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."
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WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum praised the National Guard Thursday after it announced earlier this week it would end its $32 million annual sponsorship of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and its $12 million contract with IndyCar driver Graham Rahal.
The money was meant to boost recruiting, but Pentagon officials were never able to verify the program actually yielded any new recruits.
McCollum, from her perch on the defense appropriations sub-committee, has criticized the program for several years. In 2012, she found Republican support in ending the program in Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia.
It was unclear Thursday whether the Pentagon would do away completely with NASCAR sponsorships. The announcement was only about Earnhardt and Rahal. McCollum's office said the Pentagon also uses taxpayer-funded "marketing" money on professional fishing, motocross, World Wrestling Entertainment and cage fighting.
“Cancelling this NASCAR racing team contract is a victory for taxpayers and I’m pleased to say the National Guard has finally made the correct decision," said McCollumn, who represents St. Paul, in a statement. "Paying one race car driver $32 million in taxpayer funds year after year to put a logo on his car has been a complete waste of tax dollars."
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.
A decision by the U.S. Patent Office to cancel the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins’ team nickname is a “victory for decency,” said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
The team doesn't immediately lose trademark protection and is allowed to retain it during an appeal, which is likely.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused to change the team's name, citing tradition, but there has been growing pressure including statements in recent months from members of Congress, President Obama and civil rights groups.
Native American groups and lawmakers -- who have pressured National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to force Snyder to abandon the name – celebrated the decision.
In May, half of the U.S. Senate – including Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken -- wrote letters to the NFL urging the team to change its name.
“I commend the Native American petitioners and tribal leaders from across Indian Country for their courage to confront this ugly issue head on and strive for both justice and the respect they deserve,” said McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat.
“It is time for NFL team owners to have the courage to speak out and pressure Dan Snyder to change his team’s racist name. Any effort by Mr. Snyder to appeal this ruling can only be viewed as a bigoted attempt to continue to profit from this racist team name at the expense of the dignity of Native Americans.”
The decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which found that the team name is “disparaging of Native Americans,” means that the team can continue to use the Redskins name, but would lose much of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to its use.
The case does not apply to the team's logo.
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