DC Wrap: Trump backs Johnson’s ‘right-to-try’ bill; Wisconsin lawmakers uninjured after fatal train collision

Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.

Register today for the following two WisPolitics.com events:
*A Feb. 22 Madison luncheon with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
*A March 7 DC breakfast with U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher and the Millennial Action Project.

Quotes of the week, Jan. 26-Feb. 1

Talk is cheap. Wisconsin is waiting for @POTUS to put his words into action with an infrastructure plan that invests in our local communities to rebuild roads, bridges, water systems, and expand rural broadband with a strong Buy American commitment.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, writing on Twitter on President Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan he announced at his Tuesday night State of the Union speech.

Creating a spectacle like this — regardless of position or party — is disrespectful and out of bounds. Worse, Mr. Bryce is using it as a tool to actively raise campaign funds.
– GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner in a statement calling out U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, on his choice to bring to the State of the Union Speaker Paul Ryan’s potential November opponent, Dem 1st CD candidate Randy Bryce.

I must’ve missed Mr. Sensenbrenner’s remarks when the president disparaged foreign countries as sh*tholes, called neo-Nazis and white supremacists ‘very fine people,’ bragged about sexually assaulting a woman, or even reportedly asked his lawyer to pay off an adult film star using campaign funds. Apparently tax cuts for GOP donors come at any cost.
– Pocan, responding in a statement to Sensenbrenner’s comments.

This is a completely separate matter from Bob Mueller’s investigation, and his investigation should be allowed to take his course. There are legitimate questions about whether an American’s civil liberties were violated.
– Ryan, R-Janesville, who defended special counsel Robert Mueller despite telling reporters that he supports releasing a Republican memo on classified surveillance that could potentially harm the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s “right-to-try” bill got a boost during the State of the Union speech, where President Trump called on lawmakers to back the effort.

Johnson’s bill would let terminally ill patients get experimental drugs not yet approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. It cleared the Senate with unanimous support in August, but has yet to be taken up by the House.

During the speech, Trump stressed the importance of giving those with terminal conditions access to those treatments, which he said “could potentially save their lives.”  

“It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the ‘Right to Try,’” he said.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, applauded Trump in a tweet Tuesday night, saying the “House should pass Right to Try ASAP!!!”

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, also commended Trump, saying he “showed compassion in calling for the passage of right-to-try – something I’ve been trying to bring to the floor for quite some time.”

“Right-to-try allows terminally ill patients to utilize potentially life-saving, experimental drugs,” Grothman said. “Sometimes this is a patient’s last chance for survival.”


— Johnson this week also weighed in on Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, saying it’s the “right approach” to investing in the country’s roads and bridges.

Trump during the State of the Union address said the spending would be “leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment.”

The balance, including the public-private partnership aspect of it, is “the best way to go,” Johnson told reporters in a media call Tuesday morning previewing the State of the Union.  

“You certainly want to make sure that whoever is proposing these infrastructure programs has got real skin in the game,” he said. “I think you’ll see a lot less waste and far more efficient, effective use of the funds.”

Johnson also touched on Trump’s plan for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, saying it attempts to balance closing loopholes in current immigration law, upping border security and safeguarding the so-called Dreamers

The Trump administration last week unveiled the framework of an immigration deal that would offer the Dreamers a 12-year path to citizenship in exchange for $25 billion for border security funding, as well as other provisions.

“We need to make sure in doing whatever we can figure out to do here in Washington, D.C. we actually have to fix the underlying problem so we don’t have a whole new set of Dreamers that need to be addressed in 10,15 or 20 years, and what we need to do is secure our border,” Johnson said, adding Congress also needs to fix “our horribly broken legal immigration system.”

Trump in September announced he would end the DACA program March 5 unless Congress acts.

Hear the audio.

— Johnson and 35 other Republican senators this week sent a letter to President Trump urging him to keep in place and modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In the letter, the senators spelled out what they see as numerous benefits of the agreement, writing that it has driven trade with Canada and Mexico to $1.3 trillion and supports 14 million jobs.

“Whether manufacturers, farmers, or insurance providers, a wide range of industries in the U.S. have benefited from this agreement and American consumers are reaping those benefits, too,” they wrote.

While the senators’ goal is to keep NAFTA in place, they wrote that it is in need of modernization to increase market access, expand American energy production and exports, and include provisions on intellectual property.


— Wisconsin Republicans are making donations to rid themselves of funding from Steve Wynn, the casino owner who resigned as RNC finance chair following allegations of sexual misconduct.

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Janesville Republican is donating $1,000 to Project 1649, which supports homeless Rock County children. He received $1,000 from the Wynn Resorts Limited Initiative for Public Policy, which has ties to the casino mogul.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, is donating $5,400 to Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services in Oshkosh after receiving that much in donations from Wynn during his 2016 race.

Dems have been calling on Republicans to return Wynn donations after they faced similar pressure over contributions from Hollywood exec Harvey Weinstein and former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.


— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says she would have opposed moving forward on legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks if she’d made Monday’s vote.

Her office said the Madison Dem missed the vote due to flight delays. She made a different vote late yesterday for cloture on a judicial nomination.

The Senate’s 51-46 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to clear to advance the abortion bill.

Baldwin noted in a statement she opposed a similar bill in the past.

“I believe every American woman deserves access to quality, safe health care, and the freedom to exercise her individual and constitutional rights to make her own, private health decisions with her family and her doctor, without political interference,” Baldwin said.


— Four members of the state’s congressional delegation are uninjured following a fatal collision between a train and a garbage truck Wednesday morning.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. Reps. Glenn Grothman, Sean Duffy and Jim Sensenbrenner were all on the Amtrak train, which was carrying GOP congressman to a retreat in West Virginia, when the crash occurred near Charlottesville, Va.

The crash resulted in one confirmed fatality and one serious injury, although no members of Congress or their staff members reported serious injuries, according to national media reports.

Shortly after the crash, Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, said in a tweet that he was on the train but was unharmed.

“Please keep the driver of the truck in your prayers,” he wrote.

Ryan, R-Janesville, called the incident a “terrible tragedy.”.

“We are grateful for the first responders who rushed to the scene and we pray for the victims and their families,” he wrote. “May they all be in our thoughts right now.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, were not on the train, their staffs said.

The retreat will still take place this weekend, per national media reports.

Posts of the week

My brother-in-law just arrived in D.C. to join me at the State of the Union address, and he made sure to bring Office Dog Todd some delicious #MadeInWisconsin treats. Thanks, Mark!

Posted by Congressman Glenn Grothman on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

ICYMI

WisPolitics.com: Sensenbrenner, Pocan slam each other over State of the Union guest

Paul Ryan and Ron Johnson to donate money from group associated with accused billionaire Steve Wynn to charity

Oconomowoc mom to join Sen. Johnson at SOTU

Senator Johnson Distances Himself From Comments About “Secret Society” In The FBI

Donald Trump gives backing to Ron Johnson’s ‘right-to-try’ legislation for terminally ill patients

At State of the Union, local worker to join Tammy Baldwin’s push for infrastructure funds

Senator Baldwin visits Beaver Dam

Baldwin pushes for Buy American legislation ahead of State of the Union

Rep. Kind invites guest to State of the Union

Randy Bryce, wearing Wisconsin-made work boots, will be Mark Pocan’s State of the Union guest

Republican congressman criticizes Rep. Mark Pocan’s guest for State of the Union address

‘Very disturbed:’ Congresswoman Moore calls for investigation into Milwaukee’s lead prevention program

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore calls for federal agencies to investigate Milwaukee’s troubled lead program

Rep. Glenn Grothman willing to shut down government again rather than accept quick immigration compromise

Partisan reactions to Trump State of the Union

WI Congressional Delegation Make Statements With State Of The Union Invites

Rep. Gallagher weighs in on “positive” State of the Union address, looming shutdown

Jim Sensenbrenner chides Mark Pocan for ‘overt political stunt’

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