WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's ten members of Congress on Tuesday collectively asked for a meeting with VA Secretary Robert McDonald to talk about recent reports of falsified records at Minneapolis's VA hospital.
The request comes after VA records showed a neurology exam for 25-year-old Jordan Buisman was rescheduled four days after his death. The former corporal had been told he'd have to wait almost 70 days to see a specialist at the Minneapolis VA neurology clinic for his epilepsy, which was the reason he left the Marine Corps. He died 24 days before his appointment.
Four days later, someone wrote in his VA records that Buisman had canceled his neurology appointment. The story was first reported by KARE TV.
The VA Inspector General's office is currently investigating allegations of falsified records and manipulation with scheduling data. The delegation, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Tim Walz, John Kline, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan and Michele Bachmann, requested a meeting with Secretary McDonald once the findings are released by the IG.
"We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of falsified records and manipulation of scheduling data at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs VA Health Care System," the delegation wrote.
VA Secretary McDonald, who was just sworn in a couple months ago, said over the weekend in a speech in Cincinnati that, "we know we have to work harder to earn that trust back one veteran at a time."
WASHINGTON -- It's not often that Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan join together to support the same amendment.
On Thursday, an odd blend of bedfellows voted against a $5 billion measure to arm Syrian rebels in the fight to combat the terror group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which passed 273 to 156.
Bachmann, Nolan and Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum voted against the proposal. Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Keith Ellison joined Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen in support.
Bachmann tweeted after the vote: "Many of the so-called "moderate" rebels have already joined the cause of Islamic jihad. Concerned U.S. weapons could fall into enemy hands."
"Remember, last year at this time we were ready to attack (Syrian President) al-Assad and Syria. Now we appear in a tacit alliance with Assad and his allies to defeat ISIL," he said. "Today we appear ready to send $5 billion to the FSA ... The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result."
Paulsen said, in a statement, he supported the measure with reservations.
"I remain concerned about the administration's ability to effectively and appropriately vet Syrian opposition forces to ensure we are training groups aligned with our interest in defeating ISIL," he said, noting he found it "necessary to provide the president with this limited and short-term authority."
McCollum, in a statement, called the debate "rushed."
"The CIA is already training and arming Syrian fighters in Jordan, without congressional approval. How well has that worked? We are not discussing that as a body," she said.
The Senate takes this up Thursday. Sen. Al Franken in an interview on Wednesday said he had concerns about arming Syria and was still undecided.
According to Federal Election Commission data, Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race has attracted the most money from outside groups so far.
The contest between Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills has already seen nearly $1.4 million in PAC spending, with much of it coming from Nolan supporters, such as the House Majority Fund and the AFSCME union.
In contrast, the race for the Seventh Congressional District seat, which Republican Torrey Westrom hopes to snatch from longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, has only seen $245,000 in independent expenditures. Interestingly, the last filing documenting outside spending in that race was from eight months ago.
Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, so far, has drawn relatively little interest from independent spenders. According to FEC filings, outside groups have spent about $140,000 to weigh in on the battle between Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Republican Mike McFadden.
The FEC calculations only include expenditures that represent, "spending by individual people, groups, political committees, corporations or unions expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified federal candidates."
This post first appeared in our Morning Hot Dish political newsletter. If you're not already getting the political newsletter by email, it's easy and free to sign up. Go to StarTribune.com/membercenter, check the Politics newsletter box and save the change.
WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's eight House members voted mostly like the rest of the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday on a measure to sue President Barack Obama over executive powers -- the state's three Republicans supported it, the five Democrats voted against it.
At the heart of the House resolution, which authorizes GOP Speaker John Boehner to sue the president, is Obamacare. Republicans say the president has not adequately enforced the law, which they oppose, because his administration has delayed some parts of its implementation, including the requirement that employers provide health coverage.
Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen's spokesman sent over this statement Thursday:
"Congressman Paulsen is concerned about the continued growth of executive power and its impact on our political system. The vote made by the House seeks more accountability of the executive branch through this narrowly defined action. This is more about making sure the president – and any future president – is constitutionally required to faithfully execute our nation’s laws or go through Congress to have them changed."
Joining Paulsen in a yes vote were GOP Reps. Michele Bachmann and John Kline.
Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum said ahead of the vote she was going to vote "no on the Boehner lawsuit and will instead focus my energy on the needs of the families of the Fourth District."
Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan also voted no.
"Republicans have failed to get their work done in Washington and they use stunts like this lawsuit to distract attention from that simple truth," McCollum said.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and House Republicans hammered the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on Friday over missing emails related to its targeting of conservative groups.
The IRS announced last week that it can’t find two years of emails from Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS division that oversaw tax-exempt groups. Lerner has acknowledged the agency’s singling out of Tea Party groups that sought tax-exempt status from February 2010 through the 2012 election.
While testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee, Commissioner John Koskinen blamed the lost emails on an antiquated email system and a computer crash. Paulsen and other GOPers maintain the missing messages are part of a massive cover-up.
“Can you rule out that Lois Lerner destroyed her own computer?” Paulsen asked.
In response, Koskinen said: “There’s no evidence that she did. You can never rule out something that you don’t know.”
In a statement following the hearing, Paulsen said: “It’s long past time for the IRS to stop misleading Congress and the American people. The IRS systematically targeted individuals based on their personal beliefs, and as we found out today, is continuing to cover up their misdeeds.”
Michigan Rep. Sandy Levin, the lead Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said there was no conspiracy behind the computer crash, just an email system that was underfunded and deficient.
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