Reflecting on a year of progress for Minnesotans

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The US Capitol. Photo: Wikimedia

I came to Congress on a promise of cogovernance. As your Congresswoman, I do not only want to represent Minnesotans, I want to govern with you. As my first year in office comes to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to speak to you directly about the priorities I am focused on.

When I was sworn in this year, I made my first and primary goal to invest in the people and the communities of Minnesota’s 5th District and to fight against the forces of economic inequality that are holding working families back in Minnesota and across the country. Too many Minnesotans are struggling to make ends meet because of policies that value corporate profits over workers’ rights, and by a rigged system that forces the average American to scrape by on stagnant wages as the cost of living skyrockets. Too often, our lawmakers prioritize wasteful Pentagon contracts or tax cuts for corporations over the basic needs of Minnesotans.

I’ve centered my agenda around making a more just and livable world for future generations—and cogoverning with the people who sent me to Washington.

Before I got to Congress, I worked with Speaker Pelosi and an interfaith coalition to

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar
The frontpage of Mshale which featured Congresswoman Ilhan Omar when she hosted a powerful delegation of the Congressional Black Caucus that included the CBC’s chair, Rep. Karen Bass of California, on August 2019 in Minneapolis.

overturn the ban on head covering on the House floor—because our constitution protects the rights of everyone to express their faith how they see fit. The first bill we introduced in the House was H.R. 1, the For The People Act, a major bill to get money out of politics and reform our elections. The final bill included my own legislation to restrict foreign lobbying, and I was honored to be one of the few freshmen members to play a part in that legislation. I introduced major bills to cancel student debt, make school meals universal, and guarantee housing as a human right. Whether it’s by fighting for climate justice, pushing for Medicare for All, or working to clean up our elections, my work has been guided by the priorities you sent me to Washington to fight for.

I also fought to ensure that our Liberian-American brothers and sisters could remain in the country, after the President decided to terminate Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberian Americans. After multiple letters to the Administration, the deadline was extended—and eventually we were able to pass a bill guaranteeing Liberians a path to legal status in this country. We were able to secure debt relief for Somalia—after the Administration failed to notify Congress.

In the House, we passed the Equality Act — to ensure that LGBTQ Americans receive basic civil rights protections.We passed the Dream and Promise Act to give DREAMers a pathway to citizenship. We passed the Raise the Wage Act to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a raise for 33 million Americans, including 20 million women, and the Butch Lewis Act, to protect the pensions of more than 1 million workers and retirees. For the personal and financial security of America’s women, we passed a strong reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act for equal pay for equal work.

For committee assignments, I was assigned to the Education & Labor, Budget, and Foreign Affairs Committees—all committees that can make a tangible impact on Minnesotans’ lives.  Whether it’s raising  the minimum wage to $15 an hour, enacting stronger workplace safety laws, supporting workers’ right to collectively bargain or creating a federal jobs guarantee program—they all go through the Ed & Labor committee. The Foreign Affairs Committee allows me to oversee all foreign assistance, national security affecting the country’s foreign policy, treaties, peacekeeping and war powers. The budget committee sets the Congressional framework for all spending and revenue levels. So if you, like me, think we prioritize tax cuts for the wealthy and endless wars, when we should be investing in education and Medicare for All, the budget committee is the place to change those priorities

We were able to secure major victories in appropriations—including a $3 million increase in Healthy Star funding, a $40 million increase in TRIO education funding, a $550 million increase in Head Start and early Head Start—which will benefit over 12,000 kids in Minnesota. My team was able to return over $411,000 to constituents via casework—serving over 200 Minnesotans.

At each point, we were in close contact with you—to make sure our decisions represented Minnesotans. We held over 21 roundtables and town halls this year—on everything from Medicare for All to environmental justice, pay equity, immigration and LGBTQIA+ rights. And we held over 1,000 meetings with constituents. And we responded to over 47,000 letters you sent us.

Of course, the year was not without its challenges. We continue to face stonewalling on even basic legislation from the Senate and White House. We have a lawless president who shows disdain for basic democratic values—and repeatedly has violated his oath to the country and Constitution.

But we in the House of Representatives proved that we can legislative and investigate. We ended the year by upholding our oath by holding this President accountable for his abuse of power and outright obstruction of a legitimate Congressional inquiry.

I know how daunting the challenges before us can seem at times. When faced with the words and actions of the current occupant of the White House, it is easy for hopelessness and cynicism to set in. But I want you to know: you have a representative who will do everything in her power to resist the forces of hate and division pushed by this president and pursue a politics of joy.

Even in the darkest of moments, there is opportunity to build community and fight for a better world. I promise to continue to fight for that world as your representative in Congress.

About Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. She is the first black person born in Africa to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. You don’t just represent Minnesotans you represent millions of Americans who for too long have written off the politics of this country as corrupt. You, and a few others, are an inspiration to us all.

  2. Thank you for what you do. You represent millions of Americans that are fighting for their rights. Thank for speaking truth to power.

  3. I commend Ilhan Omar for all the info she is delivering to our long-range nuclear warhead program in Iran.

    We have long awaited our she-devil on the inside of U.S. government and I, the Iron Shiek as well as my colleague, Nikoli Volkov from Russia, we celebrate our victory to penetrate American security clearance via Ms. Omar.

    Very zoon the world will be speaking Iranese! Muahahaha!

  4. Thank you for the work you are doing in Congress on behalf of your constituents and tens of millions of other Americans who feel everyone deserves reasonable, comprehensive healthcare and a livable wage. Taking action to slow and counter climate change is urgent while working to get corporate and PAC money out of politics, if successful, will transform how congress governs. Keep speaking truth to power in your positive, joyful, and confident way.

  5. Your antisemitic rhetoric is completely wrong!!! You say you are not a racist, that you believe in equality for all, but you are lying!!! Israel has been an ally to the USA for multiple years!!! Jews are Americans, too!

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