The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, 1/17/13, 7:00 PM ET

Returning to Congress after a 32 year break

Everything old is new again for Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., who is now starting his fourth term in the House more than 30 years after completing his third term.

Congressman returns after 32-year break, says ‘money is toxic in politics’


First elected to the House in 1974, Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., left after his third term ended in 1981–and now after a 32-year hiatus, Nolan is back. Much to his surprise, the biggest change he’s encountered was the work week, and he’s not happy about it.

Nolan told NBC’s Chuck Todd that “committees and Congress don’t meet enough” at least not like they did when he first served.

“My first term, we worked 48 out of 52 weeks,” Nolan said on Friday’s edition of The Daily Rundown. “Most of those days were four and five day weeks. We were in committee virtually every morning, we were on the floor of the House throughout the afternoons and the evenings and we were working in the process of governing which is what we’re elected to do.”

He expressed his disappointment that Congress is only currently scheduled to work 34 out of 52 weeks and considers most of those days “not real.”

“We went into session Monday, for example, we don’t have any votes scheduled until 6:30 in the evening, we were also scheduled to work  on Tuesday–which we did–and then we were scheduled to work on Wednesday and we took the day off,” Nolan said.

Nolan quickly agreed with the public’s sentiment “everybody’s campaigning and nobody’s governing,” saying Congress isn’t governing like they should especially with all the serious issues the country is facing. He told Todd that the time given for Congressional members to campaign and the money they use has become “toxic.”

“I mean, we’re told here two things,” he said. “One is the one with the most money gets the most votes and number two – you should be spending 30 hours a week in fundraising and call time–dialing for dollars.”

Nolan refuses to comply with the congressional status quo and expressed his amazement that when he first ran for Congress his campaign cost about $250,000 and now his most recent one spent about $20 million. He issued a warning to his colleagues.

“We need to change the way we do politics. We need to take money out of politics and the Congress needs to go back to work governing.”

Congressman returns after 32-year break, says ‘money is toxic in politics’