Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Get to work and hit the wall!

Aug 21, 2018
the Monday Report

Nolan Presses "No Government-No Pay" Bill While the President Threatens Federal Shutdown Over Taxpayer Funded Mexican Wall 

When the federal government shut down in 2013, so did America’s national parks. Apparently, the President would have “no problem” doing it again unless Congress appropriates $35 billion taxpayer dollars to build the southern border wall that's supposed to be Mexico's responsibility. 

Dear Friend, 

While the President is threatening to shut down the federal government unless he gets his taxpayer-funded border wall with Mexico, I’m working hard to pass my “No Government-No Pay” bill to encourage Congress to do its job, pass the necessary appropriations bills, and keep the government open past the September 30 deadline. 

Simply stated, it’s time for Congress to start living in the real world, where you either do your job or you don’t get paid. That’s why I introduced the first “No Government-No Pay” Act before the October 2013 budget deadlock that shut down the government for 16 days and furloughed more than 800,000 federal employees. 

The measure simply states that when Congress allows the federal government to shut down, Members would not be paid until everything is back up and running. And there would be no pay at all - ever - for the wasted days government is out of operation. 

By way of background, a couple of weeks ago, the President said he would have “no problem” shutting down the federal government unless Congress agrees to spend $35 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars on a border wall that’s supposed to be Mexico’s responsibility. Apparently, that means he would refuse to sign the appropriations bills Congress must pass by September 30th in order to keep the federal government operating.

Never mind the June Gallup poll that showed 57% of Americans oppose construction of a wall across our southern border. Does the President even comprehend the consequences of shutting down the federal government? 

The October 2013 shutdown debacle – engineered by Republicans over the Affordable Care Act – took $24 billion out of our economy and cost 120,000 good paying jobs. Businesses suffered, products were left sitting on our ports, military Veterans disability claims were stalled, National Parks and Head Start centers were closed and EPA hazardous waste and chemical waste inspections were postponed – just to name a few of the disastrous consequences. 

Instead of building a wall with Mexico, $35 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars could fund at least 6 or 7 months of medical research at the National Institutes of Health, pay for two years of Head Start for every young child in America, sustain the Environmental Protection Agency for two years, or provide 3 million Pell grants for needy college students. In short, there are hundreds of good places to invest $35 billion in America and our people. The President’s wall just isn’t one of them. 

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.



Like an Invasive Species, Big Money is Infesting Our Politics

Click on the screen above to hear me explain why big money is threatening the integrity of our democracy and our public policy making process.

The foundation of our landmark Restore Democracy legislation lies in overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

The formation of our laws and policies must not be up for sale to the highest corporate bidders.Yet the hard, cold fact is that as a result of Citizens United, secret, “dark”, special interest money has infested our campaigns and elections, rigging the system for the Wall Street billionaires and powerful forces behind those contributions. We’ve got to put a stop to it. The integrity of our public policymaking process and the very survival of our democracy are at stake in this fight. 

A majority of Americans clearly agree. According to a recent poll sponsored by the Center for Public Integrity, 57% of Americans want strict limits on the amount of money political action committees (PACs) can contribute to campaigns. And in a Harvard Kennedy School poll of young people 18-29 taken earlier this year, 75 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans cite “money in politics” as a major contributor to our Nation’s problems.  
Citizens United granted corporations and other legal entities the right to free speech – just as people have – under the First Amendment. By doing so, the Court opened federal election campaigns to the free flow of enormous amounts of secret “dark” money into phony advocacy groups set up by special interest contributors. Those groups, in turn, buy hateful TV ads that distort the truth, denigrate candidates, discourage voter turnout and destroy people’s confidence in our public policy making process.

Moreover, the need many members of Congress feel to spend 20 to 30 hours a week raising money to defend themselves against false and misleading campaign advertising has all but transformed Congress into little more than a mid-level telemarketing operation. With so little time left for governing, Congress has become less productive than at any time in history, while campaigns have literally become 365 day a year operations. 

While we continue to build support to overturn Citizens United, Wisconsin Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher and I are working hard to build support for our bipartisan “Go to Washington – Go to Work”legislation to prohibit members of Congress and their challengers from directly asking donors for campaign money while Congress is in session When you go to Washington you should go to work on the people’s business – not your re-election campaign. 

The Restore Democracy Revolution

By themselves, any of the measures in our Restore Democracy bill would constitute a major boost for our democratic process. Taken together, they are nothing short of revolutionary in scope. 

The foundation lies in putting a stop to special interests spending unlimited amounts of secret money to influence government and elections. Our legislation would also put Congress on record supporting small donor-public campaign financing and limiting the campaign season. Moreover, we are calling for full disclosure of all campaign contributions, establishment of national online voter registration and a halt to all voter suppression.

We also call for a return to Congress’s traditional process of Regular Order. Under Regular Order, wefind common ground by fully considering every idea and amendment under an open rule – and affording each one an up or down vote. That’s how Congress fixed things, solved problems and got things done for more than 200 years. It’s time to get back to that tried and true method of serving the American people.

Following Nolan's Appeal, State Agrees to Review Decision to Reinstate Mineral Leases for Mesabi Metallics

The Essar Steel Minnesota project was under construction in this 2015 photo. A year later, on July 8, 2016, the company filed for bankruptcy, tying Minnesota’s mineral leases into a complex court case. 

Minnesota’s Iron Range needs a credible, proven mining company to take over the bankrupt former Essar plant in Nashwauk, and as I strongly advised Governor Dayton in a letter earlier this month, there is ample rationale to believe Mesabi Metallics does not possess the credibility or the capability to do the job. In fact, the Governor has more than ample reason to withdraw the state’s mineral leases and consider other alternatives. 

There’s a lot at stake here. The simple fact is that another bankruptcy, combined with further lawsuits, could delay progress for years to come and cost the opportunity for a good, financially stable company to take over the project and create more good paying Iron Range jobs. 

Shortly after receiving my message, the Governor and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that they would reconsider their earlier decision to reinstate the state’s extremely valuable mineral leases to Mesabi Metallics. 

As I pointed out to the Governor, my concerns over the mineral leases date back to July 2016, when Essar Steel Minnesota filed for bankruptcy - reportedly less than an hour before the lease termination notice was submitted. As a result, the State’s mineral leases at Nashwauk became tied up in a complex court case. The bankruptcy capped nearly a decade of broken promises, unpaid bills and missed opportunities while the project was under the management of entities related to Essar. 

Now, as I also pointed out to Governor Dayton, Mesabi Metallics appears to be following the same playbook as Essar – broken promises, failure to pay contractors, vendors and taxes, finances not in place, and opportunistic use of the bankruptcy process at the expense of Minnesotans. 

The simple fact is, we need a reputable, transparent, and experienced mining company operating the former Essar plant – under leadership that stands with our Rangers through the ups and downs of this cyclical industry. Mesabi Metallics doesn’t fill the bill. 

Eliminate Security From Small Airports? That's a Terrible Idea!

  We need to keep Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at all of our small and medium-size airports to ensure the safety of our entire air transportation system.  

What a terrible idea. Under the guise of saving money, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is reportedly considering eliminating security checkpoints at more than 150 small and medium-sized airports here in Minnesota and across the nation. Passengers – some 10,000 every day – would instead be screened when they arrive at larger hub airports across the nation. 

Let’s be clear.  Eliminating TSA security at smaller airports would put our entire air transportation system at greater risk by encouraging potential terrorists to take off from these facilities security free – as did two of the 9/11 hijackers who began their trip from Portland, Maine. Moreover, the increased security threat would undoubtedly discourage business people, tourists and other travelers from using local and regional airports that play such an important role in growing local economies.  

Over the last five and a half years in Congress, as a member of the House Transportation Committee, I’ve made it a mission to promote small airport growth and safety. Under our watch, local and regional airports in Minnesota’s 8th District have received millions of dollars in federal grants to improve runways and other vital facilities. Last year, we restored $10 million in cuts the Administration had proposed to Essential Air Service, a program to help support small airport development. 

Here’s the bottom line. We need to keep making all of our airports safer – not more vulnerable to those who seek to harm us. When Congress returns to Washington in September, I will be helping to lead the effort to put a stop to any future plans by the TSA to jeopardize security at our small airports. 

Grant Watch: A $22.5 Million Boost for Head Start Programs in Minnesota's 8th District

Since January 2018, eight Head Start programs in Minnesota’s 8th district have been awarded a total of nearly $22.5 million in discretionary funding. The funds emanate from U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Office of Head Start.  

All across America, economically challenged families are struggling to find affordable educational and child care services.

According to the Centers for American Progress, 20 percent of the children living in rural Minnesota under the age of 5 live in poverty, making it difficult for their parents to find affordable, dependable childcare services. 

So I'm working hard to change that situation with strong and consistent advocacy for programs like Head Start and Early Head Start – providing children and their families with a safe learning environment, parenting education, health education, job training, and substance abuse prevention.

As a former director of the North Central Minnesota 19-unit Head Start program, I’ve seen first-hand the significant impact these programs have for both children and their families and our economy. Across rural Minnesota, Head Start operates 228 classrooms in 186 centers employing 3,579 people – and funds enrollment for 12,594 children.  

To help keep you updated, we will be using the Monday Report to highlight important federal grants for the 8th District. I’m particularly pleased to report this new discretionary funding to aid low-income rural Minnesota families with child care services and combat child poverty:

     • Duluth Public School District #709 - $2,324,301 
     • Lakes & Pines Community Action Council, Inc. – $2,929,966 
     • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa - $2,036,772 
     • Bi-County Community Action Programs, Inc. - $2,948,986 
     • Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, Inc. -$3,480,131 
     • Kootasca Community Action, Inc. - $2,273,443 
     • Tri-County Community Action Partnership, Inc. – $4,749,038 
     • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe - $1,635,909

Our Week in Crosslake

The family showed up in Crosslake to cheer for Katherine and her daughter, Sadie, participating in the annual Community fund raising cardboard boat races at Moonlight Bay. They made a good showing!

Our Week in Duluth

United States Senator Tina Smith held a Health Care Cost panel with executives from the local hospitals. medical centers, and the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School. Topics of conversation included transportation issues, the Affordable Care Act, mental health, and substance abuse prevention. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended on my behalf.

Our Week in North Branch 

Communities across northern Minnesota and the country celebrated and participated in National Night Out last week. The event is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. The North Branch Fire and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) crews showed up in full force for the community gathering. 

National Night Out youth participants also demonstrated their Taekwondo skills to spectators at the event. Here they are showing off their high-kick self defense techniques. 

Our Week in Chisago

The Chisago Lakes Chamber held their August meeting at Ojiketa Park in Chisago City. Bill Mack, known by locals as a super volunteer, is giving a presentation on the Chisago Lakes Water Trail. The trail provides locals with access to 10 lakes for recreational purposes. 

Our Week in Chisholm

Senior Citizens Centers are always a great place to have conversations and learn about issues facing constituents across my district. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside stopped by the Chisholm Senior Center to meet and hear from locals about issues most important to them. Topics of discussion included making health care and education more affordable, putting an stop to endless wars of choice, and investing in our Nation's infrastructure. Pictured above are a group of locals who regularly gather to socialize at the Chisholm Senior Center. 


August 13, 1967 - Twins Take Over First Place in Baseball's Tightest Pennant Race!

Fifty-one years ago today, some 42,418 fans packed Metropolitan Stadium to watch the Minnesota Twins defeat the Chicago White Sox and take over first place during one of the most exciting pennant races in baseball history. 

The Twins are struggling this season, but no so 51 years ago today as they took over first place for the first time in 1967 with a 3-2 win over the White Sox at the Met in front of 42,418 baseball fans. At the end of the day, only 2.5 games separated the top five teams in the American League with the Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Angels and Red Sox knotted in one of the tightest pennant races in baseball history. Rich Rollins knocked in all three Twins Runs, and Jim Merritt pitched a complete game for his ninth win of the season.