WASHINGTON — Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak was among the CEOs who declined to attend a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday about the tax implications of mergers structured as “corporate inversions” in which an American company moves its legal address overseas.

The Twin Cities-based medical device maker announced last month that its planned merger with Covidien, an Irish firm, was structured as an inversion. The deal would potentially allow Medtronic to avoid paying US taxes on some of its overseas profits.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are concerned about the growing number of such deals because of both the symbolic significance of firms shedding their American corporate citizenship and because of the potential tax revenue the government could lose out on.

“Let’s work together colleagues to immediately cool down the inversion fever. The inversion loophole needs to be plugged now,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the Democratic chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

There’s little chance Congress will act quickly just days before a scheduled summer recess and ahead of midterm elections.

Many Democrats want to ban inversion deals retroactively to May — which would include Medtronic. DFL Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken have co-sponsored legislation to restrict the practice. Wyden and the Obama Administration would like any new laws to retroactively take effect from May 2014, which would likely sink the Medtronic deal.

But Republicans say any action on inversions should be in the context of an overhaul of the tax code and shouldn’t be used to punish companies.

“Whatever approach we take, it should not be retroactive or punitive,” said Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. 

Sen. Al Franken talks with reporters in St. Paul. Mark Zdechlik/MPR News file

DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s campaign has declined an MPR News invitation to debate his Republican and Independence Party opponents at the Minnesota State Fair.

State Fair debates have been a tradition for MPR for 20 years.

In 1994 the DFL candidates for governor, John Marty, Mike Hatch and Tony Bouza debated. Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Republican Mark Kennedy debated on the MPR stage in 2006 when they were competing for an open Senate seat. Klobuchar also debated Republican Kurt Bills at the MPR fair booth in 2012.

The decision in recent years by the Legislature to move the primary election to August has ensured that the candidates debating at the fair are the parties’ nominees.

A Franken spokeswoman didn’t give a reason for the decision to decline the invitation. She said the campaign is just now considering invitations and didn’t rule out the traditional final debate hosted by MPR News at the Fitzgerald Theater Nov. 2.

Good morning!


President Obama signed a disaster declaration for eight Minnesota counties that were damaged by flooding. This means residents in those regions are now eligible for federal aid. (MPR News)

Could an Independence Party candidate swing this year’s U.S. Senate race? (MPR News)

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison thinks Minnesota should host some of the children streaming over the country’s southern border. (Star Tribune)

The AP profiles Republican Senate candidate Mike McFadden, who’s pitching himself as a “a right-center Amy Klobuchar.” (AP via WCCO)

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the Republican-endorsed candidate for governor, is recovering today after surgery to repair what a spokesman called “a small perforation” in his stomach. (MPR News)

MNsure CEO Scott Leitz was on The Daily Circuit to talk about how the exchange is preparing for its second open enrollment season.(MPR News)

Unnamed Democrats tell Roll Call they’re frustrated with DFL Rep. Rick Nolan’s re-election campaign and worried about his chances of holding off Republican Stewart Mills. (Roll Call)

MPR’s series on priest sexual abuse abuse continues with a look at what some of the central people involved in covering up the abuse did before arriving in Minnesota. (MPR News)

National Politics

President Obama on signed an executive order aimed at protecting workers at federal contractors and in the federal government from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. (Politico)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who’s likely running for President in 2016, plans to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to address the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border. (New York Times)

A new study shows that statehouse coverage continues to decline. Minnesota has two full-time statehouse reporters per 500,000 residents putting it behind Vermont (10.4) but ahead of California (0.6). (Pew Research Center)

It’s come to this: even protesters have given up on Congress. (Washington Post)