On Tuesday, the President delivered his annual State of the Union address to the nation. It was my hope that the President would emphasize the urgency of reversing thirty four straight months of unemployment over 8.5% and a national debt currently topping $15.2 trillion. Our staggering and ever-increasing national debt, which is projected to surpass $23 trillion by 2021, is the biggest threat to our national security. Importantly, Tuesday marked the 1,000th day since the Senate passed a budget, all the while it ignores 30 bipartisan House-passed jobs bills at the detriment of American workers. Right now we need leadership. We need a united America, a united people, to solve the pressing problems that face all of us. It is my sincere hope that the President will commit to common sense solutions with bipartisan results that put Americans back to work, and protect the prosperity of future generations.
MCCL Pro-Life Rally
Last Sunday in St. Paul, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life convened for its annual March for Life rally on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, which legalized abortion-on-demand. There are so many people who say we can subjectify the sacred inalienable rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Being pro-life, we must do all we can to protect the unborn. It was an honor to offer my remarks on this special day. (Photos)
Wyoming Town Hall
Last week the first-ever congressional town hall meeting was conducted for the people of Wyoming. It was a privilege to hear the opinions of my constituents and answer their questions regarding the legislative issues being considered by Congress. This town hall meeting was the fourteenth provided to the people of Minnesota's Eighth District since I was entrusted to serve this office. (Photos)
Honest Budget Act of 2012
I signed-on to legislation that prohibits nine of the gimmicks most commonly used to skirt the rules, deceive the public, and hide federal spending. The legislation would make it more difficult to pass appropriation bills without first approving a budget, and it would tighten rules about using "emergency designations" and "disaster designations" to justify off-budget spending. Additionally, the bill would prevent Congress from relying on phony rescissions, or from using fake savings in mandatory spending as offsets that "pay for" real, permanent increases elsewhere
North Branch Seniors' Town Hall: The folks at Ecumen Assisted Living Center in North Branch were kind to spend some time with me on Thursday morning. (Photos)
Minnesota Mining: I like to say Minnesota is three things: timber, taconite, and tourism. Read my Duluth News Tribune op-ed on the expansion of our mining industry here.
Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act of 2011: I signed-on to legislation to protect gun owners' Second Amendment rights when they are legally camping, hunting, or fishing on the 7.6 million acres of Army Corps owned property.
Seniors' Tax Simplification Act of 2011: I signed-on as a co-sponsor to the Seniors' Tax Simplification Act. The bill permits a new federal income tax form 1040SR (similar to Form 1040EZ) to be used by individuals who have turned 65 by the close of the taxable year. The bill allows the form to also be used for social security benefits, retirement plans, annuities, interest and dividends, and capital gains and losses. The 1040EZ offers a faster and easier way to file taxes.
$90k Returned to Taxpayers: It was announced that my office is returning $90,000 in leftover expense allowance to the taxpayers. A Members' Representational Allowance, or MRA, is usually spent for things like staff salaries, office supplies, postage, phone bills, and travel expenses back to House members' home districts.
This Week in the House
Motion to go to Conference onH.R. 658- FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act
H.Res. 522- Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1173) the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011
H.R. 1173- Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011
H.R. 3582 - Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2011
H.R. 3578 - Baseline Reform Act of 2011
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
H.R. 3835- To extend the pay limitation for Members of Congress and Federal Employees
H.Res. 496- Adjusting the amount provided for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in the One Hundred Twelfth Congress
H.R. 3567- Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act of 2011, as amended
Each week, members of my staff will head out from my three district offices in North Branch, Duluth and Brainerd to hold what are known as mobile offices. If you have a question about federal benefits or a question regarding your dealings with a federal agency, please stop by at the given locations at the times listed so you can speak with one of my staff. The list of mobile offices for Wednesday, February 1; Thursday, February 2; and Friday, February 3, 2012, can be found here. As always, you can also reach my casework staff by phone at (651) 237-8220, or toll free at 1-888-563-7390. It is my privilege to have provided my constituents access to mobile offices in nearly 140 Minnesota cities and townships since this past June.
Commitment to Constituent Outreach
It is my duty to provide Eighth District constituents unprecedented access to their representative in Washington. To date, this responsibility has amounted to fourteenth public town hall meetings, six senior town hall meetings, eleven tele-town halls, mobile offices in nearly 140 different cities and townships, numerous roundtable discussions, and three permanent district offices where we conduct office hours -- where anyone is able to schedule an appointment. My primary focus is to create more jobs for the 8th District; I look forward to continuing this conversation with my constituents.
One of the best ways you can keep up to speed with what I'm doing in Congress is through social media. I encourage you to follow me on Facebook and on Twitter.
Rest assured, I will remain an independent, conservative voice in Washington; I promise to uphold the fiscally conservative principles the people of the 8th District entrusted upon me. It is a privilege serving you as your elected representative to Congress.