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Quotes of the week

That’s not a serious health care alternative — that’s a tax cut for the wealthy disguised as health care, and you and I get to foot the bill. That’s what’s called a Trojan horse.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan speaking on the House floor Wednesday morning. He compared the GOP health care plan to a Trojan horse, warning House Speaker Paul Ryan that “you have to be especially careful these days because Trojans are a little different than they used to be and are only used when you get — well the same thing this bill will do to America, Mr. Speaker.”

So I am very optimistic. Paul Ryan and our whip have been counting folks and seeing what tweaks they need to make to get them to yes, and I think we’re going to get there.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy on Fox & Friends Monday, where he said he wasn’t certain at the time the House would have the votes to pass the American Health Care Act. But he said that thanks to President Trump, who’s “pretty good at this,” he’s hopeful enough of his fellow lawmakers will support the measure.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson criticized the House Republican health care bill as one that he has “a lot of problems with,” while pointing to Wisconsin as a model for taking care of people with pre-existing conditions.

The Oshkosh Republican’s comments came two days before House leaders said they’d vote on the GOP bill, the American Health Care Act. That vote is set for tonight.

Johnson told a breakfast in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning that Republicans “do want to take care of pre-existing conditions,” and touted Wisconsin’s creation of higher risk pools that he said “worked beautifully” and should be emulated nationally.

“It’s true risk-saving without class and markets,” he said.

He added that part of the problem with the House bill is “politically as well as reality” because it’s taking the subsidies from the Affordable Care Act, reducing those and then making more people eligible for that reduced amount.

“So yeah, politically that looks really bad, because it’s not really good,” he said.

And he echoed comments President Trump made last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying that while the best thing to do politically is nothing and “let the markets collapse,” Republicans have “a great responsibility” and Johnson doesn’t want to take that route.

But he concluded there’s a long way to go on health care legislation.

“I got a lot of problems with the House bill as it’s written right now,” he said.

— Johnson on Tuesday also called Russia an “unfriendly adversary,” although he shied away from labeling the nation as an “enemy” to the U.S.

But he said he wished he could call the country a “friendly rival” a day after FBI Director James Comey testified to members of the House Intelligence Committee on investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Johnson also said “the only thing [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is interested in maintaining power.” To do so, Johnson said, Putin works to destabilize the “fledgling democracies” on Russia’s border out of fear his citizens would see the success of “free market, Western-leaning” democracies and try to emulate that within their own borders.

“This is all about Vladimir Putin maintaining power, and that’s unfortunately dangerous,” Johnson said. “So the only way you stand up to Vladimir Putin is also with power, with strength, resolve.”

See more on the luncheon in Friday’s REPORT.

— Following Comey’s testimony Monday, which included confirmation that the FBI is investigating President Trump’s Russia ties, some Dem lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, renewed their calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into links between Trump associates and Russia.

“Such revelations not only underscore the imperative for a thorough investigation conducted by a special prosecutor, but also emphasize the need for transparency in regards to the president’s foreign financial ties and business dealings,” the Milwaukee Dem said.

See the release:

— The latest Marquette University Law School Poll finds both of Wisconsin’s U.S. senators are viewed favorably by more registered voters than those that have a negative view of them.

GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who won re-election in November, was viewed favorably by 39 percent and unfavorably by 34 percent. In October, his split was 41-38.

Dem U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for re-election next year, was viewed favorably by 40 percent, while 35 percent had a negative view for her. In October, her split was 37-37.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, was viewed favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 38 percent. In October, his split was 47-36.

The poll of 800 registered voters was conducted over landlines and cellphones March 13-16. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

See more from the poll:

— Baldwin is one of 12 Senate Dems the RNC is targeting with a package of digital video ads that call on the targets to allow an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court and to support the GOP health care bill.

The RNC said it is spending six figures on the total buy. Half of that will go toward the Gorsuch spots, which will run on Facebook in the targeted states. Meanwhile, a second digital ad says Dems have “made ‘affordable’ care unaffordable.”

See the Gorsuch ad:

See the Obamacare ad:

— A bill from U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan that would let student loan borrowers refinance their federal student loans whenever a lower interest rate is available is gaining bipartisan support.

U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, Ron Kind and Glenn Grothman are also cosponsors on the bill.

See more:

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy joined four other national legislators in penning a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, asking for updated information on the U.S. response to the Islamic State’s reported genocide of religious minorities, including Christians.

See the letter:

— GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Sensebrenner joined U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., to reintroduce the Private Property Protection Act, which aims to curb states, municipalities and the federal government’s ability to use eminent domain powers.

See more:

— Baldwin introduced two separate bills this week: one, a bipartisan piece of legislation to improve training for those who care for people with serious illnesses and other physicians; a second bill, introduced with two other Dem senators, to create grants for clinics that offer preventative cancer screenings for women.   

See more:;


Posts of the week

Magic turns political in U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan’s latest #MagicMonday trick:


Johnson not confident ACA replacement will pass this year

Walker: House GOP ‘moving in the right direction’ with proposed health care bill changes

Pocan: Only the wealthiest would get $600 billion in tax breaks from ‘Trumpcare’ replacement for Obamacare?

Tomah VA whistleblower: Taking out Tammy Baldwin ‘my unfinished business’

Tammy Baldwin heads into re-election bid with 40 percent favorability rating

Mark Pocan: America needs a Trojan for the GOP’s ‘Trojan horse’ health care bill

Rep. Sean Duffy: Trump will hopefully push GOP over the top on health care bill

Gallagher opposes Trump’s Great Lakes cuts

Health care bill the hot topic at separate town hall events in West Allis, Milwaukee

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