As Democrats spar with Republicans in Washington D.C. over solutions to the nation's debt, and the nation frets over looming mandatory cuts to the federal budget, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) and 107 other lawmakers pressured President Barack Obama to refuse cuts to national social safety-net programs.
According to Salon.com , Ellison and members of the all-Democratic Congressional Progressive Caucus issued a letter opposing any reduction in entitlement benefits. The effort was lead by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), although Ellison co-chairs the caucus. The liberal lawmakers are particularly concerned that Democratic leaders will agree to changes in how Social Security benefits are indexed to inflation through a procedure known as the "chained CPI." Democratic leaders have said his cut could be easier for Democratic legislators to swallow as part of a budget deal with House Republicans.
Economists and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle argue that the United States must figure out how to slow cost growth in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in order to reduce the nation's long-term debt burden.
Ellison and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus had issued their own proposal to solve the nation's deficit problems without cutting aid to the poor and elderly earlier this month. The measure relies on cuts to defense spending and on closing tax loopholes.
Ellison Visits Somalia
At the request of his Somali-American constituents, Rep. Keith Ellison is visiting Somalia this week. He touched down in the country's capitol, Mogadishu, on Tuesday morning. According to the Associated Press , Ellison is hoping to help build the relationship between the United States and Somalia's nascent government. In the last 18 months, the government has brought a measure of stability to the country, uniting warlords and driving rebels out of many towns.
“We are at a critical juncture for the people of Somalia and their families in Minnesota and throughout the United States,” Ellison said in a statement emailed to reporters. “A renewed U.S. relationship may be our best opportunity in decades to ensure peace and stability for the Somali people, and combat terrorism in the region. This visit provided an unparalleled opportunity to learn firsthand about issues facing the country, and the role the United States plays in promoting a stable Somalia.”
Ellison, Minnesota Lawmakers Search for Asian Carp Solution
Thursday morning, Ellison, Rep. Erik Paulson (R-MN), Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced a new bill aimed at halting the spread of Asian Carp.
“Fishing and boating are an essential part of Minnesota’s history, heritage, and culture,” said Ellison in a press release issued by his office. “They are also a vital part of our economy. If invasive carp continue to travel upstream, the effect on our recreational economy would be devastating and one of our state’s most important assets will be lost.”
The bill sets up a process to examine closing Mississippi River locks in downtown Minneapolis to keep the fish from spreading further upstream. The bill also directs federal agencies to work with state officials to root out any carp populations that have already been discovered in Minnesota waters.
Ellison Jumps into Minneapolis City Council Race
Last Monday, Ellison threw his weight behind an incumbent Minneapolis City Council member, Diane Hofstede (Ward 3), according to the Star Tribune . Hofstede has come under fire from several colleagues on the council for not returning constituents' phone calls and being difficult to work with.