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

“I made clear that the President’s tweets were wrong and Congress needs to get back to work. Yet today, the debate on the House floor was filled with hyper-partisan rhetoric about a resolution that does nothing to solve the problems facing our nation…Congress should do its job.”
– Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, said in a tweet blasting Congress for its House resolution denouncing the president’s recent tweets aimed at four freshmen congresswomen of color as racist. See the tweet here.

“We do need to change our laws. Primarily, we need to change that initial hurdle rate on asylum claims. Nobody fully knows, but the best estimate is only about 15% of the people who are coming in from Central America over the last five years actually have a valid asylum claim.”
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” regarding his ideas for possible ways to address the influx of immigration at the southern border. See the release here.

This week’s news

— Rep. Mike Gallagher was the only GOP member of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to directly address President Donald Trump’s tweets attacking four Dem congresswomen of color. 

But the Green Bay Republican ultimately voted against a measure condemning the comments and a motion seeking to remove Trump from office.

Gallagher on July 15 highlighted a slate of important proposals that will come to the House floor and lamented that Trump comments will inevitably mean that “the only questions we will get asked, the only questions that will be debated on TV and social media, will be about tweets we can all agree were wrong.”

“Instead of mean tweeting, let’s do our job and work to fix the looming budget crisis, a broken healthcare system, and a broken immigration system,” he said.

Trump on the morning of July 14 targeted Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan. Though three of the four women were born in the United States, Trump in a series of tweets called on them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Those tweets drew a vote on the House floor on July 16 on a measure condemning the president’s language as “racist.” The Wisconsin delegations’ three Dems joined their Dem colleagues, four Republicans and Independent Justin Amash of Michigan in passing the resolution 240-187.

See Trump’s tweets:

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan called the House resolution condemning the president’s tweets aimed at four of his Dem colleagues a start, adding the “racist tropes that he put out there have absolutely no reason to exist.”

The House passed a resolution on Tuesday that denounced as racist the president’s suggestion that the four congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of them were born in the U.S., while the fourth is a naturalized citizen.

Pocan told reporters on a conference call on July 16 that the president’s tweets going after members of Congress in “such an unbelievably racist way” is only part of the problem. He said Trump’s entire border policy is racist, because it’s aimed at “stopping people with brown and black skin from coming into the U.S.”

“Until we can change all of that, we have a person who appears to be a racist who is the president of the United States,” Pocan said.

Pocan spoke with reporters on a conference call on Tuesday returning from Florida, where he toured an influx facility for unaccompanied minors detained at the southern border. The children are there until they can be reunited with an approved family member or friend pending immigration proceedings.

Pocan said he didn’t see the deplorable conditions that others have viewed at detention centers around the country, including one in Texas last week. Still, he spoke with four migrant girls, one who told him she’d been there more than 60 days, but officials for the first time last week made an effort to connect with a family member living in the U.S.

Pocan said the private facility he toured had 2,700 kids at its peak, but was down to 1,300. Still, he said at $750 per day per child, those running the facility have little incentive to speed up the process to reunite the kids with family members.

Pocan said he questioned those at the facility why it cost $750 a day for each child and was told a significant piece of the cost was what it took to establish the facilities. But now that they’re up and running, he questioned why the costs remained the same.

“This is warehousing children in defense of an indefensible policy,” he said.

— Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, joined Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers in the House in voting against a measure that would have begun the process of ousting President Trump from office.

The resolution from Texas Dem Rep. Al Green sought to spur on impeachment proceedings against the president for a string of tweets targeting four congresswomen of color that he called “impeachable offenses.”

Green said in a floor speech that the measure was “our opportunity to punish (Trump)” and called on his colleagues in the House to begin the process of removing him from office.

But the body voted overwhelmingly against moving forward with the resolution: 137 Democrats were joined by all 194 Republicans who were present in the chamber and Independent Justin Amash of Michigan in voting to table measure indefinitely.

Of the Wisconsin delegation, only Dem U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Town of Vermont and Gwen Moore of Milwaukee voted against tabling.

— GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, considering a run for guv in 2022 and reconsidering his pledge to serve only two terms in the Senate, has upped his fundraising pace slightly while he ponders his future.

The Oshkosh Republican’s latest campaign finance report shows $58,497 in receipts during the second quarter. He also spent $20,901 and finished June with $332,583 in the bank.

During the first three months of 2019, Johnson listed $28,959 in receipts.

Johnson has said his intention remains to not run for the Senate again in 2022, though the results of the 2018 elections changed his calculus. Among the options Johnson has said he’s considering is a bid for guv in 2022. Candidates are barred from converting their federal accounts to a state one in Wisconsin, though they are allowed to transfer the maximum PAC contribution, which is $86,000.

See Johson’s report:

— Johnson also spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” calling the present situation at the southern border “completely out of control.” 

The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said that the goal of current policy at addressing immigration at the southern border should be to reduce the flow of migrants altogether.

“One of the things we have to do is raise that initial bar in terms of claiming asylum. Hopefully, set up centers in Guatemala, in Central America, so people can claim refugee status,” Johnson said. “We can’t take all comers.”

Johnson added he’s currently working on a pilot program in the Senate called Operation Safe Return with the aim of more quickly and accurately determining families that the U.S. believes don’t have a valid asylum claim and returning them to Central America.

See the release:

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse,  introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at making alternative energy options more affordable for Wisconsin dairy farmers.

Alongside U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-NY, Kind introduced the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act that would provide tax incentives for farmers and rural electric cooperatives who invest in biogas technology.

“By providing these tax incentives, we are making it more affordable and accessible for Wisconsin dairy farmers to pursue biogas technology and ensuring they can continue to create jobs and grow their businesses, while protecting our natural resources,” Kind said.

The legislation would work to promote investment by allowing biodigesters to qualify for an energy tax credit that is equal to the 30% tax credit for solar energy. This would allow for dairy farms to insulate biodigesters on their farms at a lower cost.

See the release:

— Gallagher and Kind introduced a resolution recognizing veteran-to-veteran programs in Wisconsin this week.

The resolution would recognize the value of veteran-to-veteran mentorship programs. Wisconsin has a number of established veteran mentorship programs which work to connect returning service members with veterans who have transitioned back to civilian life.

“When I left military service, I saw firsthand how difficult the transition to civilian life can be,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher. “Veteran-to-veteran relationships provide returning service members with a trusted resource as they reintegrate back into civilian life, and shine light on what can otherwise be a process filled with feelings of confusion and isolation.”

La Crosse Area Veterans Mentor Program and Bravo Company, N.E.W. Veterans Battalion also released statements of support for the resolution.

See the resolution here: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/reps-kind-and-gallagher-introduce-resolution-recognizing-veteran-to-veteran-programs-in-wisconsin/


Posts of the week


U.S. Sen. Johnson teams up with Democratic presidential candidate to ‘Ban the Box’

Immigration, social security and tariffs among the top concerns at Steil listening session

How Wisconsin members of the House voted on resolution condemning president’s tweets

Mark Pocan’s visit to Florida migrant detention facility sparks more questions 

Tech Giants Draw Fire in Congress

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