants to provide the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission—the two agencies that enforce antitrust laws—with more resources, paid for by a new tax on megamergers.
  • She says tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon “may well be broken up” under her administration.
  • She is not in favor of free college for all—unlike some of her competitors—but supports tuition-free community college and technical training programs. She wants to create a federal apprenticeship program. 

Immigration

Klobuchar denounces what she calls the “hate-filled rhetoric” surrounding immigration issues and argues that immigrants are central to the United States’ economic vitality. She would end many of Trump’s border policies and pursue comprehensive immigration reform.

  • Klobuchar pledges to introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation in her first year. Her plan would protect undocumented residents currently in the country, give them a path to legal citizenship, and increase border security, though it doesn’t specify how. She supported the unsuccessful 2013 comprehensive reform bill that would have committed forty thousand more personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border, among other measures. 
  • She would immediately end Trump administration attempts to deport Dreamers, undocumented residents brought to the country as children. She says she would retain the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump has tried to end, until Dreamers could be granted legal residency. 
  • She calls the Trump administration’s family separation policy, by which border authorities have detained immigrant children apart from their parents or guardians, “a stain on our country” and vows to immediately end the practice via executive order.
  • She would immediately end Trump’s ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries, though she would retain heightened security and vetting measures.
  • She would undo other Trump-era policies by restoring asylum protections for survivors of gender-based violence, raising refugee admittance numbers, and ending funding for the border wall. 
  • She opposes Trump’s threats to cut off foreign assistance to the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, saying that doing so would be “a serious risk to our national security.”

Middle East

Klobuchar has advocated for a strong military response to Islamist militant groups such as the Islamic State in Syria and elsewhere, while arguing for diplomacy with Iran, a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses.

  • Klobuchar calls Iran one of the two greatest threats to the United States, along with China. She supported the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and says the United States’ return to it is the best chance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • She says the president would need new congressional authorization for any military action against Iran, responding to what some see as signals from the Trump administration that it is prepared to rely on a post-9/11 authorization. 
  • She ran for Senate as a critic of the Iraq War but supported subsequent U.S. military missions in Iraq and Syria to retake territory from the Islamic State, which she called “the most serious threat to the countries of the Middle East.”
  • She has opposed Trump’s 2018 announcement that he would draw down U.S. troops from Syria, calling it “precipitous.” She condemned Trump’s withdrawal of troops from northern Syria, arguing that it undermines the U.S. alliance with Kurdish forces amid a Turkish incursion.
  • In Syria, Klobuchar argued for a no-fly zone in 2015 to protect civilians from Syrian government bombing. She also supported Trump’s 2017 air strikes against the Syrian regime, but said Congress should be more closely consulted.
  • She says the United States has “an important alliance” with Saudi Arabia, but that Washington must respond to its human rights abuses, including the “humanitarian catastrophe” of the war in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with sanctions on the individuals involved. 
  • She voted for a 2019 resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen and pledges to stop U.S. arms sales to Riyadh until the conflict ends.
  • She supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calls Israel a “beacon of democracy” in the region. She says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been “not helpful” to peace by expanding settlements in the occupied territories.
  • She opposes Trump’s March 2019 recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

North Korea

Klobuchar supports talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with the aim of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but says that Trump’s approach is haphazard and superficial.

  • Klobuchar says she supports Trump’s diplomacy with Kim, saying she would always be willing to meet with foreign adversaries. However, she blames Trump for entering talks with no plan and for producing no results. 
  • She argues that Trump’s approach hasn’t changed Pyongyang’s mind on denuclearization, citing North Korea’s continued missile tests.
  • As a senator, she supported stronger economic sanctions on North Korea, citing its nuclear and cyber threat, its role in human trafficking, and its support for global terrorists. “Disarm or face severe economic sanctions,” she said in 2016.

Russia

Klobuchar says that Russia “invaded our democracy” in 2016 and charges that Trump has failed to protect the United States from the threat. She promises stronger sanctions on Russia and has promoted a suite of policies to strengthen U.S. defenses.

  • Klobuchar says Trump “coddles” Russian President Vladimir Putin and has “seemingly embraced” him.
  • She says Trump has “resisted” imposing sanctions on Russia for hostile acts against the United States, and she pledges immediate executive action to ratchet up sanctions on “the Putin regime and its enablers.”
  • She emphasizes her support for NATO, and she was part of a 2016 delegation to Georgia, Ukraine, and the Baltic region to highlight U.S. support for former Soviet states against “Russian aggression.”
  • In 2017, she cosponsored unsuccessful legislation to create an independent commission to investigate Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election, along the lines of the 9/11 commission.
  • As a senator, she has pushed several bills to address Russia’s interference in U.S. elections. She cosponsored the Secure Elections Act, which would require backup paper ballots, nationwide election audits, and greater intelligence sharing between state and federal officials. 
  • She also proposed the Honest Ads Act, which would mandate greater transparency about political advertising on major digital platforms.

Trade

Klobuchar has often been skeptical of multinational free trade agreements, opposing President Obama’s centerpiece trade deal with the Asia-Pacific. She has also backed tariffs on imported steel, which she says are necessary to protect American producers from unfair trade practices by China and others.

  • Given Minnesota’s leading role in the iron and steel industries, Klobuchar has often focused on steel dumping, in which subsidized steel from foreign countries enters the U.S. market. 
  • She promises to “aggressively combat illegal Chinese steel dumping” by expanding existing trade enforcement efforts.
  • She calls China the “biggest offender” of steel dumping. She has expressed support for Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, but says tariffs must be targeted at specific countries and firms rather than Trump’s broad measures.
  • She has criticized Trump’s trade war with China, which she says is hurting midwestern farmers, as China has dialed back purchases of U.S. agricultural goods. She also criticizes Trump for alienating U.S. allies with his confrontational trade policies, and advocates bringing them on board instead. 
  • She has been critical of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying he is hurting the economy by threatening trade with Canada and Mexico. 
  • She promises that her Labor Department will expedite the Trade Adjustment Assistance process, which provides job retraining and other benefits for workers who have been hurt by trade.
  • In 2015, she opposed giving Obama fast-track authority for his twelve-nation Asia-Pacific trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). She cited concerns over steel dumping, currency manipulation, and worker protections.
  • She has also opposed other trade agreements, including the 2006 Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement and the 2007 U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement, citing weak labor and environmental protections.

Venezuela and Latin America

Klobuchar has taken a hard line against the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, backing the opposition and supporting the Trump administration’s attempts to push Maduro out, though she says she wouldn’t use military force at this time. 

  • Klobuchar calls Nicolas Maduro a “dictator” and says that she approves of Washington seeking to push him out, and that a “military [response] should always be on the table.” However, she says the United States should focus on delivering humanitarian aid to the country. 
  • She approved of Trump’s imposition of sanctions on Maduro’s regime, and of the Trump administration’s efforts to deliver aid across the Colombia-Venezuela border.
  • She says Venezuelans seeking asylum should also be granted temporary protected status, which allows immigrants from crisis-stricken countries to live in the United States for a limited time. 
  • She is in favor of lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba, which she calls a “failed policy.”

This project was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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