With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Jim Spencer and intern Beena Raghavendran.

Posts about 4th District

Rep. Nolan rails against Rep. McCollum's mining bill

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 16, 2015 - 10:06 AM
WASHINGTON -- A measure introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum this week that would prohibit all future mining on federally managed lands in the Rainy River Watershed area up in northern Minnesota drew the ire from the Democrat who represents the area.
 
Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, who represents northeastern Minnesota, including the Iron Range and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, said late Wednesday in a somewhat breathless statement that he would "vigorously oppose" McCollum's legislation. 

"The simple truth is this bill is a duplicative, overlapping regulatory scheme designed to prohibit mining on the Iron Range," Nolan said. "The fact is, we have the brains, technology and regulations to both mine and protect the environment."

He went on, "Mining is what we do on the Range and is at the heart of our regional and national economy. This is truly a "Made in America" industry -- with 140 prosperous years of quality products and thousands of good-paying jobs."

McCollum, who represents St. Paul and has a high-ranking spot on the House Appropriations Interior subcommittee, said she crafted the proposal because she wanted to ensure water flowing into Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area "is as clean and clear as the water inside those protected areas."
 
McCollum's bill has an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. She said Thursday in an interview that she "lives in the real world and I think it's pretty slim."
 
She called Nolan's statement misleading.
 
"I think Rick and I both share a goal in recognizing the treasures and the fact that boundary waters do need protection but my bill, contrary to what his release looks like, only prohibits the federal government from issuing any new leases on federal lands. So it doesn't ban mining," she said. 
 

Kline pushes for funding to help Indian schools

Posted by: Beena Raghavendran Updated: March 25, 2015 - 4:53 PM

U.S. Rep. John Kline is asking for an almost $60 million increase in funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in as part of a recent push to end many of the unsafe conditions in Bureau of Indian Education schools across the country.

As the chairman for the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Kline’s letter to the Committee on Appropriations requests $133.2 million for education construction in the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the next fiscal year — a $58.7 million increase from Fiscal Year 2015.

In his letter, Kline cites the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School on the Leech Lake Band of the Ojibwe Reservation in northwestern Minnesota as a school that is emblematic of problems in Indian schools across the nation. As described in a four-part Star Tribune opinion series in the fall, the Bug school’s list of grievances include a rodent infestation and a roof that caves during heavy snowfalls.

“The federal government has made a commitment to American Indian students and families to provide educational opportunities in a manner that preserves their culture, language, and traditions,” Kline said in a release. “Unfortunately, we are failing to meet that commitment.”

His push to the appropriations committee is on the heels of a letter he sent last month to the director of the Bureau of Indian Education, asking the bureau what it was doing to address issues surrounding Indian schools.

The Leech Lake Reservation school — known as the Bug school — has seen legislative mentions in recent weeks that point to new waves of efforts to fix it soon. At the end of February, the Committee on Appropriations’ subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies held a hearing to discuss the budget proposal for Indian Affairs and Indian Education, where ranking member U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum cited the Bug school. Part of the $58.7 million increase is $11.9 million “to address major facility repair needs at schools like the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school,” the Interior budget cites in its report.

Kline will hold a hearing next month to take a further look into Indian schools. Prior to the hearing, he will visit the Bug school.

Amid deep Homeland Security rancor, Minnesota delegation votes the same

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 3, 2015 - 7:55 PM

WASHINGTON -- There has been so much drama with funding the Department of Homeland Security that the effort basically sucked all the energy out of the last two weeks of Congress.

Yet, today, the divided Minnesota House delegation all voted the same: To support a "clean" bill to fund the Department through this September.

The three Republican Reps. Tom Emmer, John Kline and Erik Paulsen joined Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson in a yes vote.

Some Republicans last week disagreed with fully funding the Department because they didn't support -- or want to give money to -- enforcing President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. Obama's executive action prioritized deporting felons, not people working without papers and provided temporary stay in the U.S. for people who have been here more than five years and pass a background check.

Back and forth, the House and Senate squabbled about a so-called "clean" bill -- without restrictions to funds -- versus a bill that stripped money from immigration enforcement.

Emmer, who was elected to replace Rep. Michele Bachmann last November, notably criticized his Republican colleagues over the weekend after the Department came within about an hour of shutting down.

Rep. Nolan said after the vote: "I am pleased to see that one-third of the House Republicans supported this clean bill, and I hope that we can all continue to support full-long term funding measures in the future."

Sen. Franken sits out, Sen. Klobuchar sits in on Netanyahu address Tuesday

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 2, 2015 - 3:59 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Al Franken said Monday he will not sit in the chamber during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress Tuesday, while his Democratic colleague Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she will be there.

In an e-mail, Franken said the speech had "unfortunately become a partisan spectacle."

The Israeli prime minister, amid his own re-election campaign,accepted an invitation by GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to address a joint session of the Republican-led Congress. The two Republican leaders did not check with the White House or the State Department -- considered a breach of protocol.

Netanyahu is expected to talk about his opposition to talks the United States is having with Iran about its nuclear program. Obama is not expected to meet with Netanyahu when he is in town.

"I'd be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don't believe should be happening," said Franken. "I'm confident that, once this episode is over, we can reaffirm our strong tradition of bipartisan support for Israel."

Franken joins Democratic Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison, who said earlier this month they would boycott the speech.

Republican Reps. Tom Emmer, John Kline and Erik Paulsen said they will be there, as will Democrat Reps. Rick Nolan, Tim Walz and Collin Peterson.

As promised, Obama vetoes Keystone pipeline bill

Posted by: Jim Spencer Updated: February 24, 2015 - 3:04 PM

President Obama made good Tuesday on a promise to veto a bill approving construction of the Keystone pipeline. In his veto message, the president called the bill an effort to "circumvent" an established review process that needed more time to consider "security, safety and environmental" issues. Republican leaders in the U.S.. House and Senate must now decide if they will try to override the veto. Without a wildly unlikely change in Democratic votes, it will be impossible to override the president's veto and make the pipeline approval law. An override effort move would begin in the Senate and require a two-thirds majority vote, before moving to the House, where another two-thirds majority would be required to make the bill law. The Keystone bill passed the House with Minnesota's three rural Democrats - Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan and Tim Walz - voting for it with Republicans John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer. Democrats Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum voting against it. In the Senate, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both Democrats, voted against Keystone. Both have said they will not vote to override a Keystone veto. Neither will Minnesota House members Ellison or  McCollum. 

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