DC Wrap

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.

Note: There will be no DC Wrap next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks for reading. 

Quotes of the week, Nov. 10-16

It’d nice if he’d step aside and we could come up with some system for electing a different Republican.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, R-Ala, according to CNN. Johnson’s call for Moore to drop out follows allegations from several women he tried to date them as teenagers several decades ago, including one woman who said she was 14 when Moore initiated sexual contact with her. Meanwhile, a fifth woman on Monday accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Johnson on Nov. 10 had previously said in a statement: “If true, these allegations describe intolerable behavior and are disqualifying.”

He should step aside. Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values and the people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.
– House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, at a news conference on Tuesday. See more in a WisPolitics.com story this week.

It seems to be a very carefully researched story, and I sometimes wonder how much does it take for people to believe women in these instances?
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, on CNN about the Washington Post’s original story outlining the allegations. See a story about her comments.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson came out Wednesday against the GOP tax overhaul plan, becoming the first Republican in the Senate to say he’d vote against the bill.

Still, the Oshkosh Republican said he’d be open to working with colleagues to fix what he sees as a “fair treatment” issue under both the House and Senate versions of the legislation.

Johnson first voiced his opposition to the bill to the Wall Street Journal, citing concerns around the tax treatment for pass-through entities — which file their tax returns as individual filers — compared to corporations, which Johnson said the plan prioritizes.

“If they can pass it without me, let them,” Johnson told the publication. “I’m not going to vote for this tax package.”

Johnson co-founded Oshkosh-based plastics manufacturing company Pacur, a limited liability company and one of the pass-through entities that’d be affected. In a follow-up statement Wednesday afternoon, Johnson called those types of businesses “the engines of innovation and job creation throughout our economy.”

“Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions,” he said. “I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version.”

Dem party spokeswoman Melanie Conklin said opposing the bill “that takes money away from middle-class families and health care away from 13 million people” is the “right thing to do.”

“We would commend Sen. Ron Johnson for taking a stand against Gov. Scott Walker’s position favoring tax giveaways to the 1%, however it appears he may be doing so just to benefit his own business and others like it,” she said.

See Johnson’s statement:

See the Wall Street Journal story:

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy’s bill to make changes to the federal government’s flood insurance program cleared the House this week with bipartisan support.

The Wausau Republican’s bill is part of a longstanding effort to overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program. It passed on a 237-189 vote, with all Republicans from the state’s congressional delegation supporting it.

Meanwhile, Dem U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore and Ron Kind voted against it, with a Kind spokeswoman citing concerns the bill would make flood insurance more expensive and less available for customers. U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, did not vote.

The bill, which passed the House weeks before the program is set to expire, would reauthorize it for five years. Duffy’s bill, though, would reduce direct spending by $187 million, according to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Speaking on the floor before the vote, Duffy said the program — which has an expected one-year shortfall of $1.4 billion, according to the CBO —  “is not sustainable.”

“Let’s stand together and reform a program to help the homeowner and our national debt,” he said.

Hear Duffy’s remarks on the floor.

See the roll call vote:

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, meanwhile, applauded GOP U.S. senators this week for keeping in their tax overhaul bill a deduction for medical expenses.

The Glenbeulah Republican also urged House Republicans to restore the deduction in its version of the bill, saying while they’re rarely used, they’re important for “folks in dire situations” including elderly individuals, low-income people with high deductibles and those “without health insurance who’ve experienced a catastrophic event.”

“For many families in our communities with high healthcare costs, these medical expense deductions help them keep their heads above water financially,” Grothman said.  

The U.S. Senate released its version of the tax bill last week. Meanwhile, the House is expected to vote on its version of the bill on Thursday, after it cleared the House Ways and Means Committee last week.

See more:

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan will spend the next few weeks recovering at home following triple bypass surgery on Nov. 8.

The Town of Vermont Dem’s office last week said the procedure was a preemptive measure for a cardiac issue.

Pocan, 53, on Twitter Monday said he had left the officer earlier than expected, but wouldn’t be returning to D.C. right away.

“While I won’t be in the Capitol for the major legislative fights facing Congress this week, I’m watching very closely and will still be engaged in debating issues that will impact Wisconsin and our nation,” he said.

See Pocan’s tweets:

— Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, is one of six Dem U.S. senators who have signed onto a letter calling for the Commerce Department’s inspector general to open an investigation into Secretary Wilbur Ross’ compliance with ethics requirements.

The call follows reporting on his business ties and questions if he complied with the divestment requirements outlined in his original ethics agreement.

The six senators also want to know whether Ross has complied with recusal requirements and if senior department officials have been allowed to serve despite alleged conflicts of interest.

Read the letter: https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/11.13.17%20Ltr%20to%20Commerce%20IG.pdf    

— The U.S. Senate last week confirmed GOP Waushara County DA Scott Blader as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.

The White House in August had nominated Blader to fill the spot of U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil, an appointee under President Barack Obama who resigned in March after he and other U.S. attorneys were asked to step down by the Trump administration.

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson in June had recommended Blader and Gerald Fox, the Dem DA for Jackson County, to the White House as finalists for the appointment.

The chamber confirmed his appointment by a voice vote on Nov. 9.

— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore this week announced she’s endorsing Mahlon Mitchell in the Dem guv race.

The announcement makes Moore, D-Milwaukee, the first sitting member of Congress to endorse in primary, according to her office.

Mitchell, president of the state firefighters’ union, formally announced Monday he’s running for office. He joins a crowded Dem field that includes State Superintendent Tony Evers, former Dem party Chair Matt Flynn, Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik, activist Mike McCabe, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, state Rep. Dana Wachs and several others.

In a statement, Moore said Mitchell would make a “great Governor.”

“As I survey the field forming I am even more impressed with your cognitive and emotional intelligence, your Statewide Leadership experience, your public policy acumen and service,” she said.

See the release:

— Paul Ryan and Donald Trump’s job approval ratings were upside down in Wisconsin’s 1st CD, where the speaker had a 7-point lead on Dem challenger Randy Bryce in a poll conducted for the progressive group Patriot Majority USA.

The Dem firm Public Policy Polling, which conducted the survey, found 42 percent of registered voters approved of Ryan’s job performance, while 50 percent did not. Trump’s rating was 44-47.

It also found 9 percent approved of the job Congress is doing, while 80 percent disapproved.

In a hypothetical matchup with Bryce, Ryan was backed by 46 percent of votes, while 39 percent preferred the Dem candidate.

Still, 69 percent of those surveyed said they did not have an opinion of Bryce.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 549 registered voters in the 1st CD Nov. 9-10 using automated calls. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

It was one of 14 House districts where PPP polled for Patriot Majority USA.

Read the overview:

Posts of the week


WisPolitics.com: Ryan calls on Moore to drop out of Senate race

Sen. Tammy Baldwin says she believes Roy Moore’s accusers

Baldwin: ‘I believe the women’ accusing Moore

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson comes out against tax bill

Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson comes out against Senate Republican tax plan

Ron Johnson: Allegations about U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore ‘disqualifying … if true’

Ron Johnson says if true, allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore ‘are disqualifying’

Sen. Ron Johnson Visits Rhinelander

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson concerned with passthrough provision in tax reform bills

Ron Johnson urges end of ‘failed’ Obamacare program

Sen. Johnson Says Another Effort To Delist Wolves Will Happen

Johnson Says Changes To President’s Nuclear Authority Aren’t Necessary

Rep. Gallagher starts new sponsor program for area veterans

‘Civil War in the Pews’: Dem Rep Says Repealing ‘Johnson Amendment’ Will Make Sunni-Shia Conflict ‘Look Like a Picnic’

Rep. Kind discusses support for veterans at town hall meeting

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