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, June 15-21
We can enforce our immigration laws without breaking families apart. The administration says it wants Congress to act, and we are.
– House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, in a statement Wednesday. The House is set to vote on immigration legislation today, including a so-called “compromise” bill that would appropriate $25 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, end the diversity-visa lottery program, ensure migrant families stay together in immigration-detention facilities and further extend protections to so-called Dreamers, per national media reports.
During my visit to the southern border this weekend, it was clear that additional National Guard troops will not alleviate the humanitarian crisis unfolding in shelters.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, who knocked Gov. Scott Walker this week for agreeing to send two dozen Wisconsin National Guard troops to the southern border. Pocan traveled to Texas over the weekend along with other lawmakers to tour border patrol processing centers and other facilities. A Walker spokeswoman noted the state’s troops are on administrative assignments with the cost covered by the federal government. See more in a WisPolitics.com report.
You can’t have 535 members of Congress trying to negotiate trade deals. You need the chief executive to do that. But it should be in complete consultation with Congress. And in the end, you should bring those trade deals back to Congress for ratification as treaties. That’s the way the system should work.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in an interview on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,’’ a partner of WisPolitics.com. He’s co-sponsoring legislation that would require the president to seek congressional approval of certain tariffs. He said the bill would “reclaim congressional constitutional authority.” See more on the interview.
This week’s news
— U.S Sen. Ron Johnson and House Speaker Paul Ryan are viewed more favorably than not, according to the results of the new Marquette University Law School Poll.
But U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who’s up for re-election this year, and President Trump are both under water.
The latest poll results, released yesterday, also found most people think increased tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will hurt the national economy, while more than half of respondents think free-trade agreements have positively benefited the U.S.
In all, 29 percent of respondents said higher steel and aluminum tariffs would improve the economy and 55 percent said they thought an increase would have a negative impact. Fifteen percent responded they didn’t know.
Fifty-one percent of voters said free-trade agreements have been good for the U.S. economy, while 28 percent said they’ve been bad, while 20 percent say they don’t know.
The questions come following the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in March. While several allies were initially exempted, that exemption expired in May, according to national media reports.
Meanwhile, views on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election have become more polarized, the poll results found.
Both the number of respondents saying they have “a great deal of confidence” and the number saying they have “no confidence at all” have grown over the last year. Twenty-nine percent say they have a great deal of confidence, while 32 percent say they have no confidence.
In March, the first time the poll was conducted this year, 24 percent said they have a great deal of confidence while 23 percent said they have no confidence.
— In other results:
*Johnson, R-Oshkosh, is viewed favorably by 39 percent and unfavorably by 34 percent, while 26 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know. His split was 40-30 in March.
*Forty-three percent of respondents say they view Ryan, R-Janesville, favorably, while 41 percent view him unfavorably. That’s a closer margin that in March, when Ryan’s rating was 46-39. Fifteen percent this time around said they don’t know or haven’t heard enough.
*Baldwin, D-Madison, is at 41-43 favorable-unfavorable, a slight difference from the March poll where she was at 37-39. This time, 15 percent said they haven’t heard enough or don’t know and 1 percent refused to answer.
*Trump has a 44 percent job approval rating with 50 percent disapproving, while he was at 43-50 in March. Asked who respondents trust more to tell them the truth about important issues, Trump or the news media, 38 percent said Trump while 45 percent said the media. Fourteen percent said neither.
The survey of 800 registered voters was conducted from June 13-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll used live interviewers, who conducted 60 percent of the surveys via cell phones.
— A bipartisan amendment from Baldwin to boost support for medical isotope companies has been added to the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy & Water Development Appropriations Bill.
The amendment was introduced with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio.
“The Department of Energy has diligently been working with the private sector to develop sources that are Made in America, and this amendment would dedicate $20 million to ensure that work continues so we can secure domestic production as soon as possible,” Baldwin said Wednesday on the Senate floor.
The United States currently has no domestic production of Mo-99, the most commonly used medical isotope in the country for detection and treatment of cancer and heart disease, Baldwin said. That means many patients in the country rely on imported isotopes from Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa.
“This raises costs and risks supply disruptions, as the isotope only lasts for three days,” she said. “For security in the health care system and certainty in patient access to essential medical tests — which are often needed in urgent situations — we need a domestic supply of these isotopes.”
Jonathan Fera, deputy press secretary for Baldwin’s office, says this will support efforts from Wisconsin companies like SHINE Medical Technologies in Janesville and NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes in Beloit, which are working toward production of this important isotope.
Fera said the amendment passed Wednesday morning, and will be included in the bill.
The Senate could complete passage of the funding package by the end of this week or the beginning of next week, Fera said. At that point, the House and Senate would need to conference their competing versions of the package to reconcile differences, and then both chambers would need to pass the conferenced version.
He said it’s unclear when that process will begin, but it could be as soon as July or as late as September. He noted House and Senate GOP leadership have a goal of completing appropriations bills by the close of fiscal year 2018, on Sept. 30.
— Baldwin this week also took to Twitter this week to urge President Trump to publicly back her “Buy America” push.
Trump said during a visit to Kenosha last year he supported Baldwin’s “Buy America” water infrastructure legislation.
Baldwin, in a video message to Trump filmed on the shore of Sturgeon Bay, called on Trump to reach out the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to tell them he supports her effort, as the Senate considers the so-called “Water Resources Development Act” containing the “Buy America” provisions.
“Maybe just … send them a tweet,” she said in the video.
— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner has introduced legislation that would make it easier for foreign physicians to get temporary visas to work in areas that don’t have enough health care professionals.
“Every community should be served by well-trained medical staff,” the Menomonee Falls Republican said in a statement. “This legislation is a commonsense solution to the very real problem of doctor shortages that affects vulnerable populations across the country.”
According to a release from his office, foreign doctors must complete a residency training program in the United States if they want to practice in the country. Sensenbrenner argues this policy makes sense for younger doctors fresh out of medical school, but not for industry veterans who have been caring for patients for decades.
The bill would make it possible for these experienced doctors to live and work in an area defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as having a shortage of health care workers for three years, without needing to complete a residency.
Wisconsin has hundreds of Health Professional Shortage Areas, with communities statewide experiencing shortages in primary, dental and mental health.
The release says states would still be able to keep their own standards for practicing doctors, and decide which ones qualify for this exception.
See HPSAs in Wisconsin here.
— Two bills from Wisconsin congressmen aimed at addressing the state’s drug crisis recently cleared the House.
One, from Sensenbrenner called the “Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act,” would target synthetic opioid by updating the Controlled Substance Act through the addition of a new schedule, Schedule A, to the five existing ones
The other, from U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, is called the “PROPER Act.” The bill would give those who receive Medicare more information on the risks associated with opioid medication and promote the proper disposal of opioid medications, among other things.
— U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore have signed onto a bipartisan push to withhold support of a Saudi-led strike on a Yemen city.
Pocan, D-Madison, led a group of 34 members of Congress in drafting a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis. The letter calls on Mattis to put pressure on Saudi Arabia in an effort to prevent an assault on the Yemen port city of Hodeida.
The members of Congress cited fears that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen would worsen if the coalition took the city.
“We urge you to use all tools at your disposal to dissuade the Saudi-led coalition from moving forward with this offensive and reject the provision of U.S. logistical, military and diplomatic support for any such operation,” the members of Congress wrote to Mattis.
The authors also called on the Defense Department to provide Congress with more information about the U.S.’s involvement in the conflict, saying it was necessary for Congress to authorize such military involvement.
“We are concerned that…the Pentagon may have concealed key information from members of Congress regarding the full extent of on-the-ground U.S. military participation in the Saudi coalition-led war,” they wrote.
As of Tuesday, fighting between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels in Hodeida is ongoing, according to international news reports.
— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher’s chief of staff, McKay Daniels, has left the office to take a job in Chicago.
Daniels, who’s been working with the Green Bay Republican since he took office last year, is now the COO for the National Roofing Contractors Association, a Gallagher spokeswoman said.
Spokeswoman Madison Wiberg says a replacement for Daniels hasn’t yet been finalized.