Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Thank you!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Thank you!
Mary and I are looking forward to returning to Minnesota life, spending more time with our children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors.
As I prepare to leave Congress this coming January 3rd, I’m truly sorry to tell you that this will be our last issue of the Monday Report. Thank you for following our efforts over the past six years to establish new, better, more inclusive priorities consistent with America’s highest ideals of freedom, democracy, justice, and equality.
Returning to Congress in 2013 after a 32-year hiatus from my first period of service in the 1970’s, I felt better prepared than ever before to take on the job. Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia agreed. In 2015, the Washington Post published their study naming me one of the Top Ten Most Effective Members of Congress, and the second most effective Democrat.
To get there, and best serve Minnesota’s 8th District and our great Nation, my staff and I approached our job in two big ways – “bold and aspirational,” and “fix things, solve problems, and get stuff done.” And we did so by reaching across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship. Every bill we passed, and virtually every success we had, came with a Republican partner and Republican support.
On the bold and aspirational side...
we worked hard to change the way we do politics, put a stop to endless wars of choice, and reorder our national priorities to put people first with universal, single payer health care, and more resources for good paying jobs, public education, medical research, the battle against climate change, and protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, just to name a few.
- Our Restore Democracy legislation established a blueprint for campaign and elections reform, getting secret, dark, toxic money from our politics, and putting Congress back to work on the people’s business – not campaign fundraising.
In September of 2013, TIME Magazine cited Republican Senator Rand Paul and me, along with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, for leadership in keeping the U.S. out of war with Syria.
- Cited by TIME Magazine for leadership in stopping the U.S. from going to war with Syria, I was also proud to pass several successful amendments to Defense Appropriations bills that put a stop to the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars in the corrupt nation of Afghanistan. And just last spring, I was able to bring an amendment to the floor to zero out the Overseas Contingency Fund used to pay for endless wars of choice. We didn’t pass that measure, but the very fact that it was considered marked a major step forward.
This was the scene in front of the U.S. Capitol back in July as I joined some 60 other members of Congress in announcing the 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.
- Along with several others, I took the lead in introducing a universal, single payer health care bill that has garnered some 200 cosponsors – up from a handful when we began the effort back in the 1970’s.
1000-foot long Laker ships loaded with Minnesota Iron Range iron ore and other products from our region make their way from Lake Superior through the Soo Locks and into the rest of the Great Lakes chain toward the St. Lawrence seaway.
- Working across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats from Great Lakes states, we stopped Administration budget cuts and fully funded the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). And we laid the groundwork for a billion-dollar repair and refurbishing of the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan so critical to Minnesota’s iron ore, agriculture, and manufacturing industries.
It’s easy to get worked up for a good cause, as I clearly did at this press conference announcing introduction of the Butch Lewis Act to ensure that no retiree’s hard-earned pension would ever be cut – not by one dime!
- Drawing nationwide attention to America’s pension crisis, we established the bipartisan Pension Protection Caucus, and put a stop to proposed cuts by the Central States Pension Fund that would have forced hundreds of thousands of workers to take hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to their hard-earned pensions.
Click on the screen above to hear me address the “Life and Breath” rally in front of the U.S. Capitol. Hundreds of lung cancer survivors, family members and supporters joined our daughter Katherine and me and other members of our Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus for this event to point out that lung cancer is a national emergency.
- Lung cancer is the deadliest of all the cancers and yet, lifesaving medical research to better prevent, diagnose, treat and ultimately cure this terrible disease is drastically underfunded. Establishing the bipartisan Lung Cancer Caucus, we passed amendments designating more than $6 million for new lung cancer research, and helped add hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research at the National Cancer Institute.
On the “fix things, solve problems and get stuff done” side...
we focused more specifically on Minnesota and the people we are so proud to serve here in the 8th Congressional District.
Cirrus Aircraft's incredible Vision Jet is the world’s first single engine, personal jet aircraft equipped with a parachute system that actually floats the aircraft safely to the ground if trouble arises.
- Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth is expanding and adding hundreds of new jobs thanks, in part, to our Small Aircraft legislation that changed federal regulations to accommodate and encourage advances in small aircraft technology.
Our office was instrumental in obtaining a $10 million TIGER transportation grant for the Port of Duluth back in 2015. The Port anchors the westernmost point of the entire 2,340-mile Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system that connects Minnesota’s mines, businesses, manufacturers, farmers, and timber producers with the global marketplace.
- Minnesota gets back less of the federal tax money we send to Washington than almost any other state – about 65 cents on the dollar – and I made it my mission early on to change that. Over the past six years, on our watch, 8th District communities, airports, ports, schools, parks and other facilities have received more than $1.3 billion in federal funds for worthy projects that create good paying jobs and enhance everyone’s quality of life.
- Shortly after taking office in 2013, and pounding on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doors from Washington to Chicago, I was able to convince the agency to give our Iron Range mines more time to comply with EPA haze abatement regulations – saving thousands of jobs by preventing lengthy and unnecessary shutdowns.
On what Cleveland Cliffs Chairman and CEO Lorenco Goncalves famously called “the day that changed everything,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough addresses the press after his visit to Virginia, Minnesota in December 2015 at my request. After meeting with Steelworkers, mining company leaders, business people and elected officials to hear how illegal foreign steel was damaging the Range economy, he brought President Obama on board in support of tough new tariffs, countervailing duties, taxes and enforcement measures.
- When illegal steel dumping by China and other trade cheater nations put thousands of miners, transportation workers, and Minnesota Iron Rangers from all walks of life out of work in 2015, President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, came to the Range at my request to hear from the people affected and see the damage for himself.
That day in December 2015 became known as “the day that changed everything.” With the Administration on board, we led the way as the International Trade Commission (ITC) established tariffs and taxes of up to 522% on illegal foreign steel – and by the end of 2016, thousands of miners and other Rangers were back on the job, long before the current President took office.
- Land exchanges between state and federal governments must be approved by Congress, and I was able to pass several of these measures into law for the benefit of our Minnesota Indian tribes, counties, and communities. And with help from Republican colleagues, I was proud to shepherd the PolyMet land exchange bill through the House. That measure, which awaits action by the Senate, is critical to the success of PolyMet’s NorthMet project to bring hundreds of good paying jobs to the Iron Range while preserving and protecting our precious environment through the most rigorous environmental review process, and environmental rules and regulations, in the world.
Millions of Americans love our hiking trails – and the good exercise and camaraderie they offer. With that in mind, the House earlier this year unanimously passed my bipartisan bill (H.R. 1026) to incorporate some 400 miles of world class trails within the Minnesota Boundary Waters, the Superior Hiking Trail, the Border Route Trail and the Kekekabic Trail into the North Country National Scenic Trail.
- With help from local and state officials, landowners, volunteers and other stakeholders, we’ve finished the trail with a new route that skirts 100 miles of environmentally sensitive wetlands and bogs that had been included under a previous plan. And as I made clear to my colleagues, this measure doesn’t involve any new dollars or take any land through eminent domain.
- What the bill does do is put the finishing touches on a unified 4,600-mile national hiking trail system that stretches from the plains of North Dakota through Minnesota’s Arrowhead all the way to the forests of Vermont, where it will connect with the Appalachian Trail.
Serving the great people of Minnesota’s 8th District, as well as our great state and nation, here in Congress has been an honor and privilege for which I will always be grateful. Thank you for being a part of that journey through our Monday Report.