Stop Undermining the Mueller Investigation, Mr. President!
Robert Mueller, a registered Republican of enormous ability and integrity, was appointed FBI Director by President George W. Bush and reappointed by President Obama. The longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover, he now serves as head of the Special Counsel Investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 elections.
The integrity of our elections, our democracy and our public policy making process depends on getting to the bottom of Russia’s campaign to interfere with and influence our 2016 elections. With that fact in mind, Americans should be one hundred percent united in support of former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s actions. A registered Republican of enormous ability, integrity and intellect, Mueller was appointed FBI Director by President George W. Bush and reappointed by President Obama. In fact, he was the longest serving FBI Director since J. Edgar Hoover, and as a Marine serving in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism and the Purple Heart.
But instead of offering their support for the investigation, the president and House Republicans have launched a vicious and unprecedented attack on Mueller and the FBI. The attacks reached a fever pitch over the weekend after Republicans released a House Intelligence Committee staff memo that purports to show that Mueller’s investigation is being conducted for political purposes. Democrats on the committee dismiss the memo itself as biased and missing key facts.
The FBI is far from perfect, and over the years has come under fire from the White House and/or the Congress – but never from both at once, and never to this degree. So the simple question is – why are Republicans hindering Mueller’s investigation? Is there something to hide?
Here’s the simple truth: Russia’s purpose is to undermine our system of government and the confidence of the American people in our elections and public policymaking process. Even as we speak, it’s being disclosed that Russian bots (automated fake Twitter accounts) are being used to support attacks on the FBI.
So to the degree that President Trump and Republicans hinder this investigation, they are playing into the hands of the Russians and Russian intelligence – with potentially dire consequences for all of us. Americans must have confidence in their elections and their government. Rest assured I will continue to support Special Counsel Mueller and an open, honest and unbiased investigation into Russia’s attempts to undermine and destroy that confidence.
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.
Why Are So Many Young Women Who Don’t Smoke Getting Lung Cancer?
Click on the screen above to hear me address last fall’s “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.
We need to find out why lung cancer – the deadliest of all cancers – has become an epidemic among young women, the great majority of whom don’t smoke. Here in the United States, an average of 193 women die each day of lung cancer – one every 7 minutes. Our own youngest daughter Katherine is a three-year survivor Stage 4 non-smoking, non-small cell lung cancer.
Knowledge and funding are the keys to winning the battle against lung cancer. So as co-chairs and co-founders of the Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus, New Jersey Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo and I last week reintroduced our bipartisan “Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act.”
This legislation requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a comprehensive study on women and lung cancer in order to answer the question: Why it is that women, many of whom have never smoked in their lives, are being diagnosed with lung cancer at such an extreme rate?
Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California have teamed up to introduce the bipartisan Senate companion bill to our House measure.
As we work to pass this bill and get it on the President’s desk, we are continuing to marshal support in both the House and Senate to greatly increase lung cancer research at the National Institutes of Health. To put the funding issue in some perspective, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost our Nation $6 TRILLION dollars. The budget for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health next year is projected to be about $5.6 billion, with about $282 million targeted specifically toward lung cancer.
Last year, I was able to pass two bipartisan amendments boosting lung cancer research by $5.8 million. That’s a lot of money – but it’s also just a tiny fraction of what’s being spent on endless wars of choice and weapons of terrible destruction. Clearly, it is time to reorder our national priorities.
Keep Your Promises, Mr. President
It was great to see my friend and colleague, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, looking so hale and hearty at last Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Steve has undergone months of painful rehabilitation in recovering from the terrible shooting that took place during practice for the annual Congressional baseball game for charity last June.
Here’s my response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address last week in three words:Keep your promises.
If, as he promised, the President is really willing to lead on bipartisan solutions to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, fix our broken immigration system, provide good health care for everyone, take care of our military Veterans, combat the opioid crisis – and let me add, protecting Social Security, Medicare and hard-earned worker pensions – I stand ready to work with him.
However, his record so far leaves little if any room for optimism: a tax bill that forces the middle class to pay for massive tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations;repeated efforts to dismantle the health care system and take insurance away from 36 million people; a string of budget proposals, executive orders and bills to benefit corporate polluters and undermine the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); rejecting out of hand bipartisan proposals to fix immigration. The list goes on and on.
President Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell famously advised Americans to “Watch what we do, not what we say.” Ultimately, the test of any president’s administration is not a speech or a slogan, but whether they can deliver in concrete terms for the American people. Making promises is all well and fine, but the important part is keeping them.
The Endless War in Afghanistan Has Become More Secret
Despite his promises, President Trump is continuing to expand America’s endless war in Afghanistan while the Pentagon is now withholding key information from the American people.
Speaking of promises, President Trump campaigned on a promise to get us out of the endless war in Afghanistan – a message that resonated with the American people. But now, he’s doing exactly the opposite, putting several thousand more of our troops in harm’s way without the consent of Congress, and without a strategy or a plan that defines “victory” in any way, shape, or form.
The President also promised an administration that would be more open and honest with the public. But last week, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko reported that the Pentagon has decided to start withholding important information about our role in the conflict under the guise that it should be classified to hide it from the enemy.
Here’s what Sopko – with whom I’ve met regularly over the years for briefings on Afghanistan – told National Public Radio about that:
“The enemy knows what the situation is. The Afghan military knows what the situation is. The only people who don't know what's going on are the people who are paying for it, and that's the American taxpayer.”
The truth is, this war has become the longest in our history – seventeen bloody, terrible years. Young American military recruits who were born during the war are now being sent off to fight in it. This endless conflict has cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. As the President has frequently pointed out, we have already expended enough money in Afghanistan “to rebuild our country twice.”
So I would say to the President – you made a promise to put a stop to these endless wars of choice, and you are duty-bound to honor that promise. We need to bring our troops home, reinvest in our people, and create millions of good paying jobs rebuilding America and our great middle class.
Helping Farmers and Encouraging Land Conservation Go Hand-in-Hand!
Among many other things, our crop insurance legislation would allow more farmers to utilize cover crops like oats, turnips and canola to build healthier soil.
It's time for some common sense reforms to our federal crop insurance program that benefit both farmers and the earth. That's why I've introduced The Crop Insurance Modernization Act of 2018, which will support beginning farmers and encourage land conservation.
As Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, I know all too well the challenges that farmers of all types face when it comes to starting out in the industry. That's why this legislation strengthens the farmer safety net- increasing access to insurance premium discounts by expanding the definition of "beginning farmer." The bill also requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) to study the barriers to accessing crop insurance and create plans to further expand access.
This legislation will also encourage and bolster land conservation efforts by giving farmers the option to use cover crops for conservation without fear of losing their crop insurance, andcreating a pilot program to study the potential benefits of giving premium subsidy enhancements to farmers who commit to advanced conservation.
Finally, the bill closes a loophole that currently permits farmers to use historical yield data to predict the yield of lower-quality land, and strengthening conservation compliance spot checks conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The fact of the matter is, The Crop Insurance Modernization Act is simply a good deal for everyone. It supports beginning farmers of all types by providing a stronger safety net, and it encourages good land conservation practices that are so vital to the health of our land, water and soil. I will continue working hard to advance this legislation as we move forward with the 2018 Farm Bill.
Minnesota’s Number Two – and Proud of It!
Hats off to our great state of Minnesota for finishing a close second to first place New Hampshire in the latest “Strongest State in the Union” rankings released last week by the news outlet Politico. By comparison, Iowa ranked 7th, Wisconsin 10th, North Dakota 18th and South Dakota 22nd. Louisiana brought up the rear at number 51. This is the fourth time Minnesota has ranked among the top two strongest states in the Nation in recent years by a measure of 14 specific categories.
Here’s a sampling of how Minnesota ranked in some of the key ratings categories.
Annual Per Capita Income – At $31,642, Minnesota’s per capita income is the 10th-highest in the nation.
Percent Unemployed – At 3.1 percent, Minnesota’s statewide unemployment rate is the 10th-lowest in the nation.
Homeownership Rate – With 71.3 percent of Minnesotans owning their own homes, Minnesota ranks 3rd in this category.
High School Graduation Rate – Minnesota ranks 3rd for the percent of our students (92.9 percent) who graduate from high school.
Life Expectancy at Birth – Minnesotans live longer than almost anyone else in the country. With a life expectancy of 80.9 at birth, Minnesota ranks 2nd in the nation in this category.
Average Math Scores in 8th Grade – Minnesota 8th Graders have the 2nd-highest math scores in the country.
Average Reading Scores in 8th Grade – Minnesota 8th Graders have the 6th-highest reading scores in the country.
Violent Crime Rate – Minnesotans are the 9th-safest from violent crime, according to POLITICO’s analysis, and records provided by the FBI.
Jobs in Science, Engineering, and Math – Minnesota has the 11th-highest percentage of our workforce employed in jobs involving science, engineering, and math.
Our Week in DC
Leaders of National Federation of the Blind Minnesota stopped by the office last week to discuss ways we can work together to remove barriers to higher education for blind students, among several other things. I've always supported their powerful efforts to advocate for blind people and help ensure that they are fully-participating members of society.
I was proud to join my Democratic colleagues standing in solidarity of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movement just before the State of the Union address. We all wore black to show our support for the millions of Americans who have experienced sexual harassment and assault.
Our Week in Duluth
Last week, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson held a roundtable discussion with health professionals and legislators to encourage Opioid Abuse Response Strategies legislation. Representatives Liz Olson, Jen Schultz, and Senator Erik Simonson all agreed that this is an issue worth supporting. Congressional Field Representative, Hannah Alstead, attended on my behalf.
Duluth’s newly renovated NorShor Theater held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. Originally built as the Orpheum vaudeville stage in 1910 and renovated into the original NorShor Theater in 1940, this new iteration of the NorShor looks to be an entertainment center for Duluth and northern Minnesota for decades to come. More than $30 million dollars in state, local and private dollars went into the renovation, including federal New Market Tax Credits which help with revitalization projects like this one. Here you can see Duluth Mayor Emily Larson speaking at the ribbon cutting. You can also see that the stage is ready for its first performance: Mamma Mia! by the Duluth Playhouse. My District Director Jeff Anderson attended the ceremony on my behalf.
Our Week in Pine City
The East Central Housing Organization (ECHO) meeting took place at the City Hall in Pine City, where there was a presentation regarding grant opportunities within the Competitive Affordable Housing Program. My Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen pointed out to the group the original Republican tax bill would have cut the tax benefits of Private Activity Bonds where half the housing projects in America are funded! Under pressure from Democrats, the tax benefit was kept in place.
Our Week in Eveleth
Cleveland Cliffs and its President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves held their Annual State of the Company meeting last week, and I joined via the magic of video tape. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Jordan Metsa snapped this photo.
Our Week in Brainerd
The Cuyuna Regional Medical Center coordinated a Women’s Wellness Expo at the Northern Pacific Event Center. Hundreds of Lakes Area women attended and learned about CPR, radon exposure, blood pressure, and more from over 75 exhibitors. As you can see above, participants lined up to receive “passports” to guide them through the expo. Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.
Our Week in Chisago City
Chisago County Board Chairman George McMahon welcomed the MN State Senate Investment Committee to Chisago City at Frankie’s Marine to discuss the county's request to be included in the bonding bill for U.S. Highway 8 improvements. Chisago County is taking the lead on expanding Highway 8 to four lanes from Forest Lake to Chisago City. Their request of seven million dollars would be matched by the county for design, engineering, environmental work and working with MNDot on right of way for the 62 million dollar project. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended on my behalf.
Coming Up in Washington
- The House is expected to take up legislation that would change the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) labeling requirements for nutrition information displayed by restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, and pizzerias. It will also likely consider another Continuing Resolution to fund the government.
Sharing Some Laughs with North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy
Here I am, right before the State of the Union, testing out my “Minnesota jokes” on my special guest for the event, North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy. (Hint: They all concern cold weather or the Vikings.)