Attacking Lung Cancer – One Big Step at a Time
Click on the image above to hear part of my address to hundreds of cancer survivors, families and friends who attended the American Cancer Society’s Lights of Hope celebration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
While progress against many forms of cancer continues to be nothing short of remarkable, the battle to find successful treatments, and ultimately a cure, for lung cancer stands virtually deadlocked. Lung cancer is the most deadly of all cancers, and I’ve made it my mission to boost federal funding and support for lifesaving lung cancer research in every way I possibly can. So I’m especially pleased to report that last week, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the House passed my amendment to the omnibus federal spending package boosting cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $3.1 million next year.
My measure, with an intended focus on lung cancer, brings total funding for cancer research at NIH to $5.5 billion for 2018. That’s considerably above the $4.2 billion requested by the Trump Administration.
In the grand scheme of things, a $3.1 million increase to the $5.5 billion budget for cancer research seems modest. But as with most things in life, big gains against cancer are often made through a series of small steps that keep adding up.
Earlier this year, for example, I passed an amendment to the Defense bill boosting lung cancer research for the Pentagon’s Directed Medical Research program by $2 million – bringing the 2018 total for to $14 million for 2018. Our active military are particularly susceptible to exposure to carcinogens during combat situations, and those funds can make a real difference in saving and extending the lives of our heroes.
The bipartisan support we are generating for lung cancer research is due, in part, to the work of our new Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus. I’m honored to co-chair this growing group along with Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey. Both of us have experienced the battle against lung cancer in our own families, and as many are aware, our youngest daughter, Katherine, was diagnosed with Non-smoking Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer almost three years ago.
In his inaugural address, President Kennedy reminded us that God’s work on earth must truly be our own. That’s what this battle against lung cancer is all about, and we’re going to keep at it until we win it.
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.
"Taconite Sky Bridge" Opens on Minnesota’s Iron Range
The brand new 204 foot tall Highway 53 bridge over the Rouchleau Pit on Minnesota’s Iron Range is our state’s highest bridge. It cost more than $156 million to build, included 27 local subcontractors, and created about 100 good paying construction jobs.
This is what real investment in America’s infrastructure looks like. Hundreds of Minnesota Iron Rangers turned out on Friday to join us in officially opening the 204 foot tall, 1,100 foot long U.S. Highway 53 “Taconite Sky Bridge.” As I pointed out to the crowd, this engineering marvel – now Minnesota’s tallest bridge – was built with 100% American steel and Union labor – on time, on budget, and without a single worker injury over 515,000 hours of construction. It stands as a powerful statement about the resilience of the Iron Range and our ability to grow our economy, create more good paying jobs, and build a brighter future.
Minnesota Senator Dave Tomassoni hit the nail on the head when he called the Sky Bridge “a monument to our mining industry.” Range iron ore is the most important ingredient in the 10 million pounds of steel beams across the span, the 800,000 pounds of stainless steel rebar that support the deck, and the 30 inch steel piles sunk 175 feet through some of the hardest rock in the world that form the structure’s foundation.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we should be investing $4 to $5 trillion dollars to rebuild our Nation’s infrastructure, and create millions of good paying jobs modernizing our bridges, highways, airports, railroads, ports and pipelines for the 21st Century. That will continue to be the focus of my work on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee moving forward in the Congress.
Speaking at the dedication ceremony held on Friday beneath the brand new, 200-foot tall Highway 53 bridge, I predicted that this structure will become a star attraction drawing thousands more visitors to Minnesota’s Iron Range every year to enjoy our hospitality and Northern Minnesota’s great outdoors.
Support for Universal Health Care Builds Across the Nation
All across the Nation, public support is building for a universal, single payer health care plan that controls costs and provides everyone with top quality health care.
Times have changed since Congressman John Conyers of Michigan and I championed one of the very first universal single payer health care bills in the late 1970’s during my earlier period of service in Congress. Back then we were pretty much alone. Today, our new bill (H.R. 676) has 119 cosponsors in the House, and a similar version has an unprecedented 17 sponsors in the U.S. Senate.
The fact is, it’s long past time to make 100% accessible, cost controlled, top quality health care coverage a fundamental American right. Today’s system is unsustainable. Every American with health insurance has a different plan - a big part of the reason administrative costs and premiums continue to skyrocket out of control. So while we work to fix the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) over the short term, we need to think bigger over the long term.
Our “Medicare for All” bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system that provides all 320 million Americans with the best, most cost-effective health care services, regardless of where they work, how much money they earn, or what pre-existing health conditions they have.
All medical bills would be paid by a single public agency, and bankruptcies due to health emergencies would continue to be a thing of the past. Full preventative care services and government-negotiated prescription drug prices would drive down health care costs in a system that puts patients first – not profits for big insurance companies.
Moreover, everyone would be able to choose their own doctor. And just like Medicare, every worker would pay a small tax out of their paychecks. The super rich would pay more. And in return, everyone would be covered under a single health care plan that provides every essential service – preventative care, primary care, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, hearing services, long term care, mental health care and substance abuse treatment – just to name a few. In short, Medicare for All would mark real and permanent health care reform, and now is the time to get it done.
Nolan Presses Fight to Expand Rural Broadband
We have reminded the Federal Communications Commission in no uncertain terms that it is Congress’s intent to expand and improve - not diminish - high speed broadband services to rural America.
After just passing a bipartisan amendment to expand funding for rural broadband projects in small communities, I’ll be leading numerous other colleagues this week in delivering a blunt message to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai: Congress expects the FCC to get to work and expand – not reduce – minimum standards that apply to rural broadband services for homes, businesses and mobile devices. Weakening the official definition of high-speed Internet is a disservice to the rural communities the FCC has an obligation to serve.
The federal government allocates billions of dollars every year to support investments in rural broadband based on FCC definitions and standards. Our letter comes as the FCC considers reducing broadband Internet connectivity requirements. That move would undoubtedly boost profits for huge Internet providers – but weaken already shaky and unreliable service for thousands of rural communities across Minnesota and the Nation.
More than half of rural America - some 40 million people - are still living without modern, 21st Century high speed Internet service, and Congress is feeling the pressure fix the situation. That’s why I was able to pass my bipartisan amendment to the omnibus 2018 federal spending bill increasing annual funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee programs by $479 thousand dollars – to a total of $5 million dollars.
That’s also why support is growing for the “New Deal” broadband legislation I’ve introduced targeting $20 billion to expand high speed rural broadband internet service – and the good paying jobs, commerce and opportunities that come with it – to tens of millions of people who live in small communities, on farms and on tribal lands. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal expanded telephone and electrical service across rural America, and we can and must do the same for high speed broadband.
Equifax Data Breach Hits 143 million Americans - Here’s What You Can Do to Protect Your Personal Information
Please be on guard. Some 143 million Americans had their personal information breached this summer when hackers attacked Equifax, one of the Nation’s three major credit reporting agencies. Names, social security numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers are among the sensitive information the hackers obtained. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website includes steps you can take to protect your information from being misused. The link is below. And if you live in Minnesota’s 8th District and need assistance, please feel free to contact me by calling any of our office numbers listed at the bottom of this newsletter.
Our Week in DC
It was great to see former NFL football star Chris Draft at the American Cancer Society’s Lights of Hope celebration last week on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Chris Draft Family Foundation is a national leader in programs to spread lung cancer awareness and advocate for lifesaving medical research.
I stepped out of the office to grab a sandwich in the downstairs cafeteria and ran into these Delta Airlines employees, who wanted to say thanks for our work on the House Transportation Committee.
Dan Skogen from the Minnesota Agriculture Research Institute stopped by last week to discuss the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill.
It's always good to see folks from my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, in town. This delegation from the U of M Extension Service gave me an update on the wide-ranging transportation research taking place on campus.
Larry Massa, President and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association, was in Washington last week to discuss health care reform and other issues important to Minnesota's hospitals and health systems.
Minnesota VFW legislative chair Tom McLaughlin and I had a good conversation about a wide range of legislation to ensure that our military Veterans receive the best health care and other benefits a grateful Nation can provide in return for their service.
We met with Minnesota members of the Dredging Contractors of America to discuss their current trade and infrastructure priorities, and our efforts to ensure that funds in the federal Harbor Trust Fund are used for their intended purposes, including the elimination of a 10-year dredging backlog in the Great Lakes.
Patti Maguire from Duluth and other Minnesota members of the American Cancer Society were in town as part of the organization's Leadership Summit. Among many other things, we discussed my successful amendments to boost cancer research at the National Institute of Health.
These folks from the Minnesota Trust for Public Land stopped by to discuss my work in successfully reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps small communities throughout the Nation preserve and improve lands and special places for everyone to enjoy.
Members of the Hardwood Federation from Minnesota and Wisconsin stopped by to discuss federal forest management, tax reform, the 2018 Farm Bill and other issues important to the hardwood industry.
A delegation including Minnesota Farmers Union Government Relations Director Thom Peterson stopped by the office to present me with their 2017 National Farmers Union Golden Triangle Award. It was a honor to receive this prestigious award for the 4th year in a row for work in support of small family farmers and rural communities across our Nation.
Our bipartisan Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus met last week in a packed room to discuss the economic effects of climate change, and how we continue to build support for legislation to address the climate change crisis here in America and around the world.
Our Week in Virginia
Here we are cutting the ribbon to officially open Minnesota’s newest and tallest bridge - the 204 foot tall, 1,100 foot span over the Rouchleau mine. From left to right are Lt. Governor Tina Smith, MNDot Highway 53 Project Manager Patrick Huston, Yours Truly, State Sen. Dave Tomassoni, State Rep. Jason Metsa, Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle and and Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe.
Our Week in Center City
The Region 7E Adult Mental Health Initiative sponsored Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT) for local law enforcement, county health and human services and care providers. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen explained our work to help boost federal support for more local mental health resources for those in crisis situations.
Our Week in Grand Rapids
The Second Harvest North Central Food Bank is a wonderful resource that provides food and nutrition services for our region. Susan Estee, Executive Director of Second Harvest, provided Itasca County Commissioner Terry Snyder and me with a tour. The plates we are holding are part of a project whereby visitors to the Food Bank write down their feelings about the need for everyone to have access to good, nutritious food.
The 64th Annual North Star Expo is Minnesota’s largest logging, trucking and saw mill equipment show, and as a former local saw mill owner, I was delighted to attend and spend some time with these members of the Future Forest Stewards program for high school juniors and seniors.
Our Week in Ely
Governor Mark Dayton hosted a Northeast Minnesota Water Town Hall meeting at the Grand Ely Lodge this week. The session focused on Minnesota's water quality, with more than 150 local residents, elected officials and community leaders attending. The Governor recently announced a goal to increase Minnesota's water quality, statewide, 25 percent by 2025. Speakers included Anna Henderson, Water Advisor to Governor Dayton, Ely Mayor Chuck Novak, St. Louis County Commissioner Frank Jewell, Charlene Mason from the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board, and Dan Schutte, District Manager for the Lake County Sewer and Water Control District.
Coming Up in Minnesota
With Congress is recess, I’ll be traveling throughout Minnesota’s 18-county Eighth Congressional District, meeting local officials, business owners, workers and people from all walks of life. If you see me in your community, please take time to stop for a chat. I get many of my best ideas from the people I’m so proud to represent here in our region.
Hats Off to the Duluth News Tribune’s “20 Under 40” Winners
My staff member Brynn Sias (third from the left in the front row) and former state Representative Carly Melin (third row on the far right) were among 20 recognized this week by the Duluth News Tribune as a “20 Under 40” winner. The DNT recognizes members of the community under the age of 40 for their contributions, both professional and personal. I was proud to nominate Brynn for this award for her constituent service work in my district office. Brynn has helped lead our effort to help thousands of constituents with casework ranging from military Veterans benefits to Social Security and Medicare.