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Five months in, Nolan says he’s still frustrated, but sees hope

WASHINGTON — Nolan said he’s been surprised by the willingness of Republican leadership to rely on Democrats to pass major legislation.

Rep. Rick Nolan: “The good news is, there really is strong desire on the part of the new 84 member Republicans and Democrats [elected in 2012]. They got the message, they really, truly genuinely want to see some bipartisan cooperation.”

WASHINGTON — It’s almost a cliché, that one of a Minnesota congressman’s favorite legislative victories has to do with, of all things, fish.

In May, the House Agriculture Committee set out to mark up the Farm Bill and held an open call for lawmakers to amend the legislation. Members pitched some 90 amendments, and Democrat Rick Nolan, who has long bemoaned the more rigid and partisan nature of modern congressional lawmaking, got in on the game.

At one point, the bill called for Department of Agriculture inspections of catfish processors, something already done by the Food and Drug Administration, Nolan said. The provision would have cost $170 million, and put processing facilities through two separate government inspections.

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But that’s not to say they’ve succeeded.

Nolan: Gridlock still preventing progress

Congress is still at a right-left impasse that, for several months at least, has left it dealing with one must-pass piece of legislation after another and getting very little done in the meantime. As such, Nolan’s basic complaints about the state of American politics are about the same.

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Already, national Republicans have looked to paint Nolan as too liberal for his district, which gave him a 9-point victory last fall, during a presidential year. The district leans slightly to the left, but Nolan has unabashedly embraced liberal positions that National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Alleigh Marré called, “old, tired ideas … far out of step with Minnesota families.”

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