Issues

Veterans

I believe that by asking the men and women who have serviced in our military to put their lives on the line to defend America, we have an obligation to care for them at home.

I have worked to secure the biggest increase in veterans’ benefits in our nation’s history. I’ve also worked with communities across the 7th District to build Veterans Homes and Veterans Clinics so that veterans and their families don’t have to drive for hours just to get the health care services they need.

Agriculture

As Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, I put together a coalition to pass a 2008 Farm Bill that offered a strong safety net for farmers, provided the largest increase in USDA nutrition programs since 1977, established an energy title to support our growing renewable biofuel industries, expanded and improved conservation programs, authorized the largest amount of funding ever provided for organic agriculture, and provided funds for in-country purchases of international food aid to support and develop local food production in underdeveloped countries.This year I worked to pass the new Farm Bill that provides long term certainty for agriculture and nutrition programs as well as many positive reforms in the bill.  From conservation and addressing flooding along the Red River Valley to supporting local farmers the impacts will be felt throughout the 7th district.Among the many things the bill covers some of the notable reforms include:

  • Protects and improves crop insurance.
  • Streamlines conservaiton programs for preserving natural resources
  • Adds conservation protections to crop insurance
  • provides disaster assistance for livestock producers
  • Supports local farmers by providing crop insurance to speciality crop growers and helping fund organic agriculture

Education

I’ve worked to expand educational opportunities in Minnesota by working to secure more funding for Pell Grants and land grant colleges, securing funding for nursing programs at Bemidji State University, securing funding for research programs at the University of Minnesota Morris, and securing funding for the Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Health Care

In 2010, I voted no on the Affordable Care Act because I did not believe it would lower the cost of heath insurance, it would not fix the regional disparities in our Medicare reimbursement rates, and it would only cover around 30 percent of the uninsured people in my district.

However, the ACA is now the law of the land, and with a Democratic-controlled Senate, and President Obama in office, voting to repeal the law makes no sense. I believe we can fix and improve the law without having to get rid of the reforms that make sense.

For instance, the ACA has gotten rid of pre-existing condition exclusions and abolishes discrimination based on disabilities, having a high-risk job, or being a cancer survivor. Insurance companies can no longer limit or deny care when you get sick or your child gets sick, and they can no longer put annual limits on your coverage so you won’t go bankrupt if you have major medical costs.

Furthermore, the ACA allows the Food and Drug Administration to approve more generic drugs, improves treatments and research for chronic illnesses, closes the Medicare Prescription Drug donut hole, pays hospitals and providers based on quality of care rather than quantity of services, and encourages more medical providers to help in underserved rural areas.

Broadband

Affordable and reliable broadband internet service is essential to our rural communities. We know that access to broadband service helps to create jobs and is a boost for economic development, education and business opportunities in our rural areas. However, access to this resource can be a challenge in many areas.

I have watched closely to make sure that the government programs dedicated to expanding broadband in rural areas are actually going to communities that are truly underserved.

My main concern is that a decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to transition money from the Universal Service Fund (USF) High-Cost Program to a new Connect America Fund is not helping to get broadband where it’s most needed. Because USF support is tied to voice service for rural providers, high-cost areas served by rural carriers tend to receive reduced support if consumers do not take voice service along with broadband. We need to make sure that the FCC looks at a provision that provides sufficient and predictable support for broadband-capable networks in areas served by rural carriers.

Hunting and Fishing

Every year, millions of Americans participate in hunting and fishing activities across the U.S. In Minnesota alone, we have more than $1.6 million hunters and anglers who spend more than $3 billion and support nearly 50,000 jobs every year. It’s clear that the economic and social impact of hunting and fishing throughout Minnesota remains strong. 

I am an avid hunter and have worked hard to make sure the 2014 Farm bill worked for both agriculture producers and conservationists. I was pleased with the recent announcement of the USDA NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program that will encourage farmers and landowners in the Red River Valley to enter into agreements with local watershed districts to increase water storage and soil conservation. This is an issue I've been working on for years, and I am hopeful that these completed projects will help reduce the potential impacts of future flood events.

Economic Development

Before I was elected to office, I was a certified public accountant and small business owner in Detroit Lakes, so I have first-hand experience with the challenges faced by small business owners. I have strongly supported small business programs since I first came to Congress. I also was the first U.S. Congressman to appoint a professional economic developer to my staff and I am proud to say that we have worked diligently for many years to provide businesses and community leaders with information about the tools and resources they need to help them succeed.

Also since taking office I have sponsored many conferences and seminars on economic development including topics such as small business resources, housing development, telecommunications, exporting, local food development and most recently opportunities for the unmanned aircraft systems industry in Northwestern Minnesota. Over the years I have been honored to receive awards from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business for my support of businesses throughout my district.