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 Paulson 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.
Republican congressional candidate Stewart Mills III is standing by an attack ad that has drawn fire from a powerful Iron Range union.
Attacking Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan as an out-of-touch D.C. politician, the 60-second commercial suggests that he ignores labor interests in his northern Minnesota district.
"Rick Nolan doesn't have any sense of what's going on in northern Minnesota," said Steve Biondich, a steelworker from Aurora and treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 6115.
"Since Rick Nolan's been elected, I haven't seen him once in the Iron Range. He's gone to Washington. He's part of the problem. Jobs aren't being created. The wages aren't going up. People are having a hard time paying the bills."
High-ranking United Steelworker leaders took issue with Biondich’s claims, arguing that his statements are manufactured.
“Nobody has been a stronger advocate for the Iron Range than Rick Nolan. If Steve hasn’t seen Nolan on the Range then he has either been asleep or not paying attention,” said John Rebrovich, assistant to the director of the United Steelworkers’ nine-state District 11.
Mills campaign spokeswoman Chloe Rockow said: “Steve's comments in the ad are reflective of what we hear over and over again from Iron Rangers. Unlike Rick Nolan, Stewart Mills will put actions behind his words when he says he supports the Iron Range.”
In the spot, Biondich also urged voters to look past party affiliation when deciding which candidate is best for the Eighth Congressional District, but he’s a GOP supporter. He donated to the 2010 campaign of former GOP congressman Chip Cravaack, who Nolan unseated in 2012.
"The ad speaks for itself," Biondich wrote in an email to the Star Tribune.
Biondich, 33, also took heat from the DFL for postings on his Facebook page, including a suggestion that if a woman wants to walk down the aisle, “send that (expletive) grocery shopping.”
The state DFL hosted a rally in Duluth on Friday, with women demanding that Mills account for the content on Biondich’s social media page.
Biondich declined to comment his social media posts and directed questions to Rockow.
“While Stewart and his wife don't agree with the comments in question, I think it's hypocritical for Democrats to target Stewart here while Rick Nolan has campaigned with a convicted sex offender,” Rockow said.
Amid GOP criticism, Nolan ultimately canceled a planned fundraiser with Peter Yarrow, the singer from the 1960s band Peter, Paul and Mary, who admitted in 1970 to having improper relations with a 14-year-old girl.
WASHINGTON -- Minnesota radio and television station owner Stanley Hubbard has given more than $191,000 to federal party committees and candidates this election season -- something he told the Washington Post makes him poorer.
In cooperation with the Center for Responsive Politics, the Washington Post's story looks at a handful of large donors nationally benefiting from a Supreme Court decision, which ditched limits an individual could give to a candidates or party committee.
“My phone rings, rings, rings,” Hubbard told the Post. “It’s made me poorer, I’ll tell you that, but it’s made it possible for me do a better job as a citizen. It used to be kind of nice to say, ‘I’m maxed out,’ but I really believe that people running for office need to have support.”
Back in April, Hubbard predicted that he would use the high court's McCutcheon decision to his advantage.
Hubbard was in the news last month after Eighth District GOP candidate Stewart Mills bragged to supporters that his campaign got a television ad against him "yanked" by at least two television stations owned by Hubbard, who is a Mills supporter.
Mills contended the ad, which is spliced together, took his words out of context. Other stations continued to run the ad, which was paid for by the House Majority PAC.
Hubbard told the Star Tribune he had nothing to do with the decision to pull it from air.
"Our legal department received the complaint, and they inspected the ad, and felt that there were things in it that were out of context and not true. Tell the truth and you’ll have no trouble with us," Hubbard said last month. "Our stations do not get involved in politics, period.”
BRAINERD -- GOP Congressional candidate Stewart Mills believes in health care reform, sensible environmental regulation and would even seek out federal cash for appropriate district projects.
He just doesn't like the way the Democrats on Capitol Hill have been going about any of this work.
In a sit-down with the Star Tribune between campaign events here at his headquarters, Mills answered a few questions:
--What did you think of recent comments made by GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden that he would use Chinese steel to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, as long as it was cheaper?
"I'm not going to distance from myself from anybody's comments .. but I will tell you what I believe: Any pipeline that's going to be built, especially the Keystone, is going to be built with U.S. steel. We know the competing steel from countries are violating trade agreements by manipulating their currencies ... I don' t think we should be rewarding them for cheating."
--Rep. Rick Nolan openly seeks out federal money for local projects in the district. How would you approach seeking out federal cash to bring back home?
"I think that people in this part of Minnesota understand that that's gotta be paid for somewhere. If there's a project that's worthwhile, that makes sense for this district, I would advocate for it too. However, I would not try to use that as a leverage point to get reelected."
--How is the campaign going so far?
"There's no part of the 8th district we don't think we're going to do well. We think our message cuts across all geographic areas and people that have traditionally been pegged as Democrats I think will be looking at our campaign with open eyes."
--You have said you don't support the Paul Ryan Budget plan, supported by the majority of House Republicans and approved in the spring of 2014. (Though not taken up by the Senate.) Tell me why.
"I agree with repealing Obamacare but I don't agree with the cuts to Medicare Advantage. I believe that money should be returned to Medicare and then we have to reform the system ... That's how it becomes sustainable."
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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