Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Defense

I am a supporter of a strong national defense, at home and abroad. I firmly believe that we should do everything in our power to redirect taxpayer money away from unnecessary military construction projects abroad in places like Afghanistan, and instead invest in construction projects here at home - rebuilding our roads, bridges, ports, waterways, and sewer systems. We need to invest in education, basic medical and health research, and human development, and to generate desperately needed good-paying jobs for middle-class Americans, including America’s veterans, the brave men and women whom we put into harm's way to protect and serve us.

To that end, I successfully authored and passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 (NDAA) to prevent future fraud and abuse of taxpayer money on construction projects in Afghanistan. According to the Special Inspector General to Afghanistan and Iraq, since 2002, our government has spent more than $100 billion in construction projects in those two countries - $60 billion of which is completely unaccounted for. Up to $79 billion more has been authorized for new construction projects, many of which fall outside our scope of oversight. Because U.S. troops in Afghanistan must stay within inspection zone boundaries that assure them quick access to medical care, they are unable to supervise and guarantee that funds for these projects are being used for the intended purposes. 

My amendment prohibits the construction of any project over $500,000 without submitting a report to Congress assuring proper auditing and oversight. It was supported by the non-partisan Taxpayers Protection Alliance and 22 other organizations under the banner of the Project on Government Oversight. For more about my amendment, read my press release here, or watch the clip below:

 

In 2013, I voted to double the funding to specifically hire more Veterans Affairs claims processors and eliminate the notorious backlog at the VA. I also voted to fully fund the National Guard, as well as increase funding for Minnesota's National Guard at Camp Ripley, and the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, to maintain adequate equipment and weaponry for their facilities. My "Rebuilding America" Amendment, which received wide bipartisan support, to the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act sent a clear message to the entire country: our priorities must be redirected homeward.

This year, I have voted to increased funding for veterans benefits and services by $156 billion over the next ten years, as well as to grant full veterans status to National Guard reserve members who have served their country for 20 years. I have also worked to pass provisions that would add protections for veterans with mental health issues, as well as establish the Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration, an agency that would better train veterans for the workforce upon their return home.

 

I am working on the following bills to help our service members, veterans, and their families:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act (H.R.4031) - a small but positive step toward addressing the widespread lack of accountability and negligence within the VA.

Manufacuturing Jobs for Veterans Act (H.R.4629) - Encourages manufacturers to hire returning veterans, and requires the Department of Labor to award $50 million in grants over the next 5 years to establish state pilot programs for job training & more.

HEALTHY Vets Act (H.R. 635) - Enables rural veterans to use local healthcare providers in their hometowns instead of travelling to the nearest big city for VA facilities.

Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act (H.R.1725) - I am an original cosponsor of this bill, which would allow any veteran who served in a combat zone on any U.S. military operation to seek treatment for service-connected mental illness (including post-traumatic stress disorder), regardless of when the condition manifests itself. This would make services and treatmetn available to all veterans who have served in combat in previous military operations, such as WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam. Additionally, this bill maintains the role of the VA to treat only service-related disorders, and allows its health care professionals to diagnose mental disorders and illnesses according to established procedures.

Veterans Backlog Reduction Act (H.R.1739) - Automatically provides provision benefits to veteran disability claims if they have not been process in 125 days.

Veterans Claims Efficiency Through Automation Act (H.R.1805) - Simplifies VA work so that claims are processed in an efficient and timely manner.

Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act (H.R.921) –requires the VA to have a chiropractic physician on staff at all major VA medical facilities by 2016.

Helping Homeless Veterans Act (H.R.2485) - Revitalizes important programs that provide transitional housing, employment assistance, supportive services, and more.

21st Century Healthcare for Heroes Act (H.R.2950) - Improves efficency between the Pentagon and the VA to reduce delays many veterans face.

SERV Act (H.R.3469) - Fights abuses in the veterans benefit system, and works to ensure that veterans are the ones getting the benefits they so rightfully deserve.

 

Since coming to office in January of 2013, I've supported the following bills:

G.I. Tuition Fairness Act (H.R.357) - Improves veterans access to higher education by limiting tuitions, extending work-study programs, and lengthening vocational rehabilitation and training aid.

Homes for Heroes Act (H.R.384) - Assures that veterans have access to housing and homeless assistance programs.

American Heroes COLA Act (H.R.570) - Provides annual cost-of-living increases for veterans disability and dependency & indemnity compensation.

Helping Heroes Fly Act (H.R.1344) - Improves airport security screening procedures for wounded and disabled veterans.

VA Expiring Authorities Extenion Act (H.R.1402) - Works to ensure veterans continue to receive the best possible care.

Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act (H.R.1742) - Amended the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 to ensure that veterans were not adversely affected.

Veterans Advisory Committee on Education Improvement Act (H.R.2011) - Reauthorizes VA committee on Education to ensure the highest quality of education and training programs for veterans and their dependents, servicepersons, reservists, and guard personnel.

To Improve the Processing of Disability Claims by the Department of Veterans Affairs (H.R.2189) - Improves veterans claims processing by providing training for claims provessors, increasing departmental coordination, and mandating regular reports on the status of claims processing functions.

Veterans Economic Opportunity Act (H.R.2481) - Establishes the Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration, which provides assistance to veterans on economic issues such as vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

Hire More Heroes Act (H.R.3474) - Incentivizes small businesses to hire more veterans.

Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R.3547) - Increased funding for the Veterans Administration (VA) by $1.4 billion

Department of Defense Survivor Benefits Continuing Appropriations Resolution (H.J.Res.91) - Ensured that the survivors' benefits remain in place during the 2013 government shutdown.

Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (S.893) - Increased rates of veterans disability compensation, as well as added additional compensation for dependents.

 

 

More on Defense

Jun 20, 2014 Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – After three days of debate, the U.S. House today passed (340-73) a $570 billion defense appropriations bill that includes an amendment authored by Minnesota Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan prohibiting funding for all military infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.

Jun 20, 2014 In The News

WASHINGTON — Eighth District U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is trying to fight corruption in Afghanistan with legislation in Congress. And he’s found some willing bipartisan partners.

“The funds prohibited by my amendment would almost certainly have ended up in the hands of corrupt officials,” the Democratic congressman said regarding the inclusion of his provision on military infrastructure projects in Afghanistan that has been in a major defense spending bill.

Jun 19, 2014 Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In a late-Wednesday night session of Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted an amendment authored by Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan prohibiting funding for all military infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.

Watch the clip below: 

Jun 16, 2014 In The News

WASHINGTON — Eighth District Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan continues to be consistent in his views on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and American military involvement in Syria.

His position since the 2012 election campaign to today on these conflicts and what the U.S. should do can be summed up in two phrases: “No.” and “Get out.”

Jun 10, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative John Kline led Minnesota’s congressional delegation in calling on the U.S. Army to ensure that the Minnesota National Guard can fully assist victims of sexual assault. The Army recently released a directive expanding important legal services to certain victims of military sexual assault, but the directive fails to cover Guard members who become victims of sexual assault outside of their drill weekend or military duty.

Jun 6, 2014 In The News

 

DULUTH - Veterans were the focus of an event held in the Twin Ports Thursday. U.S. Congressman Rick Nolan hosted a round table at the Duluth Vet Center.

Jun 6, 2014 Video

DULUTH - Veterans were the focus of an event held in the Twin Ports Thursday. U.S. Congressman Rick Nolan hosted a round table at the Duluth Vet Center.