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Quotes of the week
Why did CNN know about the Steele Dossier, who leaked that to them? … There’s so much smoke here, there’s so much suspicion. We need to get to the bottom of this. And Congress is the last body getting the information that the American public needs to know.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland SEcurity and Government Affairs Committee, this week sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for more information on the agency’s handling of the so-called Steele Dossier.
These are the things that Wisconsinites are focused on, and yet it doesn’t seem to be the focus in Washington D.C. right now.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, who told supporters at the opening of the Juneau County Democratic headquarters Congress isn’t addressing issues likes healthcare, education and job security. See the story.
This week’s news
— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s push to enact so-called “right-to-try” legislation is heading to President Trump’s desk after clearing the House.
Johnson, R-Oshkosh championed the bill in the Senate, where it passed unanimously last August. It passed the House Tuesday on a 250-169 vote, where only Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind crossed party lines to support it.
The bill would allow terminally-ill patients to use treatments not approved by the FDA.
“Congress restored a little freedom and hope to terminally ill Americans,” Johnson said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, one of two Wisconsin Dems to oppose the bill, said in a statement the bill “sets a dangerous precedent of weakening FDA oversight by broadening access to unproven treatments.”
A Kind spokesman didn’t immediately return a request for comment as to why the La Crosse Dem decided to support the measure.
The House in March passed its own version of the right-to-try bill, which would have caused the Senate to pass that iteration before it could be sent to the president. But House Republicans last week signaled they would take up the Senate’s version of the legislation.
Trump has previously praised the legislation, saying during his State of the Union address that it’s “time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the ‘right-to-try.’ “
— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher this week launched a new House caucus to boost awareness in Congress of trauma-informed care.
Meanwhile, a Johnson-introduced resolution recognizing the importance and effectiveness of trauma-informed care cleared the Senate on Tuesday with unanimous support.
In the House, Gallagher joined U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., in kicking off the Trauma-Informed Care Caucus on Monday.
Gallagher, R-Green Bay, in a statement said the practice creates a “unique opportunity” for elected officials “to come together and improve health outcomes for the millions of children, families, and adults across the United States who have been impacted by trauma.”
“By working together, we can raise awareness of TIC and its vital role in helping solve some of our nation’s most pressing public health issues,” he said.
Gallagher’s decision to launch the caucus is part of a wider effort — led by First Lady Tonette Walker — to increase statewide awareness of the approach.
Walker in a statement praised the creation of the caucus, saying trauma-informed care helps caregivers “address the root” cause of problems and “improve outcomes” for affected children.
Johnson, meanwhile, thanked Walker for her work backing trauma-informed care since 2011, saying in a statement her efforts mean “Wisconsinites will be better equipped to support those who have experienced trauma.”
— Dem U.S. Reps Gwen Moore and Ron Kind teamed up this week to introduce a bill that would create a nationwide Green Alert to locate missing veterans.
The legislation comes on the heels of Wisconsin enacting its own Green Alert law earlier this year.
The bill, called the “Corey Adams Searchlight Act,” is named after US Air Force Reserve Sgt. Corey Adams, who went missing from his Wisconsin home in March 2017. His body was found 18 days later.
“Too many veterans put their lives on the line for this country without receiving the support and resources they need in return,” Moore, D-Milwaukee, said in a statement. “This bill, modeled after Wisconsin’s Green Alert program, takes an important step forward in ensuring our nation’s veterans receive the care and respect they so greatly deserve.
— Moore also has a new press secretary: Libbie Wilcox.
Meanwhile, former spokesman Eric Harris started a job in California Dem U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez’s office last month.
Wilcox has worked in the House as a spokeswoman since June 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile. Before that, she worked for a year at the National Journal in Washington, D.C.
— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman has introduced a bill aimed at protecting small businesses from potential misinformation provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The so-called “OSHA Employer Notification Act” would require OSHA to notify a business of an alleged violation 24 hours prior to making a public statement regarding the violation.
The bill would also require OSHA to update public postings on it’s website if a citation is subsequently reduced or dropped all together.
Grothman said under current law, OSHA can notify the press of alleged violations made by a business before the actual business. This, he said, can result in a “delayed resolution of the problem.”
“We need to help businesses by treating them as part of the solution, not the problem, which is what the OSHA Employer Notification Act will do,” Grothman said in a statement.
— A new Grothman bill looks to better address the opioid crisis.
If signed into law, the “Federal Response to Families Impacted by Substance Use Disorder Act” would establish a federal task force with the mission of coordinating the federal response to the opioid crisis.
The task force would help identify, evaluate and recommend best practices to states and local agencies in their fight against opioid abuse, as well as develop ways to better identify and prevent substance abuse in the home and around children and minors.
Grothman said in a statement opioid abuse has “long been a problem” and has become “a large-scale epidemic in need of immediate attention.”
The representative noted a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis with state and federal experts earlier this month revealed “that better coordination is needed between federal agencies and local communities.”
“One overdose is too many. These are preventable deaths of precious lives. I am determined to fight to put an end to the opioid crisis and believe that this bill could be a turning point in the fight,” he said.
— The state’s congressional delegation recently split along party lines over a stalled farm bill that ultimately failed to clear the House.
The legislation failed to pass on a 198-213 vote Friday. The party-line split among Wisconsin House members came as the bill faced criticism from Dem state lawmakers and other activists over the work requirements it sought to place on food stamp recipients.
In a statement, Kind said he couldn’t support a bill that “lavishes huge taxpayer subsidies on millionaires and billionaires,” rather than working “for our family farmers.”
But House Speaker Paul Ryan previously lauded the plan, saying that it contained “much-needed reforms that will strengthen America’s workforce and help move people out of poverty.”
In the lead-up to Friday’s vote, Kind, D-La Crosse, had pushed for a series of amendments he co-sponsored to be considered by the House Rules Committee, including two provisions he worked on with Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. One of those was aimed at increasing transparency in the crop insurance program.
Meanwhile, Grothman backed an amendment that would have excluded carbonated drinks from the list of items that can be purchased with food stamps, his office said.
The vote on the bill outlined divisions in the House, as GOP moderates and hard-liners joined unified Democratic opposition to the bill, according to national media reports. The vote came amid an ongoing debate over a possible immigration overhaul.
Though the bill failed last week, is is expected to come up for a second vote on June 22, according to a Roll Call report.
The deadline to pass it is Sept. 30.
— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s “Buy America” language was featured in a bill that has passed a Senate committee.
The provision was included in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which cleared the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Tuesday.
The Madison Dem’s language would require water infrastructure projects funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund only use American-made iron and steel. Projects funded through this program are improvements to water infrastructure that support safe drinking water.
The provision is part of a bill that has bipartisan support, according to a Baldwin statement, and received President Trump’s endorsement when he visited Kenosha last year.
— Baldwin this week also introduced a bill targeting fraudulent organic imports.
The bill would require authentication of organic-labelled goods imported at U.S. ports of entry. This would catch goods that are imported with an organic label, but do not meet USDA’s standards for organic.
“We must make sure that all organic products sold in the U.S. meet [the USDA’s] rigorous standards,” she said in a statement.
The legislation comes after the USDA issued a series of recommendations to standardize the quality of organic products coming into the country.
Baldwin cited concerns over the potential harm the mislabelling would cause to Wisconsin’s organic industry, which she says is the second-largest in the nation by number of farms.
— Baldwin was recently awarded the Maritime Leadership Award from the Shipbuilders Council of America.
The award honored “outstanding dedication and support of the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry,” according to a release.
— In this week’s Magic Monday, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan brings the “Yanny/Laurel” debate to Congress.
Posts of the week
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) May 18, 2018