DC Wrap: Ranking shows Kind second-most bipartisan House member; House GOP tax bill out

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.

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Quotes of the week, Oct. 27-Nov. 2

He should resign. I take the position that we shouldn’t have a special counsel at this time. We should let the (congressional) committees do their work.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to The Racine Journal Times Editorial Board last week. Following the indictments of former Trump campaign head Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates on Oct. 30, a Johnson spokesman said the Oshkosh Republican’s views on Mueller remain unchanged. See more from the spokesman’s statement.  

My concern is, do we take that next leap and say, this is going to taint Donald Trump? And I cannot take that leap this morning. I’ve got to wait and see what those charges are.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, on CNN’s New Day. See the interview transcript.

Serious indictments from independent Special Prosecutor Mueller. Investigation must continue unobstructed and reveal the truth.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, in a tweet.

If the President were to offer a pardon to Manafort or if the Republicans would somehow stop this investigation, all those would put us in the conversation of impeachment, because that would be obstruction of an investigation that is otherwise bringing in Republicans and Democrats to figure out what happened with outside influence from another country.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, in a WKOW interview.

This week’s news

— Ron Kind touted his “independence” this week following a recent analysis that shows he’s the second most bipartisan U.S. representative in the House.

The ranking, which is measured by the number of bills each House member has cosponsored that was first introduced by a member of the opposing party, shows the La Crosse Dem has co-sponsored 131 bipartisan bills.

That puts him behind U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who co-sponsored 151, but ahead of the third-place finisher U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who logged 125 bipartisan bills.  

Kind tweeted: “Proud that in the current Congress I am ranked 2nd out of all 435 members when it comes to independence.”

No other Wisconsin House member made the top-10 list, which was published in the National Journal last month.

See the National Journal article.

See Kind’s tweet.

— House Republicans on Thursday unveiled their long-awaited tax overhaul bill. 

The plan, as previously touted by GOP leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan, would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, down from 35 percent, as well as reduce the number of individual income tax brackets.

Ryan, R-Janesville, highlighted the plan’s release in a tweet Thursday morning, writing the bill would both cut takes and “make the entire system more simple.”

“This will be a game-changer,” he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, warned in a tweet the bill would raise taxes on the middle class. She cited an earlier analysis from the Tax Policy Center, which looked at the initial framework of the GOP plan.

Moore also knocked the bill as a “#BillionairesFirst tax plan.”

— Democrat Dan Kohl has millions at his disposal if he decides to invest in his campaign to challenge GOP Rep. Glenn Grothman in the 6th CD, according to a WisPolitics.com check of his financial disclosure filing.

Grothman’s disclosure, meanwhile, shows the two-term incumbent has limited resources he could pump into his campaign. Grothman loaned his campaign $159,850 and contributed $380 to it in 2014 during his initial bid for the seat, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, earlier this month raised concerns about his fundraising, which lagged behind Kohl’s in the third quarter. He also raised the prospect that Kohl, the nephew of wealthy former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, could pump his own money into the race, increasing the financial disparity. Kohl’s personal wealth has also generated more interest in the 6th CD than in typical years considering the district has a decided GOP lean.

Kohl campaign manager Rick Coelho said the Dem candidate is encouraged by the support he’s received from others already, but was not ready to discuss how large of a personal financial commitment he may make to the campaign.

“Dan is willing and able to make a personal investment in this campaign,” Coelho said. “We will be considering the timing and the amount in the months to come.”

A Grothman campaign spokeswoman did not return an email seeking comment.

See more on each candidate’s reported assets in WisPolitics.com’s Oct. 27 Report.

— Two groups launched ads bolstering U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin this week as she gears up for her re-election campaign next year.

The first, a $300,000 TV buy in the Green Bay market from the League of Conservation Voters, praises the Madison Dem for her work to protect the Great Lakes. It was launched Oct. 30.

The other’s from the Senate Majority PAC, which is pumping in more than $1 million for a TV and digital ad campaign that says Baldwin’s tax votes “put Wisconsin families first.”

Both spots comes on the heels of a $1.6 million buy hitting Baldwin on taxes and two spots praising former Marine and business consultant Kevin Nicholson, who’s seeking the GOP nomination to challenge the Dem incumbent.

See the League of Conservation Voters spot.

See the Senate Majority PAC ad.

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman this week introduced a House resolution in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

“As a Member of Congress, it’s paramount that I always stand for religious liberty – an ideal that our Founding Fathers held as well,” Grothman said. “As we recognize the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation today, let us also recognize the significant impact it had on our nation’s founding and the advancement of religious freedom.”

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/u-s-rep-grothman-recognizes-500th-anniversary-of-protestant-reformation/

— Grothman this week also introduced a bill seeking to encourage Pell Grant recipients to finish college faster.

Under the bill, called the Pell Grant Modernization Act, the definition of “full-time” for the purposes of Pell Grant eligibility would increase from 12-units per semester to 15-units per semester, while the number of semesters a student is eligible to use their award decreases from 12 to 10 semesters.

The proposed changes, Grothman said, seek to address the extra time some students are taking to complete college, adding “thousands of dollars to a student borrower’s loan balance.”

“To address this growing problem, I introduced the Pell Grant Modernization Act in hopes of accelerating college completion rates,” he said. “The critical changes to the Pell Grant program included in this bill will ensure students are moving towards college completion, while saving taxpayers billions of dollars per year – which is especially important when our country is so deeply in debt.”

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/u-s-rep-grothman-introduces-bill-to-encourage-accelerated-college-completion-rates/

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan are touting the start of the open enrollment period for individual health plans through the Affordable Care Act.

That national open enrollment period began Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15, half the length of last year’s period, which ended Jan. 31 of the following year.

Baldwin says while Washington this year “was consumed by a debate over partisan health care repeal that threatened health care for Wisconsinites,” she’ll continue to work to “protect and expand coverage” and make health care more affordable.

“Despite these partisan repeal threats, Healthcare.gov is open for business and Wisconsinites can go online and enroll in quality, affordable health coverage,” she said.

And Pocan called the ACA “alive and well.”

“Despite all of the misinformation, including President Trump claiming to end subsidies to help Americans afford coverage, the markets are still open for enrollment just as they have been in the past and you can still qualify for premium assistance,” he said.

See Baldwin’s release:
https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/health-care-open-enrollment-starts-today

See Pocan’s:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/rep-pocan-encourages-wisconsintes-to-getcovered-during-health-care-open-enrollment/

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher this week signed onto a bipartisan letter asking that a program looking to clean up and protect the Great Lakes gets funding in the president’s upcoming budget request.

The letter asks the Office of Management and Budget to include $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that was established under then-President Obama in 2009.

Gallagher, R-Green Bay, in a separate statement called Lake Michigan “one of Northeast Wisconsin’s most treasured assets” and said both it and all of the Great Lakes must be protected through “maintaining adequate funding” for the program.

“We have a moral obligation to pass on clean water to future generations, and protecting our Great Lakes must be at the forefront of this effort,” he said.

See more, including the text of the letter:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/u-s-rep-gallagher-urges-office-of-management-budget-to-fund-glri-at-300-million-in-fy19/

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, has logged 115 town halls for the year, after he wrapped up his town hall meeting schedule over the weekend.

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/u-s-rep-sensenbrenner-the-king-of-town-halls-holds-115-meetings-in-2017/

See an editorial Sensenbrenner wrote on the importance of holding town halls:
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/357805-town-hall-meetings-are-crucial-for-a-healthy-democracy

Posts of the week

ICYMI

WisPolitics: Ryan sidesteps questions on indictments; Johnson still calling for Mueller’s resignation
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/ryan-sidesteps-questions-on-indictments-johnson-still-calling-for-muellers-resignation/

WisPolitics: Out-of-state donations bolster 1st CD candidates’ fundraising totals
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/out-of-state-donations-bolster-1st-cd-candidates-fundraising-totals/

WisPolitics: Financial disclosure shows Kohl has millions to invest in bid against Grothman
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/financial-disclosure-shows-kohl-has-millions-to-invest-in-bid-against-grothman/

Ron Johnson stands by call for special counsel Robert Mueller to resign
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/10/30/even-first-indictments-handed-down-ron-johnson-stands-call-special-counrobert-s-mueller-iii-step-dow/813870001/

Sen. Johnson stands by call for Mueller to step down
http://www.channel3000.com/news/politics/sen-johnson-stands-by-call-for-mueller-to-step-down/649166729

Sen. Ron Johnson: Robert Mueller ‘should resign’
http://journaltimes.com/news/local/sen-ron-johnson-robert-mueller-should-resign/article_c35c4102-dd85-506c-9bc8-de5941a8618d.html

Sen. Ron Johnson talks tax reform, Puerto Rico, DACA
http://journaltimes.com/news/local/sen-ron-johnson-talks-tax-reform-puerto-rico-daca/article_fd64af49-4a39-57b8-bfa0-1375c70f9aff.html

Sen. Ron Johnson Not On Board With 401(K) Changes Proposed By Congressional Republicans
https://www.wpr.org/sen-ron-johnson-not-board-401k-changes-proposed-congressional-republicans

Koch-backed group is Half True in claiming Tammy Baldwin voted for $5 trillion in higher taxes
http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2017/nov/01/freedom-partners/koch-backed-group-half-true-claiming-tammy-baldwin/

Democratic super PAC launches $1 million TV, digital ad buy backing U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2017/10/31/democratic-super-pac-launches-1-million-tv-digital-ad-buy-backing-u-s-sen-tammy-baldwin/817616001/

League of Conservation Voters boosts Tammy Baldwin with ad on Great Lakes
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2017/10/29/league-conservation-voters-boosts-tammy-baldwin-ad-great-lakes/808587001/

Congressman Mark Pocan responds to Russia probe indictments
http://www.wkow.com/story/36721014/2017/10/Monday/congressman-mark-pocan-responds-to-russia-probe-indictments

‘Death tax’ that Republicans want to repeal is paid by only 2 of 1,000 people who die?
http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2017/oct/27/mark-pocan/death-tax-republicans-want-repeal-paid-only-2-1000/

Kind decries Trump’s attempts to undermine ACA as open enrollment begins
http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/rep-ron-kind-decries-death-by-thousand-cuts-with-hobbled/article_4f826533-30ba-5b98-a18e-408c906f4bec.html

Rep. Sean Duffy holds ‘town hall’ at Grantsburg
http://www.burnettcountysentinel.com/news/rep-sean-duffy-holds-town-hall-at-grantsburg/article_7d871dc0-ba65-11e7-aac0-9f67229955aa.html

GOP rep.: President ‘misinformed’ on dossier claims
http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/27/politics/sean-duffy-dossier-cnntv/index.html

Rep. Duffy, Sen. Baldwin react to charges against Manafort, Gates
http://www.wsaw.com/content/news/Rep-Duffy-Sen-Baldwin-react-to-Manafort-Indictment–454197143.html

Sensenbrenner Predicts Changes For Tax Overhaul Plan
https://www.wpr.org/sensenbrenner-predicts-changes-tax-overhaul-plan

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