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.
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Quotes of the week, Oct. 6-12
Too many people are being left behind by Washington, when tax reform should help them get ahead. I believe tax reform should reward the dignity of work.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, who was joined by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker in Milwaukee last week to announce a rival Dem tax reform plan called “The Stronger Way Act.” The plan was first introduced last year and would expand earned income tax credits as well as child tax credits. See the video.
There is no viable military option. It would be horrific, and I don’t think anybody wants to contemplate that.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who said on on CNN’s “State of the Union” over the weekend that he wants to see regime change in North Korea, but ruled out trying to take out Kim Jong-un with a military strike. He said the only thing that would work is to have China fully engaged and using its influence. See the video.
This week’s news
— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy this week predicted the GOP tax plan would lead to “explosive economic growth” if it comes to fruition.
And he called the proposal “light years ahead of the strategy on health care” because of the united front among Republicans in the House, the Senate and the White House — a signal, he said, that taxes would not go the way of a repeal-and-replace plan.
“I think there’s a real sense of urgency in the Senate with their failure on Obamacare that they feel it’s imperative we get this done,” Duffy told reporters on a call on Wednesday.
The framework, as it was unveiled a few weeks ago, would narrow the individual tax brackets to three, lowering the top rate to 35 percent from 39.6 percent. It would also repeal the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.
Meanwhile, the Wausau Republican also took aim at U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s failure to fight for tax reductions, calling her an “outlier” because “she doesn’t think the American family or business can better spend their money” compared to the federal government.
“I think that’s absolutely off-base and not consistent with economic growth,” Duffy said.
Baldwin responded, “I think Wisconsin families need a tax break and that’s what I’m working for. But the current proposal gives 80 percent of the tax breaks to the wealthiest 1 percent while big corporations also get a tax break. I just do not think that’s right.”
— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he looks forward to getting the nomination process underway for Kirstjen Nielsen, who was picked to be the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
President Trump yesterday said he intends to pick Nielsen, who’s currently White House principal deputy chief of staff, to lead the agency.
She was a DHS senior legislative policy director at the agency under the Bush administration and also worked at DHS at the start of the Trump administration, though she moved to the White House when her boss John Kelly became Trump’s chief of staff.
Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he’ll work with the Trump administration and the Democratic ranking member to ensure Nielsen’s nomination process happens as quickly as possible.
“Ms. Nielsen’s long history of service with the Department, her cybersecurity experience and her tenure serving with General John Kelly would serve her well as the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,” the Oshkosh Republican said.
See the White House announcement:
— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, who said Monday he’s facing the “toughest race of my political career” next year, will again be outraised by his likely opponent when the next round of fundraising reports come out.
Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, told Wisconsin talk radio host Jay Weber Monday morning he’s “very apprehensive” about the showdown with Democrat Dan Kohl, the nephew of former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.
Grothman said Kohl is “far ahead” of him in terms of campaign progress.
Kohl has outraised Grothman since entering the race this summer and will report raising more than $250,000 for the latest fundraising period, which ended Sept. 30. He’ll finish the period with $400,000 in cash on hand, according to campaign manager Rick Coelho.
Grothman raised just less than $135,000 in the third quarter and will report about $325,000 in cash on hand, spokeswoman Rachel VerVelde said. The fundraising figure is a bit below the roughly $140,000 he raised during the same period in 2015.
— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is among the GOP members calling for limits on the “bump stocks” that the Las Vegas shooter used to make his weapons more deadly.
Gallagher, R-Green Bay, and two other House members who are veterans called for the federal government to regulate those devices, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at rates comparable to fully automatic ones.
He said in a news release that automatic weapons were “never intended for widespread civilian use” and are therefore heavily regulated. The same logic, he said, should apply to bump stocks.
“I am committed to protecting Americans’ Constitutional right to bear arms and protect their families, but to me this is a common-sense move,” he said.
He also called for law enforcement to enforce “gun laws that are already on the books,” as well as cracking down on straw-man purchases of guns.
Gallagher and his co-authors wrote a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives asking the agency to take action on regulating those devices. U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Glenn Grothman signed onto the bipartisan letter.
— Gallagher is also introducing a bipartisan bill to step up sanctions on North Korea.
Gallagher said the U.S. has continually “failed to fundamentally change North Korean behavior” so the government needs a new approach.
The bill, for example, would block the top 10 companies that do business with North Korea from participating in the U.S. financial system, requires reports on U.S. citizens being detained in the country and reauthorizes a law that boosts democracy and human rights programs in the country.
— Former U.S. Rep. Jerry Kleczka passed away over the weekend, according to a news release from the state Dem party.
Kleczka, 74, represented the 4th Congressional District from 1984 to 2005, which included his home city of Milwaukee, and was succeeded in Congress by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore following his retirement.
Kleczka also served in the state Assembly from 1969 to 1974, then held a state Senate seat from 1975 to 1984. During his tenure in the state Legislature, he was assistant minority leader and Joint Finance Committee chair.
Dem party chair Martha Laning called Kleczka “the embodiment of a truly dedicated public servant who is loved and will be missed by so many.”
And U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who’s been in the House of Representatives since 1979, said Kleczka “fought his entire career for his beliefs and cared deeply for his district and for the state of Wisconsin.”
“Although we often disagreed on policy, it was an honor to serve with someone so committed to making life better for his constituents,” he said. “He will be missed by many.”
— U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be fundraising with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in Madison this month, according to a fundraising email from Baldwin’s campaign.
The event will be held Oct. 21, although a campaign spokesman declined to provide further details.
See the fundraising email:
— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan this week was among more than 100 other lawmakers to sign onto a letter demanding information leading up to President Trump’s announcement banning transgender military recruits.
Specifically, the group asked for “information about what discussions or correspondence between the White House and the Pentagon, if any, led President Trump to make his assertion.”
“We seek access to these materials in order to determine whether the president, his national security team, and military leaders are actively coordinating policy with one another, or whether the president’s transgender ban announcement reflected a breakdown in communication,” they wrote.
— Pocan also made an appearance on liberal podcast Lovett or Leave It during a live show in Madison last week, where he talked about monopolies, health care and what it means to be an openly gay member of Congress.
— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, highlighted National Manufacturing Day last week, saying the state’s manufacturing industry “keeps our state at the forefront of job creation and innovation.”
See the release:
Posts of the week
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) October 7, 2017
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) October 6, 2017
Sen. Ron Johnson emphasizes progress in Puerto Rico
Senator Ron Johnson visits Puerto Rico in wake of Hurricane Maria
Sen. Ron Johnson suggests compromise on health care
Sens. Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker unveil tax plan in Milwaukee to counter GOP overhaul
Pocan is fed up about inaction on guns: ‘A moment of silence and no moments of action’
Gwen Moore updates LGBT community about legislation, voting rights at community meeting
Rep. Sean Duffy praises Trump on N. Korea, says past policies were ‘path to World War III’
Rep. Sean Duffy: Trump Has Control Over His Administration
Wisconsin’s Glenn Grothman: In ‘toughest race of my political career,’ has trouble raising money