Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.
Quotes of the week
This growingly rogue agency is significantly off its mission.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, as quoted in a Channel3000 article in response to reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested of 83 people in Wisconsin over the last week, including 44 who had prior criminal convictions and 16 who did not. Pocan, who previously introduced legislation to disband ICE, said in a statement he’s planning to meet with officials from the agency Thursday. He also demanded more information on those who had been detained without a prior criminal record or those who had “minor offenses including traffic violations.”
I still don’t understand why the White House has refused to reopen the background investigation, but now that there are more allegations … it seems like the call should be stronger than ever to reopen that.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, call for reopening the FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Her comments in Milwaukee came Monday, one day after a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, alleged sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, but before a third woman, Julie Swetnick, came forward Wednesday. Kavanaugh is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, with a vote scheduled for Friday.
On the heels of Senator Baldwin not having the time to meet with Judge Kavanaugh, yet having time for a fundraiser with Dr. Ford’s lawyers, we now have additional uncorroborated attacks on Judge Kavanaugh being irresponsibly published by the Fake News media.
– Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir, in response to Baldwin’s comments. She referenced an upcoming fundraiser Baldwin had planned with California professor Christine Blasey Ford’s two attorneys — though the campaign has said both lawyers were dropped from the event after they began representing Ford, who was the first to publicly accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Ford is also testifying Thursday before the Judiciary Committee.
This week’s news
— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy’s legislation seeking to delist the gray wolf has been sent to the full House floor after clearing a committee this week.
The bill aiming to remove the gray wolves from federal threatened and endangered species list across the continental United States passed the House Natural Resources Committee on a 19-15 vote Wednesday.
“Wisconsin farmers are now one step closer to having the legal means to defend their livestock from gray wolves,” Duffy said in a statement.
The Wausau Republican, as well as U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, have been vocal in their support for delisting the gray wolf. The three last year introduced legislation that would nix gray wolves as endangered in various Great Lakes states and Wyoming.
The Obama administration in 2012 first delisted the gray wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In 2014, the wolves were returned to the federal endangered species list after a lawsuit, resulting in the end of wolf trapping and hunting.
— Duffy also touted the House’s unanimous passage of two of his resolutions aiming to make additions to the National Register of Historic Places.
The first resolution asks U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke to add the Lumberjack Bowl to the register.
The second resolution, brought by Duffy and U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman and Ron Kind, asks Zinke that Rib Mountain also be added to the National Register of Historic Places.
“Paul Bunyan was a larger than life figure who still embodies the frontier spirit and an important part of Wisconsin’s history,” Duffy said in a statement about his second resolution. “I’m thankful that my Republican and Democrat colleagues unanimously approved my resolution to officially recognize Rib Mountain as his rightful burial site.”
— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s office says the Menomonee Falls Republican has been in communication with the Walker administration over his federal online sales tax bill that would affect Wisconsin’s plan to collect the taxes.
The bill is in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June allowing states to collect online sales taxes from retailers without a physical presence in the state. Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau has projected the state could collect an additional $90 million in the current fiscal year if it began collecting the tax Oct. 1. It would then bring in an estimated $120 million annually.
The Walker administration has previously said it plans to begin collecting those sales taxes Oct. 1. A Sensenbrenner spokesman said the congressman “has been working on Internet sales tax policy for a long time and we’re been in communication with the Walker Administration during the process.”
The office of Gov. Scott Walker referred comment to the state Department of Revenue. A DOR spokeswoman said the state is still planning to start collecting the taxes Oct. 1 and has been reaching out to retailers to alert them. But she declined to comment on how the bill could impact the process and said the agency hasn’t been in contact with Sensenbrenner’s office.
Sensenbrenner’s legislation, introduced earlier this month, would require states to begin collecting the tax after Jan. 1 and bar them from retroactively collecting sales taxes on remote sellers for sales prior to the court decision on June 21.
In an interview last week with Bloomberg Tax last week, Sensenbrenner said if his bill is signed into law, states that began collecting the tax before Jan. 1 would have to refund it to the seller. The seller would then need to refund it to the purchaser.
Sensenbrenner’s bill would also create an exemption for remote sellers with gross annual receipts less than $10 million in the nation. The state Department of Revenue under an administrative rule in July created an exemption for smaller retailers. Under the rule, retailers must have annual sales of at least $100,000 in Wisconsin or at least 200 transactions before having to collect the sales tax.
The bill is currently awaiting a markup in the House Judiciary Committee. The spokesman said Sensenbrenner expects a markup before the end of the year.
— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has introduced a bipartisan bill to up transportation access across the nation.
The bill — called the “Connecting Opportunities through Mobility Metrics and Unlocking Transportation Efficiencies Act” — would require the federal Department of Transportation to give states access to data on the accessibility of different modes of transportation to various destinations, including health care facilities, jobs, affordable housing areas and more.
“This bipartisan legislation is about investing in better and more efficient transportation so workers and families can get to job hubs, health care services and other important destinations, and keep our Made in Wisconsin economy moving forward,” the Madison Dem said in a statement.
— Baldwin this week is also pushing a bill targeting maternal health care coverage.
The “Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services Act” would extend Medicaid coverage for women after giving birth; up the Affordable Care Act’s access to primary care providers; and expand pregnant women’s access to doula care, among other things.
“Wisconsin is seeing troubling increases in maternal and infant mortality, so we need to do everything we can to make sure women and families have access to quality, affordable health care,” she said in a statement.
— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has cosponsored a bipartisan effort to make available more assistance to veterans facing domestic violence.
The Violence Against Women Veterans Act would create a National Task Force on Domestic Violence to determine how to provide support to veterans in those situations, as well as connect violence shelters and the Department of Veterans Affairs to better offer services.
“We need to do everything in our power to ensure women and children in Wisconsin are safe from harm,” the La Crosse Dem said in a statement. “Opening communication between the VA and community resources for domestic violence survivors will help identify the unique challenges veterans face in crisis situations, and better serve their needs.”
Posts of the week
SATURDAY SHOUTOUT: Thanks Tobias for your lifelong support. Looking forward to your vote in 2034! pic.twitter.com/nXSYPahv3q
— Mark Pocan (@MarkPocan) September 22, 2018
One down, seven to go! Rachel and I say goodbye to Evita today as she starts her freshman year of college. We already miss you, Evita!