Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Go to Washington - Go to Work!

Jul 23, 2018
the Monday Report

Nolan Introduces Bipartisan "Go to Washington-Go to Work" Bill to Prohibit Campaign Fundraising While Congress is in Session

Click on the screen above to hear Wisconsin GOP Congressman Mike Gallagher and me talk about the importance of our bill to prohibit congressional campaign fundraising while Congress is in session.

Dear Friend, 

When Members of Congress go to Washington, they should go to work governing and doing the people’s business – not fundraising for reelection on the taxpayer's time. So Wisconsin Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher and I have introduced our bipartisan “Go to Washington, Go to Work” Act of 2018 to put a stop to all personal congressional campaign fundraising – by incumbents and challengers alike – on days when Congress is in session. 

Simply put, the integrity of our democracy rests on the future of this bill and other efforts to change the way we do politics and combat the toxic spread of big money that is paralyzing and poisoning our campaigns and our public policymaking process. 

The hard cold fact is that Congress’s weekly schedule of committee hearings and floor business is entirely built around fundraising, not governing. The purpose is to ensure that members have several hours a day to assume the role of mid-level telemarketers dialing for dollars in Republican and Democratic “call centers” across the street from the Capitol. 

As a result, our public policymaking process is constantly undermined and gridlocked, because with scant time left for the hard work democracy demands, major legislation is written by a handful of leaders from behind closed doors. Rank and file Democrats and Republicans aren’t consulted. And closed or structured rules, where debate is cut off entirely or limited to a few amendments pre-approved by the powerful Rules Committee, are the order of the day. 

Congressman Mike Gallagher and I have had several great discussions on how we can continue working together to tackle the issue of money in politics. Here we are on the east front Capitol steps just off the House Floor discussing our Go to Washington, Go to Work legislation in between votes. 

In fact, the 115th Congress officially became the most authoritarian and undemocratic Congress in history in May, when Republican leaders approved their 85th closed rule with seven legislative months yet to go. 

According to the independent Congressional Research Service (CRS), since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, less than five percent of all bills have been considered under open rules – which allow amendments to be freely offered and debated.  By contrast, during my previous service in Congress, from 1975-1981, between 80 and 90 percent of all bills were considered under open rules.  

The simple fact is that there’s not a single Republican or Democrat in Congress who prefers fundraising to governing. Everyone comes to Washington with ideas they believe will improve our Nation and make life better for people. But far too many of the best ideas will be left on the cutting room floor until we change the system. And changing the system is what our “Go to Washington, Go to Work” bill is all about. 

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.


"Medicare for All" Takes Next Big Step

This was the scene in front of the U.S. Capitol last Thursday as I joined some 60 other members of Congress in announcing formation of our new “Medicare for All” Caucus. This photo shows Medicare for All Caucus lead, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, speaking about the fact that no one should be one health care crisis away from bankruptcy. 

Some 60 members of Congress, including me, have announced formation of the congressional “Medicare for All” Caucus – the next big step in our drive to ensure every American has accessible, cost-controlled, top-quality health care.

Some 40 years ago, during my first period of service in Congress, I joined a handful of my colleagues in introducing the very first universal health care bill. Few took us seriously, but now it’s a different story. The Medicare for All legislation (H.R. 676) – which I introduced last fall along with Senator Bernie Sanders and others – now has 122 co-sponsors in the House. And the Senate version has an unprecedented 17 cosponsors. So we are clearly moving in the right direction.  

Under Medicare for All, everyone would pay, everyone would have the same plan, pay the same rate, and be covered for 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.

The simple fact is that even with the improvements initiated under the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care), our current health care system is unsustainable. Every patient in the waiting room has a different insurance plan depending on zip code, age, income, pre-existing condition and numerous other factors. As a result, doctors can spend a third of their time or more just dealing with complex insurance claims and paper work. No wonder up to one-third of our health care dollars go for administration and processing. 

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-7) and I had a great conversation just before our Medicare for All Caucus press conference about how we can garner more support from other members of Congress to support this critical effort. Here we are just outside the Capitol Building. 

Meanwhile, nations with universal health care systems – Canada, Finland, France, the U.K., and Germany – spend about half that amount and get better outcomes. 

Since the President and Republican leaders attempted to dismantle the health care system last summer and take health insurance away from 36 million Americans, support for accessible, cost controlled, top-quality universal health care – similar to what every other industrialized western nation provides for its citizens – has grown by leaps and bounds. 

In fact, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 59 percent of Americans support the “Medicare for All” plan encompassed by our legislation. Even more striking, the poll shows that 75 percent of Americans would support a “public option” under which people could voluntarily sign up and pay a modest premium for a government-sponsored plan patterned after Medicare. 

Who was Tougher on Russia? Truman, Kennedy and Reagan for a Start 

Children in West Berlin wave as one of 272,000 U.S. and allied flights drop food and supplies during the 321 day Soviet blockade of the city during 1948-1949. The U.S. led the famed Berlin Airlift under the command of President Harry Truman. 

Every U.S. President, Democrat or Republican, except the current occupant of the White House, has recognized the old Soviet Union, now Russia, for what it is – America’s chief opponent and antagonist in a dangerous world. And when the situation demanded it, they took bold actions much tougher than anything this President has done. Take just three examples:

President Harry Truman - The Berlin Airlift 

Under President Harry Truman’s direction, the U.S. and the western allies launched the Berlin Airlift, the greatest airlift in history, to break the Soviet blockade of West Berlin and win the first major confrontation of the Cold War. 

In the first major confrontation of the Cold War, when the Soviets blockaded West Berlin in 1948, President Truman responded by boldly leading the World War II western allies in history’s greatest airlift – 272,000 flights over 321 days that delivered millions of tons of food, medicine and other supplies to that imprisoned city. The Soviets, realizing their challenge to the U.S. had failed, abandoned the blockade on May 12, 1949.

President John F. Kennedy - The Cuban Missile Crisis

The New York Times front page announces the Cuban embargo imposed by President John F. Kennedy after Soviet nuclear missiles were discovered in Cuba.

In October 1962, after learning that the Soviets had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba capable of reaching the United States in a matter of minutes, President Kennedy imposed a naval quarantine on all military shipments – not food and medical supplies – against the island. For 13 tense days – from October 16-28 - with the U.S. and the Soviet Union on the brink of nuclear war, President Kennedy used tough diplomacy that eventually forced Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to back down and withdraw the missiles.

President Ronald Reagan - The Berlin Wall 

Speaking before thousands in Berlin in 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the infamous Berlin Wall. And eventually, that’s just what Gorbachev did. 

In 1987, speaking before thousands at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, in the shadow of the Berlin Wall the Soviets had constructed to prevent East Berliners from escaping to the West, President Reagan verbally confronted Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” A little over two years later, under intense economic and diplomatic pressure from Reagan and the U.S., Gorbachev tore down the wall. And shortly after that, the old Soviet Union collapsed.

As a side note, I was in Berlin on business as the Berlin Wall was literally being torn down. Renting a hammer and chisel for $10 dollars from a newly liberated East Berliner, I went to work on the wall myself.

  Federal Grants for Worthwhile Projects Help Create Good Paying Jobs and Make Life Better for People 

Duluth International Airport has already received some $8.5 million in 2018 to help fund several projects to improve safety and service. According to the Duluth Airport Authority, the airport contributes $1.3 billion a year to our region’s economy, and supports 4,434 good paying jobs.

With Minnesota ranking second to last among 50 states in tax dollars returned by the federal government, my staff and I have been on a mission to bring federal grant money back to Minnesota - money to help fund worthwhile projects for roads, bridges, airports, ports, parks, schools, workforce training, housing, health care, university research, law enforcement, clean water systems and public buildings – just to name a few. And we’ve been successful. 

Under our watch, Minnesota’s 8th District has received at least $687 million in federal grants for projects that create good paying jobs and make life better for people.

It’s also a little known fact that much of the state funding that goes into construction and improvement projects originates with the federal government. 

As I have often pointed out, Minnesota only gets about 65 cents back on every tax dollar we send to Washington, while some states get $4 and $5 dollars in return. We are working to change that, one project at a time. To help keep you updated on the results, we will be using the Monday Report to highlight important federal grants for the 8th District. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’m particularly pleased to report these new grants to improve some of our local and regional airports:

     - Cook Municipal Airport - $243,000 
     - Duluth International Airport - $8,643,942 
     - Ely Municipal Airport - $1,505,000 
     - Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport - $1,520,000 
     - Grand Marais/Cook County Airport - $85,500 
     - Grand Rapids Airport-Gordon Newstrom Field - $1,080,000 
     - Tower Municipal Airport - $81,000 
     - Two Harbors Airport - $338,562

Our Week in DC

Canada is the 8th District’s largest trading partner, with nearly 18,000 good paying jobs directly dependent on trade – and exports to Canada totaling more than $429 million every year. Range iron ore tops the list with over $60 million in products flowing into the U.S. iron ore and steel marketplace. The Consul General of Canada, Paul Connors, met with me last week to discuss ongoing NAFTA negotiations, tariffs, and the importance of maintaining a strong working relationship between the United States and Canada. 

The Catholic Relief Services, College of St. Scholastica Division, were in Washington visiting with their members of Congress about international humanitarian assistance. Here I am with a few of the Minnesota Catholic Relief Service advocates discussing how we can work together to address and ultimately end global hunger. 

Several members of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, one of the largest grassroots farm organizations in the United States, stopped in for a meeting last week. We discussed the House and Senate Farm Bill, crop insurance, and trade policy among many other important topics. 

The Minnesota Biofuels Association Director Timothy Rudnicki and I had a great discussion about the rapid adoption of E15 stations throughout Minnesota. In addition, we also discussed how Minnesota can continue to promote its renewable fuel industry across the state. 

The Results Advocacy Group was visiting with members of Congress last week to discuss the importance of programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to Minnesotans. Here they are speaking with Yours Truly.

Last week I joined 14 members of the bipartisan House and Senate Congressional Caucus on Working Forests to discuss the role of innovation and applied research in expanding forest product markets. Keynote Speaker Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue noted that the U.S. produces more wood than it knows what to do with, so new products are needed to whittle down supply. Cross-laminated timber, for example, makes it possible to build skyscrapers with high-tech, engineered mass timber.

Our Week in Duluth

The above picture is of the St. Louis River from the stand point of Chambers Grove Park in Duluth. The area has greatly benefited from Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding, which I have worked for and strongly supported. Local officials provided a tour of some of the major projects happening along the waterway. They were joined by environmentalists, community members, restoration professionals, and representatives from the offices of Senators Klobuchar and Smith. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead snapped this photo while on the tour.

Our Week in Cloquet

The Fond du Lac Band held their annual Elders Picnic at the FdL Ojibwe School Powwow Grounds. The picnic is held prior to the 25th Annual Fond du Lac Reservation Veterans’ Powwow that had events lasting through the weekend. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended the picnic on my behalf.  

Our Week in Mora 

Governor Dayton held roundtables in Mora and Carlton with Kanabec, Pine, and Carlton Counties’ Emergency Management teams, sheriffs, state legislators, and federal delegation aides. The purpose of the meeting was to receive an update on the damage caused by the recent  flooding. Community members who volunteered in Kanabec filled and delivered 8,000 sand bags to those in the area trying to create walls around their properties. Carlton County has reported $1.3 million in damages. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended the meeting. 

Our Week in Minneapolis 

Staff members from Minnesota congressional offices toured one of the eight C-130's based at the 133rd Airwing located at the Minneapolis Airport last week to gain a better understanding of the 133rd Airwing's top technologies. Nolan Congressional Field Represented Rick Olseen (pictured above, 4th from the right) was able to tour the plane. 

Our Week in Little Falls

The 151st Field Artillery conducted their 155 Howitzer exercise drill at Camp Ripley last week. The drill was part of a demonstration for local officials to see how different pieces of military equipment work. The 155 Howitzer can shoot its round up to 20 miles and GPS guided ammunition can hit its target with extreme precision. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen snapped this photo of the 155 Howitzer in action. Hats off to the servicemen and woman stationed at Camp Ripley for their hard work. 

Our Week in Baxter

The City of Baxter is in Phase 1 of an extensive building project on Cypress Drive, including Trunk Highway 210. The city held a community meeting to discuss the progress made so far. Pictured here, Project Manager Scott Hedlund reviews a map with the project details with residents and local business owners. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.

Our Week in Crosby

The Soo Line Museum hosted the Cuyuna Range Chamber of Commerce’s After Hours. Guests were able to tour the historic depot and view the exhibitions. In this picture, Shirlee Bengtson serves food to a visitor. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.

Coming Up in Washington

This week:

  • The House is expected to pass two bipartisan bills I'm a proud cosponsor of, H.R. 959 – Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2018 and H.R. 1676 – Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act.  H.R.959 will reauthorize nursing workforce development programs, which support the recruitment, retention, and advanced education of skilled nursing professionals. H.R.1676 will establish grants, fellowship programs and training programs to support palliative and hospice care, establishes a national campaign to highlight the benefits of palliative and hospice care and directs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand research programs into palliative and hospice care.


NHL's Stanley Cup - Home on the Range

The NHL's championship trophy spent the day traveling across northern Minnesota with Virginia Minnesota native and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen. Niskanen brought the trophy to his home town for a public viewing at the Miners Memorial building in Virginia. The trophy made several other stops across the northland. The photo above shows Niskanen hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head while watching the sun set on Lake Vermillion.