First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz will be at a Rochester grocery store on Monday to listen to constituent concerns.
Walz's Congress on Your Corner stop will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Hy-Vee, 4221 W. Circle Dr. N.W. The congressman is planning to do other Congress on Your Corner stops in southern Minnesota in the coming weeks.
First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz is one of 47 Democrats who joined Republicans today to pass a bill that toughens security checks for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
The measure cleared the House by a vote of 289 to 137, despite a veto threat from President Obama. The bill makes it so that no Syrian or Iraqi refugees would be allowed into the country until getting reviewed by several top U.S. officials to make sure they do not pose a security risk. The measure comes after Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people.
In a released statement, Walz said that protecting the safety of the American people has always been a priority for him.
"Over the past several days, I have met with experts, studied the issue and solicited the opinions of southern Minnesotans. The message from southern Minnesota has been very clear: our care and compassion for those fleeing terror is absolute, but we have to find a way to ensure that we keep Americans safe from harm," Walz said in a statement.
The congressman added that he believes the bill provides needed safeguards.
"I believe doing so is critical to the success of any refugee program, and I will continue to fight to ensure we take every possible measure to protect our country," Walz said.
The bill still needs to pass the Senate before heading to the president's desk. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is quoted in the Washington Post saying he doesn't expect the bill to pass the Senate.
Two other Minnesota Democrats joined Walz in voting for the measure. They are 7th District Rep. Collin Peterson and 8th District Rep. Rick Nolan. All Minnesota Republicans voted for the bill.
Second District GOP Rep. John Kline was a co-sponsor of the bill.
"In the wake of ISIS attacks on three continents this month and reports that at least one of the terrorists in Paris posed as a refugee from Syria to gain entry into France, this legislation ensures our intelligence officials unanimously certify an individual does not represent a security threat before they enter America," Kline said in a statement. "The United States has a long tradition of welcoming refugees and providing assistance, but we also need to do everything we can to keep Americans safe.”
First District Rep. Tim Walz said he has decided to vote for the Iran nuclear deal after studying the proposal for a month and listening to Minnesotans.
The Mankato Democrat said that while the deal is "far from perfect," it offers the best chance of stopping the Iranian nuclear program. Here is Walz's entire statement:
Washington, DC [8/11/15] – Today, Rep. Tim Walz announced his intention to support the Iran nuclear agreement and released the following statement:
“A month ago, I pledged to review this deal vigorously, hear from Minnesotans and do the due diligence a representative democracy requires. After weeks of careful consideration and study, meetings with experts, and talking with Minnesotans with passionate views on both sides, I intend to support the nuclear agreement brokered with Iran.
This deal is far from perfect, and I harbor no illusions that the hate and violence of the Iranian regime will fade after it goes into effect. I expect Iran will continue to be a destabilizing force in the region and a threat to America and our allies. But, I believe this agreement is our best path forward. The economic sanctions have played a critical role in getting us to an agreement, but I do not believe they are a long term solution.
This deal gives us the best chance we have had in years to halt the Iranian nuclear program. It dismantles the progress they have made and opens up the country to strict inspections. Should Iran violate the terms of the agreement, we reserve the right to reimpose the kind of strict economic sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place. And, as always, we retain our right to defend ourselves from Iranian aggression.
Folks of good faith on both sides agree that preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb is critical to global security. The conversation about how to best protect America and our allies is far from over and I look forward to continuing the robust debate about how to accomplish our shared goals.
Walz's opponent, Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn, is opposed to the deal because he believes it creates a pathway for the country to build a nuclear weapon and will increase Iran's influence in the Middle East and North Africa. Click here to Download Hagedorn's Iran deal statement
Members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation wasted no time sharing their reactions to Thursday morning's U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which upheld a key Obamacare provision.
Within minutes of the ruling, emailed statements began arriving in reporters' mailboxes.
In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that tax subsidies should be allowed in states that have opted not to set up their own health insurance exchanges, instead relying on the federal insurance exchange.
First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz applauded the court's ruling in King v. Burwell.
“The goal of the Affordable Care Act is to provide all Americans with health care. It simply doesn’t make sense, nor was it the authors’ intent, to provide subsidies only to people in states that created their own exchanges, and I’m glad the Supreme Court agreed," said Walz.
Walz added that while the law is not perfect, it is working and more American have health insurance. He said he expects improvements will need to be made to the Affordable Care Act but he said he will "fight vigorously" against any attempts to repeal the law.
Second District GOP Rep. John Kline said that despite the court's ruling in favor of the Obama administration, it's clear the Affordable Care Act needs a major overhaul.
"Today’s decision does not change the fact that the law is fundamentally flawed, and it doesn’t change our resolve to repeal it. Our nation desperately needs a patient-centered health care system, one that provides working families and employers more choices, greater flexibility, and affordable coverage," Kline said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar welcomed the Supreme Court's ruling.
"The Supreme Court’s decision will allow 6.4 million Americans to maintain the health care coverage they need. Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, we must keep working to ensure that the Affordable Care Act helps families across the country with access to the high-quality health care that they deserve," Klobuchar said in a statement
Former state Rep. Terry Morrow has been tapped to manage 1st District Rep. Tim Walz's 2016 re-election bid.
The Walz campaign is expected to announce Morrow's selection later today, according to a source with knowledge of the campaign. Morrow, a Democrat from St. Peter, is expected to start June 1.
Morrow joins the Walz campaign after having worked for the Uniform Law Commission. Prior to that, he served in the Minnesota Legislature from 2007 to 2013. He also worked as a communications studies professor at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter for 18 years.
Walz is seeking his sixth term in office. The Mankato Democrat first won election to Congress in 2006 after defeating Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht. Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn announced earlier this month he is making a third bid for the seat. Last fall, Walz defeated Hagedorn with 54 percent of the vote. Byron Republican Aaron Miller has also said he's not ruling out a run against Walz. Miller won the GOP endorsement for the seat in 2014 but lost to Hagedorn in the August Republican primary.
Walz is slated to visit a solar project site in Oronoco this morning.
Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn announced Tuesday he's making a third run for the 1st Congressional District seat.
Hagedorn said by announcing his plans early he can do the fundraising and campaigning necessary to pose a serious to challenge to 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz.
"Sometimes it takes more than one run on the ballot in order to get as well known as you need to be and raise the kind of funding you need to and continue to meet with people and get your message out," he said.
Hagedorn made his first bid for the seat in 2010 but dropped out after failing to win the Republican Party's endorsement. Four years later, he lost the party's endorsement to Byron Army veteran Aaron Miller. After initially dropping out of the race, Hagedorn jumped back in six weeks after the endorsing convention and went on to win an upset victory over Miller in the August Republican Primary. He ended up losing to Walz 54 percent to 46 percent.
This time around, Hagedorn said he's announcing four months earlier than he did during the last election cycle so he can build the support and raise the funds necessary to take on the Mankato Democrat. He also noted that he received the highest percentage of the vote so far of any challenger who has taken on Walz since he won the 1st District seat in 2006.
Hagedorn said during his time in Washington, Walz has failed to represent the best interests of the southern Minnesota district.
"The country is in trouble. He has embraced the big government, high regulatory, high taxation policies of President Obama," Hagedorn said.
During the campaign, Hagedorn said he will focus on the need to defend the U.S. from terrorists, get rid of excessive regulations, support family farms and secure the nation's borders. He said a major concern is the increase of immigrants coming into the country illegally, which is resulting in "a downward pressure on wages and it is making people have a hard time getting good jobs."
Asked if he plans to abide by the Republican endorsement, Hagedorn said he will work to win over GOP delegates, but he's not making any pledges at this time.
Hagedorn, 52, is the son of former Minnesota Congressman Tom Hagedorn. He previously worked for Minnesota Congressman Arlan Stangeland and for the U.S. Treasury Department. Hagedorn moved back to Minnesota in 2009. He worked in business for awhile but has since retired.
In response to Hagedorn's announcement, Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin said, "Jim Hagedorn is a two-time failed congressional candidate and Washington insider who only moved to Minnesota to run for office. He made it clear in 2014 that his priority is toeing the Tea Party line and partisan politics."
Other potential GOP candidates for the 1st District seat include Rep. Tony Cornish of Good Thunder and Miller. Cornish said shortly after the 2014 election he was considering a run for the seat. Miller, who is currently chairman of the Republican Party of Olmsted County, said he is not ruling out a run.
"We’ve had folks that are trying to encourage us to jump in. We’re not ruling anything out right now. I think there is still a lot of time over the summer to make that decision," Miller said.
With only a week left in the legislation session, First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz urged legislators today to get behind Gov. Mark Dayton's $11 billion transportation plan.
The Mankato Democrat said so far Dayton's plan is the only proposal that will make it possible to finish expanding U.S. 14 from Rochester to New Ulm. He noted that lawmakers elected this year pledged that greater Minnesota would be a priority this session.
"A lot of those folks came up here, especially from my district, and promised outstate Minnesota was going to see big dividends. Highway 14 needs to be done and people were under the understanding that that was the commitment to get that done as part of the growth for outstate Minnesota," he said.
Walz joined fellow DFL Reps. Rick Nolan and Keith Ellison at a press conference to voice support for increased transportation funding. The event was sponsored by Move MN, a coalition of 200 businesses, organizations and local governments that is pushing for a transportation package with dedicated revenue.
Dayton's plan includes a tax on gasoline at the wholesale level, which would amount to at least a 16-cent per gallon increase at the pump. Senate DFLer's have put forward a similar transportation plan. Meanwhile, House Republicans are supporting a $7 billion transportation plan with no tax increases. Instead, their plan relies on existing revenue and borrowing.
The key to getting U.S. 14 funded is the Corridors of Commerce program, which funds projects that are not included in the state's four-year State Transportation Improvement Program — such as U.S. 14. Dayton's plan would invest $1.6 billion into the program over the next 10 years while the House plan allocates $800 million. The U.S. 14 Highway Partnership has said it fears the project won't get done under the House plan because the project's total price tag is $500 million and the Corridors of Commerce money has to be divvied out statewide.
Even as members of Congress make the case for a transportation bill, it's becoming unclear whether legislative leaders can come to an agreement on one. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said Monday that unless House Republicans are willing to agree to a dedicated tax to fund transportation, he's not willing to support their push for tax cuts. He noted that lawmakers do not have to pass a transportation package or tax bill in order to end the session.
House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee Chairman Tim Kelly said he finds it hard to believe lawmakers won't pass a major transportation funding plan because of a dispute over raising taxes. He said the House, Senate and governor all agree on the need to make an historic investment in transportation.
"I would be very, very surprised if we would walk away from the amount of funding that we've put forward," Kelly said.
He added that the House plan does put a sizable amount of money into Corridors of Commerce that would help get projects such as U.S. 14 done.
Walz warned legislators if they don't embrace a major transportation bill that gets U.S. 14 done, there will be consequences.
"If it's not done, there is gong to be responsibility for why it's not done. So step up and get this thing done together," Walz said.
President Obama is expected to sign a veteran suicide prevention bill today authored by 1st DFL District Rep. Tim Walz.
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act unanimously passed the House and Senate in January. The bill's successful passage came after Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn blocked the bill in December due to concerns about its cost and whether it was duplicating existing efforts. Coburn retired and the bill's supporters renewed their efforts to get it passed.
Walz said in a statement it is fitting the bill is being signed on the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln.
"As Lincoln said during his second inaugural address, we must always remember our solemn obligation to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle.’ This bill takes an important step forward to fulfill this responsibility, and, after pushing this legislation for the past year, I’m honored and humbled to be present when the President signs it into law,” Walz said.
The legislation is named for Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Clay Hunt, a Texas Marine who took his own life in 2011. An estimated 22 veterans take their own lives every day, according to a 2012 study from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Walz's bill would require a third-party review of all of the VA’s mental health care and suicide prevention programs to figure out which programs are working and which ones are not. The bill also would establish a peer and community outreach pilot program aimed at helping service members transitioning back to civilian life. Lastly, it would attempt to address a shortage of psychiatrists in the VA system by establishing a student loan repayment program.
The new year brings with it a new committee assignment for First District Rep. Tim Walz.
The Mankato Democrat was appointed on Friday to the House Armed Services Committee. It's a post the congressman has actively been seeking.
"I'm honored to be selected by leadership to this influential committee and look forward to this new challenge and responsibility," Walz said in a statement.
In order to serve on the House Armed Services Committee, Walz had to give up his seat on the House Transportation Committee. That means losing the seniority he accrued while on the committee, which he has served on since 2007 after winning election to Congress. He will have to start from scratch building up seniority on the House Armed Services Committee.
The House Transportation Committee has become less powerful in recent years. In the past, members of Congress could request earmark funds for transportation projects in their districts. But since earmarks have been eliminated, committee members have had far less control over where those dollars go.
Walz, who is the highest ranking enlisted solider ever to serve in Congress, has been building a reputation on Capitol Hill as an advocate for veterans. His appointment to the House Armed Service Committee comes after a failed bid to become the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Democratic leaders backed Florida Rep. Corrine Brown for the post. She was next in line for the seat held by retiring Maine Rep. Mike Michaud based on seniority.
Walz continues to serve on the Veterans Affairs committee along with the House Committee on Agriculture.
With the backing of veterans' groups, First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz is pushing once again to pass his bill overhauling veteran suicide prevention programs.
Walz reintroduced the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans bill today. He was joined by Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. The measure easily passed the House late last year but stalled in the Senate over one senator's objections. Retiring Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn blocked the bill over its $22 million price tag and concerns it duplicated programs that already exist. It was a move that outraged the bill's supporters — including retired Marine and Television personality Montel Williams — who argue the bill will go a long way in helping veterans get the mental health care they need.
With Coburn no longer in the U.S. Senate, the bill's sponsors are trying once again to get it passed and sent to President Obama's desk. Walz said in a statement it's time for Congress to act on the measure.
“Currently, 22 veterans die by suicide each and every day. These folks aren’t just our former warriors either; they’re our mothers and fathers. They’re our grandfathers and grandmothers. They’re our brothers and sisters. They’re our neighbors and friends," Walz said. "While no piece of legislation will completely end this heartbreaking epidemic, we cannot stand idly by while more of our heroes struggle with the invisible wounds of war."
The bill is named in honor of Clay Hunt, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran who battled post-traumatic stress disorder and took his own life in 2011. The legislation requires an evaluation of all the VA mental health care and suicide prevention programs to find out if they are effective. It also calls on the VA to establish a website where veterans can go to get information about mental health services for veterans. Also tucked in the provision are pilot programs aimed at helping recruiting more VA psychiatrists by forgiving student loans and setting up a peer support program to help transitioning servicemembers get access to mental health care.
In a statement, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff urged Congress to act swiftly on the bill.
"No veteran should have to cut through bureaucratic red tape to access the mental health care they earned," Rieckhoff said. "As Congress begins a new year, veterans and their families are watching Washington closely to see who has our back.”