MPR Debate: U.S. Senator Tina Smith Works Across Party Lines To Deliver for Minnesotans

ST. PAUL [10/2/20]–U.S. Senator Tina Smith has worked with Democrats and Republicans to get things done for Minnesotans. Sen. Smith has worked across the aisle to pass important legislation, with over two dozen of her bills and provisions signed into law by Republican President Donald Trump.

She has worked on important issues including:

  • Rural housing and rural health care with Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota;

  • Helping to lower the price of insulin, and health coverage for an eventual coronavirus vaccine, with Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana;

  • Preventing drug shortages and addressing Lyme disease with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine;

  • Improving rural health care and telehealth with Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia;

  • Fixing a mistake in the 2017 tax law that threatened rural cooperatives’ ability to expand rural broadband and provide disaster relief with Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio;

  • Improving rural housing maintenance with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida;

  • Making it possible for Minnesota to host large events like the 2018 Super Bowl and creating jobs by helping to pass a bipartisan measure to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program with Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina;

  • Farm energy programs with Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa; and

  • Preserving the sugar program with Republican Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and John Thune of South Dakota.

Sen. Smith formed a bipartisan Senate Rural Working Group with Republican Sens. Mike Rounds and Deb Fischer to highlight what is working in rural areas and small towns, and Sen. Smith is co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Rural Health Caucus. Sen. Smith also formed her Farm Bill Working Group to hear from Minnesotans ahead of going to work on the bipartisan Farm Bill she helped get signed into law.


Sen. Smith Introduced The Bipartisan Mitigating Emerging Drug Shortages Act, Which Would Help Prevent Drug Shortages And Was Included The CARES Act. [S. 2723, 10/29/19]

Sen. Smith Worked Across the Aisle To Provide Free Diagnostic Testing For COVID-19 Regardless Of Insurance Coverage Or Lack Thereof, Which Was Included In The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. On Mar. 18, 2020, Smith voted in favor of HR 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which included her Free COVID-19 Testing Act. From CQ: “Passage of the bill that would appropriate approximately $3.5 billion in supplemental funding and authorize additional funding to support the federal response to the spread and economic effects of COVID-19, including for paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, diagnostic testing, and nutritional assistance. Among other provisions, the bill would require health plans to cover diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and provide $1 billion for the Health and Human Services Department to reimburse laboratories for testing of uninsured individuals.” [CQ, 3/18/20; H.R. 6201, Roll Call 76, 3/18/20; S. 3499, 3/12/20]

Smith Championed Several Provisions In The Strengthening Career And Technical Education For The 21st Century Act, Which Reauthorized The Carl D. Perkins Career And Technical Education Act Of 2006. [H.R. 2353, 7/31/18]

Sen. Smith Worked With Sen. Bill Cassidy To Pass Into Law Their Bill To Bring Lower-Cost Insulin To Market. [S. 1140, 4/11/19; CQ, 12/19/19; H.R. 1865, Roll Call 415, 12/19/19]

Sen. Smith Introduced The Bipartisan RURAL Act, Which Fixed A Provision In The 2017 Tax Bill That Risked Eliminating The Tax-Exempt Status Of Rural Eclectic Co-ops And Was Included In The 2019 Year-End Appropriations Package. “Passage of the RURAL Act by Congress and signing by President Donald Trump in late December is good news for Nobles Cooperative Electric, which faced the potential of losing its tax-exempt status simply by receiving Federal Emergency Management Agency grants for damage caused by the 2019 ice storm. The one-page RURAL Act, introduced by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), was introduced early in 2019 to fix a mistake in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 2017 tax law changed the way government grants could be calculated by cooperatives. The grants were suddenly calculated as income, endangering the tax-exempt status cooperatives have when keeping non-member revenues below 15%. For Nobles Cooperative Electric (NCE), still awaiting FEMA money from the April 2019 ice storm, authorization of the RURAL Act was crucial.” [The Globe, 1/11/20; CQ, 12/19/20, H.R. 1865, Roll Call 415, 12/19/20]

Sen. Smith Introduced the TICK Act, To Authorize $150 Million In Federal Funding To Help Combat Tick-Spread Diseases, Was Included In The Year-End Appropriations Bill. “Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith (R – Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean) has announced that two major health bills related to Lyme Disease that he authored and attached to an end-of-year, must-pass spending package passed by the House 297-120 this week and they are expected to become law by the end of the week when signed by President Donald Trump. The first bill, the TICK Act, creates a ‘new whole-of-government national strategy to combat Lyme’ and other tick borne diseases. It also authorizes $150 million in federal funding for Centers of Excellence and important Lyme initiatives at the local level. […] Smith introduced the TICK Act earlier this year alongside by Rep. Colin Peterson (D-MN) in the House and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tina Smith (R-MN) in the Senate.” [WOBM, 12/19/19]


Smith Introduced A Bipartisan Bill To Expand Access To Mental Health Services In The Public School System, Nonprofits And In The Homes Of Families Who Needed Services With Sen. Murkowkski. “Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has teamed up with U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minnesota, to expand mental health services in the public school system, according to a news release. The Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act would bring mental health professionals from the National Health Service Corps into schools, nonprofits and homes of families who need services. Currently, providers at the health service corps are limited with what services can be provided outside of approved clinics. The bill is aimed at improving treatment options for children, particularly in rural areas.” [Daily News-Miner, 3/13/18]

The Bipartisan Improving Access To Mental Health Services Act Was Included In The Opioid Package And Signed Into Law. From the Star Tribune: “U.S. Sen. Tina Smith has had to master many things quickly in the months since she was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to fill the seat of former Sen. Al Franken after his resignation last December. Smith wasted little time, producing a flurry of lower-profile but substantive legislative proposals and forming relationships with senators in both parties. She teamed up with Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski on a measure to expand student and community mental health services as part of a larger opioid package.” [CQ, 9/17/18; H.R. 6, Roll Call 210, 10/24/18; S. 2533, 3/12/18; Star Tribune, 10/19/18]


Sen. Smith Introduced The Vet-2-FARM Act To Assist Veterans With Obtaining Agriculture Jobs After They Return From Service, Which Was Included In The 2018 Farm Bill. On June 13, 2018, Smith introduced S. 3062 ,the VET-2-FARM Act of 2018. The bill was included in H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill), which was signed into law on December 20, 2018. [S. 3062, 6/13/18; H.R. 2, 12/20/18]

Sen. Smith Wrote A Bill To Create A “Rural Health Liaison” At USDA, Whose Job Will Be To Focus Federal Health Efforts On The Needs Of Rural America, Which Was Included In The 2018 Farm Bill. “On healthcare, Smith has focused on rural needs. She has taken a leadership role on the bipartisan Senate Rural Health Caucus, meeting with rural hospital CEOs, health providers and patients in Minnesota about their challenges. She worked with Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota to create in the Senate Farm Bill a ‘Rural Health Liaison’ at USDA whose job will be to focus federal health efforts on the needs of rural America.” [S. 2894, 5/22/18; H.R. 2, 12/20/18; DL-Online, 11/1/18]

Sen. Smith Authored A Bill To Expand Broadband Projects In Tribal, Low-Income, And Remote Rural Areas, Which Was Included In The 2018 Farm Bill. “On Thursday U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced legislation—the Community Connect Grant Program Act—to establish the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program under law and make improvements to the grant program that makes funding available for broadband projects in tribal, low-income, and remote rural areas. […] The USDA Community Connect program through the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) helps fund broadband deployment into rural communities. In addition to authorizing the program and targeting areas that lack access across the nation, Sen. Smith’s bill would increase internet speed service under the program because she hears time and time again that this is a real concern for Minnesotans.” [Voice of Alexandria, 4/12/18; S. 2654, 4/12/18]

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