Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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The Monday Report

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The GOP Health Care Plan: Broken Promises and Bad Public Policy

 
Protests against the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) intensified across the Nation last week after the independent Congressional Budget Office estimated that 24 million Americans would lose their health care under the bill, which includes $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid, the servicethat helps provide health care for tens of millions of elderly, sick, disabled and low-income Americans.

Dear Friend, 

The Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) is bad public policy, hastily and poorly conceived, that breaks the President’s promise to cover every American with good health insurance they can afford. Instead of ensuring that health care will be affordable, this measure merely promises that health care will be “accessible,” if you can pay for it. And while ignoring affordability for average Americans, the plan would  give the super rich a massive tax cut. Moreover, according to the non-partisan, independent Commonwealth Foundation, almost 53,000 Minnesotans could lose their good paying jobs as health care tax credits are repealed and federal investments in health care are slashed.

This measure has been put forward without the benefit of public hearings and no opportunity for the Congress to fully debate it under an open rule that would allow us to take full advantage of the best minds and information in order to make the best decisions possible. 

This lack of due process and due diligence stands in stark contrast to the Affordable Care Act, which underwent 260 hours of hearings in the House and Senate. The House considered 239 amendments offered by Democrats and Republicans, of which 121 were accepted. Moreover, the Senate version of the ACA contained 147 Republican Amendments. And the public had plenty of opportunities to weigh in at some 3,000 health care town halls and events held throughout the country.  

Seven years later, and in violation of every protocol of good business and good government, this Republican legislation would be catastrophic for our people and our Nation. According to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this bill would, among other things:

  • Cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance by 2026 –14 million by 2018.
  • Cut Medicaid assistance to the elderly, the disabled, the sick, the poor and the most vulnerable people by $880 billion dollars over the next ten years – devastating rural hospitals and essential public health programs.
  • Allow insurance companies to charge seniors up to five times more than younger people for insurance, and raise everybody’s insurance premiums by 15 to 20 percent over the next two years.
  • Hand $600 billion dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

It is time for Republican leaders to do the right thing and pull this bill so we can work together on a carefully written, bipartisan measure that lowers costs, expands coverage and gets health care right for the American people. Our Nation deserves no less from its Congress. 

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.


Sincerely, 

 

 

 


Trump’s Budget Plan Targets Huge Cuts for Medical Research, Environment, Great Lakes, Forests, Small Airports, Senior Meals, Local Infrastructure and the Coast Guard

 
The Trump Administration’s proposed 2018 budget puts vital programs to protect the environment and promote human development on the chopping block.

President Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint mirrors his campaign promises to inflate Pentagon spending ($54billion) and otherwise impose massive and destructive cuts to programs that protect the environment and the Great Lakes, fund human development, advance medical research and strengthen public education for our children. The President’s proposals represent his vision of where our Nation should be going forward. To be clear, Congress will make the final decisions. And as we begin the process, there is growing bipartisan agreement that the President’s vision is unacceptable. 

For example, when adjusted for inflation, the Administration’s proposed $5.8 billion cut to National Institutes of Health (NIH) would set back breakthrough medical research for cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and hundreds of other diseases to levels last seen in 1999. This cut alone would be putting in jeopardy the thousands of jobs, wages and billions in economic activity created by NIH awards in the state of Minnesota.

Here in our region, the Administration’s budget would eliminate Community Development Block Grants that fund, among other things, Meals on Wheels – a wonderful program that thousands of seniors here in the 8th District depend on for nutritious meals and, in many cases, the only home visit they enjoy every day. Meals on Wheels also helps seniors live independently and stay in their homes longer, saving money for them, and also tax dollars that might otherwise be spent on assisted living or nursing home care.  

The Great Lakes are also targeted. The President is proposing to eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) – the $300 million annual funding we have worked so hard to secure for hundreds of successful programs to restore shorelines, clean up rivers like the St. Louis and battle invasive species, among others. 

His plan to eliminate Essential Air Service funding would jeopardize our Minnesota regional airports in International Falls, Brainerd, Bemidji, Hibbing-Chisholm and Thief River Falls - and the business, commerce, and good paying jobs they support. And the proposal to eliminate federal TIGER transportation grants would make vital, job-creating assistance like the $10 million we helped obtain for the Port of Duluth a thing of the past.

Moreover, this budget plan would drastically reduce funding for the National Forest System, including the Superior and Chippewa National Forests. Proposed elimination of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s water and waste-disposal loan and grant program would place even more burden on local communities and taxpayers to fund desperately needed infrastructure improvements. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard also finds itself in the Administration’s cross hairs with a $1.3 billion cut that would severely damage its ability to protect our borders and police our waterways.


President Trump’s Russian Mess .. Continued

 
On his way to a meeting with the President, Roger Stone enters an elevator in Trump tower.

Were President Trump and his team tied to the Russian hackers who bugged the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and interfered with the 2016 Presidential elections? The latest chapter in this continuing saga involves Roger Stone, a longtime Trump friend and advisor and a former member of President Nixon’s dirty tricks squad. Last week, Stone admitted that during the campaign, he had Twitter conversations with an online entity named Guccifer 2.0, a mystery figure who admitted to hacking the DNC, and who is thought by our intelligence services to be part of a Russian spying operation. 

It’s clearly time for President Trump to support an independent investigation to clear up this ongoing Russian mess and put an end to the chaos it’s causing.  The President should be devoting all of his time and attention to sending Congress his specific proposals to reform our tax and trade laws, fund a trillion dollar transportation program, fix health care and work with Congress to create good paying jobs.


 Time for Congress to Act as Student Loan Debt Reaches New Crisis Level

 
Americans who choose to go to college and further their education should not end up spending years under water trying to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

The need for Congressional action to reduce the costs of higher education and address the crushing loan debt holding back students and our economy has reached crisis proportion. Some 42.4 million Americans now owe a combined total of $1.3 trillion in federal student loans. And according to a new study released last week by the Consumer Federation of America, the number of Americans who are at least 9 months behind in their student loan payments is growing at record levels. Moreover, at $30,650, the average federal student loan debt has skyrocketed by 17% since 2013. 

To put this into perspective, in 1979 an average college student worked about 182 hours - a part-time summer job - to pay for a years tuition. Today, it takes about 1,000 hours - a full time job for half the year - to accomplish the same. With that in mind, there are a number of things Congress can do to help rectify this growing student loan crisis. I’m supporting the College for All Act, a measure to provide high school graduates with up to four years of free post secondary public education as long as they meet strict academic requirements. Included as pay-for in the bill is a tax on Wall Street financial transactions – a 1% fee on bonds, a 05% fee on derivatives and 5% on stock trades that’s been estimated to raise hundreds of billions each year. 

With that, we can make tuition free at public colleges and universities and create millions of good-paying jobs across the country. It’s definitely doable - depending on our spending priorities. Will we spend another $6 trillion on wars of choice and so-called “nation building” abroad, or will we invest in students, higher education and our Nation’s future? That’s the key question going forward. 

I’ll also be working hard to see that provisions in the Underwater Student Borrowers Act I sponsored during the 114th Congress are included in the new bill. That measure stipulates that when you qualify to have part of your college loans forgiven after faithfully making your payments over 20 years, the IRS should not force you into debt again with a huge tax on the amount that’s been eliminated. We need to put an end to that burden so people can get on with their lives, buy homes, start families and save for their retirement. 

Our Underwater Student Borrowers Act is part of a larger effort to make college more affordable, and lower the exorbitant interest rates on student loans. I’ve joined Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan in introducing our  Student Loan Refinancing Act to ensure students can refinance their federal loans. That measure alone could potentially save a borrower thousands of dollars by providing the same right to refinance student loans as people now have to refinance their home mortgages, their cars and other significant debts.


Trump Budget Cuts and Republican Health Care Bill Come Under Fire at Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus Briefing

 
We joined Lung Cancer specialists and advocates with the Lung Cancer Alliance.

Federally funded medical research has fueled tremendous progress in the battle to better diagnose, treat and ultimately cure lung cancer. But President Trump’s proposed $5.8 billion budget cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), combined with the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), would deal a severe blow to future research necessary to ultimately cure lung cancer, and all cancers. Moreover, the President’s budget contains no specific requests to fund Vice President Biden’s “Moonshot” to dramatically expand the war on cancer, or for the 21st Century Cure Act, which includes billions of dollars for cancer research at NIH. Money for both of these bipartisan efforts has been authorized, but still not actually funded. 

Those were among the key points I made to the physicians, medical experts and representatives of cancer advocacy groups who attended our Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus briefing last week on “The State of Lung Cancer,” which we sponsored along with the Lung Cancer Alliance.

Specifically, the Republican health bill would cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance by 2026, according to independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO). And many of the people who would lose their coverage due to $880 billion in Medicaid cuts included in the bill are elderly in nursing homes and low-income cancer patients. As the Lung Cancer Alliance has pointed out, those Medicaid cuts would be particularly devastating to small rural hospitals that depend on those funds to treat cancer patients and others who are desperately in need of help.

That’s one big reason why the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and numerous other health care advocacy groups are so adamantly opposed to this Republican health care bill; and why Republican leaders should pull this terrible legislation that targets the poor and the elderly, and work with Democrats to get health care right for the American people.


Great Lakes Day on Capitol Hill Zeros in on Protecting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

 
As co-chair of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Caucus, I was honored to help kick off Great Lakes Day last week on Capitol Hill.

The President has a few things to learn about how government works. While he is obligated to submit his budget recommendations for consideration, Congress will ultimately decide how much money is assigned for infrastructure, including the Great Lakes. And we are not going to stand by and allow the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to be defunded and destroyed by Trump Administration Budget cuts.

As co-chair of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Caucus, that was my message to a packed event on Thursday that kicked off Great Lakes Day on Capitol Hill. And it was echoed by Republicans and Democrats alike from Great Lakes states – all determined to protect $300 million in annual funds for GLRI projects to restore shorelines, clean up pollution, fight invasive species and preserve the Great Lakes for future generations. We are also committed to fund the repair and replacement of the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan - the gateway that connects the Port of Duluth and Lake Superior with the rest of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Thirteen percent of our entire GNP, including billions of dollars worth of Iron Range taconite and other Minnesota farm and manufactured products, pass through the Locks every year. 

Republican Congressman David Joyce of Ohio, who serves on the House Appropriations subcommittee that allocates funds for environmental projects, joined me last year in leading the fight to fully fund the GLRI. And he’s on board again. Our Nation is blessed with some of the greatest natural resources of planet earth, but none can compare with the Great Lakes. We have a sacred obligation to preserve and protect them for future generations, and that’s exactly what we intend to do.


Protecting the Second Amendment Rights of Military Veterans

Our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is sacred, as is our obligation to ensure that military Veterans who are medically diagnosed with diminished mental capacity are not denied the right to purchase a firearm without a fair hearing that adheres to strict due process. That’s one reason why I so strongly supported the 21stCentury Cures Act last December. In addition to providing billions of dollars to fund vital medical research that we are now fighting to protect, this new law clearly stipulates and protects the rights of military Veterans who undergo mental competency hearings that may affect their ability to purchase a firearm.

That’s also the reason why I voted against a poorly written Republican bill last week that would undermine and confuse the protections for military Veterans included in the Cures Act. On average, 23 of our heroes commit suicide every day, and many use a firearm to do it. We must do everything in our power to stop those incidents from happening.


President Trump’s Wiretapping Allegations Against President Obama .. Continued

 
 
President Trump made the wiretapping accusations against President Obama in a series of tweets. 

Another week has gone by and President Trump has yet to provide a single piece of evidence to substantiate his allegations that President Obama ordered phones at Trump Tower tapped during the 2016 elections.

In case you missed it, last Thursday the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that their inquiry had produced no evidence to back up the accusations against President Obama. Earlier in the week, Speaker Paul Ryan said he hadn’t seen any evidence either.

This is getting ridiculous. It’s time for President Trump to either come clean with his evidence or apologize to President Obama so Congress can stop wasting time investigating baseless charges and get about the business of fixing things, solving problems and governing our Nation.


Our Week in DC

 
AEOA - Kevin Aldee, Jeff Kletscher, Paul Carlson

 
Army Corps of Engineers

 
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency

 
Clean Water Action

 
John Linc Stine - Great Lakes Commission

  
Little Falls High School

 
Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari

 
Teamsters

Our Week in Chisholm 

 
Our Field Representatives Jordan Metsa and Tom Whiteside joined the Northeast United Way for their Buddy Back Pack program to pack bags full of food for school children. Ida Rukavina, Senator Klobuchar's District Outreach Director, also volunteered.

Our Week in St. Paul 
 
We met with Minnesota Senator's David Tomassoni, Nick Frentz, Greg Clausen, Kent Eken, Erik Simonson, Tony Lourey, and John Hoffman discussing rural Minnesota issues, health care reform and job creation.
 
Our Week in Superior 

 
Our Field Representative Mark Privratsky attended the St Louis River Summit at the University of Wisconsin-Superior last week. The Summit featured presentations by environmental scientists, advocates, government leaders and students who work in the St Louis River Watershed. Attendees expressed concerns about proposed cuts to Great Lakes Restoration Initiative programming and other environmental programs, highlighting the great success that we've seen from those programs in our local watershed. 

Our Week on the Range

 
Our Field Representative Tom Whiteside met with community members from Hibbing, Chisholm, Mt. Iron, Buhl, and Ely involved in the Blandin Broadband Communities Program to discuss a regional broadband feasibility study. This group is working on a regional approach to increase speed and access to broadband. This feasibility study will help identify potential projects located in unserved and underserved areas throughout these cities through regional surveys and market research. Once the study is completed, service providers will be able to apply to the Connect America Funds II grant program through the FCC and also the Boarder to Boarder Grant Program through Minnesota DEED to help with project funding.   

Our Week in St. Paul

 
Our Field Representative Rick Olseen attended a Social Security Workshop with other Congressional and Senate staffers at the St. Paul Social Security Office. Our staff are ready to help you with issues you may have with any Federal Agency, like Social Security, Veterans Administration, Medicare and Medicaid and similar agencies.


Coming Up in Washington

This week:

  • Health care remains front and center as the House Republicans plan to advance their repeal and replace bill later in the week. I have asked Speaker Ryan that any changes to the bill before a vote occurs be public, and that its costs are known. 

Finally...

Time for Maple Syrup!  

 

Three generations of Nolans, including my son Mike and grandson Huck Heggerston, tapped maple syrup the other day as part of our annual spring family tradition. Some curious Trumpeter Swans looked on at our effort, which will produce delicious maple syrup after a fun family and neighbor syrup boil.


Nolan in the news...

Mesabi Daily News: Proposed legislation brings renewed energy to trail group

Grand Rapids Herald: North Country Trail volunteers to re-energize with proposed legislation

Duluth News Tribune: Local View: Modernizations for craft beer, wine also could help distilleries

Aitkin Age: Infrastructure needs take center stage

Brainerd Dispatch: Nolan announces 2017 service academy nominations

Brainerd Dispatch: Stony Point land officially added to Chippewa National Forest

GRAND RAPIDS HERALD: REP. NOLAN IS A CHAMPION FOR MINNESOTA’S NATURAL RESOURCES

Duluth News Tribune: Statewide View: Brownfield redevelopment vital to economic resiliency in northern Minnesota

Duluth News Tribune: Regional airports could lose out as Trump’s budget proposal eliminates FAA subsidy

KDAL: Nolan has concerns with proposed Trump budget


For more on the issues in this newsletter...

Click here to learn more about our work on Health Care. 

Click here to learn more about our work on Jobs and the Middle Class. 

Click here to learn more about our work on the Environment. 

Click here to learn more about our work on Transportation and Infrastructure. 

Click here to learn more about our work on Foreign Affairs.

Click here to learn more about our work on Higher Education.