Archive

Archive for November, 2011

Alaska Senator Begich spending like there is no deficit…

Weekly Clips from October 13, 2011 through October 27, 2011

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK., and Joe Miller (U.S. Senate candidate in 2010)

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK.

Alaska’s Senators Laud Target’s Sustainable Seafood Mission

October 13: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Alaskans take great pride in the unparalleled quality and taste of our wild seafood: salmon, halibut, Pollock, cod and crab, all of which are managed for sustainability,” Sen. Begich said.  “As one of the largest seafood producers in the world, Alaska welcomes Target’s decision to feature more sustainable choices at the fish counter.  I think it’s a decision that will be wildly popular among their customers.” More…

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Alaska Delegation Introduces Bill to Name Anchorage Federal Courthouse

October 14: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Judge Fitzgerald was one of the finest jurists ever to serve the people of Alaska and the United States,” Begich said. “Not only was he a master in the courtroom, he was widely respected by his colleagues and known to be remarkably humble, thoughtful and kind. I am honored to introduce legislation that will help Alaskans remember his legacy forever.” More…

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Alaska Priorities Outlined to Deficit Super Committee

October 14: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Sen. Begich is urging the committee to respect the following Alaska needs:

• Resources to build and manage a 21st century Arctic, including equipping the Coast Guard with icebreakers and maintaining NOAA’s polar-orbiting satellites;

• Expanded oil and gas development to create jobs and improve energy security. Singling out the oil and gas industry for tax penalties would prevent a job creating industry from continuing the current pace of growth for domestic oil and gas development;

• Alaska serves a vital role in America’s defense. The importance of Fort Greely’s Ground-Based Midcourse Missile Defense system should be protected;

• Uphold the nation’s commitment to Alaska Natives and our First Peoples. Federal efforts should support self-governance, promote economic self-sufficiency and create needed jobs;

• Major reform of the federal tax code to benefit businesses and middle class families.

The Super Committee, composed of six Democrats and six Republicans, is tasked with identifying $1.5 trillion in deficit savings over a decade. Sen. Begich has regularly made suggestions to help cut our federal deficit and debt and has publicly solicited ideas from Alaskans.

Sen. Begich’s letter is attached to this email and available on Scribd here.

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Alaska’s Senators Taking Actions Against Frankenfish

October 17: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “There is just too much at risk here. The public has expressed serious concerns about the introduction of Frankenfish into the nation’s food supply including potential threats to the environment and public health, and economic impacts on producers of sustainable wild salmon,” said Begich, chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard.  “There are concerns about the transparency of the FDA’s review process and whether the consumer’s ‘right to know’ is being ignored.  Some, frankly, just aren’t comfortable with the idea the government thinks it can improve on nature by genetically altering Alaska wild salmon.” More…

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Sens. Hutchison, Tester Lead Bipartisan Group of Senators Urging “Supercommittee” to Reduce Overseas Military Construction

October 18: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Investing billions of American taxpayer dollars in overseas military construction without accurate cost assessments and benefits to the American people would be fiscally irresponsible,” Sen. Begich said. “I encourage the Joint Super Committee to support the proposed reduction.  We must make thoughtful investments that promote jobs in the U.S., enhance our national security and support the readiness of the force.”   More…

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SENS. REID, BEGICH AND KLOBUCHAR HOST DISCUSSION WITH WOMEN BUSINESS LEADERS AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE ADVOCATES ON JOB CREATION FOR WOMEN

October 19: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “A key part of growing America’s economy is not only protecting jobs for women, but also creating new opportunities,” said Sen. Begich. “From boardrooms to our classrooms women are providing for our families, contributing to our economy, and building America’s future. I was proud to support 2009’s Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act because an Alaskan woman earns 67 cents for every dollar an Alaskan male makes. As the husband of a small business owner, I have witnessed the positive impact women owned businesses can have in our families, communities, and economy.” More…

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Begich Hosts Discussion on Job Creation for Women

October 19: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “A key part of growing America’s economy is not only protecting jobs for women, but also creating new opportunities,” said Sen. Begich. “From boardrooms to our classrooms, women are providing for our families, contributing to our economy, and building America’s future. I was proud to support 2009’s Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act because an Alaskan woman earns 67 cents for every dollar an Alaskan male makes. As the husband of a small business owner, I have witnessed the positive impact women owned businesses can have in our families, communities, and economy.” More…

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Delegation Praises Millions in Grants for Rural Communities

October 20: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “As the AFN Convention gets in full swing in Anchorage, it is great to see USDA release this money that will greatly improve the lives of many Alaska Natives and others living in rural communities,” Begich said. “Improving water and sanitation systems, and upgrades that will result in smaller energy bills, are all important investments we need to continue to make to improve public health and the overall quality of life for Alaskans across the state.” More…

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Begich Statement on Death of Gadhafi

October 20: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “The death of Gadhafi is the death of a brutal and violent oppressor. Today marks an historic new beginning for the people of Libya. They have stood up against a cruel dictator, and now give others facing oppression around the world a beacon of hope.

“I commend NATO leadership for beginning the discussion of ending the mission in Libya. Our military involvement has cost billions of taxpayer dollars and intensely stretched our forces and resources.

“Moving forward, as the Libyan people organize a government, our NATO partners need to play a role in assistance. The U.S. should aid diplomatic efforts, but this can’t be the financial and social burden of our country alone.”

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Cantwell, Murkowski, Begich Call for Investigation of Salmon Virus Threat

October 20: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “This virus is a potentially serious threat to wild salmon stocks and, as the world’s premier producer of wild salmon, the reports from BC must be looked into. These findings need to be investigated and, if confirmed, we need to know the risks which is the intent of our amendment,” said Senator Begich. “Consumers should also know this is not a food safety or human health issue and they can continue to enjoy wild salmon knowing it is safe, healthy and good to eat.” More…

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Begich Statement on Last Night’s Jobs Vote

October 20: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Yesterday’s vote to protect the jobs of our teachers and first responders ended in a letdown,” said Sen. Begich. “I’ll continue to stand up for those who prepare our children for the future and keep our streets safe. Failing to support their jobs goes against the best interests of our communities and is yet another unnecessary roadblock to creating jobs and growing our economy.” More…

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Begich Comments on Approval of Final Air Permit for Kulluk

October 20: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “This is great news for Alaska and for our country.

“Oil and gas development in the Arctic is a hat trick for our economy – generating revenues, economic activity and good jobs. EPA and Shell have done a good job coming to agreement on a permit that will significantly reduce emissions from the Kulluk and its support fleet.

“I applaud both in raising the bar to responsibly develop Alaska’s tremendous Arctic oil and gas resources.”

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Delegation Announces Grants and Contracts to Alaska Programs

October 21: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom:

U.S. Department of Agriculture- Rural Development:

$7,122,540 to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to construct water and wastewater systems in Larsen Bay, Nondalton, Crooked Creek, Golovin, Eek, and Kiana.

$5,330,107 to the State of Alaska to for water and wastewater system improvements in St. Paul and Hooper Bay.

$4,749,884 to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to construct water and wastewater systems in Nanwalek, Diomede, and Toksook Bay.

$2,655,000 to the State of Alaska for the construction of waste and water disposal projects in Quinhagak.

$405,000 to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for costs and analysis associated with the pre-development of water and waste disposal projects in Kwethluk, Venetie, Levelock, Tetlin, Chevak, Chalkyitsik, and Chenega.

$357,178 to the State of Alaska for costs and analysis associated with the pre-development of projects in Seldovia, Unalakleet, and Nunapitchuk.

$349,300 to the State of Alaska to be used for the funding of the Remote Maintenance Worker technical assistance program.

$100,600 to the Seldovia Village Tribe to be used to complete a comprehensive analysis of the Jakolof open dumpsite and provide training and education to staff and community members regarding solid waste and hazardous materials.

U.S. Department of Transportation- Federal Transit Administration:

$ 2,400,000 to the Municipality of Anchorage’s People Mover Maintenance Facility Roof Replacement to replace the roof of their People Mover maintenance facility.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

$59,000 to the Tanana Chiefs Conference to repower one diesel gen-set engine.

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Begich Statement on Troops Leaving Iraq

October 21: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “I am very pleased our remaining U.S. forces are coming home, and I commend the members of the United States military who served in Iraq during the course of a nine-year effort. Thousands of Alaska troops served with distinction to promote security and democracy in the country.

“In early October, soldiers based out of Fort Wainwright became the first aviation unit to close a base and hand over the keys to the Iraqis. Iraq is now a sovereign nation.

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I look forward to receiving more information about the increased State Department role and other efforts of cooperation with Iraq to promote continued stability and security in the country and region.”

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Begich Website Wins “Best in Senate”

October 24: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Alaska is a vast and diverse state and my website plays a crucial role in my efforts to listen to the needs and concerns of Alaskans, while also providing information daily on what we’re working on for the state,” said Sen. Begich. “Since my first day in the Senate I’ve had a goal of giving all Alaskans, regardless of where they are, the ability to log on and be just a few clicks away from sharing their thoughts and finding out what we’re doing for Alaska.” More…

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Delegation “Extremely Concerned” about SBA HUBZone Changes

October 25: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “SBA has given firms 30-days to challenge the validity of this involuntary decertification even though nothing may have materially changed about the underlying business practices,” the delegation wrote. “Small businesses cannot be expected to invest times into a lengthy HUBZone certification process if their year-by-year eligibility is subject to the annual fluctuations of economic statistical data.” More…

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Begich Welcomes Opportunity to Work with Knudson in D.C.

October 26: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Kip’s background in the oil and gas industry, aviation and many other areas will be a great resource for Alaskans and for the Congressional delegation in DC.

“I look forward to working with Kip, whom I’ve known for many years, and appreciate his knowledge and commitment to Alaska and the important issues for our state.” More…

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Delegation Questions Possible Closures of Fairbanks Post Offices

October 27: Mark Begich–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: The Alaska Congressional Delegation is expressing concern over the decision to move forward on possible closure of the post offices on Alaska’s Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base. After learning yesterday that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has taken the next step toward closing the two offices, the delegation today sent a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahue questioning the calculations used to arrive at the decision to consider closing.

The letter expresses concern the discontinuance decision doesn’t take into consideration the impact on military members and their families, and  may be based on inaccurate information including the fact the USPS is using the wrong population counts for both bases.

“As has been previously noted to you, the men and women who comprise many of the units at both Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base have been deployed almost continuously in support of overseas operations. Therefore, your current calculations may not accurately reflect the needs of the soldiers and airmen who will return to Alaska as we draw down in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the letter states. More…

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Diseased Arctic animals should get AFN delegates’ attention

Alaska Dispatch: October 14: “We need the Coast Guard to have some ability to keep up with the Joneses, if you will, to have Congress get us in game with ice-breaking ships because others nations around world have a whole lot more (Arctic capability) than we do,” Joule said. U.S. Sen Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has introduced legislation to help make that happen.  More…

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Trouble Brewing on Spending

Roll Call: October 17: Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) might offer an amendment to the Agriculture spending bill that would prevent the Food and Drug Administration from spending any funds on approving genetically engineered salmon.

The agency is considering an application by AquaBounty Technologies Inc. to grow genetically engineered salmon in Panama for importation into the United States, with plans to eventually grow the fish in the U.S., according to his office.

The fish would grow faster than natural fish, and some lawmakers, including Begich, have concerns about the effect of escaped fish on wild salmon stocks, the suitability of such fish for human consumption and the FDA’s approval process for the fish. More…

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Harrison Ford meets with Aviation Caucus

POLITICO: Click: October 18: Sen. Mark Begich, who introduced Ford, pointed out the actor’s aviation philanthropy. He saluted his work flying Special Olympic participants to the games and for flying to Haiti for a humanitarian mission after the earthquake. Begich, co-chair of the caucus and son of the late Rep. Nick Begich, said that Tuesday’s meeting was especially personal, as this month marks 39 years since his father’s plane disappeared in Alaska.  More…

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Alaska Senators Seek GE Salmon Ban in Budget

Food Safety News: October 19: From both sides of the aisle, Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are again taking aim at the genetically engineered salmon, which now may be closer than ever to federal approval.

The Alaska senators introduced two amendments they hope to add to the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill being considered on the floor this week.  One bill would ban the GE fish from entering interstate commerce, the other would prohibit FDA from spending federal resource on the salmon’s approval, essentially banning the fish altogether.

Developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, the engineered fish, formally known as AquAdvantage salmon, are essentially Atlantic salmon with an inserted growth gene from a Chinook salmon and an antifreeze gene from an ocean pout. They grow twice as fast as typical Atlantic salmon and require approximately 10 percent less feed to achieve the same weight.

Last week, Talking Points Memo reported that FDA has cleared the salmon and the proposal is now at the White House Office of Management and Budget for consideration. If cleared by the feds, AquAdvantage salmon would be the first GE animal approved for human consumption.

In an effort to thwart FDA’s expected approval, Sen. Begich Monday introduced the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States (PEGASUS) Act to ban interstate commerce of the fish and Sen. Murkowski filed an amendment to block FDA funding. Each senator co-sponsored the other’s measure.

“There is just too much at risk here. The public has expressed serious concerns about the introduction of Frankenfish into the nation’s food supply including potential threats to the environment and public health, and economic impacts on producers of sustainable wild salmon,” said Begich, chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard. “There are concerns about the transparency of the FDA’s review process and whether the consumer’s ‘right to know’ is being ignored.  Some, frankly, just aren’t comfortable with the idea the government thinks it can improve on nature by genetically altering Alaska wild salmon.” More…

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Rural Alaska villages awarded millions in public health funding

Alaska Dispatch: October 20: “As the AFN Convention gets in full swing in Anchorage, it is great to see USDA release this money that will greatly improve the lives of many Alaska Natives and others living in rural communities,” Sen. Mark Begich said in a statement. “Improving water and sanitation systems, and upgrades that will result in smaller energy bills, are important investments we need to continue to make to improve public health and the overall quality of life for Alaskans across the state.” More…

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Begich, Young fundraising for quarter tops $100,000

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: October 21: Alaska’s lone U.S. House member raised more than $102,200 for his re-election bid during the third quarter of the year.

Financial disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission show Rep. Don Young had about $327,280 on hand at the close of quarter, Sept. 30.

Young has announced plans to seek his 21st term next year. Most of his contributions during the quarter came from individuals; $23,000 came from political action committees.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Begich raised $131,350 between July 1 and Sept. 30. Begich, the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, is up for re-election in 2014.

The financial disclosure filed by Alaskans for Begich 2014 show Begich with about $469,100 on hand as of Sept. 30. Most of his contributions during the quarter also came from individuals.

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Jobs act makes sense, vote doesn’t: Alaska senators split, Begich made the right choice

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: October 23: President Obama has declared the U.S. economy to be in a state of emergency and has proposed the American Jobs Act to increase employment. He has strongly urged Congress to enact it. This jobs program will require increased federal spending. In an Oct. 11 Senate vote, the Jobs Act failed to pass because it received only a 51 percent majority “yes” vote, not the supermajority of 60 percent required to surmount Republican opposition.

Our Democratic Sen. Mark Begich voted for the bill. Our Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted against it.

Which was the right vote?

The questions posed above can now be answered. 1. Sen. Begich’s vote in favor of President Obama’s Jobs Act was the right vote; it was productive. Sen. Murkowski’s vote against it was, unfortunately, counter-productive. 2. The insistence of congressional Republicans that only spending cuts without reasonably increased taxes on the wealthy will stimulate the U.S. economy is not supported by basic economics and, to put it bluntly, is wrong.  More…

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Alaska’s U.S. Senators Examine No Child Left Behind

KTUU: October 23: Alaska’s U.S. senators are joining in a wider overhaul of the country’s education system, taking a hard look at the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — or as most people know it, No Child Left Behind.

Last week during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) passed amendments aimed at improving education in Alaska. Murkowski introduced amendments that relate to “highly qualified” teachers in rural Alaska.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has also been very critical of No Child Left Behind, saying it doesn’t work in rural Alaska.

Begich supported amendments to the first draft of the bill, which included dedicating funds for rural projects and education focused on science, technology, engineering and math.

“No Child Left Behind, it really penalized for even being somewhat successful,” Begich said. “In a lot of ways, for urban Alaska — but really for rural Alaska — it has done a lot of damage.”

Both senators say that if the final bill does not benefit Alaska, they will not vote for it.  More…

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Mark Begich on Last Night’s Jobs Vote

The State Column: October 25: U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement after the Senate failed to pass the “Teachers, First Responders Back to Work Act,” a fully paid for bill that would create or save approximately 400,000 jobs nationwide.

“Yesterday’s vote to protect the jobs of our teachers and first responders ended in a letdown,” said Sen. Begich. “I’ll continue to stand up for those who prepare our children for the future and keep our streets safe. Failing to support their jobs goes against the best interests of our communities and is yet another unnecessary roadblock to creating jobs and growing our economy.”

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Sen. Mark Begich Website Wins ‘Best in Senate’

The State Column: October 25: U.S. Senator Mark Begich has been recognized for his online efforts to stay connected with Alaskans with a 2011 Platinum Mouse Award, the award recognizes the best website in the U.S. Senate and House, respectively.

“Alaska is a vast and diverse state and my website plays a crucial role in my efforts to listen to the needs and concerns of Alaskans, while also providing information daily on what we’re working on for the state,” said Sen. Begich. “Since my first day in the Senate I’ve had a goal of giving all Alaskans, regardless of where they are, the ability to log on and be just a few clicks away from sharing their thoughts and finding out what we’re doing for Alaska.” More…

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BEGICH ANNOUNCES NEW STAFF

Alaska Daily News: October 26: To help advance Alaska’s legislative priorities, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich announced the hiring of Auke Bay’s Bruce Scandling as Legislative Director. Bruce resumes his public service on behalf of Alaskans by returning to Sen. Begich’s office where he previously spent two years as a legislative assistant.

“An Alaskan of more than 30 years who has served the state while working for former Governor Knowles and the Alaska Division of Public Health, Bruce is the perfect fit for this job,” said Sen. Begich. “He knows Alaska, knows the issues and knows our team. I’m pleased he was willing to leave Juneau for Washington D.C.”

Bruce returns to Sen. Begich’s office from the Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association. He has lived in Juneau and Auke Bay since 1982 and before that lived in Bethel and Fairbanks.

To help Sen. Begich promote a comprehensive energy policy that makes use of Alaska’s vast oil and gas resources, Begich has hired an Energy Fellow, Rice University’s Dr. Dave McStravick.

“I’m happy to welcome Dr. McStravick to my office, bringing his extensive expertise and experience with him. He will be a huge asset as we work to develop an energy policy for our country that includes Alaska’s enormous resources,” Begich said. “His knowledge of the issue, policies and practices will be a great benefit to Alaskans.” More…

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Joe Miller (U.S. Senate candidate in 2010)

Tea Party still hunting for its champion

Boston: October 22: “That absolutely creates, for leadership in the Tea Party movement, strategic problems,’’ said Joe Miller, a former US Senate candidate from Alaska who now leads a group, Western Representation PAC, whose stated goal is defeating Romney. “We’re not seeing anything other than a fracturing right now of the vote.’’  More…

Categories: Alaska politics Tags:

Colbert zings Nelson’s ‘issue ads’

Weekly Clips October 27, 2011 through November 10, 2011

U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE.

U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT TO ALLOW AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS EXTENDED INPUT ON PROPOSED REGULATION

October 27: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “One out of every three jobs in Nebraska is tied to agriculture. We need to increase opportunities for our family farmers and ranchers to strengthen our rural economies, not threaten them with new, unneeded regulations from Washington,” Senator Nelson said. “Nebraskans deserve the time to make sure their voices are heard on this misguided rule. It is another example of Washington being out of touch with Nebraskans’ values.” More…

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Nebraska Spirit of Volunteerism Needed in Washington

November 01: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Poverty is another factor that discourages volunteering. Nationally, the poverty rate is 14.3 percent. Nebraska’s is 12.3%, and, of course, Nebraska is well known for consistently having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and few foreclosures.

You can read more about this at http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/NE.

This spirit of giving for the good of others would be helpful in Washington. Budget cutting would be a lot easier if Washington practiced more volunteerism and worked together on spending reductions. That’s what Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and I are doing to cut 5.2 percent from legislative branch appropriations, which includes our own offices.

My colleague may not be from Nebraska but he certainly understands the Nebraska spirit of volunteerism and it’s a pleasure working with him to help reduce the budget by several hundred million dollars. It’s helping get Washington’s fiscal house in order. More…

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SENATE APPROVES NELSON PLAN TO CUT RED TAPE FOR JOBS REPAIRING ROADS AND BRIDGES

November 2: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “The goal of my common-sense solution is to avoid delays and get flood-damaged roads, bridges and highways back in shape as soon as possible, so Nebraskans can again use them for travel or business and get back to life as normal,” Senator Nelson said on his weekly conference call with the Nebraska media today.

“It might seem odd – but it probably isn’t surprising – that just fixing a road means it has to go through another round of the same environmental review process it received when it was originally built. This means rebuilding the same road in the same place will create more red tape, local expense and inconvenience while the federal government conducts lengthy regulatory reviews. It will take longer to fix the roads and bridges,” Nelson added. More…

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THREE NEBRASKA FAMILIES OF VETERANS HONORED WITH CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL

November 2: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson congratulated the Nebraska families of three Japanese-American World War II veterans who were posthumously honored today with the Congressional Gold Medal. Those honored are Shizou Sakurada, Wallace Takemoto and Yuki Akaki.

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service members who served in World War II. These three groups were predominantly composed of Japanese-American soldiers at a time when roughly 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forced to live in internment camps.

“It is an honor to meet the families of these American heroes. Their loyalty to the United States of America at a time when their own families were interned is an inspiring story of service and patriotism,” Senator Nelson said. More…

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NELSON STATEMENT ON SPENDING PLAN

November 3: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “While I agree infrastructure is a priority, the most important step Congress can take to create jobs is to get Washington’s fiscal house in order. Given that, the Rebuild America bill goes in the wrong direction because it raises taxes for billions of dollars in new spending,” said Senator Nelson.

“Congress should focus on completing a long-delayed Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization and reauthorize a major surface transportation bill that expired in 2009 and has been continued Band-aid fashion with short-term extensions. That would create certainty for business and jobs for Americans soon,” said Nelson.

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NELSON FIGHTS TO PROTECT NEBRASKANS FROM SHARP ELECTRICITY RATE HIKES

November 4: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “I’m fighting to protect Nebraskans from rate-hike shock if Nebraska utilities have to comply with a new EPA rule they only recently learned applies to them, and only five months to do so,” said Senator Nelson. “I’ve called on the EPA to give Nebraska utility providers extra time to comply or, if that’s not possible, the EPA should abandon its deadline altogether.

“Our publicly-owned utility providers stand ready to install the technologies needed to meet federal requirements under the new Cross State Air Pollution rule. They just need a common sense approach, so they aren’t forced to pass sudden and steep rate hikes onto Nebraska electricity customers,” said Nelson.  More…

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NELSON APPLAUDS NEW OUTREACH PROGRAM TO HOMELESS VETERANS

November 4: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “As Veterans Day approaches, we honor the men and women who have shown their courage and loyalty to our country. Unfortunately, many who served on our behalf now have special needs and are homeless,” Senator Nelson said. “I applaud the Veterans Administration for offering incentives to encourage homeless veterans to get the help they deserve. I hope these American heroes will take advantage of this opportunity.”  More…

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Honoring Our Veterans, and Helping Them Get Jobs

November 7: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: This week, the Senate will take up legislation to provide a helping hand to some Nebraska veterans who deserve it.

The bill aims to make sure that once their service ends, our veterans can continue contributing to our society in the workforce. It provides tax credits of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been hunting for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 tax credit for veterans out of work more than a month, but less than six months.

The bill allows service members to begin applying for federal jobs before they officially leave the service, which will help them make a seamless transition back into private and productive lives.

The bill expands education and training for older veterans by providing veterans of past wars with additional Montgomery GI benefits they can use for education or training at community colleges. Not long ago, while traveling in the Panhandle, I was fortunate to meet some veterans using these benefits at Western Nebraska Community College to boost their job prospects.

Our struggling national economy is making it hard for veterans to find work, which is unfortunate. In my view, when they leave the service, we shouldn’t just shake their hands for a job well done and then send them out the door to look for work alone.

I’m supporting another initiative by the U.S. Veterans Administration that increases outreach to homeless veterans. Unfortunately, some who served our nation returned home with special needs and are homeless. Veterans Administration officials in our state estimate that there are between 800 and 1,000 Nebraska veterans who are forced to sleep under bridges, in parks or in shelters. More…

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NELSON’S MEDICAID FIX MOVING WITH 3% WITHHOLDING REPEAL THAT WILL HELP CREATE JOBS

November 8: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “By fixing flaws in two laws, we’re maintaining Medicaid as a safety net only for Nebraska’s most vulnerable citizens and repealing a burdensome withholding requirement, so job creators, communities and businesses can get to work helping our economy recover,” said Senator Nelson. “It’s a win-win making sure middle-class citizens don’t inadvertently receive Medicaid, and that our cities, colleges and businesses aren’t subject to heavy-handed rules that slow down our economy.”

“While I would prefer steering the savings to deficit reduction—as I proposed in my bill—I fully support repealing the 3 percent withholding requirement, and using the Medicaid savings for jobs and to help our economy grow,” Nelson said. More…

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NELSON HONORS FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARINES

November 8: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “As we honor all veterans this week and appreciate the sacrifices they have made, it is important to recognize the Montford Point Marines as true trailblazers. Not only did they fight to protect the American way of life, their service and loyalty to our country helped advance the American ideals of equality and freedom for all,” said Senator Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. More…

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NELSON JOINS BIPARTISAN “FAIR COMPLIANCE ACT” TO PRESERVE NEBRASKA JOBS AND AVOID UTILITY BILL HIKES

November 9: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Our bill gives Nebraska utilities—such as Omaha Public Power District, Nebraska Public Power District and smaller systems such as Hastings Utility in Hastings—extra breathing room to make technological adjustments and retrofit their plants, so they can reduce their air emissions. That will help Nebraskans and all Americans breathe easier,” Senator Nelson said today on his weekly conference call with Nebraska media representatives.

“It’s not that the utilities, and hundreds of others nationwide, don’t want to comply with federal rules. They do.

“But they face major challenges in meeting deadlines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I’m fighting to preserve the hundreds of jobs that will be supported by the utilities upgrading their plants. And I’m fighting against EPA bureaucrats requiring that the upgrade be done so fast they’ll have little choice but to raise electricity rates through the roof for many Nebraskans,” said Nelson. More…

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NELSON COMMENTS ON KEYSTONE PIPELINE ROUTING

November 9: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: Today, during his weekly conference call with Nebraska media representatives, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson made the following comments on the special legislative session called by Governor Heineman on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and its route through Nebraska:

“It is unfortunate that the Legislature is dealing with this now rather than three years ago, two years ago, or even last session,” Senator Nelson said. “Had the state of Nebraska worked with TransCanada on the route in the beginning of this process, they wouldn’t be in crisis mode trying to address it now.

“That being said, I do not think it is too late to act. If the Legislature does not act, then it falls back on the Governor to bring the parties together to arrive at a solution.

“In any event, it would be unfair to Nebraskans if state officials failed to exercise their authority to determine a route based on what is in the best interest of Nebraska.

“It’s a state’s rights issue, purely and simply, and what good are state’s rights if elected officials refuse to exercise them and let Washington make the decisions for them, directly or through acquiescence?”

Audio: http://bennelson.senate.gov/audio/pipelineaudio110911.mp3

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SENATOR BEN NELSON’S VETERANS DAY MESSAGE

November 10: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Veterans Day is an important and somber time when we pause to honor the dead and the living; the young men and women who in every war have shown their courage and their loyalty to our country.

“This is a day when Americans celebrate and honor our veterans, for their patriotism, their love of country, their willingness to serve, and for their sacrifice for the common good.

“As President Kennedy said during Veterans Day ceremonies 50 years ago, ‘I do not believe that any nation in the history of the world has buried its soldiers farther from its native soil than we Americans……

“Or buried them closer to the towns in which they grew up.’

“Veterans kept their promise to us by carrying out their duties with honor and America must always keep its promises to them. We’re helping to do that in the Heartland area by overhauling the Omaha VA Medical Center and establishing a new National Cemetery in eastern Nebraska.

“The contributions veterans have made for liberty cannot be measured, and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.” Watch…

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SENATE PASSES THE VOW TO HIRE HEROES ACT

November 10: Ben Nelson–U.S. Senator: Pressroom: “Tomorrow, Nebraskans will join all Americans in paying tribute to our veterans for their contributions and sacrifices in the cause of liberty, but the men and women who wear our country’s uniform deserve our gratitude every day,” said Senator Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Helping to create job opportunities for our veterans after they return home is a meaningful way to say thank you to our veterans and help the economy at the same time.

“The need is great. Today, unfortunately, more than one in four veterans between the ages of 20 and 24 is unemployed.”

Overall, roughly 8,300 Nebraska veterans are unemployed, an estimated 5.8 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“When our veterans come home, we shouldn’t just shake their hands for a job well done on the battlefield and then send them out the door to look for a job back home,” Nelson said. “Just as it takes specialized training to become an effective soldier, the transition back to civilian life can be a lot more difficult than a returning veteran might expect.” More…

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Ben Nelson 14% rating from Family Research Council Council and CitizenLink

FRC Council: Vote Scorecard: Ben Nelson 14% More…

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Letter, 10/28: Shocked by Local View

Lincoln Journal Star: The Local View column by Robert Eppler, state director of AARP, “Seniors aren’t just numbers in budget” (Oct. 14), presents a strange dichotomy. Eppler points to the congressional supercommittee as the potential source of significant cuts to Medicare benefits and services to seniors.

The column is timely because we also see Sen. Ben Nelson’s ads taking aim at both Democrats and Republicans, i.e., the supercommittee, as the main threat to Medicare.

Hang on. Weren’t the star players for Obamacare Nelson (who was the 60th vote) and the national AARP? This redirection coming from both the AARP director and Nelson looks much like a misdirection play in football. The real cuts in Medicare happened when Obamacare was passed.

Here are some facts concerning Medicare cuts. Obamacare will cut $818 billion over 10 years from Medicare Part A hospital insurance. Adding in the cuts from Medicare Part B, physicians fees and services, brings the total cuts to Medicare to $1.05 trillion over 10 years. I prefer to call these haircuts.

The AARP and Nelson will continue to attempt to convince us that the Medicare cuts are coming from other sources. The national AARP helped push Obamacare through Congress by contributing to a $121 million advertising campaign and paying for millions of dollars worth of Washington lobbying.

Let’s be honest as to how devastating Obamacare will be to everyone in terms of jobs lost, higher health care costs, higher taxes and loss of services.

Karl Kollmorgen, Lincoln

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Local View: State agency should have pipeline authority

Lincoln Journal Star: October 29: Sen. Annette Dubas: I am not opposed to oil pipelines. I understand meeting energy needs will continue to be a challenge and the advantages of working with our friends to the north. I also understand the potential economic benefits that accompany the jobs and tax revenues of siting an oil pipeline.

However, I do not believe giving the federal government or pipeline companies total control over decisions impacting Nebraska’s land use is in our best interest. Citizens deserve a seat at the table while such determinations are being considered.

These facts led me to introduce legislation last session that empowered the Nebraska Public Service Commission to create a process to review oil pipeline siting.

Unfortunately, an effective and concerted lobbying effort to keep any pipeline bill from advancing prevented even a full and fair discussion of the topic. In the interim, pressure from U.S. Sens. Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns caused the U.S. State Department to conduct another round of public hearings in each state along the pipeline route. Those hearings intensified the public outcry for the governor and Legislature to take action. Because of citizen involvement, we are here today, about to begin a special session.

While the main focus of the current public discourse is re-routing the pipeline, my original motives for legislation remain.

We need a state agency that has the authority to represent Nebraskans in determining the best interests of our state, and an eminent domain law that allows for economic progress while respecting landowners’ rights.

I have worked with some of the most well-respected and experienced legal minds in the state to ensure that we can pass constitutionally sound legislation.

While hindsight is always 20/20, it can provide clarity for the present. The special session affords us an opportunity to bring that clarity and a purpose into this debate. More…

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Letter, 10/31: Nelson’s lukewarm status

Lincoln Journal Star: How interesting to see that the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste rated Sen. Ben Nelson the lowest of all the Nebraska congressional delegation. While Sen. Mike Johanns was rated as a “hero” at 90 percent and our three congressmen were rated from 89 percent to 77 percent, Nelson was rated “lukewarm” at 50 percent.

In light of his recent commercials touting his fiscal conservatism, this rating seems to dispute that claim. On top of his 60th vote for the Obamacare debacle, this should tell all Nebraskans that it’s time for a change.

Steve Tonkin, Lincoln

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Next jobs bill faces hard road

POLITICO: October 31: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared Monday that Democrats are the only ones “fighting to create good-paying American jobs.” But he again could face a handful of defections from his own party when he brings the next jobs bill to the floor this week.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, a moderate Democrat who’s facing a tough reelection next year, said he’ll take a look at the latest jobs proposal — a $60 billion package to help rebuild aging infrastructure — but continues to have concerns about the fact that these bills have been funded by raising taxes on the rich.

“I have some of the same concerns about the way it’s paid for,” Nelson told POLITICO on Monday night.

Earlier this month, Nelson and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) joined all Republicans in voting to filibuster President Barack Obama’s sweeping $447 billion jobs package. A week later, Nelson, Lieberman and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) joined Republicans in blocking debate on a $35 billion bill for state aid to pay for teachers, police officers and firefighters — Democrats’ first effort to break the jobs package into individual pieces. More…

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Jim Webb goes out swinging

POLITICO: November 1: Webb’s departure also highlights the increasing Democratic struggles in keeping control of traditionally Republican states that they were successful in winning in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

“I think like all of us, he’s distressed by the fact that you have trouble getting something done,” said Sen. Ben Nelson, the conservative Nebraska Democrat, who has also opposed the recent jobs plans. “But extreme partisanship is not what he or I would prefer.” More…

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Dems seek to fracture Senate GOP unity

The Hill: November 2: Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the upper chamber’s most conservative Democrat, said he would consider voting for the Democratic jobs bill, even though it raises taxes on income, an indication of the popularity of infrastructure spending in Congress.

Nelson voted with Republicans to block the last two Democratic jobs bills.  More…

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Nelson still pondering re-election decision

Lincoln Journal Star: November 2: Nelson said he will weigh his family’s views along with a personal judgment on “whether I believe I have a role to play in dealing with a very divided Congress in a very divided country, whether I could be constructive in finding some solutions, whether I am convinced I can be a positive force for the following six years.”

Nelson has his campaign leadership in place, has blanketed the state with a series of TV ads paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has raised campaign funds and banked more than $3 million for a re-election bid, but he still has not yet left the starting gate, pushed the go button, pulled the trigger.

“I’m not trying to drag this out,” the two-term Democratic senator said. “There is no theater involved in this.

“It’s more that I just don’t want to be a candidate any longer than I need to be or (it’s more difficult) to do the job I’m elected to do.”

Tuesday’s interview provided no clear hints or clues as to what Nelson ultimately will do. But there was a clear understanding that he might not say yes.

If he seeks re-election next year, Nebraska is likely to be one of the key battlegrounds in determining control of the Senate. If he decides to step aside at the end of his current term, Democrats will be hard-pressed to compete for an open seat in a staunchly Republican state during a presidential election year.

Nelson said the possibility that he could lose a re-election bid in 2012 is not a factor in his final decision.

“I do not have to have assurance I would win,” he said. ”I’m a risk-taker. That would not be the deciding factor by a wide margin.”

Yes, Nelson acknowledged, “we poll from time to time” in an effort to measure voter views and sentiment.

“But those results would not be the defining factor at all,” he said. More…

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Dems Up To $1.2 Million for Ben Nelson

National Journal: Hotline: On Call: November 3: Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., may not be certain about whether he’ll run for re-election, but the Nebraska Democratic Party is sure sinking a lot of money into their hopes that he will.

Nebraska Democrats have spent a total of just under $1.25 million on television ads on Nelson’s behalf, including $138,658 in ads running this week and $139,968 running next week, according to a Republican source who keeps track of ad buys.

Much of the money — the vast majority, in all likelihood — comes from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which had transferred at least $865,000 to the state party through the end of September (The Democratic National Committee has chipped in another $76,000).

The Nebraska Democratic Party has then used that cash to run early advertisements, ranging from 300 to about 450 gross ratings points in each of the state’s major markets, continuously since September 8. So far, Democrats have run 3,700 points in Omaha, 3,600 in Lincoln, 3,500 in Sioux City and 3,400 in the North Platte market, as well as a smattering of smaller cable buys. More…

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Our ancient Senate: Ben Nelson has never used an ATM

Salon: November 4: Sen. Tom Harkin introduced an amendment to the finance reform bill capping ATM fees at 50 cents. But Harry Reid apparently decided that it wasn’t worth attempting to bring it to a vote.

“I’ve never used an ATM, so I don’t know what the fees are,” Nelson said, adding that he gets his cash from bank tellers, just not automatic ones. “It’s true, I don’t know how to use one. More…

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Nelson vows fight for EAS

McCook Daily Gazette: November 3: Sen. Ben Nelson told the 100-or-so gathered for a Chamber of Commerce mixer this morning that he knows the importance of air service to the economic vitality of rural states and rural communities, and will continue to fight for federal funding that subsidizes scheduled commercial air service to communities like McCook.

Tim Monzon of McCook told the senator that about 60 Nebraska National Guardsmen and Army Reservists rely on air service to and from McCook.

Nelson said the Transportation Authorization Bill passed out of the Senate Tuesday, and Senate conferees could get it as early as tonight.

“We’re working to keep Essential Air Service,” Nelson said. “I’m optimistic we will be able to get that done.”

He continued, “If there are no real changes, it will be done.” If there are changes, he said, it goes back to the House and Senate.

Sen. Nelson said he is less optimistic about the appropriations bill that will fund EAS. The Senator said he is not comfortable that a “Deficit Super Committee” — “12 people that I did not vote for … that Nebraskans did not vote for” — will decide how to make $1.5 trillion in “controversial cuts” in federal funding by Nov. 23. More…

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Senate gridlock: Both parties block jobs bills

POLITICO: November 7: Senate Democrats on Thursday came up nine votes short of the 60 needed to advance their infrastructure bill past a key procedural hurdle. The vote was 51-49, with all Republicans and two members of the Democratic caucus — Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) — voting no.  More…

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Democrats Aim to Localize 2012 Senate Races

Real Clear Politics: Caitlin Huey-Burns: November 3: For the 2012 cycle, Democrats are advising their incumbents and recruits to make their individual elections “a choice between the two people on the ballot . . . and not simply allow it to be a nationalized election,” said Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, at a briefing with reporters Thursday hosted by the centrist think tank Third Way. “I think it’s part of the reason why we were successful in Colorado, and I think it’s part of the reason why we will be successful in a lot of these incumbent states around the country.”

Even though they currently hold a majority, Senate Democrats have a difficult task ahead of them. They are working with a large map and have 23 seats to defend, compared to 10 for the Republicans. The GOP needs to win four Democratic seats in order to win the majority in the Senate, and the party is targeting four red states that didn’t swing for Obama in 2008: Missouri, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Having the president’s name on the same ballot poses an additional challenge for Democrats running in red states, which is why Democrats will try to make each race a two-candidate contest rather than a three-candidate one.

Republicans counter that the Democratic incumbents’ records make it difficult for them to move away from Obama.

“That theory might have some relevance if the elections were taking place in fantasy land, but in reality they’re taking place in states that have borne the brunt of the Democrats’ failed economic policies, which every one of their candidates is on record supporting,” said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. ”At the end of the day, the president is on the top of the ticket with all of these senators. Coupled with that, senators like Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill and Ben Nelson have voted for a lot of his major spending initiatives. They’re tied to the hip with the president.” More…

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What We Learned: How Not To Be Seen

National Journal: Hotline: On Call: November 5: — Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., sounds less like a candidate this week than he did last week. That’s terrible news for Democrats; ask any senior party strategist and they’ll tell you the more a candidate moves away from the idea of running for re-election, the harder it is to reverse the momentum. Democrats have already sunk $1.2 million into Nelson’s re-elect. Watch to see if they keep that pace up. If the ads stop, Nelson’s probably signaled his intentions to the powers that be. More…

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Pipeline foes circle White House

Omaha World Herald: November 7: The Keystone XL would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to refineries in Texas, crossing Nebraska’s Sand Hills and the aquifer along the way. Because it crosses an international border, the State Department is in charge of the permit process.

But President Barack Obama recently indicated in a TV interview that he will make the ultimate decision on the pipeline.

Sunday’s protest was aimed at reminding Obama about his environmental rhetoric on the 2008 campaign trail. Obama quotes were stamped on many of the signs among the crowd, which organizers estimated at about 12,000. Police put the estimate at 5,000.

That included a contingent of at least 27 Nebraskans, who were easy to spot with their red Husker gear and foam “corn fingers” calling for TransCanada to be stopped.

And yet the pipeline has drawn opposition from others who don’t exactly fit the oil-hating environmental stereotype, such as Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and Sen. Mike Johanns, both Republicans, and Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat. More…

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Ben Nelson ads blur lines, invite violations

Kearney Hub: November 7: Sen. Ben Nelson could serve the state by showing leadership of a different kind on campaign finance. At issue are television ads — including one in which Nelson with a straight face portrays himself as a Washington outsider complaining about how politicians in the nation’s capital “don’t get it” — paid for by the Nebraska Democratic Party with money allocated to it by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

 

Nelson contends they are issue ads, because Nelson does not ask for your vote, and thus are not subject to a $240,000 funding limit set according to federal law. The ads have cost more than $600,000.  More…

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Stenberg grabs DeMint’s support for Neb. Senate

The Hill: Ballot Box: November 7: Stenberg, Nebraska’s state treasurer, is running to unseat Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who has not yet announced whether he will run for reelection. But most of the attention in the GOP primary has gone to Jon Bruning, the state’s attorney general.

“Don Stenberg is a lifelong conservative with the principles, integrity, and courage needed to stand up to the big spenders in both political parties in Washington,” DeMint said in a statement released by Senate Conservatives Fund, the PAC that DeMint chairs.

Conservative leaders and some Tea Party groups have been vocal in their support for Stenberg over Bruning. FreedomWorks, a well funded Tea Party PAC, endorsed Stenberg in September, as have conservative commentators Mark Levin and Erick Erickson. But Tea Party Express, another influential conservative group, has backed Bruning. More…

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A look ahead to the key races in the Midwest in 2012

USA Today: November 7: Nebraska: Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson is seeking re-election. Nelson’s seat has attracted several GOP hopefuls including state Sen. Deb Fischer, state Attorney General Jon Bruning and state Treasurer Don Stenberg. Bruning has received endorsements from the Tea Party as well as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

In the 2nd District Republican Rep. Lee Terry will be challenged by fellow Republican Jack Heidel, a mathematics professor at the University of Nebraska. Also in the Republican race is former University of Nebraska football player Brett Lindstrom. Democrats John Ewing, Douglas County Treasurer, and state Sen. Gwen Howard are also running.

Nebraska’s Legislature consists of only one body — the Senate, which is non-partisan and has 49 members. State senators are limited to two four-year terms. In 2012, eight legislators must step down. More…

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Bruning makes campaign stop in Beatrice

Beatrice Daily Sun: November 9: Jon Bruning says his decision to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate was simple.

“I’m running to take power back for the American people,” Bruning said Monday night during a campaign dinner held at the Kilpatrick mansion in Beatrice. “Government has gotten too big. We need to reduce the size and scope of government.”
Bruning, who currently serves as Nebraska Attorney General, faces a contentious Republican primary. Other challengers include Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, Nebraska State Auditor Don Stenberg, Pat Flynn of Schuyler and Spencer Zimmerman of Omaha.

The winner of the 2012 GOP primary hopes to unseat Democratic incumbent Ben Nelson.

“When Ben Nelson took over we were $5 trillion in debt. Now we’re $15 trillion in debt,” said Bruning, who also reminded those in attendance of Nelson’s part in helping President Barack Obama pass “Obamacare,” a nationwide healthcare plan which Bruning believes to be unconstitutional.

Bruning also took a swipe at Stenberg, who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1996, 2000 and 2006.

“I promise you on my mother’s grave,” Bruning said. “You won’t see me run for Senate four times, I’ll take a hint.” More…

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Nelson: Don’t wait on feds to change pipeline route

Omaha World-Herald: November 9: U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson urged Nebraska lawmakers on Wednesday to pass a bill to direct routing of crude-oil pipelines instead of waiting to see whether federal regulators are seeking a new route for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The Associated Press and Reuters both reported, using unnamed sources, that the U.S. Department of State was now pursuing a new route for the 36-inch pipeline that would bypass Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills.

That step, the reports said, would delay a final decision on the $7 billion, 1,700-mile-long for at least a year, until after the 2012 elections.

Nelson, during a teleconference call with reporters, said he wasn’t sure if the reports are true.

Nebraska legislators now meeting in special session can render that question moot if they pass a law to reroute the pipeline — a move supported by Nelson, U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and Gov. Dave Heineman.

Said Nelson, “There’s a special session under way, and it’s my hope that they’ll be successful in determining the pipeline’s route this year and then we won’t have to deal with whether or not the administration is going to be engaged in routing.”

The senator called routing “a states’ rights issue,” adding that “what good are states’ rights if elected officials refuse to exercise them and let Washington make the decisions for them, directly or through acquiescence.” More…

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Colbert zings Nelson’s ‘issue ads’

Omaha World-Herald: November 10: Video: Watch video of Stephen Colbert talking about Ben Nelson ads He noted that Democrats claim the Nelson spots are not campaign ads promoting a candidate, but rather issue ads not subject to the restrictions.

He then played one of the ads that features Nelson looking into the camera and talking about his commitment to protect seniors in the budget debate.

“Clearly an issue ad. The issue? Ben Nelson is pretty great,” Colbert said. “So I say bravo Democrats. You are blazing a campaign trail to be followed by super PAC pioneers in their Conestoga money wagons.” More…

Categories: Nebraska politics Tags:

State Senator Dan Lederman says South Dakotan’s have impression that Romney is too moderate.

Weekly Clips from October 27, 2011 to November 10, 2011

U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., S.D. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, and S.D. State Sen. Dan Lederman, R-16

U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

Johnson Speaks at Camp Rapid Grand Openings

October 28: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, addressed the grand opening of three state-of-the-art buildings at Camp Rapid. Through his chairmanship, Johnson helped secure over $50 million for the construction of a new Joint Force Headquarters-Readiness Center, a new barracks/classroom building and the renovation of the Troop Medical Clinic.

“This construction has changed the face of Camp Rapid. It is amazing to see the transformation over the past decade,” Johnson said. “Investments in the Guard are investments in our communities, our state and our nation’s security.”

The 170,000-square-foot Joint Force Headquarters-Readiness Center has classrooms, a dining facility and work stations for more than 400 Guard members. Johnson helped get the project off the ground when he secured a $900,000 earmark in Fiscal Year 2008 and secured another $7.89 million earmark in FY 2010. In FY 2009, the President’s budget request included $29 million for this project and Johnson ushered this funding through his subcommittee. More…

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Johnson Statement on Interior Announcement Regarding Blood Run, Dakota Grasslands

October 28: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: I applaud the Department of the Interior for highlighting these valuable conservation projects. I have long worked with state officials and local stakeholders on the Blood Run project and believe it offers a tremendous opportunity for outdoor recreation and historic preservation.  Similarly, our state’s native grasslands contribute to the high quality hunting and wildlife watching our state offers.  Matching conservation practices with working lands is a great way to take even greater advantage of the economic benefits of outdoor recreation. Secretary Salazar’s announcement today is a sign that folks understand the importance of South Dakota’s outdoor treasures. More…

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Johnson Honors Newell Family as Angels in Adoption, Discusses FASD in Rapid City

October 28: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “After being inspired by their story, I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Nora Boesem and her family today and present her with this much-deserved recognition,” Johnson said. “As we heard from Dr. Usera, it is very challenging to raise a child suffering from FASD, let alone nine.  This family has gone out of their way to improve the lives of many South Dakota children, including those with special needs, and is the epitome of Angels in Adoption.” More…

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Johnson: DOT to Continue Delta Service In Pierre In To New Year

November 2: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “This is very good news for Pierre,” said Johnson. “Keeping the Pierre to Minneapolis flights in place into the new year will prevent a break in service as the City works with airlines to keep this important route servicing the area. This announcement is welcome news, especially with the holidays right around the corner.” More…

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Johnson Chairs Hearing on Financial Protections for Servicemembers and Veterans

November 3: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the nearly 1.5 million active-duty servicemembers protecting America at home and abroad, as well as to the 22 million veterans who have served in the armed forces,” said Chairman Johnson. “Servicemembers and veterans have been hit hard by the financial crisis, caused by reckless behavior on Wall Street and a lack of consumer protections. I take special interest in this matter, not only as the father of a soldier, but also as a senator from a state that has over 72,000 veterans and more than 3,500 military personnel at Ellsworth Air Force Base. I am proud and thankful for Ms. Spain’s work to benefit South Dakotans facing tough financial challenges, and I appreciate her traveling to Washington for this hearing.”  More…

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JOHNSON STATEMENT ON JANKLOW ANNOUNCEMENT

November 4: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: My wife Barbara and I are saddened by this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill and his family during this difficult time.

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Johnson Asks South Dakotans to Share Ideas for Federal Budget

November 8: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “I have received input from South Dakotans over the years on our budget deficit, but wanted to create this form to allow folks to more easily send me their thoughts on the federal budget,” Johnson said.  “As I travel around our state, I hear great feedback regarding both what funding folks want to see preserved and what they would cut, and I am expecting to get that same response on my website.” More…

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Johnson’s Minuteman Missile Bill Clears Committee

November 10: Pressroom: U.S. Senator Tim Johnson: “I’m glad that Republicans and Democrats on the Energy Committee came together today to advance my legislation. Helping people in our state and across the nation learn more about this historic site is not a partisan issue. The full Senate should consider this legislation as quickly as possible and allow the National Park Service to move forward with plans to build this visitor center,” said Johnson. More…

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Tim Johnson earns 0% rating from Family Research Council Council and CitizenLink

FRC Council: Vote Scorecard: Tim Johnson- 0% More…

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WOSTER: Rounds keeps eye on 2014

Rapid City Journal: October 30: Ask Mike Rounds what his campaign plans are for 2012 and he takes the coy road.

“None that I know of,” the former governor says. “I’m a businessman these days.”

The dodge takes a different turn when you ask about 2014, however.

“Oh, you never know,” Rounds says.

Rounds is right, of course. We don’t know what he’ll be doing when the 2014 campaign cycle rolls around. But we do know that Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson will be up for re-election, should the three-term senator decide to try for four.

We also know the U.S. House seat now held by Republican Kristi Noem will be in play, with Noem likely to be the incumbent considering both a House re-election race or a try for Johnson’s Senate seat.

We also know there’s a low-odds possibility that Noem could get beat in her re-election bid for the House next year. And we could see former Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin get back in the game, depending on Noem’s standing with voters and Tim Johnson’s plans.

And Rounds? He’s a threat at any level of political campaign in South Dakota. And the fact that he has a new political action committee — named the Peter Norbeck PAC — leads some to believe he’s more than a little likely to make a run for something in a few years.

“I think the creation of a PAC is an indication that Rounds is looking at doing something in 2014,” says John Schaff, a political science professor at Northern State University in Aberdeen. “It doesn’t take much imagination to guess that he has his eyes on the Johnson Senate seat.”

Some think Johnson’s son, Brendan, the U.S. attorney in Sioux Falls, has his eyes on the same seat, should his dad decide that 28 years in Congress, including five House terms, is enough. More…

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Lawmakers Push For More Funding for Lewis And Clark Water

KDLT: November 3: U.S. lawmakers are putting the full court press on the Obama Administration to provide more funding for the Lewis and Clark Water Project. The system would bring clean water from the Missouri river to 300,000 people in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

The congressional delegations from the 3 states met with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other leaders in Washington, DC on Thursday. Among those at the meeting were Senator John Thune and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

“ I think the important thing is Secretary Salazar understood the importance of this project to South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. He understands it’s a jobs project and I was prevailing on him to really focus on Lewis & Clark”. Said Franken.

Senator Thune believes he got his point across when he showed numbers indicating just how much rural water projects have been cut compared to other projects.

“Ken Salazar is an old colleague of mine I worked with him in the senate. I felt like he got the message, rural water has just not been a priority for the administration.” Said Thune.

Representative Kristi Noem and Senator Tim Johnson also took part in the meeting. The total cost of the project is estimated at 374 million dollars, but with delays that number will likely rise.

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Johnson backs bill to ease hardship on military families

KTIV: November 9: Financial hardships are something that many of us deal with at one time or another.

But for our troops, their families, and even veterans, it can especially be a challenge.

In order to combat the problem, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking for a director to regulate non-bank financial institutions.

Doing so would assist troops to avoid hidden fees, prevent getting caught in illegal mortgage lending practices, and know where to go to get help if need be.

According to the bureau’s Assistant Director, Holly Petreaus, helping soldiers with financial issues also gives them emotional relief. “A soldier who is preoccupied with financial troubles is not able to give 100% of their attention to their job and if they are over in a combat situation, that can be dangerous both for them and for the people with whom they serve,” said Holly Petreaus, assistant director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Petreaus and South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson say a major source of financial trouble is a mobile lifestyle… that makes paying off a house and education decisions difficult.

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Letters: Disappointment with Rounds

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Jay Davis: October 31: Mike Rounds is a very nice guy. That was enough to get him elected governor in 2002, when his opponents in the Republican primary threw mud at each other and basically ignored Rounds.

It’s disappointing that this “nice guy” is forming a political action committee called the Peter Norbeck PAC to promote his future ambitions, including a possible challenge to Sen. Tim Johnson. Norbeck was South Dakota’s greatest governor, a true conservationist who gave us Custer State Park and promoted construction of Mount Rushmore. More…

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AARP Volunteers Visit Congressional Offices

KDLT News: October 31: About 40 South Dakota AARP volunteers loaded a bus to visit Senator Tim Johnson, Representative Kristi Noem, and Senator John Thune’s district offices, all to share their concern about the discussion to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits.

“They do not want the federal financial budget problems solved on the backs of an aging population,” said Pat Gross, volunteer state president for AARP South Dakota.

The AARP volunteers represent thousands of South Dakotans who have signed petitions, made phone calls and shared personal stories, all trying to portray the importance of Medicare and Social Security benefits in the lives of seniors.

“I have a daughter who was born deaf and because of Social Security, she was able to get an education,” said George Smith, a South Dakota resident and volunteer for AARP

The senior volunteers are raise concerns that if cuts are made the funds seniors have counted on to be there might not be enough.

“The benefits they are talking about cutting are benefits that we have earned and paid for,” said Gross.

“That is something we have all paid in to all of our life with the idea that it would be there when we needed it,” said Smith.  More…

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VA pitches $10M face-lift

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: November 6: Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs within the Senate Appropriations Committee. While noting ongoing improvements at the VA Medical Center in recent years, including work on the elevators, as well as on the oncology and mental health units, “there is always room for further enhancements,” Johnson said in an emailed statement.

“I will do what I can. … to ensure the VA has the resources they need to properly care for our veterans, both in South Dakota and across our nation,” he said.

Johnson must see whether Obama puts money for the project into the VA budget. If the president does that at anything less than the $9.3 million needed, Johnson at least can advocate for more dollars in the VA budgetary pie with the hope that the increase will filter down to Sioux Falls. More…

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S.D. State Sen. Dan Lederman, R-16

Politically Speaking: South Dakota GOP to hold presidential straw poll

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: November 4: Bret Hayworth: State Sen. Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, said he figures the straw poll will be attended primarily by a small core of Republican activists. Lederman heads the local Republican Jewish Coalition chapter, which has brought Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain for Sioux City speeches. Lederman said he won’t endorse a presidential candidate.

“I’ve stayed neutral, because I have friends in all the camps,” he said.

Lederman nonetheless handicapped how he sees the candidates shaking out in the straw poll. His top five in order: (1) Rick Perry, (2) Michele Bachmann, (3) Cain, (4) Gingrich and (5) Santorum.

Lederman didn’t pick Mitt Romney, Ron Paul or Jon Huntsman with his top five prediction. Romney has been a national poll leader for months, but Lederman said South Dakotans have the impression he’s too moderate.

“They have more connection to Perry,” he said.

Lederman spoke a bit about Cain, who has had a rough week after charges of sexual harassment surfaced, dating to the time he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Lederman said he likes Cain and the allegations could be a “smear job,” but contended the candidate didn’t respond ably. He predicted Cain’s polling numbers – he’s been neck-and-neck with Romney for about a month — could begin to fall in about a week. More…

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