John Kline — Education and Labor Committee

Minnesota lawmaker is critic of “No Child Left Behind” law

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A former Marine helicopter pilot, John Kline has represented Minnesota’s 2nd district since 2003. His 25 years in the military included a stint as a military aide to Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, with responsibility for carrying the “football,” or black briefcase with nuclear weapon launch codes that accompanies the president at all times. He voted almost 95 percent of the time with his party during the 111th Congress.

Kline has easily won each reelection in a district which includes Burnsville, Eagan, and other southern suburbs of the Twin Cities, as well as some rural, agricultural areas. In 2009, Kline began to raise his visibility as a GOP spokesman and accused Democrats of pushing through student loan reform legislation by “capitalizing on a global financial collapse to press a partisan agenda.” Kline has also been a critic of Democrats’ health care reform law, calling it a “government takeover of our nation’s health care system.”

As head of the House Education and Labor Committee, Kline would oversee changes to the “No Child Left Behind” school testing program, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002. Kline told the Washington Post that “I’m not looking to tweak No Child Left Behind… as far as I’m concerned, we ought to go in and look at the whole thing.” Kline has called for giving states more control over education, saying “let’s back the federal government out of dictating to schools how they’re going to do their business.” He has also supported expanding the government’s school voucher program, which pays for tuition at a private school in place of the public school where a child is assigned.

Kline opposed one of labor unions’ top priorities, the Employee Free Choice bill (EFC) to make it easier for workers to unionize. Arguing that the bill would open workers to intimidation, Kline described EFC by saying “There’s nothing free about it, there’s no choice about it — it is one of the biggest misnomers in all of government.” The AFL-CIO’s 2010 legislative scorecard gave Kline a zero rating for voting against all 12 of the union’s top issues.

Top PAC contributors

  • Associated Builders and Contractors, the group representing 25,000 construction-related firms — at least $40,000
  • Koch Industries Inc, the energy giant run by prominent conservative and libertarian activists Charles and David Koch — at least $40,000
  • Investment Company Institute, the association representing U.S. mutual funds and investment funds — at least $31,500
  • American Bankers Association, the U.S. banking industry trade association — at least $30,000
  • United Parcel Service (UPS), the shipping giant that has lobbied to subject rival shipper FedEx to the same labor laws that apply to UPS — at least $29,999
  • PACs gave at least $1.4 million to Kline’s campaign account and his Freedom and Security PAC

Revolving door

Earmarks

Stimulus Letters

  • Kline voted against the 2009 stimulus bill, but wrote a letter with Rep. Erik Paulsen to the Commerce Department supporting an application from XO Holdings, a telecommunications company controlled by billionaire Carl Icahn, for a project to expand broadband across northern U.S. states
  • Kline wrote a letter to the Commerce Department supporting an application from Minnesota’s Rice County for a broadband fiber system connecting key institutions throughout the county

Campaign promises

  • Kline has rejected calls to shut the U.S. Education Department. “Those who call for abolishing the Department of Education, that’s simply not going to get done,” he told the National Journal.
  • The Minnesota congressman told the National Journal he wants to remove some of the federal oversight of state-level education. “On my side of the aisle, there will be a move to push some of that federal intrusion back,” he said, adding he also wants to limit “the federal government telling superintendents what to do”
  • When unveiling the House GOP’s “Pledge to America” in September, Kline said, “Our vision for job creation and a smaller, more accountable government stands in stark contrast with the agenda of Democrats in Washington…We can begin taking steps now to defund the destructive health care law that was overwhelmingly rejected by Americans, roll back its costly mandates, and replace it with common sense reforms that will finally bring down costs”

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