Contact:  Brit Schiel

(BROOKFIELD, WI) –  Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Dean of Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation, weighed in on Congressman Mark Pocan’s revelation on Twitter that his guest at President Trump’s State of the Union Address tomorrow will be Randy Bryce, a Democrat challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Sensenbrenner:  “I cannot recall a time when political discourse has been so acrimonious. That is why it is crucial now more than ever for members of Congress to stay focused on addressing the problems of our nation, and set a positive example for the American people.

Tomorrow, President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address, a historic event that will capture the attention of our nation. Our commander in chief is given this opportunity to present his priorities for America’s future.  The Founder’s recognized this important function by including it in the US Constitution.

As the President addresses the American people, he does so from the House Chamber, a place rich with history. Members of Congress are afforded the opportunity to invite a guest to join them at the speech.  These special guests are seated in the House Gallery to witness the speech.  Often the opportunity goes to a constituent or a family member, or even a lucky staffer.  Members take great care in deciding who receives this guest ticket.

It is not a venue to score cheap political points.

Unfortunately, in a disheartening attempt to cash in on Speaker Paul Ryan’s prominent role in American government, Congressman Mark Pocan has invited Randy Bryce, Speaker Ryan’s Democrat opponent, to be his guest.

This is an attempt to sow political discourse and deepen a divide in an already fractured political environment.  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.

As the Dean of the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation, I expect my colleagues to maintain Wisconsin values and treat each other with respect, civility, and deference.  Unfortunately, Congressman Pocan has already disrespected Speaker Ryan by holding town hall meetings in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, a District in which he was not elected.

By using the State of the Union to prop up a campaign in the hopes of getting a rise out of Speaker Ryan, Congressman Pocan erodes the tradition of basic comity in the Wisconsin delegation.

I call on Congressman Pocan to reconsider the blatant stunt of inviting candidate Randy Bryce as his guest.”

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