Nuts to this bad idea!
It's Time to End the War in Afghanistan - Not Privatize it for Corporate Profit
Billionaire Erik Prince, who founded a private security firm called Blackwater, later renamed Academi, obtained large contracts to provide security in Iraq after the U.S. invaded that nation in 2003. In 2007, a group of Blackwater employees were convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. The President is now reportedly considering a plan by Prince to form a private army, paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars, to take over the war in Afghanistan.
After almost 17 years, it’s time to bring American troops home from Afghanistan and put an end the longest war in our Nation’s history. The Founders established America’s military for our own national defense – not as a force to be spread around the world propping up corrupt dictatorships under the guise of fighting terrorism. And not to be deployed anywhere without the consent of Congress, a clear definition of “victory,” and a strategy for achieving it.
What’s more, it’s time for the President to flatly and permanently reject a reckless plan he is reportedly considering to privatize the Afghan conflict, and turn the U.S role over to billionaire war profiteer Erik Prince, 6000 mercenary fighters, and a 90 plane private air force paid for with American taxpayer dollars. As bad ideas go, this one sits at or near the top of the list.
First and foremost, it would be immoral and wrong for our Nation to ever support or be involved in a war waged solely for private profit – where those in charge only make money by perpetuating an endless conflict at a cost of tens of thousands of civilian lives and terrible destruction. That’s not who we are as Americans.
And to be clear, no private contractor should ever be permitted to make national security decisions for the United States, either at home or abroad. Yet under Prince’s plan, the President would appoint a special “envoy” to command the operation and somehow rally the Afghan people and their army to defeat the Taliban and end Afghanistan’s civil war. If we have learned nothing else from endless wars of choice in the Middle East that will, according to credible estimates, cost our Nation nearly $16 trillion over the next three decades, along with thousands of precious lives, it’s that civil wars can’t be settled by outside forces.
Last but far from least, an unchecked private army, supported by the U.S. and let loose in Afghanistan, would be far more likely to exploit local resources and cause needless loss of civilian lives to run up the profits. The result would be even more hostility toward America, with more young people encouraged to join the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Congress must not and cannot permit this to happen.
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.
Congress Must Prevent Presidential Interference With Mueller Investigation
The late Republican Senator John McCain hit the nail on the head with this tweet.
Congress needs to ensure that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 elections will proceed without interference by the President or anyone else. When the integrity of our elections is undermined by a foreign government, and when the President of the United States and people close to him may be involved in related crimes and corruption, the American people need to know the truth.
Last week’s tax and bank fraud conviction against the President’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, along with former Presidential attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to campaign law violations, have clearly demonstrated that the Mueller investigation is not a ‘witch hunt’ and must go forward.
That’s why I have cosponsored legislation (H.R. 3654) stipulating that no President will ever have the authority to fire a Special Counsel. Under the measure, a Special Counsel could only be removed if a three-judge panel made a finding of misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause.
Would the President sign the bill? Probably not. So the measure would need to pass by veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate. And in that regard, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle would do well to note the results of a recent ABC News – Washington Post poll: seven out of 10 Americans support Special Counsel Mueller’s focus on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians to influence the 2016 election.
Administration's Dirty Power Plan Would Boost Pollution, Cost Lives, Accelerate Climate Change
The Administration’s new plan to permit greater use of coal for power generation would allow millions more tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air, accelerating climate change and causing thousands of people to get sick and die.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actually admits it. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the President’s new plan to prop up the coal industry by allowing states to regulate and deregulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants – and use more coal – would cause up to 1,400 premature deaths and 21,000 missed school days every year, accelerate climate change, and release millions more tons of pollutants into the air.
Based on the Academy's analysis, here’s part of the Administration’s actual wording, contained in some 300 pages of small print accompanying the proposal: “Implementing the proposed rule is expected to increase emissions of carbon dioxide and the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere that affect human health.”
Specifically, that means more vulnerable Americans would suffer from heart and lung disease, asthma, bronchitis and a host of other conditions that could be avoided by cleaning up the air.
The proposed rule, announced last week, would replace former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have required states to phase in more wind, solar, and natural gas for power generation, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 19 percent by 2030. The Academy study also concluded that the Obama clean air plan would have avoided between 1,500 and 3,600 premature deaths annually by 2030, along with 180,000 missed school days.
Luckily, Minnesota power plants are already helping lead the Nation in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and that is likely to continue. But Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) officials caution that Minnesota’s air could still be affected if other states decide to permit more coal to be used for power generation.
A number of states, along with many environmental groups, are reportedly planning to file suit to stop the Administration from rolling back years of progress in cleaning up our air. Hopefully Minnesota will get on board and help lead the charge.
You Can't Govern From a Call Center:
It's Time to Put a Stop to Campaign
Fundraising While Congress
is in Session
When you go to Washington you should go to work on the people’s business – not raising money for the next election. But the hard cold fact is that many Members of Congress spend more time dialing for dollars than governing. The “People’s House” has become a mid-level telemarketing operation. So our Restore Democracy legislation calls for an end to campaign fundraising by members of Congress and their challengers while Congress is in session.
Congress’s 24/7 fixation on fundraising at the expense of governing is leaving important work undone. Meanwhile, TV ads outside groups purchase with unlimited amounts of secret “dark” money permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision distort the truth, denigrate candidates, discourage voter turnout and destroy people’s confidence in our public policy making process. Reform must happen for our representative democracy to be real and survive.
That’s why Wisconsin Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher and I are working so hard to build support for our bipartisan Go to Washington – Go to Work Act, which would prohibit Members of Congress or their challengers from making any direct requests for money when Congress is in session. Simply stated, You can’t govern from a Call Center.
The Restore Democracy Revolution
The foundation lies in overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which has allowed corporations and wealthy special interests to spend unlimited amounts of secret “dark” money to influence 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, we find common ground and bipartisan solutions by fully considering every idea and amendment under an open rule – and affording each one an up or down vote. That’s how Congress has fixed things, solved problems and gotten things done for more than 250 years. It’s time to get back to that tried and true method of serving the American people.
Our Week in Baxter
Community members, law enforcement, emergency responders, and others gathered for Baxter’s Night to Unite picnic. In this photo, Brainerd Firefighters demonstrate how to use a firehose to some young attendees. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein captured this action shot.
Our Week in Brainerd
The Brainerd Veterans Administration (VA) Clinic hosted a Veteran Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Forum. With 20 veterans dying by suicide every day, the VA has made suicide prevention its number one focus. Pictured here, Lisa Bershok describes the differences between male and female veterans in terms of suicide methods. Nolan Congressional Field Representatives John Schrader and Tiffany Stenglein both attended this important event.
Our Week in Nisswa
The Gull Lake Trail Steering Committee held an open house for people to learn more about the 3.1 mile section of the trail that will run through Nisswa, from the Lakeshore border to the tunnel in downtown Nisswa. In this photo, committee member Gary Johnson shows residents a map of a segment of the proposed route. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the meeting on my behalf.
Our Week in Mora
The Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Mora invited local community leaders and residents to tour the brand new Mysa House for seniors. The word “Mysa” (pronounced “MEE-sah”) is Swedish but doesn’t have a literal translation in English. Best described, it is a word that portrays the act of being comfortable, cozy, content and relaxed. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen toured the new facility and snapped this photo.
Our Week in Sandstone
Pine County Board Chairman Steve Hallan, local residents, and community leaders attended the ground breaking for the new North Pine Government Center in Sandstone. The facility will contain offices for Veterans Services, Health and Human Services, and community meeting rooms. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the event on my behalf.
Our Week in Virginia
The Virginia Stand Down for Veterans was held at the Miners Memorial Building in Virginia last week. The event provides military Veterans a chance to utilize free services including Veterans Administration benefits, meals, haircuts, support services, mental health services, clothing, legal aid services, and many other important resources to help Veterans in rural areas. The event was put on by the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) organization, which hosts Stand Downs throughout Minnesota.
Veteran service organization representatives (from left to right) Ted Ells, St. Louis County Veteran Service Officer Director, Larry Pocrnich, United for Veterans representative, and Master Sargent Brian Tammi pose for a picture at the Veterans Stand Down in Virginia.
Greetings From Duluth in Summer
Beautiful in any season, the City of Duluth and its skyline are particularly striking in late summer, just before the leaves begin to turn. Our District Director, Jeff Anderson, snapped these shots last week.
The Duluth Seaway Port Authority has been the backbone of our region's economy for more than century. Long known as the Great Lakes "bulk cargo capital," the port accommodates the maritime transportation needs of a wide range of Minnesota industries ranging from agriculture, forestry, mining and manufacturing to construction, power generation, and passenger cruising.
By far, the largest and busiest on the Great Lakes, the Port of Duluth-Superior handles an average of 35 million short tons of cargo and nearly 900 vessel visits each year, connecting the heartland of the U.S. and Canada to the rest of the world.