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.

Quotes of the week, Oct. 20-26

A short-term bailout to the insurance companies won’t fix the problem in any respect. In fact, it would probably make it worse in the long-term. I’d be willing to consider it if it was paired with real, long-term reforms that I believe would actually help people out, improve options, improve coverage, improve quality and keep costs down.
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher to reporters, including the Green Bay Press-Gazette, before touring the Cat Island Restoration Project last week. Gallagher, R-Green Bay, said he wouldn’t support restoring the federal Affordable Care Act federal insurance subsidies that President Trump stopped this month unless part of the deal would also address lowering health care costs.

I am trying to show we can actually pass this in the House. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to pass this in the Senate.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, to the Washington Examiner editorial board on Tuesday. He said he is working with the White House, senators and representatives to make changes to the bipartisan bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., which aims to stabilize the marketplaces by funding cost-sharing reduction subsidies for two years. But he noted a hurdle would be “getting conservatives in the House to fund CSRs in exchange for reasonable reforms.” Johnson added: “The problem is they have that bipartisan agreement now. They will cling to that until we can show them an alternative.”

What happened is the president saying he’s going to stop subsidies and create some of these non-insurance health insurance policies. It could really disrupt the market to a point where we’re going to have tens of millions of people perhaps lose access or certainly lose real healthcare.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, at a town hall in Reedsburg this week, as quoted in the Reedsburg Times-Press. Pocan had previously charged the Trump administration aims to sabotage the ACA, and has called on Congress to make the insurance payment subsidies permanent.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Wednesday blasted an expected component of the GOP tax overhaul plan to eliminate the popular state and local tax deduction as “simply a bad deal.”

If included in the Republican tax plan, people would be prohibited from deducting levies like state income taxes and property taxes from their federal taxable income. The plan is expected to be released in full next week, although the House Ways and Means Committee chair said Wednesday he wants to reach a compromise before releasing the tax bill, according to national media reports.

Baldwin, D-Madison, said on a press call this week that eliminating the deduction to was a way for Republicans to “give massive tax cuts to the wealthy in America.”  

“Hard working middle class and working class Wisconsinites shouldn’t be funding these provisions,” she said.

She also said the deduction loss would total about $10 billion in federal income deductions and lead to a “tax increase for more than 30 percent” of Wisconsin taxpayers.

Baldwin, meanwhile, said she would take a “very different approach” to overhauling the tax code.

That, she said, means creating a tax code “that would reward work as much as it rewards wealth.”

Baldwin earlier this month was joined by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, to announce a rival Dem tax reform plan called “The Stronger Way Act.” The plan, which the two unveiled at a stop in Milwaukee, was first introduced last year and would expand earned income tax credits as well as child tax credits.

She said the approach in her plan “would absolutely value work and I think that’s what we want to do to help hardworking people get ahead.”

But state GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman knocked Baldwin in a statement.

“After voting more than 400 times in favor of higher taxes and fees, Senator Baldwin has lost all credibility on any sort of tax plan,” he said. “While Republicans are fighting for tax reforms that put hard-working Wisconsin families first, Senator Baldwin continues to show she’ll pick Washington over Wisconsin.”  

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman this week said he would keep fighting to rein in “out-of-control spending” after billions of dollars in spending cuts were removed from the budget the U.S. Senate passed last week.

The version of the budget the House originally passed would have required the tax reform bill to be deficit neutral and require Congress to find more than $200 billion in savings from entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

But the Senate version, passed on Oct. 19, instead would allow for adding $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit.

Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, lamented the change in a statement, noting that Republicans had promised to limit spending “and scale back expanding deficits.”

“Now that we’re in control, we have the chance to deliver on these promises,” he said.

Grothman said while he had submitted an amendment to the House Rules Committee on Tuesday to include the $200 billion in cuts to the Senate budget, it wasn’t agreed to.

Still, Grothman pledged the issue is something “that I will continue fighting for in future budget discussions.”

The House is expected to take up the Senate’s version of the budget on Thursday.

See the release 

— Baldwin’s re-election campaign spent $995,305 in the latest quarter, according to the Madison Dem’s filing with the FEC.

The campaign previously announced it had raised nearly $2.4 million in the previous quarter, which ran from July 1 to Sept. 30.

Of that, nearly $2 million came from individual donors, including $752,275 in donations less than $200 that did not need to be itemized. The campaign received $281,150 from PACs and $131,261 from authorized committees, according to the report, which came in at more than 4,700 pages.

The campaign refunded $46,955 in donations, including $34,455 to individuals and $12,500 to committees.

The campaign ended the period with $5.3 million cash on hand.

See the report  

— Baldwin this week also joined 14 other Dem senators in introducing a bill seeking $45 billion to combat the opioid epidemic.

She said the investment was needed because the feds need to invest in local prevention, treatment and recovery efforts.

“Our legislation is a commonsense, bipartisan-based solution to address the national opioid crisis with stable, long-term support that will strengthen state and local resources,” she said.

See the release

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan this week introduced a bill that looks to bolster workplace safety.

The Town of Vermont Dem’s bill looks to ensure companies that contract with the federal government better adhere to labor and civil rights laws, following president Trump’s revocation of Obama’s 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order last spring.

Pocan in a statement slammed Trump for siding with “crooked contractors and corporate interests” and thus exposing “American workers to potentially dangerous conditions that could have deadly results.”

“When the federal government grants a contract, workers should have the assurance that their work place is safe and their employer does not have a history overrun with labor law violations,” he said.  

See the release

— Freshman U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher’s third bill passed the House on Wednesday.

The bipartisan bill, called the SHIELDS Act, strengthens sanctions against the Iran-backed Hezbollah, punishing those who backed the group’s “barbaric practices and protects our allies in the region,” said Gallagher, R-Green Bay.

See the release

— Retired Army Col. Steve Toft, a Republican, announced this week he plans to run next year against U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse.

Toft graduated from Osseo-Fairchild High School and attended UW-Eau Claire then enlisted in the Army, where he served 32 years. He returned to Osseo after retiring from the service, which included a stint working with the Veterans Administration.

Kind, who was first elected to the western Wisconsin seat in 1996, did not have a GOP opponent last fall.

— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore spoke out against sexual violence as she called for women to be given “a seat at the table” and acknowledged as “equal and have a right to contribute.”

Moore, D-Milwaukee, referenced her experiences with sexual assault in a NowThis Politics video last week as part of the #MeToo campaign that took off after a wave of sexual assault allegations emerged against movie producer Harvey Weinstein this month.

But in the video, Moore also said she was speaking up because “I forced myself to survive so that the next little girl or woman wouldn’t have to feel alone.”

“Me too is about speaking up so that this country can be big enough to let girls and women breathe,” she said. “We are sick and tired of being pushed down, abused, assaulted, having our bodies treated as property and something to be legislated.”  

See the video

— House Speaker Paul Ryan has a new policy staffer.

Stephanie Parks, who previously worked as professional staff for the Ways and Means Committee, is now joining the Janesville Republican’s office as assistant to the speaker for policy, where she’ll be handling health care and vets affairs issues.

Parks also previously worked for the Budget Committee.

See the release

Posts of the week

View this post on Instagram

100 #townhall meetings and counting!

A post shared by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (@repjimsensenbrenner) on


Sen. Tammy Baldwin, in Milwaukee, pitches higher tax deduction for business startups

Sen. Tammy Baldwin advocates for dairy and Buy America priorities in NAFTA renegotiation

Ron Johnson working with White House on Obamacare fix

Ron Johnson Won’t Say If McConnell Helps or Hurts GOP

Sen. Ron Johnson: To pass bills, GOP must ‘come up with legislation that helps sell itself’

Republican Steve Toft Challenging US Rep. Ron Kind

Rep. Ron Kind: Need to move past hyper-partisan, toxic politics to reform tax and health care systems

U.S. Rep. Pocan hosts town hall in Reedsburg

Gallagher: No support for ACA subsidies without longer-term reform

Rep. Gallagher tours Cat Island

Northeast Wisconsin lawmaker, Gold Star mom weigh in on Trump call

Sean Duffy talks immigration at town hall meeting

Grothman Supports Welfare Reform

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