National Republicans are homing in on Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s seat in northern Minnesota.
On Thursday, the National Republican Congressional Committee added Nolan’s challenger, Stewart Mills III, to the lowest level of its “Young Guns” program, which lends help to GOP candidates.
Mills was one of 36 House hopefuls named to the “On the Radar” list. If Mills reaches the next step, he would become a “Contender.” The most promising candidates are tagged as “Young Guns.”
As candidates ascend the ranks, they’re more likely to receive financial and campaign aid from the NRCC and other members of Congress. Mills already outraised Nolan by nearly $100,000 during the last fundraising quarter.
The NRCC, the campaign arm of House Republicans, hopes to bolster GOP prospects in next year's mid-term elections by making the Affordable Care Act their primary campaign issue. In October, the group aired radio ads in Nolan’s Eighth Congressional District, criticizing him for refusing to defund the health care law.
“With ObamaCare’s bad policies and botched rollout affecting families across our nation, and our country diving deeper into debt each and every day, it’s time to bring real change backed by conservative principles and priorities to Washington,” NRCC chairman Greg Walden said in a statement Thursday.
“I am confident that these candidates will continue to work hard for their communities and their campaigns as we head into the 2014 election year.”
In a press briefing this week, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Steve Israel said he is confident Nolan will defend his seat.
The NRCC has also targeted U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in the First Congressional District, but none of his potential Republican challengers made the up-and-coming list.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and several House Republican colleagues have discussed suing President Obama for not consulting Congress before he decided to end the cancellation of health care policies under the Affordable Care Act.
After Obama's violated his promise that the health care law would allow people to keep their insurance plans if they liked them, he decided to allow companies, for one year, to offer policies that don’t meet the health care law's standards.
Bachmann, a leading opponent of the health care law, believes that Obama’s decision violated the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine.
“Congresswoman Bachmann is deeply concerned about President Obama’s pattern of bypassing Congress and issuing unconstitutional executive decrees, and she and some of her colleagues have had discussions about the best recourse to put a stop to his unconstitutional actions,” said Bachmann spokesman Dan Kotman.
Kotman did not discuss a timeline for the possible legal action.
Politico first reported the discussions, which Bachmann revealed Tuesday during an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Opposition by U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and bipartisan swath of Congress to Defense Department dealings with the Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport helped block the purchase of helicopters bound for Afghanistan’s national security forces.
Ellison’s office on Monday hailed last week’s Pentagon decision to cancel the purchase of 15 additional Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters from Rosoboronexport, which has supplied Syrian President Bashar Assad's military forces.
The cargo helicopters were to be purchased next year. Both Minnesota Democrats were both on a congressional letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in July questioning the deal because of the agency’s ties to the Assad regime.
Three Democratic Minnesota U.S. House members — Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz — bucked their party leaders on Friday and backed a Republican bill that would allow insurers to keep selling policies that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation would grant a reprieve to Americans, including an estimated 140,000 in Minnesota, who would lose their current insurance policies despite a promise from President Obama that his health care law wouldn’t strip away their preferred coverage.
Democrats in moderate districts faced a tough choice with their votes: back legislation that would allow constituents to keep existing insurance plans or rally behind Obama’s signature health care policy.
The bill passed the House 261 to 157. Nearly all 39 Democratic supporters hail from districts where voters favored Republican Mitt Romney or where Obama won by a slim margin in the 2012 presidential election.
Admitting that his administration botched the health care rollout, Obama said Thursday that health insurance companies can extend canceled policies by one year even if they don’t meet the health law’s requirements. The president shouldered the blame for the problems.
Republicans argued Friday’s bill, the Keep Your Health Care Plan Act, would uphold Obama’s promise to let people keep their current health insurance plans. Many Democrats saw the Republican bill as an effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act by allowing insurers to continue selling plans that aren’t compliant with the law.
Democratic Party leaders hoped that Obama’s proposed fix would prevent rank-and-file members from crossing the aisle in support of the GOP bill.
But Republicans ratcheted up the pressure as millions of Americans received notice that they won’t be able to keep their preferred plans. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House Republicans, targeted Walz and other Democrats in potential swing districts who voted for the law in 2010. The lone Minnesota Democrat to vote against the Affordable Care Act when it passed in 2010, Peterson had already announced plans to support the Republican bill.
Minnesota’s House Republicans — Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen — voted with their party on the legislation. Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum opposed the bill.
The bill may have political ramifications but it has likely hit a legislative dead end. The White House issued a veto threat Thursday.
While President Obama was tweaking the Affordable Care Act Thursday to extend expiring insurance policies for another year, U.S. Rep. John Kline was holding a hearing in his Education and Workforce Committee to explore another potential pitfall of the law.
In a new challenge to the health care overhaul, the Minnesota Republican has been highlighting the financial burden that it could impose on school districts and colleges that have to comply with the federal mandate to provide coverage for their employees.
Though the mandate has been pushed back a year, educators and school district officials from around the nation warned of the unintended budget consequences of covering part-time and semi-part workers such as teaching aides, adjunct instructors, cooks, bus drivers and others who work more than 30 hours a week.
A recent analysis of Minnesota Education Department data by the conservative-leaning Watchdog Minnesota found that 22,800 non-licensed school employees work between 30 and 39 hours a week, making them eligible for required benefits under the new health law.
State education officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Critics of the law warn that the 30-hour threshold will force schools, just like other employers, to limit hours, cut jobs, or incur greater costs.
While some educators have asked that the coverage threshold be raised to 40 hours, Democrats on the committee argued that the change would hurt part-time workers who will otherwise be insured.
Kline argues that the law’s employer mandate could hurt the educational system at all levels. “Americans continue to express their concerns about Obamacare and the troubling impact it is having on their lives,” Kline said in the lead-up to the hearing. “Our nation’s schools are not immune to the consequences of this law.”