Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation amid a scandal that has embroiled the agency tasked with caring for the nation’s veterans.
Nolan is one of the few congressional Democrats demanding Shinseki’s ouster.
President Obama and most other members of his party have stood by Shinseki as claims mount that dozens of veterans died while waiting months for medical care and that VA employees engaged in a cover-up to conceal the treatment delays.
“These issues did not begin with Secretary Shinseki, but he’s had six years to fix the problems that plague this agency, and it’s highly unlikely that any more time will make a difference,” Nolan said Friday afternoon.
In a statement, Nolan said he wants GOP House Speaker John Boehner to establish a special committee to probe the allegations of mismanagement, fraud and abuse at the agency.
Shinseki has attempted to stay ahead of the scandal, promising a full investigation into allegations that veterans died at an Arizona VA facility while waiting for care. That probe has expanded to include 26 VA facilities.
But action hasn’t come fast enough for Nolan, who’s faced pressure from the national GOP for not speaking out about the scandal until now. Republican Stewart Mills III, who is challenging Nolan in the Eighth Congressional District, called for Shinseki’s firing Thursday.
“He has had ample time to fix the serious issues in the Department and he has either failed to do so or been unaware of the problems. Regardless of which is the case, it’s time for new leadership in the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Mills said.
In his statement Friday, Nolan dismissed the Republican criticism as “disingenuous.”
“I find it somewhat disingenuous that many of the same Republicans who voted down our measure to double the number of personnel necessary to alleviate the backlog in disability claims are now shouting the loudest about the failure to address that same backlog,” Nolan said.
“It’s reminiscent of how they shut down the government and then complained about the national parks being closed.”
Minnesota U.S Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken have introduced a bill to rename the federal Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C., in memory of former U.S Rep. Jim Oberstar.
Oberstar chaired the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during his last two terms in Congress. The Chisholm native was Minnesota’s longest-serving congressman, representing the Eighth Congressional District from 1974 to 2010.
“Representative Oberstar’s fingerprints can be found on just about every major federally funded transportation project during the last five decades – roads, bridges, tunnels, rails, locks and dams, bike paths,” Klobuchar said.
Before serving in Congress, he worked for years on the House Public Works Committee, the Transportation Committee’s precursor, as an aide to former U.S. Rep. John Blatnik.
Illinois U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski has introduced similar legislation in the House. All eight members of Minnesota’s House delegation are co-sponsoring Lipinski’s bill.
“It’s only fitting that the federal building dedicated to the safe and efficient movement of the cars, trucks, bikes, planes, trains, and ships that Jim cared so much about be named in his honor,” Franken said.
Lipinski sponsored an almost identical bill in 2010, just before Oberstar left office. But the legislation stalled in committee.
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Rick Nolan is appalled that of the $100 billion American dollars spent on construction in Afghanistan, more than $60 billion is unaccounted for, according to an Inspector General's report.
The 8th Congressional District DFLer has a proposed amendment, which he got into the National Defense Authorization Act, that will prohibit funding for any new construction projects over $500,000, unless the U.S. government can physically inspect or audit those projects.
Nolan's amendment will get some floor time tonight and his staffers say a vote should come tomorrow.
The National Defense Authorization Act, an annual bill that sets policy and spending for the Pentagon, may get a full House vote as early as tomorrow. Nolan isn't on the Armed Services Committee, but GOP leaders let anyone submit amendments for a bill this big and Nolan's was approved overnight Tuesday by the House Rules Committee.
Staffers say the potential for corruption and fraud is high in Afghanistan and Nolan is disgusted with the abuse of taxpayer money there.
UPDATED TO CLARIFY CRAVAACK SUPPORT
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour is tapping into his personal fortune to competes in the wide open GOP field for the state’s highest-elected office.
Pat Shortridge, a senior adviser for Honour, confirmed that the candidate renewed his commitment to his campaign with an additional loan of $250,000. Shortridge said the new infusion is part of a major fundraising push for the next phase of the campaign.
That comes on top of $50,000 that Honour loaned his campaign in the first quarter of this year.
Honour had the best fundraising quarter of any of the GOP rivals, netting more than $200,000 through March, even outraising DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
Honour is not abiding by the GOP endorsement at the end of the month, so he is pressing on to the August primary.
On Wednesday, former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack renewed his support of Honour. Cravaack endorsed Honour previously.
"He is a business leader, and will take on the tough problems facing our state rather than doing what is politically convenient just to get re-elected," said Cravaack, a Republican who represented Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. "Scott hasn't spent his career in politics, and electing him will send a message to career politicians that it's the end of business as usual, that it is time for new leaders and a new direction for our state."
Honour and Cravaack have spent the week traveling together, stopping in Virginia, Duluth, Hinkley and elsewhere.
"I am grateful and honored to have the support of Chip Cravaack," Honour said. "With his help I'll continue building a strong coalition of leaders and supporters that will be successful in defeating Mark Dayton in November."
WASHINGTON -- Republican Stewart Mills III, who is running to unseat Rep. Rick Nolan in the 8th Congressional District, launched his first ads this week in a substantive buy on television in Duluth and the Twin Cities against Obamacare.
"Every day I see how Obamacare is hurting small businesses and the middle class," Mills says, after saying he grew up in the family company stocking shelves and mopping floors. "As your congressman I'll replace it."
The campaign declined to give specifics but a Democratic source says the campaign sunk $170,000 in the buy on cable and network television in Duluth and Minneapolis/St. Paul. It is scheduled to run through July.
In last campaign finance reports, Mills reportedly had $350,000 cash on hand. His portion of his family's farm business is worth between $41 million and $150 million.
“It’s clear why millionaire Stewart Mills is avoiding the issues and hiding behind his TV ads, because when the cameras aren’t rolling he says what he actually thinks,” said Brandon Lorenz of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
This is the latest ad in the putative fight this fall between Republicans and DFLers over Obamacare. Last week, Mike Obermueller, who is running against GOP incumbent Rep. John Kline, launched a pro-Obamacare ad in a tiny ad buy on MSNBC.
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