Young, smart, aggressive, and diverse
Welcoming Newly-Elected Members of Congress to Washington
It was great seeing all the new faces in Washington last week. Here I am with (left to right) Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar, Congressman-elect Dean Phillips, and Congresswoman-elect Angie Craig. With leadership like this, I am confident that Minnesota's best days are ahead.
Preparing to retire from Congress at age 75, I could not be more excited or optimistic about the freshmen class of newly-elected Members who arrived in Washington last week for their orientation. At 90 strong, they are the most new faces since the “Watergate Congress” of 1975 – when at age 33, I joined 49 other newly-elected Democrats to begin my first period of Congressional service.
Today’s new Members are also young – the new Congress will be ten years younger on average – smart, aggressive and diverse. On the Democratic side, the 116th Congress will include 28 new women, including two who are Muslim, 12 new people of color, two new Native Americans, one new LGBTQ Member, and six new military Veterans.
Meeting with them, it’s clear that they are determined to make a difference, change the way we do politics, and address long-neglected issues including reducing the cost of health care, passing real tax relief for the middle class, reforming immigration, and putting a stop to endless wars of choice that are projected to cost nearly $20 trillion over the next two decades.
Having just come off a campaign season during which more than $5.2 billion was spent – much of it by outside groups buying negative and false TV ads – many are eager to pass a Constitutional Amendment overturning the U.S Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Citizens United has allowed countless billions of dollars from special interest groups to poison our campaigns and erode public confidence in our leaders and our public policymaking process.
Moreover, new and returning Members of both sides of the aisle are already demanding that Congress become a much more democratic institution, with a return to the traditional system of Regular Order. Under Regular Order, every bill and amendment must be considered under an open rule and given an up or down vote. That is how we embrace bipartisanship, find common ground, solve problems, and get things done.
As these new Members of Congress will soon realize, our Nation’s founders gave us a system in which change is possible, but rarely quick or easy. We wish them well in their efforts to advance America’s highest ideals.
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.
Major Boost in Federal Cancer Research Funding Set for 2019
We are making progress in funding for research into lung cancer, the deadliest of all cancers
Click on the screen above to hear me address the “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.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Over the years, I’ve made it a mission to help accelerate the war on cancer – and specifically boost federal funding for urgently needed research into lung cancer, the deadliest of all cancers. Last year, I passed two bipartisan amendments that added $5.8 million for lung cancer research.
This year, we added another $6 million originally intended for the Pentagon’s lung cancer research program. While this funding increase was ultimately rejected by the Republicans in final budget negotiations, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) saw a much bigger boost for cancer research.
Specifically, the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations Act included $5.74 billion for NCI, a $79 million increase over FY 2018. NCI also received $400 million in FY 2019 for the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot, which was authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act I strongly supported in 2016.
The entire budget for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) next year is projected to be about $5.74 billion, with about $282 million targeted specifically for lung cancer.
Meeting earlier this year with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, I urged him to prioritize lung cancer research at the National Cancer Institute.
(In September, Congress increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $2 billion to $39.1 billion – $4.3 billion more than the President’s initial request.)
Hopefully, the incoming Congress will continue our efforts to boost lung cancer research at the Pentagon from the current $14 million to at least $20 million – its original level when the program was initiated several years ago. Beyond what’s being accomplished at NIH, these funds are targeted to special lung cancer research linked to the unique exposures to cancer-causing substances our military experience in and out of combat.
In fact, an extensive study conducted by the prestigious Walter Reed Medical Center has concluded that our military Veterans are up to 75 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than people who do not serve in the military. We know that is largely due to high rates of exposure to carcinogens like asbestos, diesel fuel, depleted uranium, and, of course, Agent Orange from the Vietnam era.
Why Are So Many Young Women Who Don't Smoke Getting Lung Cancer?
Our youngest daughter, Katherine, and I have made it our mission to help boost federal funding for research to better prevent, diagnose, treat, and ultimately find a cure for lung cancer – and to spread awareness of this disease. Katherine is a four-year survivor of Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, with no known risk factors.
We need to find out why lung cancer – the deadliest of all cancers – has become 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 four-year survivor of Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, with no known risk factors.
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 have 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?
More specifically, the study would evaluate and recommend the best ways to accelerate research on women and lung cancer, boost access to preventative services, and develop strong and effective public awareness and education campaigns.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California have teamed to introduce the bipartisan Senate companion bill to our House measure.
Hard-Earned Worker Pensions Must be Protected
It’s easy to get worked up for a good cause, as I clearly did at this press conference announcing introduction of the Butch Lewis Act to ensure that no retiree’s hard-earned pension would ever be cut – not by one dime!
Hats off to all the Minnesota Teamsters, and so many other Union members and supporters who came to Washington last week to demand that Congress take action to protect their hard-earned pensions. As a Teamster, I was proud to help lead the successful effort to stop drastic cuts by the Central States Pension Fund that would have left hundreds of thousands of Teamsters with only a fraction of the pensions they have earned and paid into over a lifetime of work.
The workers kept their part of the bargain. They faithfully contributed every dollar they had contracted for. However, some 13,000 companies did NOT pay their pension obligations into the Central States Pension Fund. It is simply preposterous to suggest that the working Americans who honored their contracts should be the ones to suffer for this corporate irresponsibility. Had those companies fulfilled their obligations, Central States would be in good shape today.
And as I have pointed out many times before, Central States is only the tip of the iceberg. Whether by mergers and bankruptcies, or mismanagement or malfeasance, thousands of employers have failed to meet their contractual obligations. And as a result, more than 500 multi-employer pension funds are in serious trouble.
That’s why I’m championing “The Butch Lewis Act” in the House. The measure, named after an Ohio Teamster, would establish a mechanism through the U.S. Treasury to ensure that no retiree’s hard-earned pension would ever be cut – not by one dime!
As a co-founder and co-chair of the new Pension Protection for Working Americans Caucus in House, I’ve also taken the lead on a complementary bill to prevent companies that merge or go bankrupt from reneging on their obligations to millions of workers and retirees.
Among other things, the“Keep Our Pension Promises Act” ensures that when a company merges or goes bankrupt, their pension obligations to their workers are put at the top of the list of things to be paid – not the bottom of the list.
Make no mistake about it. We will not rest until every single worker is assured of receiving every single dime and dollar of their hard-earned pensions.
Building Support to Rescue the Common Loon Before They Become Extinct in North America
Challenged by the effects of climate change, the BP oil spill, pollution, and diseases spread by invasive zebra mussels, the Minnesota Common Loon is on the Audubon Society’s list of species whose existence is endangered in North America.
With that in mind, our daughter Leah Nolan-Heggerston - representing the National Loon Center Foundation - and I spent part of last week meeting with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Department of Interior, Environmental Pollution Control Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture to discuss our mission to construct a research and education center for the Common Loon in Crosslake, Minnesota.
We also met with several Members of Congress to discuss this important effort, including Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D) and California Congressman Ken Calvert (R). The center would be devoted to restoring and protecting loon habitats, repairing shoreline, infrastructure, enhancing water quality, boosting environmental recreation, and educating the public on best practices for preserving loon populations.
Our Week in DC
Last week, I met with several representatives of the University of Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment Disabilities (LEAP) to discuss the Reauthorization of the Autism Cares Act, which was last reauthorized in 2014. Reauthorizing the Autism Cares Act would increase the federal government's response to the growing number of individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders - ultimately improving quality of life and reducing human and financial costs associated with this disorder.
Our Week in Duluth
My District Director Jeff Anderson spoke to the Duluth Chamber of Commerce 2019 Leadership Duluth class about the role of Congress and the legislative process. Jeff highlighted my successful legislative efforts to stop logging trucks from using downtown Duluth streets and to instead use the federal interstate.
Our Week in North Branch
Susan Taylor from Family Pathways spoke at the Chisago County Senior Center in North Branch about recognizing Dementia symptoms. My Field Representative Rick Olseen also spoke on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and Senior Scams.
Our Week in Brainerd
Brainerd area residents gathered to honor veterans and celebrate the 100thanniversary of the end of World War I. In this photo, the Honor Guard from the American Legion, VFW, and DAV post the colors and give a 21-gun salute. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the ceremony on my behalf.
Brainerd’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee hosted a community design session. Attendees moved through several stations and weighed in on different ideas for the city, including expanding the public library, installing more planters downtown, and increasing housing. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the meeting and took this picture.
Our Week in Chisholm
Chisholm’s Broadband Coalition met this week to discuss new project initiatives. Members include representatives from the Chisholm School District, the Chisholm Economic Development Authority, the Minnesota Discovery Center, the Blandin Foundation, and surrounding businesses and residents. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tom Whiteside attended the meeting on my behalf.
Minnesota ranks #2 in the Nation for volunteering.
Did you know Minnesota was ranked #2 according to a recent study done by the Corporation for National and Community Service? The Volunteering in America data shows that Minnesota loves to volunteer - paying it forward to those who need it most! Minnesotans gave back to their communities last year, providing millions of dollars worth of economic value to the state. Are you ready to give back to your community? You can visit serve.gov to go volunteer now!