DC Wrap: Kind talks NAFTA, midterms; Trump signs Johnson’s ‘right-to-try’ bill

DC Wrap

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

Sterling Brown could have come out of Walgreens, but instead this police officer wanted to see who this was and when he saw this black man with nappy hair and a hoodie, that set up a confrontation and that set off all the biases and stereotypes we have become too accustomed.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore as quoted in a WISN story. The Milwaukee Dem re-introduced a bill on mandatory de-escalation training for police in response to reports Milwaukee police officers’ actions during a confrontation with Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. The Milwaukee Police Department last week released a video of Brown’s tasing and arrest in January and chief Alfonso Morales apologized for the incident.

I have concerns that the North Koreans are not serious when they talk about denuclearization. It’s clear that we are talking about two different things when we use that phrase in large part because a lot of the things the North Koreans allegedly say are being filtered through a government in South Korea that is very committed to getting a deal.
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, who told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on Monday he’s concerned North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un really means suspension of its nuclear program when making claims the country will denuclearize. Gallagher, a former marine with a PhD in international relations, joined Mitchell to discuss the significance of Memorial Day and weigh in on a potential summit between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

This week’s news

— As NAFTA renegotiations continue to drag on, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind warns a failure to reach an agreement could hurt the United States’ deal-making capacity with other nations.

Kind said he was “concerned about the larger message” an impasse could send to the rest of the world.

“If we can’t figure out a way to make nice with our two border neighbors, there’s not a country in the world that’s going to be willing to sit down and talk to the United States of America with any confidence that we’re going to be good faith negotiations and trustworthy partners willing to live up to the terms of our agreement,” the La Crosse Dem told WisPolitics.com in an interview this week..

National media reports in recent weeks have shown the tri-county talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement have been bogged down as the Trump administration earlier this month missed an informal deadline to get a revamped deal to Congress for approval.

While Kind supports effort to modernize NAFTA, he also cautioned that if President Trump were to pull out of the deal, the state’s dairy industry could be in “extreme jeopardy.”

That’s because, he said, Mexico is a top dairy export market that if lost would mean Wisconsin farmers would see “even lower milk prices” and the state’s greater dairy infrastructure would be endangered.

Kind, who said he’s been meeting with Trump’s trade team to talk NAFTA, also raised concerns about the tariffs the administration has imposed, saying the president is “inching us closer and closer to (a) trade war every day.”        


— Kind also is rebuffing a proposed constitutional amendment that would lay out term limits for members of Congress.

The push, spearheaded by fellow Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, would limit members of the House to six terms and those of the Senate to two terms. President Trump has previously expressed support for the effort.

But while there are many new faces in both chambers, Kind said Congress has “gotten worse” because of the loss of institutional memory surrounding how to broker deals, find common ground and get along with one another.   

Roughly one-third of the members of the Senate are in their first term, and Kind said “a majority” of House members have served fewer than three terms.

“It looks good on a bumper sticker — just term limits, throw all the bums out. But we’ve been doing that in the last few elections, with a tremendous amount of turnover and new faces joining Congress. And I submit Congress is getting worse rather than better with the new personalities that are coming to Washington,” said Kind, in Congress since 1997.

— Kind also says “things have changed” in his 3rd CD since the 2016 general election when the district backed President Trump.

Pointing to Dem Sen. Patty Schachtner’s win in the special election for the 10th SD in January and liberal leaning Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet’s victory in the state Supreme Court race, Kind said people in his district “sense that things are not going in the right direction.”

Kind also said constituents in his district were largely concerned over what they saw as the limited economic benefit of Foxconn, adding it’s seen as an example “of southeastern Wisconsin being taken care of and the rest of the state being neglected.”  

On the Dem guv race, Kind said he doesn’t see himself endorsing early “given the strengths of so many of these campaigns out there.” But he’s confident in the Dem chances for the seat, saying there’s an “eight year itch” to replace Gov. Scott Walker.  

Asked if he would support Nancy Pelosi, of California, as House speaker should Dems win that chamber in November, Kind noted that he voted against her last time, but didn’t say whether he’d oppose her again or if he backed any particular Democrat to replace her as leader.

“I think either way, if we pull up short (in November), there’s going to be leadership change; if we’re in the majority but by a slim majority, there’s going to be leadership change,” he said.

Hear the audio.

— Wisconsin lawmakers stressed the importance of getting millennials into the workforce at a recent discussion held at the downtown Appleton Beer Factory.

“Every generation has its own challenges — this one included — but it also brings enormous strengths,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Green Bay Republican.

He was joined by Appleton Democratic Rep. Amanda Stuck in leading the discussion Tuesday which was attended by other legislators as well as representatives for Fox Valley startup group Kinnektor and the Millennial Action Project, which organized the event with WisPolitics.com.

“The most consistent thing I hear is… we have jobs, we have plenty of jobs available,” he said. “We just can’t find people to do those jobs.”

Both Stuck and Gallagher noted the importance of technologies like automation and artificial intelligence on Wisconsin industries moving forward.

“We really have to be aware” of how technology is changing, Stuck said.

She also said employers must shoulder some of the responsibility for dealing with the state’s workforce shortage. She said part of the issue is that discussions often center on expectations for employees and the skills they need, rather than what employers can do to make their workplaces and company culture more attractive to millennial workers.

Gallagher noted that while automation does eliminate some jobs, it also creates opportunities for other high-skill, high-paying jobs. He also challenged the cultural notion that young workers need a four-year degree to get work, noting that other options exist, like the trades.

See more via WisBusiness.com.

— Gallagher has also been appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

He also will serve on the subcommittees for: Highways and Transit; Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials; and Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

Gallagher replaces former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, who resigned from the House following allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination, among other things.

See the release.

— President Trump has signed U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s ‘right-to-try’ bill into law, ending a two-year effort to expand access to treatments for terminally-ill patients.

The bill, which passed the House last week on a 250-169 vote, would allow those individuals to use treatments not currently approved by the FDA.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, lauded the bill signing on Twitter, writing: “Terminally ill patients and their families now have more freedom and more hope!”

Trump, who previously praised the legislation during his State of the Union address, said today the effort would mean individuals with life-threatening illnesses “will finally have access to experimental treatments that could improve or even cure their conditions.”

“These are experimental treatments and products that have shown great promise and we weren’t able to use them before,” he said. “Now we can use them.”

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin this week called on the Senate to pass bipartisan opioid legislation.

Baldwin co-sponsored legislation to change policy for multiple federal agencies that handle both enforcement and research of the opioid crisis. The bill passed the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions last month, and awaits a full vote in the Senate.

The legislation would improve data sharing between the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies, as well as coordinate the Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Patrol to stop the importing of drugs such as fentanyl at the border.

“Our Senate health committee just passed bipartisan legislation to give our communities more resources to save lives, and now it’s time to bring that legislation to the Senate floor and pass it,” the Madison Dem said in a statement.

Baldwin made the call while holding roundtables in Superior, Sturgeon Bay and Kaukauna with Wisconsin law enforcement, first responders and community leaders.

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Sen. Tammy Baldwin meets with local authorities, officials about opioid abuse

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Discusses Opioid Epidemic with Douglas County

5/25/18 – Senator Ron Johnson Interview, Shooting Harms Left’s Anti-Gun Campaign, Americans Siding with Trump over Dems, Calls

Inability to fill jobs a key economic challenge in Fox Cities, says U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, State Rep. Amanda Stuck

Appleton forum addresses future jobs and millennials

Roll Call: Key votes from the Wisconsin congressional delegation this week

Koch brothers running ads in Wisconsin for Grothman

Gus Bilirakis, Ron Kind Team Up Again to Improve Medicare

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