Career & Technical Education Gets a Big Boost as House Passes Nolan-Sponsored Bill
Click the image above to watch my speech on the House floor.
With an eye toward advancing their careers, more than 248,000 Minnesota high school and college students are enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) classes supported by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. I’m an original cosponsor of bipartisan legislation the House approved last week to reauthorize and improve the measure, and give states, communities and students more flexibility to focus on in-demand careers that match the realities and challenges of today’s economy.
In urging my colleagues to support the bill, I pointed out that the Minnesota business owners and managers I meet with almost always tell me that the employees they’re hired who have participated in career and technical education programs are among the very best they have. They simply need more CTE-trained workers to fill good paying jobs in construction, information technology, aviation, transportation and a host of other areas critical to growing our economy. In fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Economic Development, 87% of the top line jobs available in our state go unfulfilled simply because employers can’t candidates with the right skills.
So this bill adds important new provisions to expand career and technical education opportunities at great schools like Pine Technical College in Pine City and Central Lakes College in Brainerd so jobs can be filled. Employers and communities get the tools they need to develop stronger partnerships to engage students. Students get the tools they need to compete and succeed here in the 21st Century. And we build more dynamic growth into an economy in need of the best workers America can provide.
With House passage of the Perkins CTE reauthorization, I’m strongly urging my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly to take up and pass this bill to ensure funding for these critical job-training and education programs.
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.
Another Big Win for the Iron Range in Our Battle Against Illegal Foreign Steel
Thanks to tough new tariffs and taxes, steel from this plant in Pohang, South Korea will be too expensive to dump into the U.S. marketplace.
With 1,000 Iron Range miners already back on the job as a result of our work in persuading the Administration to launch a historic crackdown on illegal foreign steel dumping, America’s iron ore and steel industries got another solid win last week. Following our testimony and strong support, the International Trade Commission (ITC) finalized tough new tariffs and taxes of up to 57% on hot-rolled steel from Korea, Brazil, Australia, the Netherlands, Turkey and the UK.
Last week’s ruling completes action on the three most important trade cases for the U.S. iron ore and steel industries in 15 years, with some of the highest tariffs and taxes ever imposed on steel from China and other trade cheater nations. We hit China the hardest, with steel tariffs and taxes of up to 522%. And as a result, iron ore prices are up, steel imports are down, the glut of foreign steel is disappearing and America’s steel industry – the foundation of our economic and military security – is on the rebound.
The crackdown on illegal foreign steel dumping directly followed the visit White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough paid to Iron Range at my request last December. Cliffs Natural Resources President & CEO calls it “the day that changed everything” because these tariffs and taxes constitute a virtual moratorium on low-grade, foreign government-subsidized steel. And they came after my numerous appeals to the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission. In fact, Congressman Pete Visclosky of Indiana and I are tied for the top stop spot among members of Congress who have testified on steel issues since the crisis began.
As Cliffs Natural Resources President & CEO Lourenco Goncalves pointed out when we broke ground on Cliffs Natural Resources’ new 21st Century, $65 million ‘Mustang’ project in Forbes, it will now be more difficult than ever for these nations to mount another attack on America’s iron ore and steel market. (That said, we can’t let our guard down. See the story below on China’s efforts to gain “market economy” status.) Once again for the record, here are the tariffs and taxes (rounded off) that have been imposed to level the playing field and allow America’s iron ore and steel industry to compete fairly on the global playing field:
Tariffs & Taxes on Foreign Corrosion-Resistant Steel
Tariffs & Taxes on Foreign Cold-Rolled Steel
Tariffs & Taxes on Foreign Hot-Rolled Steel
No to More Waste of Taxpayers Money at Guantanamo Bay Prison
The sprawling Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prison complex costs U.S. taxpayers $445 million a year to operate - nearly $7.3 million per inmate.
Last week, the House again voted to bar the use of federal funds to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to super-secure facilities here in the United States. I voted against the measure because we simply can’t afford to waste another $445 million taxpayer dollars to keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open at a cost of nearly $7.3 million per year per inmate – as opposed to about $33,000 annually to put them in super-maximum security facilities on the mainland.
What we’re currently doing is more than 220 times more expensive for our hardworking American taxpayers. Those hundreds of millions of dollars should not be wasted on the prison in Guantanamo. That money should go toward supporting our troops and providing better care for our veterans.
GOP Bill Would Weaken Worker Protection Rights for 100,000 Military Veterans Working at the VA
Discussing necessary improvements to VA telephone crisis counseling services and the Veterans Choice program with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald in Minneapolis. Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer is on the left in this picture..
Everyone agrees that we need to fix what needs fixing at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). That’s why VA Secretary Bob McDonald has already dismissed hundreds of under-performing employees as part of a sweeping agency reform and restructuring campaign. But House Republicans got it wrong last week in passing legislation to drastically weaken worker protection rights for 330,000 VA employees, including some 100,000 military Veterans.
Their bill would cut short the processes by which VA employees are permitted to understand and respond to complaints that could cost them their jobs. The measure would also reward VA employees who file frivolous “whistle blower” complaints that bog down investigators who need to spend their valuable time tracking down and solving real problems. That’s not the way to strengthen and improve the VA and its workforce.
Secretary McDonald is clearly committed to his plan for wide ranging reforms and improvements at the VA. Meeting with me and other members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation this spring, he assured us that by the end of this year, military Veterans in crisis who call any VA phone line would indeed be able to connect with a trained counselor without having to hang up and dial the VA Crisis Hotline. The phone fix is especially critical for those who served during the Vietnam era. They constitute the largest portion of the estimated 22 Veterans’ suicides that tragically occur every day.
As Secretary McDonald pointed out at our meeting, the VA has already hired an experienced manager to oversee the Hotline and implemented advanced training for counselors. He also assured us that the VA’s eight separate “800” telephone lines will be consolidated into one by December 31st.
During our meeting in Minneapolis, Secretary McDonald also promised that by year’s end the Veterans Choice program will be doing what Congress intended it to do – providing fast, top-quality local health care services for military Veterans who live far away from VA clinics. This is especially important for large rural districts like Minnesota’s 8th (bigger than 10 states) where Veterans would otherwise be required to travel hundreds of miles for care at a VA facility. The Veterans bill we passed earlier this year requires the VA to officially report its plan and progress in fixing the Veterans Choice program to Congress.
No “Market Status” for China!
With 1,000 Iron Range Miners Back at Work, We Can’t Put the U.S. Iron Ore and Steel Industries at Risk Again
Steelworkers are sending Washington a loud and clear message to put a stop to China’s efforts to get around the Obama Administration’s crackdown on dumping of low-grade, foreign government-subsidized into the U.S. marketplace.
Communist China is attempting an end run around the Obama Administration’s historic crackdown on illegal steel dumping that has imposed crippling tariffs and taxes of up to 522% on their low grade, government-subsidized steel and helped put 1,000 miners back to work on Minnesota’s Iron Range. But we’re not going to let them get away with it. That’s why I’ve signed on as an original cosponsor to a bipartisan House Resolution led by our Steel Caucus to stop China from being designated as a “market economy” under U.S. law.
If the U.S. were to grant China “market economy” status – a move that involves certain rules and regulations within the World Trade Organization (WTO) – Chinese steel could be allowed to enter the U.S. minus at least some of the tariffs and taxes that have improved market conditions for American iron and steel. Nothing could be more ridiculous. To be declared a “market economy,” the Chinese government would have to demonstrate that they aren’t really subsidizing their steel to be sold around the world at below market prices. Everyone knows that’s not the case. We can’t, and won’t, allow all the progress we’ve made to be threatened by according China a phony “market status” designation.
Our Week in DC
Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul
Land Stewardship Project
Marcy Vogt, CEO of Goodwill Inc
Minnesota Association of School Administrators
Minnesota Farmers Union
Tom McLaughlin, State Legislative Chairman of the Minnesota VFW
Patti McGuire, Warren Larson and Robianne Schultz today for the American Cancer Society - Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit and Advocacy Day.
Jim Walstrom, Morey's seafood
Our Week in Duluth
I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the NE Minnesota STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) Conference Friday morning in Duluth. My remarks focused on our efforts to connect some 22 million people across rural America to high-speed broadband Internet - and specifically my legislation to increase funding for local and regional internet projects. I’ve also introduced legislation to establish a new office within the U.S. Department of Agriculture to coordinate federal funding for high-speed broadband and help formulate a national strategy to ensure that every American has access to this essential service.
Following the STEM Conference at Bay Front Park, I discussed my job as Congressman with students in Glen Gilderman’s government class at Proctor High School. Then we moved to an assembly of juniors and seniors where I focused on our Restore Democracy legislation to change the way we do politics by reforming our system of campaigns and elections. The students also expressed great interest and support for the Stop Act - legislation Florida Republican Congressman David Jolly and I are championing to prohibit members of Congress from directly soliciting campaign funds. They agreed that when members of Congress go to Washington, they should go to work on the people’s business - not raising campaign money.
We held our Veteran Entrepreneurs workshop event for military Veterans interested in starting their own business.
Our Week on the Iron Range
Our Field Representative Jordan Metsa attended two North St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity Groundbreakings in Chisholm and Virginia. Habitat for Humanity built these homes in partnership with the Applied Learning Institute (ALI), which provides local students with hands-on training as a part of their education experience. Pictured above (with the four shovels) is the Colemer family in front of their new home, which is undergoing construction. From left to right Ashton, Jayden, Alexa, and Levi Colemer throw a scoop of dirt signifying the groundbreaking for their new energy efficient home. By the looks of it, I might have some competition when it comes to who can throw the dirt highest!
Our Week in Hudson, WI
Our Field Representative Rick Olseen attended a workshop titled, "Our St. Croix: Preserving a Natural, Recreational, and Economic Amenity," where he learned more about the work being done to preserve water quality in the river's watershed. The workshop was in a unique setting aboard the Grand Duchess sailing out of Hudson, Wisconsin for a firsthand look of the river everyone there was working to preserve.
Coming Up in Washington
• Once again this week, Congress will be focusing on achieving a budget agreement to keep the federal government operating past the September 30th deadline. Failure to do so would trigger another devastating government shutdown much like the debacle in 2013 that cost our Nation $127 billion and 127,000 jobs. My “No Government-No Pay” legislation would prohibit members of Congress from getting paid during any future shutdowns. As I’ve said many times before, it’s time to hold Congress accountable. Just like in the real world, if Congress fails to do its job, it should not be paid.
Honored to Receive the Farmers Union Golden Triangle Award
I was so honored to receive the 2016 Golden Triangle Award from the Minnesota Farmers Union and the National Farmers Union. The Golden Triangle is awarded every year to members of Congress who lead the fight to preserve and protect our family farms and ranches and the local communities and small businesses they support.
Nolan in the news...
Hometown Focus: U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan hails return to production at United Taconite
Brainerd Dispatch: Nolan staff announces Congress Comes to You meetings
Fox 21: Duluth Receives $375,000 for Railroad Crossing Safety
Mesabi Daily News: Congressional Staff Schedules Area Meetings
Mix 108: $375,000 of Funding Secured for Railroad Safety in Duluth
Duluth News Tribune: Money granted to improve four Duluth railroad crossings
Star Tribune: New trade tariffs thwart steel dumping, help Iron Range
Mille Lacs County Times: Nolan staff hosts meetings
Fox 21 Online: Supporting Lung Cancer Research Through Fitness
Brainerd Dispatch: Nolan hails passage of career and technical education bill
For more on the issues in this newsletter...
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Click here to learn more about our work on Jobs and the Middle Class.
Click here to learn more about our work on Veterans issues.