Military Veterans Are Still Waiting for the President to Keep His Promises
President Lincoln defined the mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs more than 150 years ago. Now it’s time for the current President to step up and fulfill
After repeated campaign promises to “take care of our great, great, great Veterans,” the President has accomplished nothing at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – other than presiding over the departure of two VA Secretaries and the voluntary withdrawal of a nominee not even remotely qualified to run an agency with a $180 billion annual budget and 380,000 employees.
So who’s minding the store at the VA? That’s hard to say. The President has yet to nominate a new VA Secretary two weeks after White House doctor Ronny Jackson withdrew his name from consideration. The key jobs of Undersecretary for Health, Undersecretary for Benefits, and Chief Information Officer in charge of medical records have yet to be filled. And the Washington Post is reporting that more than 30,000 clinical staff positions at VA clinics are vacant. These include thousands of doctors, nurses and mental health therapists.
Meanwhile, on average, 22 military Veterans are still committing suicide every day. The Veterans Choice program, intended to provide local medical care to Veterans who live far away from VA facilities, is still in disarray. Millions of Veterans are still waiting months to receive their Veterans ID cards because the online system can’t handle all the requests. And VA medical records are still being transferred on paper while the system awaits a ten-year, $16 billion online upgrade that’s been on hold pending appointment of a permanent VA Secretary.
The VA and the heroes it serves deserve better than this from their President and their government. The fact of the matter is that the VA has trained more doctors and – in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health – accomplished more lifesaving medical research than any other institution in America. Military Veterans who have attended the Veterans Roundtables we’ve held throughout Minnesota’s 8th District generally go out of their way to praise the care they receive at VA health care facilities.
That said, it’s clear that serious problems remain, and filling the Secretary’s position and all those other vacancies with highly qualified people of experience and integrity should be priority one for the President.
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.
Nolan Bill to Advance Opioid Recovery Passes Energy& Commerce Committee
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has passed my bipartisan bill to allow pharmacists and physicians to team up and ensure that patients can safely receive new, long-lasting injectible forms of medication to help with their recovery from
Opioid abuse kills some 33,000 Americans every year, and last week, we took an important step toward reversing that terrible number. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed my bipartisan bill to allow pharmacists and physicians to team up and ensure that patients can safely receive new, long-lasting injectable forms of medication to help with their recovery from opioid addiction.
The bill, which I’ve introduced along with Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Ron Costello, is now ready to move to the House Floor for final passage.
By way of background, current law stipulates that pharmacists can only dispense these medications directly to patients –not physicians. Our bill would change the Controlled Substances Act to allow pharmacists to dispense these treatments directly to doctors, who can then administer the treatment to the patient in an office setting coupled with behavioral counseling and therapy. That way, patients can be assured a safe, steady dosage of medicine. It’s a common sense fix that could help save thousands of lives, and we want to get it on the President’s desk as soon as possible.
The President's Reckless Decision to Scuttle the Iran Nuclear Deal
As this graphic demonstrates, the Iran deal blocks all pathways to Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb. Before the deal, Iran had the capacity to develop numerous nuclear weapons within three months.
The President’s decision last week to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal is a reckless, unwarranted, and tragic misstep. The move will only accelerate the nuclear arms race and put the world in greater danger of a nuclear war.
The fact remains that America’s top objective must be to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Prior to the Iran Deal, Iran possessed the capacity to build numerous nuclear bombs in a matter of weeks. The deal greatly extended that timeframe by removing two-thirds of Iran’s centrifuges for processing uranium, along with 98% of its weapons grade uranium stockpile. Every entity, international and national, including the President’s own administration, has determined that the Iranians have honored the terms of the agreement.
As I have pointed out many times before, the Iran nuclear deal is not based on trust, but instead on what many experts term the toughest and most verifiable nuclear verification and inspection process ever negotiated in the international community. And if Iran does violate the agreement, our option to use military force is still on the table. In short, the Iran nuclear deal was a victory for diplomacy. The President’s move to withdraw the United States puts that victory, our relationships with the other five signatories on the treaty, and further prospects for peace, in serious peril.
After Signing Huge Tax Cut for the Rich President Attacks Children’s Health Care Program (CHIP) as Wasteful
Through CHIP, some 9 million needy children across the Nation receive quality
The Trump Administration is asking Congress to cut $7 billion out of the successful and widely supported Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) after exploding the deficit by giving millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations a $1.5 trillion tax cut. The White House is peddling the false notion that the CHIP program is wasting money.
What nonsense. According to a study by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s recent vote to fully fund CHIP for the next ten years will actually save taxpayers about $6 billion. In fact, the CHIP program – which I have always strongly supported – is widely recognized to be one of the most efficiently run operations in the entire federal government.
Through CHIP, some 9 million children throughout the Nation whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance receive quality health care. Here in Minnesota, we use federal CHIP funds to provide a health care safety net to roughly 200 infants, 1,700 expectant mothers, and 125,000 children.
The good news is that CHIP enjoys broad support from Democrats and Republicans alike here in Congress precisely because it is so well run, and helps so many children in need. We will be working hard to ensure that the President’s proposed cuts are squashed and tossed out the window, just as they deserve to be.
Battle to Save Net Neutrality Gains Momentum
According to a recent University of Maryland poll, more than 80% of all Americans support net neutrality. That includes 75% of Republicans, 89% of Democrats, and 86% of Independents.
The American people deserve a free and open Internet. So I’ve joined 159 of my House colleagues and 50 U.S. Senators in cosponsoring legislation to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to abolish net neutrality. The FCC’s plan would establish a “two lane” Internet – a luxury fast lane for wealthy corporations that can pay, and a slow lane full of potholes for everyone else.
According to a recent University of Maryland poll, more than 80 percent of Americans support net neutrality, and for good reason. Net neutrality ensures a level playing field that encourages communication among family and friends, boosts business and innovation, and ensures that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) treat consumers fairly. Just as our laws protect against monopolies in the business world, a few massive corporations should not be able to control the content or speed of the online world.
In order to overturn the FCC’s anti-consumer move, the Senate must pass what’s known as a Resolution of Disapproval, and the House must pass a Discharge Petition, both by a simple majority. The Senate is scheduled to vote on its measure by June 12th. We still have work to do here in the House to get the 218 signatures we need to force a vote.
If successful, the measure to reestablish net neutrality would go to the President’s desk for signature or veto – and he would have to decide whether he stands with big Internet Service Providers and corporations who stand to make huge profits, or with the small businesses, entrepreneurs, students, consumers and families who depend on a free and open Internet.
Our Week in DC
Enjoyable interview with the podcast team at The Washington Post as a part of their popular politics podcast series. The podcast series focuses on how wave elections from 1974 to the present day have changed the course of politics. My audio interview episode will be made available in mid-June. Pictured above is Yours Truly participating in the interview in between meetings in my office.
Great interview with Spectrum Network as a part of the Spectrum In Focus series that focuses on work being done in Washington and how it impacts communities across the country. The interview will be made available at the beginning of June at SpectrumInFocus.com. Here we are conducting the interview in the beautiful Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.
The Minnesota Library Association stopped by my office to discuss the essential role libraries play in providing benefits to communities across Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. We also discussed the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The Minnesota Library Association's visit was a part of the National Library legislative Day on May 8th.
Chairman Faron Jackson Sr. and other leaders of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe stopped by my office to discuss the Bug O Nay Ge Shig School, St. Regis Superfund Site, Market Access Program, and the USDA Value Added Producer Grant, among many other important topics.
Representatives of the Minnesota School Employees Association stopped by my office for a meeting to discuss my bills to provide free school lunches and stop school lunch shaming, along with issues regarding school safety, fiscal year 2019 appropriations for education programs, and professional development for classified school employees.
Great meeting with the Minnesota Hospital Association during which I received an update from healthcare leaders about the on-going work Minnesota hospitals and healthcare providers are doing as it relates to the opioid epidemic, mental health, and how legislative changes to Medicare and Medicaid have impacted hospitals and patients.
The Twin Cities Metro-Certified Development Company (TCM CDC) stopped by my office for a visit. TCM CDC is a non-profit corporation established in 1990 to stimulate the growth of small businesses.
My old neighbor Bob Anderson (upper left) and other representatives of the Minnesota Association of Townships paid a visit to my office to discuss several important issues pertaining to townships across the 8th district. Meeting topics included infrastructure legislation, the Farm Bill, and tax incentives for volunteer First Responders.
Our Week in Duluth
Community leaders and elected officials, including Duluth mayor Emily Larson, hosted a Housing Press Conference in Duluth last week. They discussed recent proposed legislation by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson that would raise the amount low-income families are required to pay for rent. Nolan Congressional District Director Jeff Anderson, pictured above, read a statement on my behalf.
As part of National Travel and Tourism Week, my district director, Jeff Anderson, attended Visit Duluth's Annual Meeting& Celebration. Visit Duluth, the city's convention and visitor's bureau, is Duluth's only officially recognized destination marketing organization. Tourism is a vital part of our district's economy and I am always looking for ways to promote our incredible tourist destinations and assist the businesses that provide so many jobs and take such good care of so many visitors
The Local Initiatives Support Coalition annual meeting in Duluth was held last week. The event celebrated LISC Duluth and the contributions the organizations have made to the community over the past year, including more than 1,500 jobs, 1,827 housing units developed or preserved, and 186 childcare spaces created. Pictured is Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal honoring the accomplishments of LISC and their many partners. Nolan District Director Jeff Anderson attended the meeting.
Our Week in Cloquet
U.S. Senator Tina Smith's staff held a discussion on the 2018 Farm Bill. Local farmers, residents, and community leaders voiced their comments and concerns about everything from farmers' insurance, the environment, SNAP, and a livestock owners' bill of rights. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Hannah Alstead attended meeting.
Our Week in Cambridge
Senior Linkage Line holds monthly meetings at the Senior Actively Center in Cambridge lead by a Senior Linkage Line Advocate. Last week, they guided folks nearing 65 through the Social Security and Medicare sign-up process. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended
Our Week in Taylor Falls
Chisago Lakes Schools Superintendent Dean Jennissen updated the Lakes Area Chamber on the recently passed 64 million dollar school bond, improvements to District buildings, and the planned new elementary school. The Lakes Area Chamber consists of Communities along Highway 8 from Chisago City to Taylors Falls. The Meeting was held at Wild Mountain Ski Area outside of Taylors Falls. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the meeting.
Our Week in Chisholm
ElderCircle hosted a community conversation on aging with local elected officials, business leaders, program coordinators, and community members at the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids. Discussion ranged from the need to increase accessibility to local buildings to funding for home healthcare nurses so folks can stay in their house longer. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside attended
Coming Up in Washington
- The House is expected to take up H.R.2, the Republican farm bill proposal. There is bipartisan criticism of the proposal for its closed drafting process and dramatic changes to the food and nutrition title.
Happy Opening Day!
Happy 2018 Minnesota Fishing Opener! My dad always told me that "If you don't have time for fishing you're just wrong, because every day you spend fishing adds an extra day to your life!" Here’s a throwback of an 18’' walleye I caught on Gull Lake at about 1:00 a.m. during a past Governor’s Fishing Opener. Used a Ken Katch jig. Good luck and be safe everyone!