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
It’d be nice to modernize NAFTA … bring it into the 21st century. But we need to be careful that we don’t lose the market share we’ve already gained in that agreement, especially with our dairy export market in Mexico. If we were to lose that because the president wants to withdraw from NAFTA, (it) could destroy our dairy industry overnight.
– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, in an interview with the Chippewa Herald about Trump’s trade policies.
It’s way too early to be talking about 2020. It could be a completely different world by 2020. We have a 2018 election first.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, when asked on CNN’s “New Day” whether he’ll support a re-election bid for Donald Trump in 2020.
This week’s news
— Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind this week touted his recent ranking as the state’s most bipartisan House member, noting his constituents are looking for an “independent voice” in Congress.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, was blasted by Dem opponent Dan Kohl for his place in the listing as the most partisan member of the chamber from Wisconsin.
The Bipartisan Index, from the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, ranks all members of Congress based on how frequently a member introduces bills that get sponsors from the opposite party, and how often they co-sponsor legislation from the other side of the aisle.
Kind, D-La Crosse, has ranked in the top 25 of all 438 House members since the index’s launch in 2015.
“When I’m holding listening sessions in Wisconsin or talking to folks at the YMCA and the grocery store, I often hear about the frustrations people have with how divided Congress is,” Kind said in a statement. “Now more than ever, people want an independent voice that doesn’t approach issues with an ‘us and them’ mindset.”
Since Grothman took office in 2015, he’s ranked in the bottom 15 of all members of his chamber. But the newest scores show he’s 410th, the highest, most bipartisan ranking he’s received since heading to D.C.
Kohl’s campaign in a statement this week attributed the Glenbeulah Republican’s placement as the result of “desperate efforts by Grothman to build his bipartisan credibility” after Kohl got into the 6th CD race.
But spokesman Timothy Svoboda said Grothman had a long record of working across the aisle dating back to his time in the state Legislature. That includes teaming up with Dem U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan on a bill that would let students refinance their federal student loans.
He also noted that on average, about one-fourth of the between 1,000 and 2,000 bills that pass the House originate from the minority party. Of the 425 Dem-sponsored bills that have passed since Grothman was voted into Congress, he voted for 97 percent of them, Svoboda said.
The other Wisconsin House members received the following rankings: U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, 79th; U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, 185th; U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, 216th; Pocan, 333rd; and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, 359th.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, was excluded from the ranking.
In the Senate, U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin were both near the middle of the pack, ranking 51st and 54th, respectively.
— Johnson and Baldwin are on opposite sides over the appointment of Mike Pompeo as the next secretary of state.
The nomination of Pompeo, the current CIA director, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Monday night.
Johnson, a member of the committee, said in a statement following the committee vote that Pompeo is “well-suited to serving as secretary of state.”
But Baldwin, D-Madison, said on Tuesday the nation needs a secretary of state that is “committed to using American diplomatic leadership to solve problems, protect our national security interests and advance human rights.”
See the full story at WisPolitics.com.
— Baldwin joined 46 other senators this week in calling on the Trump administration to reconsider expanding short-term health insurance plans.
The proposal would let insurers offer short-term policies that would last around one year and wouldn’t have to comply with regulations under the Affordable Care Act.
“If finalized, the rule could increase costs and reduce access to quality coverage for millions of Americans, harm people with pre-existing conditions, and force premium increases on older Americans,” the senators wrote in a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services.
But the Trump administration has previously said those plans would mean cheaper alternatives and more choices for consumers.
See the letter.
— Baldwin has also teamed up with Louisiana Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy to introduce legislation to help stop the flow of illegal drugs through international mail facilities.
It’s called the Restricting Entrance and Strengthening the Requirements on Import Controls for Trafficking (RESTRICT) Illicit Drugs Act. It seeks to clarify the roles of the FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in intercepting illegal or counterfeit drugs and destroying them or refusing their entry, and allow the FDA to stop people or companies convicted of an FDA-related felony from shipping products.
“The opioid epidemic is devastating families and communities throughout Wisconsin and a key way to help prevent this is to stop more illicit drugs like fentanyl, meth and illegal opioids from coming into this country,” said Baldwin, D-Madison. “I’m introducing this commonsense bipartisan legislation with Senator Cassidy to strengthen our control over the flow of illicit drugs from other countries into America.”
— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy has a new website.
See the site, which went live this week: https://duffy.house.gov/
— Duffy this week also called on President Trump to stand up to some countries’ “free riding” on American pharmaceutical innovations.
Duffy, R-Wausau, wrote in a letter to the president he’s concerned with countries like Germany, France, Japan and Australia that “consistently undermine American companies through longstanding, impermissible practices” including price controls, market access barriers and intellectual property theft.
“Perhaps the most effective way to prevent free riding is through trade enforcement and strong trade disciplines in our new free trade agreements,” he wrote.
— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman is calling on his Twitter followers to print out ballot signature forms for his re-election campaign.
Grothman this week tweeted from his campaign account: “Our team needs YOU! Print out this form to help get us on the ballot. We truly appreciate your support in our fight for Wisconsin!”
A campaign spokeswoman said the campaign sees promoting the form as “a great way to reach a different segment of the electorate.”
“Many candidates mail or email their signature sheets to their supporters,” she said. “This allows us to get our nomination papers in front of our constituents multiple times, on multiple platforms.”
— The International Foodservice Distributors Association has awarded Grothman the 2018 Thomas Jefferson Award.
The honor goes to legislators whose “voting record indicates strong support of policies that enable the U.S. foodservice distribution industry to create well-paying jobs, grow their businesses, and contribute to their local communities,” according to a statement from the group.
Posts of the week
I’m working to make sure there are better protections from toxic chemicals in cosmetic products. Thanks @KourtneyKardash and @ewg for your advocacy and for bringing awareness to #BeautyMadeBetter pic.twitter.com/BofiiovJQU
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) April 24, 2018