Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about what Wisconsin’s congressional delegation is up to in Washington. Sign up for our mailing list here to receive our newsletter directly.
Quotes of the week, Sept. 1-7
I think there is a strong desire to recognize that we’ve got some problems in our health care system and those problems need some fixing and hopefully on a bipartisan basis.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on Wednesday during a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “The History and Current Reality of the U.S. Health Care System.” Johnson, who chairs the committee, said while the group doesn’t necessarily have purview over health care, he plans to use hearings on related topics to help “lay out the problem solving process.” The bipartisan Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee also met Wednesday, seeking to find ways to stabilize insurance markets. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, is a member of the committee.
See the video from Johnson’s HSGAC hearing: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/the-history-and-current-reality-of-the-us-health-care-system
“David Clarke’s untimely departure as Milwaukee County Sheriff isn’t just a victory for Milwaukee, but for all of those whose rights and dignity were violated during his tenure. Joe Arpaio-like law enforcement figures like Clarke, who prioritize partisan fame over their constituents’ safety, have no place in our local or federal government.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, on Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s resignation last week, adding she wants Gov. Scott Walker to appoint a replacement who would “take their job seriously.” Clarke has since announced he will be serving as a spokesman and senior adviser to the pro-Trump PAC America First Action, which was created to boost the president’s agenda and candidates Donald Trump supports.
This week’s news
— House Speaker Paul Ryan’s tough job of gathering votes on big issues is made tougher because of President Trump, but tax cuts are likely to pass Congress, a bipartisan panel predicted at a WisPolitics.com breakfast in DC this week.
“Paul will make sure tax reform gets done,” said Tom Schreibel, the former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and now a lobbyist with Michael Best Strategies. “It’s not going be the grand scheme he had coming out of the box, but there will be a form of tax reform.”
Will Stone, a former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wausau, who now also lobbies the Hill, said: “I think something will pass …(but) not necessarily reform.”
Former Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala assessed the odds at 80 percent, adding: “It won’t be tax reform. It will be a tax cut.”
He said time is running out for Republicans, but it’s never too late in politics. “It’s not too late, but it’s really difficult … Donald Trump makes everybody’s job harder,” he said, explaining many Republican officeholders are “in a defensive posture” because of Trump’s poor ratings and erratic behavior. “All the buttons that say `Do not push,’ he pushes every one of those buttons.”
And former GOP Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, while not offering a prediction, said tax cuts are an opportunity for Ryan to unite a caucus with widely different philosophies and interests.
“The only way they can get back on track is to take something that even dysfunctional Republicans can rally around and agree on — and that’s tax cuts,” said Jensen, before Trump made a deal with Democrats on the debt ceiling. “Paul Ryan has got to juggle all these things and then the president throws him another ball. Like immigration. (and says) ‘See if you can do that.”’
Schreibel said the administration started out the year with the “Hail Mary” of trying to pass health care repeal and replace instead of focusing on things smaller and easier to pass
“They should’ve gotten a rhythm in place for passing small pieces of legislation just to get used to it,” he said.
Now it’s crunch time and big things remain on the to-do list.
Stone, the former Obey staffer, said Ryan should let his most conservative members vote on the issues they care about the most and watch those proposals fail. That, he said, opens the door for GOP leaders to sit down with Democrats and “clears the deck” for meaningful conversations on issues like tax reform.
“This is a great opportunity to get rid of this idea that it has to be one party and one party only,” he said
— The House on Wednesday green-lighted a bill allocating nearly $8 billion to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, with all members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation voting for it.
The bill passed on a 419-3 vote, with three Republicans voting against it. It now heads to the Senate.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, asked the Senate in a statement to “do their part” and quickly pass the bill.
“With continued support and prayers from communities in Northeast Wisconsin and all over the country, I have full confidence that the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey will rebound stronger than ever,” he said.
Meanwhile, national media reports show President Trump is looking to attach a three-month extension of the debt ceiling to the Senate version of the bill at the request of Dems.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said at a news conference Wednesday morning it was “disgraceful” that Dems want to “play politics with the debt ceiling” as legislators work to pass an emergency relief package.
See the roll call vote:
— Democrats this week slammed the Trump administration for phasing out an Obama-era program that lets people who came to the U.S. illegally stay in the country if they arrived as children.
But Republicans in Wisconsin said Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was unconstitutional and said they hoped Congress can resolve the issue over the next six months, as Trump directed today.
“This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out,” Trump said in a statement Tuesday. “Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months. Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, said Trump’s decision “breaks a promise” to nearly 800,000 people and that Congress needs to approve an existing bipartisan bill aimed at helping “Dreamers.”
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, called the decision “heartless & cruel,” and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, flagged an article on Twitter saying the Trump administration could now use information on DACA participants to possibly deport them and said it was “reprehensible and a complete betrayal of trust on the part of the U.S. government.”
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, also said many who were affected are in the military, own small businesses or are teachers, doctors and students. He called on Congress to “take bipartisan action to fix our broken immigration system and make us a stronger and more competitive economy.”
— House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said the DACA program was a “clear abuse of executive authority” and that Congress needs to come up with a solution for those who were under the program.
“At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own, and for many of them it’s the only country they know. … It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country,” he said.
And U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said the Obama administration had “overstepped its authority” when enacting the DACA program, saying Congress must not only act on the program but also border security, saying “nothing will be done without compromise from both sides of the immigration debate.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, called the program an “unconstitutional overreach” by Obama that “created incentives for children from Central America to take great risks to enter America illegally.”
“The President has given Congress six months to get our act together and fix our broken legal immigration system, end incentives for illegal entry, lawfully protect the Dreamers, and secure our borders,” he said. “I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to advance humane, common sense legislation to do just that.”
Posts of the week
Had a great time helping out the Green Bay Fire Department and seeing their hard work and dedication up close. By the way, this hose is heavier than it looks.
Had a great time at the parade in La Crosse and I hope everybody takes time today to remember the sacrifices made by workers that make this day possible and appreciate those around them. Happy Labor Day!
‘UpFront’: Ryan says Congress can find ‘humane’ way to fix DACA
Paul Ryan, Tammy Baldwin, Ron Johnson, Gwen Moore weigh in on DACA decision
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin gets $700,000 ad buy from Democratic group
Tammy Baldwin renews push for stricter oversight of hedge funds
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, says he wants to protect ‘Dreamers’
Ron Johnson holds roundtable event
Gallagher Impressed by Boys & Girls Club Initiatives
Rep. Mike Gallagher presents Green Bay family with father’s WWII medals
Testing Sean Duffy claim that ‘We’re flying 1987 planes with 1987 technology’
Rep. Sean Duffy: Trump ‘Spot On’ With Call on DACA
Rep. Sean Duffy: Flood insurance reform can still happen amid Harvey relief
Grothman talks Trump, Obamacare and border wall at town hall meeting
Congressman Grothman Comments On Israel Visit
U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman is back home, admiring Israeli optimism
US Rep. Grothman fields questions, comments in Portage
Pocan: We have to work together