Happy New Year! America Gets Ready for 2018
Fireworks over the U.S. Capitol are a joy - now hopefully we’ll see fewer fireworks and more cooperation inside the Capitol and the halls of Congress here in 2018.
As we begin the New Year, I wanted to share the opinion piece I wrote for last Sunday’s Duluth News Tribune looking ahead to 2018 and the important tasks we share together as a Nation. I believe our top priorities must include: Reinvesting in the American people; creating good paying jobs; protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and our precious environment; ensuring that retirees receive every dime of their hard earned pensions; and changing the way we do politics.
Following that piece, I hope you’ll also take a few minutes to read another recent article published in several newspapers across northern Minnesota chronicling my youngest daughter Katherine’s three-year ongoing battle with Stage 4 non-smoking, non-small cell lung cancer. She inspires me every day, and I hope her story will inspire you as well.
Election Year or Not, It’s Time for Congress to Get to Work for the American People in 2018
Congress has a historically bad habit of not accomplishing much during election years. It’s time to break that tradition, get to work, and insist that President Trump keep the promises he made to the American people during his campaign – promises to reform our spending priorities, create jobs, expand high-quality, affordable health care to all Americans, protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, change the way we do politics, and take care of our Veterans, Pensioners, and Dreamers.
I’m ready to work with President Trump and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to accomplish these goals.
Reinvesting in the American People
This cartoon by Carlos Latuff perfectly illustrates how America’s wasteful spending on endless wars of choice in the Middle East comes right out of taxpayers’ pockets.
We’ve got to stop the tragic waste of blood and treasury on endless wars in the Middle East, and start reinvesting those monies, energies and talents into America, our people and our infrastructure. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone have cost us $8 trillion dollars.
Think about it – for $1 trillion, we could have rebuilt our public infrastructure. For another trillion, we could have invested in lifesaving medical research for cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s and other life-threatening diseases. For another trillion, we could have graduated every college student in America debt-free. And we’d still have $5 trillion left over for other priorities like tax cuts and deficit reduction. The time is long overdue to stop this tragic, wasteful spending on wars.
Good Paying Jobs, Infrastructure, and Fair Trade
Giant Lakers like this one carry millions of tons of Minnesota iron ore, timber, agricultural and manufactured goods through the Poe Locks, on through the Great Lakes and up the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Creating good paying jobs with good benefits for middle class Americans will always be my top priority. In the last five years, the unemployment rate in northeastern Minnesota dropped by 5 percent, more than 1200 miners and thousands of other service and business-related employees are back at work, and shipments out of the Port of Duluth have hit a 10-year high.
With careful attention to protecting our environment, we are making steady progress toward opening the Iron Range to the mining of strategic minerals. This new 21st-century, high-technology mining over the years will produce thousands of good paying jobs, advance our “green” economy, and help create renewable energy to address climate change. The House just passed my legislation to facilitate the Obama Administration-approved PolyMet land exchange by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 309-99. My goal is to see the land exchange bill pass the Senate and arrive on the President’s desk in 2018.
Americans are still waiting for President Trump’s promised $1 trillion bill to fix our crumbling infrastructure and create an estimated 13 million jobs. This bill must include my legislation to expand high-speed rural broadband to 22 million rural Americans. It’s time for the President to send a detailed infrastructure bill to our House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure so we can begin working on it immediately in 2018.
In addition, we’ve got to keep up the pressure against illegal steel dumping by China and other trade-cheater nations – preserving the tariffs and taxes that we secured of up to 520 percent on low-grade, foreign-government subsidized steel products. The fact of the matter is, American workers can compete and win against anyone in the world when we’re on a level playing field. Establishing that level playing field is what these tariffs and taxes are all about.
Expanding Top-Quality, Universal Health Care
Everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care – that’s what my and Senator Sanders’ “Medicare for All” legislation is all about.
I’ve always believed that the ultimate solution to health care in American is a universal, single payer national health care system - also known as “Medicare for All”- that provides everyone with affordable, top-quality health care.
Next year, I’ll continue to push the “Medicare for All” legislation that Senator Bernie Sanders and I are championing in the House and Senate.
Protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
The bottom line is, there must be absolutely no cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid – programs that have lifted millions of Americans out of poverty and doubled life expectancy in just a few generations.These are hard earned benefits that Americans pay into from the very first hour of the very first day on the job.
Make no mistake - Republican leaders are on record, promising to pay for their $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations with drastic cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And I’m going to keep fighting them every step of the way.
Last year, I introduced legislation that would ensure no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security – a promise that President Trump himself has made. These programs are a fundamental part of the American promise, and they help support millions of middle class families and retirees across our Nation.
Protecting Our Precious Environment
Our precious land, air, and water are a big part of the reason we all live up here in northern Minnesota, and I am absolutely committed to protecting them.
Let’s be clear: Our precious land, air, and water are a big part of the reason we all live up here in northern Minnesota, and I am absolutely committed to protecting them.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, including my work as an original co-sponsor of the legislation that established the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Moreover, we’ve got to continue to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Last year, I led a bipartisan push to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Sea Grant Program. We must also protect our waters from invasive species – this past year, I increased the funding to $1 million to battle invasive zebra mussels.
In 2018, I’ll keep fighting against any Trump Administration-proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). In 2017, I helped lead the effort to defeat the Republican-Trump Administration plan to cut overall EPA funding by over 30 percent and EPA enforcement funding by 40 percent. We cannot allow a half-century of environmental progress to be rolled back by outrageous budget cuts and policies that allow polluting corporations to run wild with our precious air, land and water.
Fulfilling Our Sacred Obligations to Veterans
If our Nation can afford to send our best young people into harm's way all around the world, we can afford to take care of them when they return home.
We’ve got to meet our sacred obligations to our Nation’s military Veterans.
Congress must create a new patient & provider friendly Veterans Choice program that ensures top quality, local health care for rural Veterans. I’m also sponsoring legislation that would require the VA to provide better mental health care, create more good paying civilian jobs for Veterans,and put an end to Veteran homelessness.
Protecting Our Nation’s Pensioners and DREAMers
Senator Amy Klobuchar and I joined numerous other colleagues late last year at a press conference and rally in support of the Butch Lewis Act. (Click on the photo above to hear what everyone was clapping about!) This measure would shore up the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation and ensure that retirees receive every dime of the hard earned pensions they have paid into throughout their working lives.
In future budgets, we’ve got to start by fixing the pension crisis in our Nation. The simple fact is, millions of hardworking Americans who contributed every penny, nickel and dime into their pensions are now at risk of seeing their pensions eliminated or severely reduced because of sheer corporate irresponsibility. That’s outrageous. Finding an immediate solution to this pension crisis must be a top priority for Congress in 2018.
It’s also time for President Trump and Republican leaders to honor their promise to help pass the DREAM Act. We need to end the threat of deportation of some 800,000 “Dreamers” – men and women of great promise who were brought to America as minors by their undocumented parents. That’s why I cosponsored The DREAM Act – so we can give these Dreamers the opportunity to stay in America, earn their citizenship, and use their talents to move our Nation forward.
Changing the Way We Do Politics
Former Florida Republican Congressman David Jolly and I at a press conference to announce our bill to prohibit Members of Congress from directly asking campaign donors for money. This measure complements our Restore Democracy legislation that would help stop secret dark money from poisoning our elections and our public policymaking process.
Last but far from least, President Trump must keep his promise to change the way we do politics in America. The simple fact is, the political and economic system is rigged for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. In 2018, I will continue my work to advance my “Restore Democracy” legislation, which takes the dark, negative money out of politics by reversing the disastrous Citizens United decision, complimented by restricting the campaign spending period and eliminating partisan gerrymandering.
'Make the best of every day'- Nolan, daughter discuss her fight with lung cancer
The Duluth News Tribune recently published a story on my daughter Katherine's three-year battle with Stage 4 non-smoking, non-small cell Lung Cancer. Here in Congress, I have worked hard to to raise awareness of Lung Cancer - the deadliest of all cancers - and secure millions in research funding to fight it. You can read the story below.
He's being targeted from all sides — both for his 8th District congressional seat, which is up for election in 2018, and his deepening support of mining expansion in northern Minnesota.
But earlier this month, the 74-year-old congressman spoke with the News Tribune about a different, more personal topic. He was joined by his adult daughter Katherine Bensen in a conference call to discuss her incurable lung cancer...
Our Week in Bentleyville
Bentleyville Tour of Lights, the Midwest’s largest outdoor holiday light show came to a close on Tuesday with a beautiful fireworks display. Bentleyville is free and open to the public from mid-November until the 26th of December and this year brought nearly 300,000 visitors to Bayfront Festival Park in downtown Duluth.
Coming Up in WashingtonThis week:
- Senators Tina Smith of Minnesota and Doug Jones of Alabama are scheduled to be sworn in tomorrow, January 3rd.
Duluth - Smoking in the Deep Freeze
With temperatures hovering around -30 below zero last week, the Washington Post published this photo, taken in Duluth, of “sea smoke” moving across Lake Superior. Also called “frost smoke” or “steam fog,” the phenomena occurs when extremely cold air moves across warmer water.
Click on the photo to watch the video taken by ABC News!