Sen. Klobuchar given Senate leadership role to help unclog gridlock


Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been given a position on the Senate Democratic leadership team that will see her play a major role in avoiding government gridlock in the wake of last week's elections.

On the face of it, the news that Klobuchar has been made the chair of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, as reported today in the Star Tribune, doesn't sound like the most enthralling of developments.

But this appointment for Klobuchar is another sign of her growing importance in the Democratic Party, with the Washington Post even suggesting last year that she could be an outside bet for a Presidential run in 2016.

In the shorter-term, her new position will see her play a big part in ensuring the government can actually operate effectively following last week's election results, which had many people expecting continued gridlock between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

"If we're going to continue moving our economy and country forward, we need to enlist the creativity and expertise of leaders from all across the country," she said in a statement Thursday.

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What her new role means

Sen. Klobuchar has been given a position in a new leadership team created by the Democrats on the Senate designed to broker deals with their Republican counterparts.

As the chair of the Steering and Outreach Committee, her primary purpose, according to the Star Tribune, will be to reach out and liaise with the special interest and outside groups – who spend vast sums lobbying in Washington – when "hammering out compromises" with the Republicans.

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In recent years, Klobuchar has proved herself as someone with the ability to work with both parties to achieve an acceptable result, with CBS reporting she played a significant role in drafting legislation to end the 2013 Government shutdown.

And this ability is already being put to use, with Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic Leader, already charging her to find a list of bipartisan bills - laws put together by both Democrats and Republicans - that could pass next year, The Hill reports.

These skills are a valuable commodity for the Democratic Party on the Senate, who will now have to fight harder to get their laws and their President's policies passed in Congress after significant losses in the Midterm elections.

More gridlock?

Last week, the Democrats lost control of the Senate to the Republicans, meaning the Republicans now control both houses in Congress, giving them huge influence over which laws get passed and which get rejected.

This creates the potential of causing even more so-called "gridlock" – essentially, nothing getting done because of constant disagreement – between Democratic President Barack Obama and the Republican Congress, USA Today reports, as one side shoots down the other's proposals, and vice-versa.

It is this friction between the Democrats and Republicans that led to the shutdown in 2013, as the Republican House and the Democrat-led Senate failed to reach a compromise on a budget for 2014.

It also saw 2013 named the "least productive year in recent history" for Congress law-making, according to the Pew Research Center.

With both houses now in the hands of the Republicans, GOP leaders and Obama have expressed a desire to work together to ensure the government is run in a productive manner, with Klobuchar one of those charged with ensuring this is the case.

Klobuchar's star rising

The Associated Press notes that after a relatively quiet first six years in office, Klobuchar has been making a name for herself in her second term.

She hit the headlines at the beginning of this year after introducing legislation that forces cellphone makers to introduce killswitch technology that makes it impossible to reuse stolen phones, the Huffington Post reported.

More recently, she appeared on CBS' 'Face the Nation', talking about the ways the two parties would move forward following the elections.

In September, Klobuchar, who has a background as a prosecutor, was mooted as a possible replacement for outgoing U.S Attorney General Eric Holder, but took herself out of the running.

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