Monday Report from Representative Rick Nolan


Rebuilding America’s Middle Class with Good Paying Jobs and Bipartisan Reform

Teamsters marching for jobs and economic justice in downtown Minneapolis. 

Dear Friend,

America urgently needs millions more good paying jobs with pensions and health care benefits to rebuild the middle class, grow our economy, and reverse income inequality that has rigged the system for rich and powerful special interests. We need to reinvest in America and our people. With the White House spinning its wheels, it’s time for Congress to get to work this fall and take the lead with a bipartisan, job-generating, living wage reform agenda that puts American workers first. That will be my focus as Congress returns to Washington after the August recess and the long Labor Day Weekend.

Spending reform starts by putting a stop to endless wars of choice in the Middle East and so called “nation building” abroad. With the $6 trillion we have already spent in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, we could have substantially rebuilt our transportation infrastructure, extended broadband to every citizen in Rural America, graduated every college and post-secondary student debt free and given middle class Americans a pay raise and a substantial tax cut.

Health care reform means fixing what needs fixing in the Affordable Care Act – not dismantling the system, as Republicans have proposed, to leave up to 33 million Americans without health insurance. As I’ve pointed out many times before, the ultimate solution to health care in America is a system with cost controls that takes expensive insurance bureaucracies, executive salaries and profits out of the equation - a system where everyone is covered and everyone pays. Countries that do it that way pay substantially less and have better health care outcomes. 

Wage reform means a return to the progress enjoyed by previous generations - jobs with real living wages, pensions, and benefits that support families, with something left over at the end of the week to to wet a line, take in a movie, or go out for a meal. The hard cold fact is that tens of millions of today’s wage earners need two or three jobs just to make a living - with little or nothing left over. And of course we need to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour. No one who works 40 hours a week should ever be living in poverty.

Tax reform must benefit the middle class, ensure that Wall Street millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share, and stop incentivizing multi-national corporations to move their jobs overseas.

Trade reform must ensure “fair trade”, with tariffs and countervailing duties that acknowledge and compensate for differences in wages, benefits, environmental protections and health and safety standards. American workers can compete with anyone in the world on a level playing field.

Infrastructure reform requires massive new investments – between $4 and $5 trillion according to the American Society of Civil Engineers – to meet our urgent national needs, creating millions of good paying jobs in the process. That’s why I’ve reintroduced my “Buy American” legislation and amendments to ensure that all infrastructure projects are constructed with 100% American iron ore and steel.

Among many other things, our bipartisan reform agenda must also include measures to make college affordable, protect Social Security and Medicare, and put a stop to risky and unnecessary Republican privatization schemes. We must address the crisis of climate change immediately,  ensure full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the Sea Grants program, and provide more resources life saving medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

In short, we have a lot of work to do, and Americans expect their Congress to get busy fixing things and solving problems. There is no time for politics and partisanship. 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.



No Question About It - Illegal Foreign Steel Dumping Threatens America’s National Security! 

This is our message to the Trump Administration. It’s time to put a stop to illegal foreign steel dumping. 

Does the illegal dumping of millions of tons of sub-par foreign steel from trade cheater nations like China undermine our national security? Darn right it does. Up here in Northern Minnesota, we call that a “no brainer.” Thanks to the Obama Administration’s crackdown on illegal foreign steel that began when I invited then White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to the Iron Range to see the devastating economic effects of steel dumping for himself, more than 1,000 miners are back at work. America’s steel industry is on the rebound. But there is much more to do.

That’s why I’ve urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to immediately release the findings of a five-month long investigation to determine the national security threat posed by illegal dumping. Armed with that evidence, President Trump will have 90 days to use his authority under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act to double down on the Obama Administration’s battle against illegal steel dumping with even tougher tariffs, taxes and import fees.

During his campaign, President Trump repeatedly vowed to put American iron ore and steel workers first, and halt illegal steel dumping that threatens the very foundation of our economy and our national security. Now, after the House unanimously passed my Defense amendment declaring America’s iron ore and steel industry to be vital to our national security, it’s time for the president to follow up and take action. Make no mistake – we will hold his feet to the fire, and provide all of the support he needs to keep his promise to Minnesota’s Iron Range and to the American people.


No Government for America? Then No Pay for Congress!

Government by crisis management is back. Now that Congress is back in session, the House will have just 12 legislative days to raise the debt ceiling so our Nation can pay its bills – and to approve a spending agreement to avoid another catastrophic federal government shutdown. Republican leaders set the legislative schedule and they know these deadlines are coming. But time and again, they have failed to meet them.

The American people send their elected representatives to Washington to fix things and solve problems – not shut down the government and collect a salary for doing so.That’s why I reintroduced my “No Government-No Pay” Act earlier this year. Under this measure (H.R. 1789), when future Congresses allow the federal government to shut down, members would not be paid until everything is back up and running. Not just a delay in Congressional pay, but no pay at all – ever – for those wasted days.

Copper-Nickel Mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range is Key to Winning the Battle Against Climate Change

I hope you will take time to read and consider this opinion piece I wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune last month.

Mining copper and nickel on Minnesota’s Iron Range and addressing global climate change are compatible, complementary, and essential to our way of life. We have the brains, the technology and the need to do both.

If we attempt to do one without the other, we will end up with neither. The survival of humankind and Planet Earth rests on our willingness to use and embrace all of the knowledge and resources at our disposal to reverse climate change – including the vast deposits of strategic minerals in Northeastern Minnesota. We owe future generations no less. And if we fail, they will hold us rightly accountable.

The fact of the matter is, there would be no viable green economy and no effective means to reverse climate change without mining. Read our full op-ed here.

August Highlights Around Our Region

At Farm Fest near Redwood Falls, we heard the message again and again - prices and income are down, debt is up, land values are declining, loans are harder to come by and the future promises more of the same. As Ranking Member (the minority equivalent of chairman) of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodities and Risk Management, I’ll be front and center in efforts to ensure that the 2018 Farm Bill contains measures to improve the Crop Insurance program to help protect farmers from the ups and downs of the commodity market. 

August Highlights in Wadena

We toured Homecrest Outdoor Furniture in Wadena, a remarkable 65-year old operation that employs up to 140 people who manufacture top quality ‘Made in America’ products. Despite competition from low-grade Chinese imports, the business is growing by about 15 percent every year.

August also brought us to the Wadena Farmers Market for a briefing on the University of Minnesota’s Power of Produce program to provide children ages 4 to 11 with a $2 dollar token to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. Power of Produce works in conjunction with the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Naturally, I couldn’t resist these wonderful homemade breads, jams and jellies.

August Highlights in North Branch

North Branch Fire Chief Kevin Grote explained the impressive job of fire prevention and fire fighting being accomplished by the community’s 28-member volunteer fire department. North Branch City Councilor Jim Swenson and City Administrator Renae Fry, pictured here with me, joined our discussion. 

August Highlights in Cambridge

It was a pleasure and a real inspiration to tour Industries Inc. of PHASE (Pine Habilitation and Supported Employment) during our visit to Cambridge. PHASE employs folks with developmental challenges to craft beautiful signs and other wood products for sale - just like the one I’m proudly holding in the top picture.

August Highlights in Park Rapids

The Heartland Activity and Wellness Connection facility under construction in Park Rapids will provide local mental health services along with a wide range of recreational and business opportunities. Thanks to Better Connection founder and clinical staffer Danielle Lien and other members of the Park Rapids community for providing us with a tour and briefing. 

August Highlights in Dultuh

At our Veterans Choice roundtable in Duluth, Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz and I heard from top VA officials, Veterans Services Officers, health care providers and military Veterans - all of whom emphasized that Military the Veterans Choice program to provide rural Veterans with top quality local health care is a great idea that’s not working as intended - and we need to be bold, creative and open to new ideas in order to finally get it right.

Protect Minnesota, a group dedicated to the prevention of gun violence, presented me with this shield, signed by their members, in recognition of our work in Congress to stop gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights.

It was also great to meet with these local members of the Everytown for Gun Safety organization during our afternoon in the Duluth Congressional office. 


August Highlights in Brainerd

We were delighted to catch up with Brainerd Lakes area 4-H members and leaders who visited our DC office during the Presidential Inauguration ceremonies in January.

We met with local business people and community leaders to discuss progress in our effort to secure a federal grant to help develop the National Loon Center. Among other environmental projects, the Center will help preserve and protect Minnesota Loons being threatened by invasive zebra mussels and the effects of the BP oil spill. Money for the grant would come from proceeds of the federal settlement with BP.

August Highlights in Crane Lake

We toured the Customs and Border Patrol facility in Crane Lake with Darrell Scott, owner of Scott's on Crane Lake, a local resort on the Canadian Border.

In the top picture, Mark Anderson, owner of Anderson Outfitters on Crane Lake, shows me his operation. Joining our tour in the picture directly above was (left to right) Bruce Besty, Voyageur Country ATV, Gary Cerkvenik, Yours Truly, Mark Anderson, Owner of Anderson Outfitters, and Bill Congdon.

August Highlights in Grand Rapids

Modern, 21st Century mining relies on remarkable new technologies to protect our precious water and other natural resources. While visiting Grand Rapids, we met with Rob Scarlett (middle) and  Jeff Hansen (right) of Clearwater Layline, LLC for a demonstration of their new Bioreactor Sulfate Reduction Technology. 

August Highlights in International Falls

The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans held is annual StandDown in International Falls to make a wide variety of legal, health and other services available to local military Veterans. Pictured here are Margaret Kostiuk and Wayne Sampson. At 97 years young, Margaret is a practiced opera singer, and she did a spectacular job singing the National Anthem before the event.

Coming up in DC

Congress will have just 12 legislative days in September to pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling so our Nation can pay its bills - and to approve a spending agreement to keep the government running beyond September 30th. (Scroll up to see the article on our No Government-No Pay legislation.) 


A College Reminder

Just a reminder - if you have a high school senior in the family who’s looking toward college, the application process starts this fall. In Congress, I’m working hard to make college more affordable and lower the cost of federally insured student loans. And last month, I joined my daughter Katherine and her daughters for a day that included a college visit for Katherine, Anne and me. Anne, sitting across from me, will be starting her senior year in high school in just a few days. Time flies!

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