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 President Obama

McFadden: Restrict travel, appoint cabinet member to address Ebola threat

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: October 16, 2014 - 12:46 PM

Following disconcerting shortfalls revealed in the wake of a second nurse's Ebola diagnosis, U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden proposed steps to halt the spread of the deadly disease, which include mandatory quarantines and travel bans.

“We are not remotely prepared to deal with an Ebola outbreak in the United States,” McFadden said, adding that there are four state-of-the-art contamination centers in the country, each of which is equipped to hold just three to 10 patients. “As a result I believe we aggressively make sure that Ebola is not allowed to take hold and take root in the United States.”

McFadden, the Republican challenger to Sen. Al Franken, said the spread of Ebola is the currently the concern he’s heard more than any on the campaign trail, and proposes the following:

  • A temporary ban on travelers entering the U.S. who have recently been in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Aid workers would still be allowed to travel after a mandatory 21-day quarantine.
  • Boosting staffing at the Centers for Disease Control call centers to handle increased call volume from the public.
  • Lowering the CDC fever guidelines for people who have had contaqct with Ebola patients so that they may not travel with an elevated temperature.
  • Reiterating a call for President Obama to designate a cabinet member to coordinate the United States’ response to the disease.

McFadden compared President Obama’s reaction to the crisis a failure to be proactive, similar to when Islamic State militants beheaded the second of two American hostages last month. He also leveled criticism at Franken for a lack of action.

“They came back and said ‘We don’t have a strategy,’” he said. “I have the exact same feeling now that there is no strategy. The CDC allowed this nurse to get on a flight. That’s not acceptable. Someone needs to take responsibility for this.”

The country is currently without a U.S. Surgeon General, a position that requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Some Republicans have stood in opposition to Obama's current nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy. McFadden wouldn't say whether he was concerned that Murthy hasn't been confirmed, and said it is only important that a cabinet member is in charge, and wouldn't say whether he would vote to confirm Murthy.

"The president can just appoint a cabinet member to take responsibility for the role of Ebola. That's the role of the president." he said.

In the wake of concerns about a possible walkout of Texas nurses staffed with caring for Ebola patients, and for the welfare of U.S. aid workers who continue to care for Ebola patients in west Africa, McFadden said he had empathy for the risk they’re taking. Reports Thursday say Obama may deploy National Guard troops to Africa to build Ebola treatment centers. McFadden said he would back this as long as troops were adequately protected.

“Here they are trying to help people that are gravely ill, and I think that what we’re seeing down in Dallas is the nurses have very little faith in the system, and the way we’re responding to things,” he said. “I would guess that they were told ‘We’re doing everything right in this hospital, you’re going to be adequately protected.’ And they weren’t. They lost trust in the system.”

Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff shot back at McFadden, saying that while McFadden held a news conference, Franken "went to work," pushing for increased screening at Minneapolis-St. Paul International AIrport, ensuring Minnesota healthcare providers have the necessary federal resources and backing legislation to fight Ebola. He backs any steps that need to be taken to prevent further spread, she said.

“Senator Franken finds it outrageous and unacceptable that CDC allowed a nurse to fly after she had been exposed to the virus." Fetissoff said. "The CDC has acknowledged this was a mistake and that they are now immediately take steps to make sure that additional Ebola infections are prevented. He will be watching to make sure they do so and there should be consequences if they do not.”

Franken at Indigenous Peoples Day event

Posted by: J. Patrick Coolican Updated: October 13, 2014 - 6:40 PM

Sen. Al Franken spoke to a crowd of several hundred at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, reminding voters there about his legislation aimed at preventing rampant sex assaults on tribal lands, as well as improving health care and bringing school reconstruction dollars to American Indians. 

Franken, the first-term Democrat in a re-election contest with businessman Mike McFadden, appeared for the first-ever celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.  

Franken opened with a self-deprecating story about his first powwow, when he was advised by an American Indian aide not to dance but did anyway after encouragement from the crowd and a promise not to ridicule him. 

"I was a dancing fool," he said. 

Earlier in the day Franken held a news conference to discuss his efforts to crack down on so-called “stalking apps" that allow users to track another person's location without their knowledge or consent. 

During the news conference he endorsed closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, trying the terrorism suspects in American courts and holding them in American maximum security prisons. He said President Obama does not have authority to do so without approval from Congress, however. 

The McFadden campaign said the Guantanamo proposal is "out of touch" in light of the newest American military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and said it showed Franken's allegiance to the Obama White House. 

White House awards $17 million to Minnesota community colleges for job training programs

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: September 30, 2014 - 9:09 AM

Fourteen community colleges in Minnesota that are partnering with employers on job training are getting about $17 million from the Obama administration.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls will receive $2.5 million and South Central College in North Mankato will get $5.6 million.

The remaining will be spread between a dozen institutions across the state: Bemidji State University; Century College; Dakota County Technical College; Lake Superior College; Minneapolis Community & Technical College; Minnesota State Community and Technical College; Minnesota West Community and Technical College; Normandale Community College; Northland Community & Technical College; Ridgewater College; Riverland Community College; South Central College; and Saint Paul College.

Vice President Joe Biden and the secretaries of Education and Labor announced the grant winners Monday at the White House.

Linking job training to industry demand is key to the Obama administration’s strategy to improve wages and reduce unemployment. Nationwide, $450 million is being distributed to nearly 270 community colleges.

These are the final installments in the four-year Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training competitive grant program. Counting the grants announced Monday, the program has awarded about $2 billion.

The White House said the program is geared toward military veterans, the long-term jobless and people who lost jobs when their former employers shifted production offshore.

“People are going to gets skills to get a job tomorrow and punch their way to the middle class,” Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said.

Obama appoints former Minnesota congressman to trade advisory panel

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: September 29, 2014 - 8:56 AM

President Obama will reappoint former Minnesota congressman Bill Frenzel to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, which provides policy advice to the White House on trade matters.

President Bush appointed Frenze, a Republican,l to the committee in 2002; he served as the panel’s chairman from 2002 to 2011. Frenzel also served on Bush’s Tax Reform Commission.

From 1971 to 1991, Frenzel represented the Third Congressional District, the seat currently held by GOP U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen.

A version of this item appeared in Morning Hot Dish, the Star Tribune's daily political newsletter. To sign up, go to StarTribune.com/membercenter, check the Politics newsletter box and save the change.

Klobuchar rules out attorney general rumors

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: September 25, 2014 - 4:13 PM

Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Thursday shot down speculation that she is a candidate to be the next U.S. attorney general.

"I intend to continue my work for the people of Minnesota as their Senator,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “We have a lot of work ahead in Congress in the next year and I want to be there to do it."

A flurry of speculation erupted Thursday morning after news broke that Attorney General Eric Holder would be resigning. Klobuchar, who spent nearly a decade as the Hennepin County attorney before winning her Senate seat in 2006, was among a number of potential replacements named in media reports.

Holder plans to remain at the Justice Department until his successor is chosen. President Obama formally announced his resignation Thursday afternoon in the East Room of the White House.

"Attorney General Holder has been a steady leader at the helm of the Justice Department during a time of significant challenge and change,” Klobuchar said. “I have worked with him on a range of important issues, including reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and confirming a new U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. I thank Attorney General Holder for his dedicated service."

Klobuchar, meanwhile, is chasing national ambitions. She has dotten in and out of Iowa in the past year for various speeches and fundraisers and has raised moneny for both would-be presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton and a handful of other Democrats in vulnerable Senate races.



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