U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will play a leading role in a congressional investigation into what went wrong when a mob was able to attack the nation’s Capitol this week and what Congress needs to do to beef up security in and around the building.
When Democrats take control of the Senate later this month, Klobuchar will become chair of the Rules Committee, where she currently is the ranking member. In an interview Friday, the Minnesota Democrat said Senate leaders announced earlier in the day that the Rules and Homeland Security committees will jointly investigate how hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters overwhelmed Capitol Police and went on an hours-long rampage in the building.
“After what we’ve just been through as a country, it makes working in Congress and showing leadership on the committee that I’m going to be chairing” feel much more important, she said.
Klobuchar has already assumed some of those leadership duties. As the ranking member of the rules panel, she led Democrats in the debate before President-elect Joe Biden was certified as the winner of the Electoral College election.
She will play a much more visible role in Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. She is chair of the inauguration committee and will speak at the swearing-in ceremony.
“My first job is to make sure the inauguration is safe,” she said. “I don’t think people will take the peaceful transfer of power for granted after what happened at the Capitol.”
Because of the pandemic, only 3,000 to 4,000 people will be permitted to attend the ceremony in person, and they will have to social distance.
For months, political activists and media members have speculated that Biden would pick Klobuchar for a Cabinet post. But she ruled that out.
“I was not seriously considered (for a Cabinet appointment),” she said, “because I knew how closely divided (the Senate would be — 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans) and how important the Senate was and the kind of work I could do there. …
“I felt like I have a really important job that I love a lot.”
The Rules Committee has jurisdiction over the Senate’s internal management and federal election laws, including presidential succession.
“The substance of it is protecting our democracy and fair elections and the integrity of elections,” she said. “I can’t think of anything more important.”
Klobuchar said she will have “power even outside the committee” because, among other things, Rules control the budgets of other committees.
A second task for the committee is reforming election laws. Klobuchar wants to make the role of money in politics more transparent and modernize national election standards by such steps as speeding up ballot counting and getting more states to use back-up paper ballots.
She also will chair an anti-trust subcommittee “which is a really big deal right now,” she said because it will consider stronger regulation of big technology companies, such as Facebook and other social media.
Klobuchar thinks her rise in the Senate leadership bodes well for Minnesota.
For instance, she said, changing anti-trust laws to promote more competition should help small businesses that are threatened by consolidations of larger corporations.
She also has close ties to Biden and many members of his presidential staff and the Cabinet.
“The relations I have with people in the White House and in the administration should be very good for Minnesota,” she said.