Mr. President – It’s Time to Get Your House in Order
The latest TIME Magazine cover depicts President Trump in a storm of chaos in the White House.
It’s time for President Trump to put a stop to the unprecedented chaos, confusion and staff infighting that have marked his first month in office, get his house in order, and get busy on trade, infrastructure and spending priorities to put people to work in good paying jobs. And it would certainly help if he would fully cooperate with Congress and the FBI to get to the bottom of serious allegations regarding his staff’s relationships and contacts with Russia.
The President promised to put America and American workers first. Yet the simple fact is that his White House is completely preoccupied by internal chaos. We need his full attention and involvement in order to move ahead and create millions of good paying American jobs. Sooner rather than later, we need to see his plans to rebuild our transportation infrastructure, reform our trade and tax laws, fix Obama Care, and protect Social Security, Medicare, private pensions and our precious environment – just to name a few of the tasks ahead.
That said, delays in these important job-creating efforts are all but certain as Congress prepares to investigate what South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham calls “all things Russia and Trump.” The best thing the President can do now is to agree to turn these matters over to an independent investigation so he can concentrate on his campaign promises and lay the foundation for businesses to succeed and American workers to prosper.
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.
NAFTA – Renegotiate It or Get Rid of It
Click the image above to watch our news conference last week in Washington, where I joined a number of my colleagues in calling on the President to either promptly renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to put American workers and companies on a level playing field with Mexico and Canada - or pull the United States out all together. We can’t afford to sacrifice one more good paying American job or successful American company to this terrible so-called “free” trade agreement.
President Trump should either promptly renegotiate the North American FreeTrade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada or withdraw the U.S. all together. The simple truth is that NAFTA has been killing good paying American jobs and boosting our trade deficit for the past 24 years.That’s the clear message of the resolution I introduced as an original cosponsor last week in the House.
Particularly with respect to Mexico, NAFTA was sold to Congress and the Nation in 1993 as a phony bill of goods. Proponents promised the deal would create good paying American jobs. But instead, this disastrous agreement created an unfair competitive playing field that cost us millions of good paying jobs and thousands of U.S. manufacturing companies. NAFTA also promised but failed to reduce our trade deficit, and instead put us in the hole by $173 billion to Canada and Mexico.
The reasons NAFTA has failed to live up to its promises are clear - and again, apply much more to Mexico than to Canada. On a level playing field, American workers can compete and win anywhere in the world. But as with all these so-called “free” trade agreements, NAFTA put U.S. businesses and workers at a competitive disadvantage by neglecting to require our “partner” nations to pay the price and match our strong protections for the environment and the living wages, safety and health benefits and pensions we provide for our workers. If there is to be a new NAFTA agreement, Congress must insist that Mexico and Canada be equal partners with the U.S, meeting all the costly but necessary obligations that entails.
Farmers Facing Tough Times as Agriculture Committee Prepares for 2018 Farm Bill
Minnesota’s dairy farmers have been particularly hard hit by falling milk prices - a situation we will try our best to address in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill.
Economic times in America’s farm country are tough and getting tougher. Commodity prices, land values and farm income are down, debt is up, loans are hard to come by and 2017 promises more of the same. In essence, that was the blunt message the House Agriculture Committee heard last week from a panel of top farm economists as we began setting the stage for next year’s new Farm Bill.
As Ranking Member (the minority equivalent of chairman) of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management (Crop Insurance), I was particularly disturbed to hear USDA’s top economist, Dr. Robert Johansson, explain that due to the collapse in commodity prices, overall net farm income fell 45 percent from 2013 to 2016 – the largest three-year percentage drop since the Great Depression. Because the current Farm Bill was written during a time of healthy commodity prices, our farmers lack an adequate safety net to deal with the financial pressures of the current downturn. Our Subcommittee will work to ensure they have the risk management tools necessary to survive fluctuations in commodity prices.
In drafting the 2018 Farm Bill, we will also need to pay particular attention to the ongoing crisis in America’s dairy industry, and find ways to improve the Dairy Margin Protection Program. Minnesota dairy farmers know all too well that milk prices have declined from record levels of more than $24 per hundredweight in 2014 to about $16 dollars in 2016. That’s mainly due to seven straight years of increased U.S. milk production coupled with a decline in exports made worse by growing competition from European producers. We need to do everything we can to put a stop to these boom and bust cycles that threaten our farmers and the good paying jobs they support in rural America.
For 12 Million Low-Income Kids, “The Most Important Meal of the Day” Comes at School
Numerous studies have shown that students who regularly eat a good breakfast perform better on tests, skip school less often and are generally much more successful. So it was good to see a new study last week showing that more than 12 million low-income kids are now getting nutritious free or reduced price breakfasts at school under the federal Child Nutrition program I’ve strongly supported over the years. As a former teacher, I know first hand how tough it is for kids to try and learn while they’re hungry. The richest Nation in the world can surely afford to help our kids get started on the right foot every day.
According to the annual Breakfast Scorecard released by the Food Research and Action Center, that 12 million figure marks a 50 percent increase in participation from 10 years ago. It’s a big stride toward our long-term goal of ensuring that all students who live in the world’s greatest food producing Nation are well fed as they grow and learn.
Of course the big boost in school breakfasts reflects the fact that there are millions of families in need. But it’s also the result of an Obama-era program called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Under CEP, when 40 percent of students in a given school or school district qualify for free or reduced-price meals, no-cost meals are made available to all students. That way, administrators in high poverty schools are relieved of the heavy administrative and financial burden of qualifying each individual student, more money can be funneled directly into nutrition programs, and students don’t suffer the stigma of being singled out for a special benefit. CEP is a sound, common sense investment in student nutrition and academic success that Republicans and Democrats alike can and must continue to support.
Trump Has Our Phones Ringing – A Lot!
Our Washington, D.C. staffer Sam Wanous answers scores of calls every day from 8th District constituents anxious to express their opinions about President Trump and other important matters facing the Congress.
As the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently noted, Minnesotans have been flooding congressional offices, including ours, with thousands of calls, faxes and emails since President Trump took office. Communications from folks in the 8th District have doubled from a year ago, and that’s great. If you’re wondering if they make a real difference, and if we keep track and listen carefully, the answer is yes. I’m very much aware of every message and I appreciate the time and effort people from the 8th District take to share their views with me.
In general, the uptick in communications reflects the strong opinions people have about the President’s immigration, environmental, foreign and domestic relations policies, the general chaos in his Administration, his hiring of controversial operatives to serve in the White House and his nominations of several unqualified people – notably Education Secretary Betsy DeVos – to serve in his cabinet.
We’re also hearing lots of support for our “Buy American” legislation to create millions of good paying jobs by ensuring that our Nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure is rebuilt with American steel manufactured with Iron Range taconite. We’re getting lots of calls about the absolute need to protect the sanctity and integrity of the Boundary Waters. Support for 21st Century mining using technologies that protect our precious water, air and land while creating good paying jobs is also strong, as are people’s concerns that we invest more resources in human development here at home rather than in wars of choice and so-called “nation building” abroad. Whatever your opinions, I hope you will take time to share them with me. The easiest way is toemail me.
Ever Wonder What It’s Like to Work in a Congressional Office?
We’re Looking for Interns in DC and Duluth!
Our fall 2016 Washington, D.C. interns, Prescott Robinson and Michael Ricciardi.
Calling all college students and graduate students here in Minnesota’s 8th District. If you’re interested in public policy issues and would like to help us serve the great people of Central and Northeastern Minnesota, we have internships available in our Washington, D.C. and Duluth offices throughout the fall, spring and summer semesters. Check my website for more details.
Our Week in Little Falls
Our Field Representative Steve Barrows attended a breakfast with approximately 75 community leaders, hosted by the Essentia leadership team to update new initiatives and staff. They also highlighted the mental health crisis in central Minnesota and the state.
Our Week in Virginia
Our Field Representative Jordan Metsa attended the Northeastern Minnesota Finland 100 groups monthly meeting held at the beautiful and historic Kaleva Hall. 2017 is a big year for Finland and Finnish-Americans who are gathering together to celebrate 100 years of Independence. I am a founding co-chair of the Friends of Finland Caucus in Washington, D.C. The Friends of Finland Caucus serves to strengthen the ties between U.S. And Finland and to serve as a forum for dialogue among members of Congress and the government of Finland.
Our Week in Floodwood
Our Field Representative Mark Privratsky attended a meeting of the Floodwood Community Business Partnership at the Savanna Portage in Floodwood. The group discussed upcoming community events and how we can better serve area businesses.
Our Week in Ely
Our Field Representative Tom Whiteside joined more than 50 community members in discussing local technology gaps and opportunities during a Blandin Broadband Vision meeting held in Ely. We are seeing a need for better broadband access all over Minnesota's 8th District and rural America. That's why I've introduced the New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017 with Rep. Huffman and Rep. Pocan. This act would establish a new Office of Rural Broadband Initiatives to coordinate and centralize all Federal rural broadband programs and also authorize $20 billion for new broadband infrastructure focused on rural communities and those without adequate access.
Coming Up in Minnesota
• Infrastructure & Transportation Discussion with local officials and stakeholders: Friday, February 24 - Hibbing City Hall, Council Chambers, 401 E. 21st St., Hibbing MN: 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
• Infrastructure & Transportation Discussion with local officials and stakeholders: Saturday, February 25 - Hermantown City Hall, Council Chambers, 5015 Maple Grove Road, Hermantown, MN: 11:30 a.m.to 12:30 p.m.
White House Tours to Resume
White House tourists snapped photos in the Blue Room last summer. After a 40-year ban, photos are again permitted to be taken inside the White House, which will open again for tours in early March.
Official White House tours will begin again in early March. Apparently President Trump read our recent letter urging him to staff up the White House Visitors Center and resume tours for thousands of eager tourists set to visit our Nation’s Capitol this year. So if you live in Minnesota’s 8th District and you’re planning a trip to Washington, D.C., I hope you’ll contact us. We’ll be delighted to help you obtain tickets to tour some of Washington’s most noted landmarks – once again including the White House.
Nolan in the news...
Isanti County News: ‘Congress Comes to You’ to hold local meetings
Brainerd Dispatch: Move to Amend group to meet
MInnPost: Infrastructure spending was supposed to be a priority for Trump – and for Democrats
For more on the issues in this newsletter...
Click here to learn more about our work on Government Reform.
Click here to learn more about our work on Trade.
Click here to learn more about our work on Agriculture.
Click here to learn more about our work on Education (K-12).
Click here to learn more about our work on Jobs and the Middle Class.