Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.
Quotes of the week, Dec. 1-7
The JCT score in terms of dynamic effect is a joke, it’s so laughably small.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who predicted on a media call late last week the GOP tax plan would decrease the deficit despite a Joint Committee on Taxation analysis — although he didn’t cite a study or model as the basis of his assertion. The committee’s report showed the plan would add $1 trillion to the national debt over a 10-year period after factoring in economic growth. Johnson later joined 50 other GOP senators in supporting the bill’s passage through the Senate.
In the last hours of this farce, we still don’t have a final version of the #GOPTaxScam. Republicans are trampling over working people, regular order & their own professed values. Is there any line the GOP won’t cross to give a tax break to their wealthy donors? Apparently not.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, in a tweet prior to the bill’s passage early Saturday morning. Baldwin joined all the Senate Dems and GOP U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee in opposing the tax bill. The bill now heads to a conference committee, where its differences with the House bill will be reconciled.
See more on the conference committee in an item below.
This week’s news
— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has joined the bandwagon of Dem senators calling for U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s resignation following a seventh woman’s allegations against the Minnesota senator.
Politico on Wednesday reported the woman, identified only as a former Democratic congressional aide, said Franken had tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006. Franken, a former comedian, denied the allegation.
But Baldwin, who’d previously expressed support for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into Franken’s behavior, took to Twitter on Wednesday after at least six fellow female Dem senators called for Franken to step aside.
“I believe it is best for Senator Franken to resign,” Baldwin, D-Madison, said in a tweet Wednesday morning.
Franken on Thursday morning announced on the Senate floor he would resign “in the coming weeks.”
A Baldwin spokeswoman did not respond to a question regarding why Baldwin is now calling for Franken’s resignation.
See more in a WisPolitics.com story from Wednesday:
— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, was the only Wisconsin member of the U.S. House who didn’t vote to block a Dem impeachment resolution today to remove President Trump from office.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, joined the state’s Republican congressmen in tabling the motion on a 364-58 vote. U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, did not vote.
The resolution was brought by Texas Democrat Al Green. It was the first vote the House took on whether to impeach Trump.
In all, 126 Dems voted down the resolution.
See the roll call vote:
— Kind this week also joined just five other Dems and all Wisconsin Republicans in the House to pass a GOP bill that would make it easier for gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines.
The bill passed on a 231-198 vote, with Moore joining most Dems and 14 Republicans in voting against it.
Kind said in a statement provided he voted for the bill because it was mixed with another that would compel federal and state agencies to run more records into the federal criminal background check system largely used in gun purchases.
That portion, he said, strengthens “background checks so we keep guns out the hands of people who shouldn’t have them” by setting those “much-needed reporting requirements.”
Meanwhile, Moore after the vote said in a tweet the nation needs “commonsense gun reforms.”
“This isn’t how we should respond to the worst mass shootings in our nation’s history. @HouseGOP doesn’t need to be giving more gifts to @NRA,” she wrote.
Pocan, who also didn’t vote because he’s still recovering from surgery, echoed Moore in a tweet, saying, “Just two months after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, we should not be weakening our nation’s gun laws.”
The bill is the first of its kind passed by either house since the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, said a Wisconsin resident’s “Second Amendment right shouldn’t stop at a state’s border.”
“I’m proud to cosponsor the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act because citizens with a concealed carry permit deserve to protect themselves and their families regardless of what state they’re in,” he said.
The bill now heads to the Senate.
See the roll call vote:
— Nearly a month after undergoing triple bypass surgery, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan says the Town of Vermont Dem is “recovering well.”
Spokesman Ron Boehmer said Pocan, 53, is continuing to do therapy following his surgery Nov. 8, a preemptive measure for a cardiac issue.
“We look forward to having him back in DC in the next few weeks once his doctor gives him the green light to travel,” he said.
— Gov. Scott Walker this week urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to re-authorize funding for the CHIP program.
Failure to do so would strip Wisconsin of $115 million in federal money each year used to cover the cost of helping provide health care to more than 100,000 uninsured children.
Wisconsin is expected to have enough federal money to continue providing the coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program into next year. Other states will exhaust their funds ahead of that.
“There is nothing more important than the health of children in Wisconsin and across the United States,” Walker wrote. “Your immediate attention to the reauthorization of funding for CHIP t o help children throughout the country maintain access to care is critical.”
The House has approved a five-year extension of CHIP, while the Senate Finance Committee has approved a competing plan.
Read the letter:
— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin signed onto a letter this week calling on the Federal Communications Commission to delay a Dec. 14 vote to roll back net neutrality rules.
The commission last month said it plans to roll back Obama-era rules blocking internet providers from impeding access to websites and online services or charging higher fees for the highest streaming quality.
Baldwin this week joined 27 other senators in asking FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to push back the commission’s vote, following reports that many of the millions of public comments on the FCC proposal may be fake.
The senators suggested the vote be delayed until the agency can thoroughly review the public record and “provide Congress with greater assurance of its accuracy and completeness.”
“A transparent and open process is vitally important to how the FCC functions,” they wrote. “The FCC must invest its time and resources into obtaining a more accurate picture of the record as understanding that record is essential to reaching a defensible resolution to this proceeding.”
— Baldwin also joined 43 other Dem senators in demanding the president nominate a new director to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
President Trump had appointed Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to head the organization. But the move was filled with turmoil after former CFPB head Richard Cordray resigned last month and had named Leandra English to also take control of the agency.
A U.S. District Court judge last week sided with Trump, making Mulvaney the acting head of the bureau.
Still, the senators this week in a letter to Trump asked he pick a new agency head who has “a track record of being tough” on Wall Street.
“Assigning leadership of the CFPB to someone who already has a full-time job reporting to the White House and who does not believe in the CFPB’s mission jeopardizes the agency’s independence and effectiveness,” they wrote.
— A bipartisan bill looking to eliminate the so-called “congressional hush fund” that’s used to settle sexual harassment claims is being targeted by a bill from U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher.
Gallagher is a co-sponsor of the bill, which looks to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to pay settlements in sexual harassment or assault claims and require perpetrators to reimburse the taxpayers with interest. It also would disclose the payments previously made by the Office of Compliance on its website, while protecting the victims’ identities.
The bill would ]prohibit the use of non disclosure agreements going forward in order to address claims of sexual harassment or assault, while allowing past and present victims to make public statements about their claims.
“Members of Congress using taxpayer dollars to cover up sexual harassment is unacceptable,” said Gallagher, R-Green Bay. “I urge my colleagues in the House to support this bill to help empower survivors, restore accountability in Congress, and protect taxpayer money. It’s time to hold Congress to a higher standard, and this bill is a necessary place to start.”
— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is seeking advice from the Department of Health and Human Services on what the state could do to lower premiums under the Affordable Care Act.
The Menomonee Falls Republican asked DHHS Acting Secretary Eric Margan in a letter Dec. 1 how states are preparing Section 1332 waivers, which let states find other means of providing people with access to affordable health insurance. That includes creating alternatives to the Healthcare.gov marketplace as well as waiving individual and employer mandates.
Sensenbrenner also asked for “specific suggestions” the agency would make to Wisconsin.
“My constituents, along with all Americans, are demanding that their government take action to finally reform our nation’s health care system,” he wrote. “It is our responsibility to help the healthcare system innovate and evolve to bring about the quality and affordable care the American people deserve.”
See the letter:
— Sensenbrenner also has a new press secretary: Christopher Krepich.
Krepich previously worked as deputy press secretary for U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Penn. He also previously worked as an intern for U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau.
He replaces former communications director Nicole Tieman, who took a job as press secretary for Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman this week applauded President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the American embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
Grothman said the move “sends a strong message of support for Israel that wavered under the anti-Israeli policies of President Obama.”
“Israel should not be the only nation that’s denied placement of embassies in its capital,” the Glenbeulah Republican said. “Israel is America’s strongest, most stable ally in the Middle East, and today’s announcement is an incredibly important step in recognizing its legitimacy.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, meanwhile, said in a Congressional Progressive Caucus statement that Trump’s “actions are a bad idea given that there is not a peace process in place that has produced a two-state solution.”
“President Trump’s decision to declare U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, before reaching a finalized peace deal or two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians, hurts future agreements and will create unnecessary tensions and violence in the region,” the Town of Vermont Dem said.
— House Speaker Paul Ryan this week appointed five members of the Ways and Means Committee to the conference committee that will try to hash out differences between the competing tax bills passed by the House and the Senate.
None of the appointees is from Wisconsin.
Those who will serve on the committee include: Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who will lead the House contingent. The other GOP appointees are: Devin Nunes, of Calif.; Peter Roskam, of Illinois; Diane Black, of Tennessee; and Kristi Noem, of South Dakota.
For provisions in the Senate bill that are outside the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee, the other appointees are: Rob Bishop, of Utah and chair of the Natural Resources Committee; Don Young, of Alaska; Greg Walden, of Oregon and chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and John Shimkus, of Illinois.
— Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Johnson, has said leadership promised him a voice in efforts to hash out a final tax bill, but he will not serve on the conference committee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s appointees are: Orrin Hatch, of Utah and chairman of the Finance Committee; Mike Enzi, of Wyoming and chair of the Budget Committee; Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska and chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; John Cornyn, of Texas; John Thune, of South Dakota; Rob Portman, of Ohio; Tim Scott, of South Carolina; and Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania.
Posts of the week
Can't really compete with Governor Scott Walker's red sweater, but wearing my Wisconsin Badgers red for tomorrow's Big Ten Championship! #OnWisconsin!
Posted by Congressman Sean Duffy on Friday, December 1, 2017
Baldwin joins growing list of Senate Dems calling on Franken to resign
Johnson says he’ll vote to approve Senate tax bill
Ron Johnson: Senate scorekeepers’ projection that tax bill boosts debt by $1 trillion ‘a joke’
Wisconsin could see $4.4 billion tax cut in 2019 but a $31 million hike in 2027 under Senate bill
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin calls on Sen. Al Franken to resign over claims he mistreated women
Tammy Baldwin: Al Franken should resign after seventh woman alleges unwanted advances
Baldwin wants delay on net neutrality vote
Tammy Baldwin asks Trump OSHA nominee Scott Mugno about Wisconsin barrel plants
Baldwin highlights efforts to protect biofuel production, rural Wisconsin jobs
Duffy bill would curb high Consumer Financial Protection Bureau pay rates
Democratic opponent calls on Rep. Mike Gallagher to denounce Michael Flynn
Gallagher Talks Roy Moore, Tax Reform
Ron Kind Warns GOP Tax Bill Would Hurt Medicare As More Wisconsinites Need Program
It’s Rep. Conyers’ Right To Fight Allegations, Rep. Moore Says