House Passes Nolan Defense Amendments Promoting Lung Cancer Research
and Ending Waste in Afghanistan
Click the image above to watch my remarks on the House floor.
In another step forward in the battle against lung cancer, the House last week passed my bipartisan amendment to the $575.1 billion Defense Bill – which I supported – boosting special military research into lung cancer from $12 million to $14 million. The amendment simply transfers $2 million from the Secretary’s $32.26 billion general operation and maintenance fund to lung cancer research under the Defense Health Program. As I pointed out to my colleagues, that $2 million will hardly make a dent in the Secretary’s operating fund. But it will make an enormous difference in battling lung cancer – the most deadly of all cancers and killer of over 159,000 Americans, including many of our military men and women, every year.
During my remarks on the amendment, I thanked my colleagues for their kindness and expressions of support for my daughter Katherine, who was diagnosed with Non-Smoking Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer some 18 months ago. Katherine was in Washington for a visit last week - full of energy and life in no small part thanks to medical research that is giving hope to our family and so many others across our nation.
By way of background, Congress has already appropriated $5.3 billion for overall cancer research to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 2016, including $350 million for lung cancer research. The Pentagon’s lung cancer research program focuses on the particularly high incidence on lung cancer among active solders and military Veterans. In combat situations, they are routinely exposed to dangerous carcinogens such as asbestos, Chromium, diesel exhaust, radon and other airborne substances from burn pits, oil well fires and destruction of chemical weapons.
The Defense Bill also included a bipartisan amendment I introduced along with Republican Congressman Tim Walberg of Michigan that prohibits more taxpayer dollars from being spent and wasted on infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. Since it was created in 2011, the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund has proved itself to be poorly run and lacking in oversight over the $1.3 billion that has already been provided. Countless projects have been started but never completed, and tens of millions of dollars have gone unaccounted for. As I have said many times before, it’s time to put an end to this so-called “nation building” abroad and start rebuilding our roads, highways, bridges, harbors, pipelines, rail lines and airports here at home.
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.
Republican Bill Opens Door to Illegal Foreign Campaign Contributions
Announcing our “We the People” Constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Citizens United opened the floodgates to billions of dollars is secret dark money being funneled into our campaigns and elections.
While I’m leading the fight to close the door to billions of dollars in secret dark money that’s poisoning our campaigns and elections, House Republicans voted last week to open that door even wider. Their bill would eliminate IRS donor reporting requirements, making it easier for certain tax-exempt groups to channel contributions - including contributions from foreign sources - to candidates. To be clear, it’s illegal for anyone to use foreign money to help fund federal election campaigns. The reporting requirement allows the IRS to track illegal contributionsand hold the perpetrators responsible. By doing away with it, the Republican measure would destroy the only real protection we have against the use of foreign money in our elections.
Meanwhile, since the Supreme Court issued itsCitizens Uniteddecision in 2010, there has already been a sharp rise in undisclosed domestic money being spent by tax-exempt groups. Already in this election season, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, political spending by tax-exempt groups is five times the amount spent at this point during the 2012 election cycle. Again, by eliminating IRS reporting requirements, the Republican bill would make it even easier for donors - including foreigners - to anonymously funnel money in support of political candidates. The President has vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk, and well he should.
We are also continuing to add cosponsors for my amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that has allowed U.S. corporations and special interests to pour billions of dollars in toxic, undisclosed money into our campaigns and elections. In fact, we recently added our first Republican cosponsor to the measure - Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina. And Republican Congressman David Jolly of Florida and I are continuing the fight to pass the Stop Act, which would prohibit members of Congress from directly soliciting campaign contributions from donors. Members of Congress should be doing the people’s work – not spending 20 to 30 hours a week at call centers and at fundraising events while they should be governing.
Twin Metals Decisions Must Put Process First
We should all reserve final judgment on the proposed Twin Metals mining project near Ely until we see the actual plan, and determine how it will comply with critical clean air and water regulations along with important financial assurances. The rigorous decision-making process based on facts and science is already firmly in place and must be allowed to go forward for the good of all; it must not be circumvented.That’s the point I made again last week after the U.S. Forest Service announced its decision to temporarily withhold the renewal of leases that have enabled Twin Metals to explore new mining possibilities deep beneath Superior National Forest surface lands.
As I have said before, renewal of the leases is not to be confused with the final approval or disapproval of the Twin Metals project itself. As we move forward to grow our economy here in northeastern Minnesota, we should never be afraid of exploration and discovery, or using science and facts to dictate important decisions. That’s what these initial stages of the proposed Twin Metals project are all about.
In Orlando’s Aftermath, Congress Must Take Up Measures to Keep Americans Safer
Americans agree - this must be our goal.
As a lifelong hunter, I strongly support the Second Amendment, which gives law-abiding citizens the right to keep and bear arms; we must never infringe on it. However, following the terrible massacre of innocent people in Orlando, House and Senate Republican leaders find themselves under growing pressure from the American people to allow Congress to fully air and debate every common sense idea to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and those with violent mental disorders. The American people deserve these debates. That’s what democracy is all about.
For example, most reasonable people and responsible gun owners agree that someone included on the “No Fly” Terrorist Watch List should not be permitted to buy a gun that could potentially be used to kill Americans. So I have signed a discharge petition to force a House vote on the bipartisan “No Fly – No Buy” bill (H.R. 1076) that simply says – if you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to purchase a gun. I have also cosponsored legislation (H.R. 1217) to require background checks on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows, over the Internet and through classified ads. The bill includes reasonable exceptions for family and friends. Both of these measures are modest common sense fixes to make our communities and our people safer.
Pressing the FAA to Make it Easier for Military Veterans to Join America’s Air Traffic Control Team
Click the image above to watch me question the panel during our committee hearing.
As I’ve pointed out before, some of the best air traffic controllers in the business are military Veterans trained under the toughest combat conditions. Yet when they return home, bureaucratic red tape prevents many of these experts from being hired at airports nationwide, even though the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is experiencing a critical shortage of qualified candidates. So at a hearing last week, I urged top FAA officials to open up the hiring process to create opportunities to allow these highly trained people to keep utilizing their experience in civilian life.
Specifically, I told them we need to eliminate narrow and arbitrary time windows that prevent military Veterans from applying for work as Air Traffic Controllers during all but a few months each year. And we need to end arbitrary age requirements that prevent older and more experienced military Air Traffic Controllers from being hired. Experience should be a plus – not a minus – when applying for a position that requires such high a degree of skill and good judgment. So I'll continue to press for administrative and, if necessary, legislative measures to ensure that military Veterans have every opportunity to use their air traffic control experience in a civilian capacity.
As I've also noted before, even when you're stuck in the middle seat in the back of the plane, you have to admit that American aviation is pretty amazing. On any given day, the FAA and the nation's Air Traffic Controllers safely handle about 65,000 flights carrying some 2 million passengers; 740 million passengers every year. Skilled military Veterans can and must be encouraged to join the top-notch team that keeps passengers safe and flights (hopefully) on time.
Our Week in DC
Canadian North, John Orr
American Veterinary Medical Association - Dr. Howe
Communications Workers of America
Minnesota Rural Electric Youth tour
Minnesota School Board Association
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
Our Week in Lutson
Our Field Representative Mark Privratsky attended the annual lunch for the Cook County Chamber of Commerce at Cascade Lodge Restaurant in Lutson. Executive Director Jim Boyd spoke to the fact that the Cook County Chamber has added a record number of members in the past year. A program featured new Chamber members being recognized as well as an update from St Paul by the Cook County Chamber's Government Relations Team.
Our Week in Cambridge
Our Field Representative Rick Olseen spoke to the North 65 Chamber of Commerce, where he gave an update on what we have been working on locally and nationally. The North 65 Chamber is made up of businesses and organizations from Isanti and Cambridge.
Coming Up in Washington
• The House is continuing to work on appropriations bills necessary to keep the federal government up and running. This week we will consider the Financial Services & General Government Bill that funds the U.S. Treasury and the Small Business Administration. The Conference Committee Report on the Veterans Affairs and Military Construction Bill may also come up for a final vote.
Hey Sadie - Look Up Here!
My daughter Katherine and granddaughter Sadie attended the annual White House Congressional Picnic with me last week. A second after we snapped this quick photo, Sadie looked up in surprise to see who had walked over to meet her.
Nolan in the news...
Washington Post: This would be a nice first step on campaign finance reform
Duluth News Tribune: Our View: Declassify, release secret Sept. 11 pages
Cloquet Pine Journal: Cloquet man gets ‘overdue’ medal
Fox 9: 6 airlines, including Sun Country, approved for Cuba flights
Brainerd Dispatch: After push from Minnesota congressional delegation, DOT approves flights from Minnesota to Cuba
Hometown Focus: Nolan presents long-awaited medals to two northern Minnesota veterans
MPR: U.S. Forest Service takes another look at mining leases near Boundary Waters, cites ‘inherent risks’
Hibbing Tribune: Forest Service getting ahead of itself
Princeton Union Eagle: More jobs on Iron Range spur hope for economic, market recovery
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