DC Wrap: Duffy’s gray wolf bill faces uncertain future in Senate

DC Wrap

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Quotes of the week

Firing tear gas on asylum seekers, including small children, is the latest offense in a long history of disgusting & inhumane actions by the Trump Administration at our border. I am appalled & ashamed. This is not the America I know & love.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, in a tweet denouncing the use of tear gas on a crowd of migrants trying to cross nation’s southern border over the weekend.

They are not even closely comparable. … This sounds more like personal use of a personal email during the transition before she had an official account set up. This administration, I think in general, has done a pretty good job of abiding by the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in an interview on WTAQ this week. Johnson said Ivanka Trump’s use of her personal email to conduct official government business is different than Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Johnson, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has asked the White House for a briefing on Trump’s email use.   

This week’s news

— A U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson spokesman says the Oshkosh Republican would back a bill aiming to delist the gray wolf in all but two states should it be taken up in the Senate.

But the office of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin didn’t say whether she’d support the legislation from 7th CD U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy seeking to remove the wolves from the Endangered Species Act. The bill, which cleared the House earlier this month, would lift protections for the wolves across the continental United States.

A Johnson spokesman this week noted Johnson has been working on the issue “for a while.” Johnson in 2015 introduced a bill that would direct the Department of the Interior to reissue final rules related to the endangered listing of the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming. He reintroduced the legislation last year.

But a Baldwin spokeswoman in an email expressed preference for the Madison Dem’s HELP for Wildlife Act, which would delist the gray wolf in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes as well as reauthorize and provide funding for a series of conservation programs.

The spokeswoman noted Duffy’s bill “has not yet come up on the Senate” and didn’t answer whether Baldwin would vote for the Wausau Republican’s legislation if it does hit the floor.

The comments follow the House passage of Duffy’s “Manage Our Wolves Act.” The bipartisan legislation — passed on a 196-180 vote — aims to remove the gray wolf from the list of endangered or threatened species and reinstate a rule that removed the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes region from the list.

“If you live in Wisconsin, especially northern Wisconsin, it might be necessary for us to actually manage this population because it’s good for the environment,” Duffy said in a statement following the bill’s passage. “Frankly, I believe that our states are far more in tuned in understanding the ecosystem of their state than Bureaucrats in Washington.”

The legislation garnered support from U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay; Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah; and Ron Kind, D-La Crosse. U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont; and Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, voted against the bill, while U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, did not vote.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, praised Duffy’s work and urged Baldwin to back the bill in a joint statement last week with Michigan Sen. Tom Casperson.

Tiffany this session introduced a bill that would ban police from enforcing state or federal law aimed at managing Wisconsin’s wolf population. The language would also prohibit the state Department of Natural Resources from spending any money to manage wolves — other than paying claims for any losses they cause.

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.   

— A new resolution from Johnson is slamming Russia’s recent actions against Ukraine.

The move comes after Russia captured three Ukranian boats off the coat of Crimea this week.

See the text of the resolution.

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind was among the 32 House Dems who opposed Nancy Pelosi’s nomination to be speaker, his office says.

The caucus Wednesday voted 203-32 to nominate the California Dem as its leader. The full House will again vote on her nomination in January, when she will need at least 218 votes to win the post.

Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a statement the caucus needs new leadership.

“My first priority has always been standing up for Wisconsin, and the values that Wisconsinites hold,” he said. “I thank Nancy Pelosi for her years of service to the House of Representatives and the Democratic Party, but I believe it is time for new leadership that moves Wisconsin – and America – forward.”

A spokesman didn’t return a request for comment about whether Kind will back Pelosi when her nomination is up for a floor vote.

Meanwhile, the offices of U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, and Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, said the two lawmakers voted for Pelosi this week.

— Moore has introduced legislation aiming to increase access to Social Security services.

The so-called “Maintain Access to Vital Social Security Services Act of 2018” would amend the Social Security Act to establish a procedure to close or reduce access to field offices. The bill would also require the Social Security Administration to operate “a sufficient number” of adequately staffed field offices that provide “wide-ranging” and “convenient” services to the public.

Moore said in a statement the bill’s requirements would help Americans secure access to the Social Security benefits they need.

“The shuttering of Social Security Field Offices, in Milwaukee and across the country, has created major complications for millions of Americans who depend on their hard-earned benefits,” she said. “My bill will help to ensure the SSA provides essential services to all communities.”

— Kind is spearheading a bill to give veterans better access to manufacturing jobs.

The “Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act” would create a grant program housed within the Department of Labor to then establish state programs to provide on-the-job training and other support to veterans through employers.

“The Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act will encourage Wisconsin manufacturers to hire Wisconsin veterans, and help create a stronger economy and workforce here at home,” Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a statement.

— U.S. Reps. Glenn Grothman and Mark Pocan are partnering on a bill to try to keep invasive species of fish out of the state’s waters.

The bill would compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider the impact of invasive species before requiring the building of a new fishway, or passage for native fish to travel around dams, according to a statement from Grothman this week.

“Invasive species can have a devastating effect on the environment, public health and the economy. The damage they can cause only gets worse over time, which is why this legislation is becoming increasingly important to pass,” the Glenbeulah Republican said.

— Former state GOP Chair Reince Priebus has agreed to participate in a “thorough review” of the 2018 election and the current Wisconsin party structure, according to a letter U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson sent to the party’s Executive Committee.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, wrote in the letter, obtained by WisPolitics.com, that the review would be similar to the postmortem Priebus oversaw while chair of the RNC following the 2012 presidential election.

But the letter didn’t offer any other details, and a GOP source said the review would be led by the Executive Committee and state party staff. Priebus has a seat on the Executive Committee as the immediate past chair.

In the Johnson letter, the senator noted he’s the only remaining Republican statewide elected official following the November election results. “I realize I have a unique responsibility to help ensure our grass-roots structure remains intact and to quickly establish clear objectives for our party,” he wrote.

He said multiple factors contributed to the November results and the party needs to “carefully study these factors and build upon those that helped yield success and correct those that resulted in failure.”

Johnson, who plans to attend the Executive Committee meeting in Stevens Point this weekend, also invited members to share written summaries they have of conversations with others that produced suggestions on new ideas. He noted a robust “dialogue already is occurring between our congressional delegation, elected state officials, and RPW officials, staff and volunteers.”

— Fewer Wisconsinites are making plan selections in this year’s open enrollment period than last year, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

From Nov. 1-24 of this year, 62,150 individual market plans were chosen on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. That’s down from 78,269 plans in the first four weeks of last year’s open enrollment period.

Signups are also down across the country. So far this year, about 2.4 million people have made plan selections on Healthcare.gov, compared to over 2.7 million at this time last year.

See the CMS release.

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Can both political parties come together in time to avoid a government shutdown?

Reps. Moore and Pocan condemn use of tear gas by Border Patrol

Ron Johnson: In Ukraine conflict, ‘Russia cannot rewrite international rules by force’

Duffy: It’s Time To Restore Gray Wolf Management To States

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