Shame on them!
Congress and the President Abdicated Responsibilities in Military Attack on Syria
Shame on the Congress, on Speaker Ryan, and on the President for failing to uphold their Constitutional obligations in the attack on Syria last Friday.
The Constitution could not be more clear – the President had no legal authority to launch an act of war against Syria on Friday without authorization by Congress. Furthermore, shame on Congress for abdicating its responsibility. And shame on the President for ordering the missile attack without Congressional approval, or any discernable strategy going forward.
One thing is now certain. By ordering airstrikes against the Syrian regime in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people, President Trump has moved America deeper into another seemingly endless war of choice that will cost more precious blood and treasury. And he has done so despite the simple fact that in the end, this terrible conflict can only be settled by the Syrian rebels and the Syrian government – not by America, Russia, Iran, Israel or any other nation.
As then President Obama was contemplating military action against Syria in the late summer of 2013, Donald Trump tweeted stating that “the President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria.” See the tweet below. President Trump failed to take his own advice when he ordered a missile strike against Syria last Friday night.
Make no mistake - as numerous other colleagues and I pointed out in a message to the President Trump last week, and to President Obama when he contemplated a similar move in 2013, a military attack against another country is an act of war. And regardless of how good or compelling the reasons may be, a declaration of war is a Constitutional responsibility assigned to the Congress – not the President’s alone. Military attacks against other nations have consequences. And the founders were very clear in not wanting to give Presidents unilateral authority to make these grave decisions.
Only days ago, the President correctly stated that it’s time to bring all U.S. troops home from Syria. He should stick to that plan. We have already sacrificed thousands of American lives and expended more than $6 trillion dollars on endless wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s enough money to graduate every college student debt free, rebuild our infrastructure, boost lifesaving medical research and give middle class working Americans a real tax break. Now it’s time to start reinvesting in America and our people.
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.
GOP Balanced Budget Amendment: Shameless Hypocrisy Meets Keystone Cops Incompetence
Our old friend Pulitzer Prize-winning Star Tribune cartoonist Steve Sack nailed it again in pointing out that the GOP’s $1.5 trillion giveaway to millionaires, billionaires and multinational corporations would explode the size of the federal deficit..
House Republicans mixed shameless hypocrisy and insincerity with Keystone Cops incompetence last week in a failed attempt to pass a Constitutional “balanced budget” amendment.
The shameless hypocrisy and insincerity part goes like this: The GOP, who call themselves “the party of fiscal responsibility,” engineered a massive increase in the federal deficit last fall by passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut for millionaires, billionaires and multinational corporations - which I voted against. Then they heaped on an $80 billion increase in Pentagon spending – for a total of $700 billion – as part of the $1.3 trillion omnibus 2018 spending bill I also voted against. And finally, GOP leaders tried to cover it all up by introducing a so-called “Balanced Budget” amendment to the Constitution – something to take home and brag about to the voters.
The Keystone Cops part goes like this: Republicans, who control the majority in Congress, failed to pass their own bill. The Balanced Budget amendment was defeated on the House Floor.
In fact, even some conservative Republicans were too embarrassed to vote for a bill simply designed to fool the public. North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus (the Tea Party), put it this way: “There is no one on Capitol Hill, and certainly no one on Main Street, that will take this vote seriously.”
However, what should be taken seriously are reports that Republican leaders will attempt to break their agreements with Democrats and use a procedure called “rescission” to revisit the 2018 spending bill and cut funding we negotiated for human development programs such as education, nutrition, and medical research along with vital protections for our water, air and land. Any attempt by the GOP to do this would severely undercut the trust necessary to negotiate future budget agreements and contribute to more of the gridlock and division that angers and frustrates Americans about their government.
National Interest Requires Trump Investigation to Go Forward
Special counsel Robert Mueller as featured in TIME Magazine after his appointment in the summer of 2017 to investigate possible ties between President Trump’s campaign team and Russian interference in our 2016 elections. A registered Republican and former FBI Director, Mueller is highly respected for his law enforcement experience and bipartisanship. As special counsel, he has extraordinary powers to determine what really happened,
and if crimes were committed.
After two widely reported attempts by President Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and curtail the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, consensus is growing in Congress around the need for legislation to protect the Office of the Special Counsel. In the national interest, this investigation must be permitted to proceed without interference by the President or anyone else.
That’s why I have joined in signing a discharge petition that requires a simple majority to force a House vote on H.R. 3654 – legislation I have cosponsored stipulating that a special counsel can only be removed if a three-judge panel made a finding of misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause. Our legislation would make clear that no President would have the authority to fire a special counsel.
Would President Trump sign the bill? Probably not – the measure would need to pass by veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate. And in that regard, members on both sides of the aisle would do well to note the results of last Friday’s 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; and nearly that many want the special counsel to continue to investigate President Trump’s business activities.
GOP Farm Bill Fails Every Test – Assaults SNAP Nutrition Program Vital to 46 Million Americans
Some 46 million Americans, including this woman, depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to prevent hunger and malnutrition.
Drafted in secret behind closed doors and with no input from Democrats, the Republican version of the 2018 Farm Bill released last week fails in every respect to do what it’s supposed to do: support vital food and nutrition programs, encourage young farmers, and improve Crop Insurance along with the rest of the economic safety net farmers and rural communities rely on in hard times. Make no mistake, with commodity prices and land values falling and loan money scarce, these are hard times for family famers.
Instead, the GOP measure proposes to change the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – which 46 million low-income and disabled Americans - along with thousands of military Veterans and military families - count on to fend off hunger and malnutrition – into an expensive, bureaucratic work program with complicated and overly stringent requirements specifically intended to drive millions of needy people out of the system. This is part and parcel of the larger Republican assault on Medicaid and other public assistance programs to help the poor, elderly, and disabled, people with special needs, and many military Veterans.
By the way, the average SNAP benefit is about $128.00 per month – a bare bones amount for an individual, let alone a household.
To be clear, Democrats – including me – have long supported employment, training and educational programs to help people who are able to work get good jobs that pay living wages. But that’s not what this Republican bill would do. The funds they propose for job training amount to only about $28 dollars per person per month for an estimated 3 million people.
Here’s the bottom line. We are the richest, most successful food-producing nation on earth. No one should ever go hungry in America. That’s what the 2018 Farm Bill should be all about, and what I will continue to fight for as we consider this bill in committee on Wednesday.
Trump Called the TPP “A Disaster” - Now He Wants Back In?
Americans were loud and clear in demanding that Congress defeat the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. In the end, the measure was so unpopular President Obama never sent it to Congress for approval. During the campaign, then candidate Trump called the proposed agreement “a disaster.”
During his campaign for president, Donald Trump repeatedly and correctly denounced the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement as “a disaster.” And shortly after taking office, he pulled the U.S. out of the agreement altogether. So what changed last week? On Thursday, Trump instructed top Administration officials to look into rejoining a deal that would clearly put American workers and manufactures at a severe competitive disadvantage against 11 other so-called “partner” nations.
Did the wealthy multinational corporations, lobbyists and executives who negotiated the TPP behind closed doors for their own profit get his ear and change his mind? Or was the President merely “joking?” We’ll see.
In any event, the fact of the matter is that Congress would have to approve the TPP agreement before the U.S. could join. And remember, the TPP was so unpopular with Democrats and Republicans alike that then President Obama decided not to even send the measure to Capitol Hill in 2016, knowing it would be defeated.
If President Trump were to attempt to send the TPP to Congress without major changes to protect U.S. workers, companies, intellectual property and our environment – and ensure that partner nations meet strict U.S. standards on all these matters – it would surely be defeated, and rightly so.
Our Week in DC
The University of Minnesota Extension and 4-H traveled to Washington, D.C. for a national public issues leadership meeting and a “Day on the Hill” to discuss federal funding for agriculture. Here I am with Marais Houser, a 4-H youth member from Esko.
The American Dental Association stopped by my office for the 2018 ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day. We discussed student loan programs, the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, the DOC Access Act (H.R. 1606), the Competitive Health Insurance Act of 2017 (H.R. 372), the Action for Dental Health Act of 2017 (H.R. 2422), and the ongoing crisis of opioid abuse.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Don Rusnak, Parliamentary Secretary& Member of the Canadian Parliament of Thunder Bay/Rainy River. We discussed common issues between our bordering districts - in particular border security and cross border trade. Mr. Rusnak is also the Director-at-Large of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Association and Vice Chair of the Canada-Nordic-Baltic Friendship Group.
One of my favorite things to do in Washington is give Capitol Tours. This week, I had the pleasure of hosting 110 students of the Edina High School - a group which included a number of grandchildren belonging to folks here in the 8th District. Here we are on the steps leading up to the House Chamber of the Capitol.
Members of the Minnesota State Bar Association traveled to Washington to participate in American Bar Associations Day. I was delighted to sit down with members of the Association to discuss funding opportunities for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). LSC grantees provide civil legal aid to constituents who struggle to get by on incomes near or below the poverty line.
Members of the Minnesota affiliate of the American Trucking Associations took time to stop by my office for a meeting while visiting D.C. this week. We discussed the importance of investing in our infrastructure along with issues related to autonomous vehicles, driver shortages, workforce development, and trade.
It was wonderful to meet with the Early Career University of Minnesota Duluth Faculty last week and hear from brilliant young women who have already become leaders in fields such as occupational health and safety, forestry, wild life, and clean water resources.
National Wooden Pallet& Container Association (NWPCA) CEO, Brent McClendon stopped by my office to discuss the Farm Bill and the Bio-preferred program this week. The NWPCA is the largest organization of wood packaging professionals in the world, with more than 670 company members in 28 countries who manufacture, repair and distribute pallets and wood packaging in unit-load solutions, and supply products and services to the industry.
Another productive meeting with my colleagues from the Sustainable Energy& Environmental Coalition (SEEC) where we heard from guests Mary Nicholas, Chair of the California Air Resource Board (CARB) and Rob Klee, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The Coalition discussed the Trump Administration’s Clean Car standards roll back. This disastrous proposal would serve to roll back years of great progress we’ve made from the days when our rivers were literally catching on fire, the air over our towns and cities was hazy brown, and our land was spoiled with contaminated Superfund sites.
Spring has sprung in Washington and the famous Cherry Blossoms were as remarkable as ever this year! Here is a photo snapped by my Press Secretary Jordan Metsa just outside the Rayburn House Office Building during his lunch break. Visitors from around the world make the trip to D.C. every Spring to bear witness to Washington's beautiful flowers.
Our Week in Duluth
The Superior Street Reconstruction Project kick off took place in downtown Duluth last week - where it was noted by several folks that thanks to my logging safety amendment, huge logging trucks on their way south are no longer using Superior Street - but are instead able to use the stretch of I-35 skirting around the city. The three year construction project is divided into three phases. Pictured about is the Mayor of Duluth, Emily Larson, speaking to event attendee's.
On Tuesday April 10th, 2018, local magazine “The Woman Today,” held their second annual Cocktail Hour& Symposium. The event featured nominees for the Leadership Award, Rosie Award, Mentor Award, Silent Advocate, Most Engaged Volunteer talking with guests and with each other. Maude Dornfeld, the executive director of Life House (support, transitional housing, and a safe alternative to the streets for youth ages 14-24), was the keynote speaker and was nominated for the Leadership of the Year award, which she later took home. Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended on my behalf.
Three “James L. Oberstar Memorial Highway” signs were placed at rest stops along Highway 35 between milepost 133 at Forest Lake, and milepost 259 at Duluth. I am proud to have authored the bill designating the new name of this stretch of highway after Congressman Oberstar in honor of his tireless work as chairman of the House Transportation Committee and decades of dedicated service to the great people of Minnesota's 8th District.
Our Week in St. Paul
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce hosted a NAFTA: Critical to Growing Minnesota’s Economy event in St. Paul, and Nolan Field Representative Rick Olseen attended on my behalf. The panelists were Mexico’s Consul Gerardo Guerrero, Minnesota DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy and Canada’s Consul Paul Connors. The importance of these countries to Minnesota’s economy was highlighted.
My Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition 'Day on the Hill' at the Capitol in St. Paul. The Coalition is made up of over 70 organizations and businesses. State Legislators gave updates pertaining to their respective Broadband Bills, the most expansive bill calls for $51 million to help build out the
fiber optic network.
This display of shoes on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol represent the 22 military veterans and one active duty military member who commit suicide every day. The display was assembled by an organization called Operation 23 to Zero. Operation 23 to Zero works to raise awareness about suicide and helps those impacted by suicide.
Our Week in Brainerd
The Region 5 Core Team and Co-Hosts presented a Workforce Workshop as part of their Talent Advantage Series. Over 100 community leaders attended the event, which was held at Central Lakes College and featured speakers from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and the local business community. My Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.
Our Week in Virginia
Folks gathered in the Virginia School Board room last week for a listening session regarding a new academy model for high school students. The goal of the model is to more closely match students’ education to a field of employment. My Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside attended the event on my behalf.
Coming Up in Washington
- Our House Agriculture Committee will meet to markup H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 on Wednesday. And in the House Natural Resources Committee, our North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act (H.R.1026) is set to move and be ready for an eventual House vote. The bill has 36 cosponsors and would adjust the route of the trail in northeastern Minnesota and also extend the trail into Vermont near Crown Point, NY.
Attention 8th District High School Artists!
ANNOUNCEMENT: Entries for the 2018 Annual High School Congressional Art Competition are officially open! Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors the nationwide high school visual arts competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in all 435 congressional districts. More than 650,000 high school students have participated since the onset in 1982.
TO ENTER: High school students wishing to participate should (1) Complete, sign, and send the submission form at https://nolan.house.gov/services/art-competition and (2) E-mail a high quality photo or scanned image of their art to Nolan.Art@mail.house.gov or mail to:
Congressional Art Competition
Office of Rep. Rick Nolan
Duluth Technology Village
11 East Superior Street, Suite 125
Duluth, MN 55802.
All participant paperwork and accompanying works of art must be submitted by April 30th, 2018. A winner will be chosen in early May.
For full submission requirements, visit https://nolan.house.gov/services/art-competition or call Congressman Nolan’s Duluth office at 218-464-5095.