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Quotes of the week

Ignoring climate change is foolish and short-sighted. Inaction will limit our country’s long-term prosperity and expose our children and grandchildren to catastrophic consequences because President Trump wants to make good on his promises to Big Oil – not the American people.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan in a joint statement with Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders blasting President Trump for failing to take action on climate change, following media reports that he plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe that there was any wrongdoing by Jared Kushner or by the Trump campaign.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy in an interview with CNN, though he also said Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials “should have been disclosed.”

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, led a letter to the Secretary of State asking him to investigate the violence against protesters in Washington during the Turkish president’s visit.

Nine people were hospitalized during a clash outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence this month. Turkish government has denied that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security staff was involved, though protesters say that’s not the case.

Johnson and 19 other senators, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that violence from Turkish diplomatic security in the U.S. is “not acceptable.”

They called on his agency to work with local police to identify perpetrators of the assault and determine whether Turkish security was involved.

“If their participation is confirmed, those responsible should be held accountable under applicable U.S. law,” the senators wrote.

See more:

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin signed onto a letter calling for pumping millions of dollars into a Medicare assistance program that counsels beneficiaries on coverage options.

The letter, which touted the benefits of the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, was sent last week to two members of the subcommittee responsible for overseeing the program. It urged them to restore the approximately $52 million in program funding that President Trump eliminated under his budget proposal, writing that the program is “a trusted source of independent advice” and “critical” for constituents.

The 23 senators added the feds should be “expanding the ability of SHIPs to meet growing needs” as more people begin qualifying for Medicare, “not eliminating their ability to serve those who need assistance.”

See the letter:

See the release:

— Johnson says he’d be open to a “short-term market stabilization bill” addressing issues with the Affordable Care Act if Republicans struggle to replace the law.

The Oshkosh Republican is part of the Senate Republican group working on a health care bill following the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act.

Johnson told reporters at the state Capitol there are “real problems with the House bill” that the group will try to work out, though he gave the House GOP credit for passing a bill to address the “real mess” that Obamacare created.

Johnson said he’s open to passing a bill that would likely spend a few billion dollars aimed at helping address the “collapsing” insurance markets. He said his position is “probably a minority view” among his Senate GOP colleagues.

“If we have a hard time coming to consensus, and I think it will be difficult, I’d be willing to do a short-term market stabilization bill just to provide the insurance carriers some certainty so they don’t pull out [of the marketplaces], so they don’t artificially boost premiums even further,” he said after addressing the Assembly Republican caucus.

See more from his comments and listen to the audio:

— Johnson is praising the Senate for unanimously passing a bill he authored aimed at boosting protections for whistleblowers.

The bill is named after Chris Kirkpatrick, a doctor who questioned prescription practices at the Tomah VA and committed suicide after getting fired. The bill increases penalties for federal officials who retaliate against whistleblowers and increases training on whistleblower protections.

Kirkpatrick’s brother testified at Johnson’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the Tomah VA. Johnson co-authored the bill with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

“The dedicated men and women who take a risk to expose wrongdoing and waste in the federal government deserve the respect and support of our nation,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, too often these courageous individuals are subjected to retaliation in an attempt to silence them.”

The bill stalled in the Senate last year due to an objection from then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

See the release:

— Johnson’s latest “Hey, Wisconsin” podcast features a woman whose 19-year-old son, Archie, died from a heroin overdose.

Johnson talks to Lauri Badura, who runs Savings Others For Archie, after her organization organized a “Jump for Life” community event. The event included training on the overdose-reversing drug Narcan.

Johnson’s been doing the podcast since last year and has covered topics that include terrorism, vaping, his “Right to Try” bill on experimental drugs and his visits with high school students.

See more:

See an archive of Johnson’s podcasts:

— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore is one of the members of a new DNC-sponsored commission seeking to protect voting rights, in light of action from the Trump administration.

The group, called the Commission on Protecting American Democracy from the Trump Administration, seeks to counter Republicans and Trump administration officials on claims of voter fraud and battle efforts to “deny [voters] deny them their constitutional rights at the ballot box,” according to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

Moore, D-Milwaukee, is one of 13 members on the commission, which is largely comprised of members of Congress and state officials.

See more on the commission:

Posts of the week


GOP rep: Kushner should have disclosed Russia meeting

Ron Johnson’s whistleblower protection bill passes U.S. Senate

Why Is This Mega-Donor Spending Millions To Defeat Tammy Baldwin?

Senate Staff Beginning to Draft Health Care Bill Over This Week’s Recess

Constituents of U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher hold Green Bay Town Hall without him

Flood Insurance Looks Like One Area of Bipartisan Agreement

Mark Pocan’s errant claim about tax breaks in Wisconsin’s school voucher program for low-income kids

Glenn Grothman: Greg Gianforte ‘seems like a good guy’

Lawmakers Urge Sens. Ron Johnson, Claire McCaskill to Mark Up Federal IT Modernization Bill

U.S. Sen. Baldwin introduces rail shipper ‘fairness’ bill–51745

Sen. Baldwin Introduces Rail Shippers Fairness Act

Education Department Faces Deep Cuts; DeVos Faces Tough Questions

55 members of Congress urge DHS secretary to reject appointment of Sheriff Clarke

This Political Fight Is a Big Threat to Fixing the Mortgage Market

Democrats Launch New Effort To Fight Back Against Trump’s Bogus Claims Of Voter Fraud

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