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Hagedorn sees impeachment as a political ploy by Dems

NEW ULM — Minnesota First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn is back in southern Minnesota visiting constituents, including a visit to New Ulm Friday.

In an interview with The Journal, Hagedorn began by discussing Donald Trump and the House impeachment inquiry.

Hagedorn has been a staunch supporter of President Trump and describes recent impeachment efforts as overly political.

“The Democrats are trying to concoct something to, in an unwarranted way, remove a duly elected president,” Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn, along with all other Republican House members, voted against impeachment.

When asked what is an impeachable offense, Hagedorn said he would know it when he saw it.

Transcripts of the Trump’s conversation with the Ukraine president have been released to the public, but Hagedorn said these transcripts are not complete, with sections being released.

Hagedorn believed the impeachment issues would continue at least through Christmas and would likely play out big in one way or another.

Impeachment aside, Hagedorn said agriculture and implementation of the renewable fuel standard were top issues.

Hagedorn saw these as the two short-terms wins possible with congress at this time.

“I support the Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico,” he said. “We want to vote on that soon and we would like to get that through because I think it will help us build momentum for other deals including China.”

Hagedorn believes that if the country cannot get a trade deal with Canada and Mexico, it will be less likely to make a deal with China, which still has tariffs in place.

Hagedorn said letters were submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking them to implement the renewable fuel standard as congress intended. Hagedorn said the fuel standard had support from farmers and they want to ensure EPA follows it.

Federal funding for Highway 14 is being sought through a BUILD Grant. The Minnesota Department of Transportation applied to Washington D.C. for the $25 million grant. If Minnesota received this grant, the state would fund the remaining $65 million needed.

“We have left no stone unturned trying to push folks to know how important the project is,” Hagedorn said.

He said Highway 14 was a safety issue and an economic issue. Also, he could not think of another city in the country that was the size of New Ulm that only had two lanes going in and out of the town.

Hagedorn said everyone was fighting to get it done. It will be announced next week if Minnesota received the grant. Hagedorn said if the funding did not come, they would find it elsewhere.

“I don’t care who gets the credit, I just want it completed,” Hagedorn said.

Asked about the rising cost of prescription drugs, Hagedorn said there were a couple of proposals on the national level that were agreed upon. One proposal would make the generic prescription drug process transparent to let other companies produce the drugs efficiently sooner at a lower cost.

Hagedorn said these bills came out the Energy and Commerce committees and had bipartisan support, but it was linked to Obamacare funding, causing Republicans to drop off.

“That could be dusted off at any time and I think the Senate would pick up that non-partisan bill,” Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn was less optimistic about the Lower Drug Cost Now Act of 2019, labeled H.R.3. The law establishes several programs and requirements relating to prescription drug prices. The bill requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to negotiate prices for certain drugs. CMS must negotiate maximum prices for insulin products and other drugs. The negotiated maximum price must not exceed 120 percent of the average price in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States.

Hagedorn described it as socialized medicine for prescription drugs. He said the congressional budget office projected the passage of the bill would cause the elimination of 10 to 15 drug therapies because companies will not innovate if it is not profitable.

“It is bad that it is expensive, but the worse thing is paying nothing for nothing,” he said.

Hagedorn said many of these drugs are created in the United States but are available at a lower cost elsewhere. Asked why the United States was subsidizing prescription drugs for the rest of the world, Hagedorn said countries like Canada, as a government, negotiate with the drug companies resulting in a lower cost, but he did not believe the federal government should dictate prices. He felt if a drug country was going to charge a country less for drugs, it should be the same for the United States, but he wanted to that determined on the back end rather than upfront pricing negotiation.

On immigration, Hagedorn said there was progress in moving refugees off the border. New directives have asylum seekers request asylum in their home country or nearest haven.

“By doing that we’re going to hear their cases,” he said. “If they get accepted they will be flown into the United States. That has calmed things down on the border.”

Hagedorn supports the president’s push for border security and merit-based immigration. He also supports a work program for people to earn credits toward citizenship.

On the issues of gun violence, Hagedorn does not support the Red Flag Laws that permit police or family to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.

He said he only supports legislation with regular due process. He does not want weapons to be confiscated based on a single person’s request.

“Any national legislation I would not support it unless there is proper due process,” he said.

For Veteran affairs, Hagedorn said he is willing to fully support medical care.

“The most liberal position I ever take is veterans should be able to choose their doctors and hospitals, get timely quality medical care and the taxpayers should pay for it,” he said. “Veterans should get the first dollar in the budget, not the last.”

Hagedorn’s next step is to ensure any veterans with PTSD issues would have access to mental health services and the government should pay for it up front so no one is turned away.

Hagedorn will return to Brown County and Nicollet County for townhall events. Hagedorn is working to host a town hall in each county in the first district. He has completed nine of the 21 counties.

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