Nolan Amendment Gives Military Veterans And Soldiers Key Voice On Opioid Abuse Task Force
Click the image above to watch my remarks on the House floor.
More than 2.1 million Americans suffer substance abuse disorders related to powerful opioid pain medications, and last week the House passed my bipartisan amendment to give active soldiers and military Veterans representation on an important new federal task force that will review and update best practices for prescribing and controlling these drugs. Our measure came as part of a package of 15 bills providing new grants, studies and pilot programs designed to address opioid addiction and advance treatments.
As I told my colleagues, the simple fact is that soldiers and military Veterans use opioid painkillers far more frequently than civilians because of the horrific and painful injuries they all too often suffer in combat and training. In fact, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that half of all our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer chronic pain. As a result, half a million military Veterans are now prescribed opioid medications. That’s an increase of 80% in little more than a decade. What’s more, the American Public Health Association reports that the opiate overdose rate among VA patients is twice the national average.
So it’s clear we have a serious crisis on our hands with respect to the use and misuse of opioid pain medications in our military health care system. The situation is made worse when Veterans are unable to schedule their monthly prescription renewal appointments in a timely manner at VA health care facilities. We have seen reports that Veterans in these situations sometimes feel forced to turn to the streets and buy illegal heroin to manage their pain.
Our heroes deserve better. VA Secretary Robert McDonald has assured us that the appointments backlog is being addressed through the hiring of more than 2,000 new VA medical personnel. Meanwhile, thanks to our amendment, military Veterans and active duty soldiers will have an extremely valuable voice on our Nation’s new opioid task force, and the recommendations they put forth will undoubtedly save many precious lives.
We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.
Foreign Steel Crackdown Is Working - Along With More Iron Range Miners
Minnesota’s Iron Range still faces a long road to economic recovery, but as Cliffs Natural Resources President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves has pointed out, there are positive signs - including the welcome return to work by 450 Cliffs employees in Babbitt and Silver Bay and the likely return of another 500 workers in Eveleth and Forbes later this year. The Administration’s crackdown on illegal foreign steel dumping we have been advocating for so long is beginning to produce results, and as Goncalves has often said, what “changed everything” was the day White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough visited the Range at my request to see for himself the economic devastation steel dumping by China and other trade cheater nations has caused. Since then, President Obama, Denis McDonough and their team have become converts to our cause. They understand full well that America’s iron ore mining and steel industries are the foundation of our economic security and our national security.
Thanks to the Administration’s actions, the glut of illegal foreign steel in the U.S. marketplace is declining.Steel imports from China have dropped by almost 12% since the Department of Commerce imposed tough new tariffs (taxes) of up to 265.79% on steel products from that nation. Here in the U.S., Iron ore prices have bounced back from a low of $41 a ton at the beginning of the year to around $61 today. Meanwhile, America’s steel mills are now operating at 74.2% capacity, up from the 60% low we saw during the worst times in 2015. The 38 new Department of Commerce investigators the President included at my specific request in his executive actions are also on the job investigating trade cases and helping keep illegal foreign steel out of our marketplace.
Again, economic recovery on the Iron Range remains a tough work in progress. As our work for the Range continues so does our campaign to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement when it comes to Congress for an up or down vote. We cannot afford to lose one more good American job to terrible trade agreements like the TPP that allow low-grade foreign steel and other knock-offs of great American-made products to flood our marketplace.
Nolan Request to Speed Airport Security Lines Gets Swift Approval
The current airport wait times are simply unacceptable.
Angry and frustrated airline passengers stuck in seemingly endless security lines could be in store for relief after the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security swiftly agreed to my urgent request for a measure that would add 800 additional Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to airports nationwide.
As Minnesota’s only member of the House Transportation Committee and the Aviation Subcommittee, I asked that $34 million be transferred from the Department of Homeland Security to the TSA in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget to hire and train new security agents and provide overtime for current staff. A key subcommittee on the Senate side has approved a similar bill.
Even though Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) has been a national leader in keeping security lines manageable, recent hour-long security line waits have caused more and more passengers to miss flights and connections. Airport officials attribute the situation to a 9% reduction in TSA staff since last year, along with a 4% boost in the number of passengers using the airport. We will continue to press the House and Senate to approve our measure to help speed airport security as the 2017 budget process continues.
National Press Club Hosts The STOP Act
Click the image above to watch our press conference.
Members of Congress should go to Washington to go to work on the people’s business, not dial for dollars, and this morning Florida Republican Congressman David Jolly and I took our campaign to pass the Stop Act to prohibit Members of Congress from directly asking donors for campaign funds to the National Press Club in Washington for a “Newsmakers” event covered nationwide. I’m the lead Democrat on this legislation, and the Press Club event followed our recent appearance on a segment of CBS’s 60 MINUTES that explored big money’s toxic influence on elections and Congress’s ability to get things done for the American people.
As I explained to reporters and 60 MINUTES viewers, I go to Washington to work for people. However, many others feel forced to go to Washington to raise money because elections are expensive, and history demonstrates that the candidates with the most money usually win. The rules of the game, which suggest that Members of Congress spend 20 to 30 hours a week raising money at “Call Centers” near the Capitol, are destroying people’s confidence in our system, perverting public policy and discouraging good people from running for office.
To be clear, the Stop Act would still permit Members of Congress to attend fundraising events and speak to donors.Citizens would still be allowed to contribute to campaigns of their choosing. However, the practice of “dialing for dollars” and making direct requests for money would be a thing of the past. It’s a simple fix to begin changing the way we do our politics. In fact, similar laws already apply to judicial elections in 30 states. Our work to pass the Stop Act will also help build support for my Restore Democracy legislation a blueprint for even more comprehensive campaign and election reform. The foundation of my Restore Democracy measure lies in overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates to billions of dollars in special interest money being secretly funneled into campaigns.
With nurse Tara Haugen, who served as guide during my recent tour of St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth.
While last week officially marked National Nurses Week, we take our hats off every week and every day to more than 80,000 Minnesota nurses, and to the 3 million nurses nationwide who are always there to put their patients first and provide compassionate care when people need it most.
Our Week in DC
The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) honored me as a “Champion of Healthcare Innovation,” recognizing our ongoing support of patient-centered medical progress.
6th Annual Minnesota Delegation Hotdish Competition
Minnesota Emergency Nurses Association
Minnesota Association of Realtors
Our Week in Duluth
Duluth staffers Mark Privratsky and Brynn Sias attended the annual Celebration of Community Peacemakers event at the Greysolon Ballroom in Duluth.Men as Peacemakers is a non-profit that focuses on building safe communities through programs that address the root causes of violence against women and children including sexism, male dominance, racism and homophobia.The Celebration is held every year to recognize the work of youth, adults and organizations who are creating and building peace in our communities.
Our Week in Brainerd
Brainerd High School sophomore Gemma Hollen received a surprise 'Congratulations' party from her teachers and friends last week to celebrate her big win in the 2016 Congressional Art Competition here in Minnesota’s Eighth District. Gemma’s pencil drawing entitled “Freckles” will be displayed along with other winners from around the nation in the U.S. Capitol walkway, where thousands of people pass every day between the House Office Buildings and the Capitol Building.
Our Week in Center City
Our Field Representative Rick Olseen attended a presentation by Robert Hill from Enterprise Minnesota on the state of manufacturing in Minnesota. The meeting was held at Pine Technical and Community College.
Our Week in Chisholm
Our Field Representative Jordan Metsa visited the Salvation Army in Virginia, Minnesota for their Open House and to tour their facility and operations. In the last full fiscal year, the Virginia Salvation Army prepared and served over 19,000 meals to local and area residents in need. Pictured above are two local Salvation Army volunteers, Claudy Lehman (right) and Lynnatte Sutton Wallas (left) prepping fruit for the open house. Claudy was recently recognized as the 2015 volunteer of the year and Lynnatte has been a volunteer since 2012.
Coming Up in Washington
The House will consider the $618.9 billion National Defense Authorization Act which provides funding for national defense and military personnel programs. I have offered and cosponsored several amendments that will protect the American taxpayer and ensure our security, as the failed Train & Equip program has already led to arms and equipment ending up in the hands of our enemies.
Fishing Seasons Opens With a Big Splash!
The first walleye of the season is always the best!
My son Mike and I were up bright and early Saturday morning for the Governor’s Fishing Opener on Big Sandy Lake near McGregor and the walleye were biting hard and fast. My dad always said that every day you spend fishing adds as day to your life, so be sure to get out and enjoy some great times this summer on Minnesota’s beautiful lakes.
Nolan in the news...
Star Tribune: Treasury rejects Teamster pension cuts
MPR: Pension ruling earns praise from Minn. Democrats
Northland News Center: Rep. Nolan says action needs to be taken to ensure pensions
Fox 21: Treasury Dept. Rejects Teamsters Pension Cuts
WDIO: Congressman Rick Nolan Responds to Teamster Pension Decision
Pioneer Press: Treasury rejects fund’s plan to cut Teamster retiree benefits
Minnesota News Network: Rep. Nolan applauds Treasury Dept blocking pension cuts
Star Tribune: Finally, a new school for high schoolers on Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig campus
Brainerd Dispatch: Franken to host hotdish competition
Brainerd Dispatch: Nolan amendment to include military representation on pain management task force passes
Brainerd Dispatch: Committee approves Nolan request to fund additional TSA screeners
MinnPost: Government of the tweeple: Your guide to Minnesota’s congressional delegation on Twitter
For more on the issues in this newsletter...
Click here to learn more about our work on Veterans' issues.
Click here to learn more about our work on Health Care.
Click here to learn more about our work on Transportation & Infrastructure.
Click here to learn more about our work on Trade.
Click here to learn more about our work on Mining.
Click here to learn more about our work on Jobs and the Middle Class.
Click here to learn more about our work on Government Reform.