North Star Newsletter: A Nation in Mourning

Senator Al Franken
2012-12-18 11:44:36
North Star Newsletter | December 2012 Tragedy in Connecticut I know I speak for every Minnesotan when I say that last week's events in Connecticut are beyond comprehension. I cannot fully express the shock and sadness I feel at this senseless loss of innocent life, and as a parent, cannot fathom the unimaginable grief these families are going through. Franni and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this horrific tragedy. Keeping our Economy on the Road to Recovery As the end of the year approaches, Congress has a lot of work to do before we head home for the holidays. In order to keep our economy on track, we need to find a way to get our deficits under control. The American people sent a message – through this year's elections – that they want a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes increases in revenue, smart spending cuts, and investment in the things that will keep our economy growingβ€”education, infrastructure, and research and development. While Congress has been able to find some common ground – including $1.5 trillion in spending cuts already signed into law – we need more cuts, and we haven't yet come to an agreement on revenue. In the Senate, we passed legislation to reduce the deficit by nearly a trillion dollars by making sure the richest 2% of Americans are paying their fair share – while preserving the Bush-era tax cuts for 98% of American families – but the House refuses to pass it. Our economy is steadily improving, and more Americans are getting back to work, but we need to make smart fiscal decisions today in order to keep things on track in the future. Giving our Farmers the Stability they Need to Plan One of my top priorities as Congress debates our nation's fiscal challenges is the passage of a new Farm Bill. The Senate passed a bipartisan, five-year Farm Bill that provides a strong safety net to our farmers – and cuts $23 billion from the budget. The House Agriculture Committee – with strong leadership from Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson - also passed a bipartisan Farm Bill this summer. Unfortunately, despite months of effort by Rep. Peterson, national farm leaders, and farm-state members from both parties, Republican leaders have refused to allow the House to vote on it. One in five jobs in Minnesota depends on agriculture, so I’ve been doing everything I can to get this bill passed. I've been pressing Senate leadership to make sure that any fiscal package we vote on includes a comprehensive Farm Bill, and I urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to work with the White House to get this done. Minnesota's farmers and livestock producers need the stability this bill will provide in order to plan for next year, and we need to get this done as quickly as possible. Keeping Asian Carp out of Minnesota's Rivers and Lakes The fishing, boating, and tourism industries on Minnesota's rivers and lakes support thousands of jobs and bring billions of dollars into our state’s economy. So it's incredibly important that we protect our waterways from invasive species that can threaten this delicate, vital ecosystem. In recent years, the Asian Carp – an invasive fish that can grow up to 100 pounds – has invaded a number of lakes and rivers around the country, muscling out native wildlife and causing lasting economic damage. That's why I've been working with the rest of the Minnesota Congressional delegation to keep this fish out of Minnesota's waterways. Last week, with Sen. Klobuchar, I pressed the Obama Administration to fund a critical program that's working to keep the Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes. We have also put together legislation that would create a coordinated defense against these fish. Our waterways are an important part of our heritage and our economy, and we need to do everything we can to protect them. To unsubscribe from these newsletters, please visit the unsubscribe page here: franken.senate.gov/

North Star Newsletter | December 2012

I know I speak for every Minnesotan when I say that last week's events in Connecticut are beyond comprehension. I cannot fully express the shock and sadness I feel at this senseless loss of innocent life, and as a parent, cannot fathom the unimaginable grief these families are going through. Franni and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this horrific tragedy.

As the end of the year approaches, Congress has a lot of work to do before we head home for the holidays. In order to keep our economy on track, we need to find a way to get our deficits under control. The American people sent a message – through this year's elections – that they want a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes increases in revenue, smart spending cuts, and investment in the things that will keep our economy growing—education, infrastructure, and research and development.

While Congress has been able to find some common ground – including $1.5 trillion in spending cuts already signed into law – we need more cuts, and we haven't yet come to an agreement on revenue. In the Senate, we passed legislation to reduce the deficit by nearly a trillion dollars by making sure the richest 2% of Americans are paying their fair share – while preserving the Bush-era tax cuts for 98% of American families – but the House refuses to pass it. Our economy is steadily improving, and more Americans are getting back to work, but we need to make smart fiscal decisions today in order to keep things on track in the future.

One of my top priorities as Congress debates our nation's fiscal challenges is the passage of a new Farm Bill. The Senate passed a bipartisan, five-year Farm Bill that provides a strong safety net to our farmers – and cuts $23 billion from the budget. The House Agriculture Committee – with strong leadership from Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson - also passed a bipartisan Farm Bill this summer. Unfortunately, despite months of effort by Rep. Peterson, national farm leaders, and farm-state members from both parties, Republican leaders have refused to allow the House to vote on it.

One in five jobs in Minnesota depends on agriculture, so I’ve been doing everything I can to get this bill passed. I've been pressing Senate leadership to make sure that any fiscal package we vote on includes a comprehensive Farm Bill, and I urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to work with the White House to get this done. Minnesota's farmers and livestock producers need the stability this bill will provide in order to plan for next year, and we need to get this done as quickly as possible.

The fishing, boating, and tourism industries on Minnesota's rivers and lakes support thousands of jobs and bring billions of dollars into our state’s economy. So it's incredibly important that we protect our waterways from invasive species that can threaten this delicate, vital ecosystem.

In recent years, the Asian Carp – an invasive fish that can grow up to 100 pounds – has invaded a number of lakes and rivers around the country, muscling out native wildlife and causing lasting economic damage. That's why I've been working with the rest of the Minnesota Congressional delegation to keep this fish out of Minnesota's waterways. Last week, with Sen. Klobuchar, I pressed the Obama Administration to fund a critical program that's working to keep the Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes. We have also put together legislation that would create a coordinated defense against these fish. Our waterways are an important part of our heritage and our economy, and we need to do everything we can to protect them.

To unsubscribe from these newsletters, please visit the unsubscribe page here: