DC Wrap

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

Note: There will be no DC Wrap product next week. Happy Thanksgiving!

Quotes of the week

“I don’t think President Trump has committed an impeachable offense. No president should be above the law, but they shouldn’t be below the law either.”
– U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner discussing the impeachment proceedings during an appearance on CNN.

“When I think about the economic progress of the United States over the last century, I know that poverty persists in American not because we lack resources. We have plenty of money. Having money is not the problem. Labor’s declining share of our nation’s GDP is the problem. The concentration of economic benefits at the top is the problem.”
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore during a Milwaukee press conference on her bill to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.

This week’s news

— Ahead of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday kicking off the next round of impeachment hearings, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan predicting a “75 to 80 percent likelihood” that the House will vote on impeaching President Trump by year’s end.

The Town of Vermont Dem told reporters in Madison on Monday there is “no magic timeline” on the impeachment inquiry. But he said the House hopes to vote before the new year due to other constraints, such as budget proceedings and the 2020 election cycle. 

Pocan said he believes the House will draft multiple articles of impeachment, potentially including high crimes and misdemeanors, bribery and obstruction of justice over Trump’s efforts to block members of his administration from testifying. 

He said he doesn’t agree with the argument that Trump’s attempts to coerce the Ukranian president into investigating a political rival weren’t impeachable simply because they ultimately didn’t succeed. 

“If I try to rob a bank on the (Capitol) Square here in Madison and botch it because I’m incompetent, that doesn’t mean I don’t get charged with attempted bank robbery,” Pocan said. “He clearly tried to extort Ukraine for political purposes.” 

He also said Dems are trying to keep impeachment from being “a political issue.” According to Pocan, Dems were essentially forced into the inquiry to avoid ceding more power to the executive branch. 

“If we do nothing, then we’ve set a precedent for every future president that you could do whatever you want and you won’t be accountable,” Pocan said. “So, we have to do this. Whether it has electoral pluses or minuses has to be a secondary thought.”

But Pocan said he’s surprised with most national poll numbers showing slightly less than 50 percent of the public in favor of impeachment and removal of the president. He said the numbers weren’t nearly that high at this point in the impeachment hearings of either former President Richard Nixon or former President Bill Clinton. 

Pocan then said he isn’t concerned with the latest Marquette University Law School poll numbers, which showed a dip in Wisconsinites’ support for impeachment to 40 percent from 44 percent previously.

Pocan said the numbers “are within the margin of error” and that he had issues with the way Marquette conducts its polls. He claimed they oversample Republicans to compensate for the 2016 election results where Trump beat Dem candidate Hillary Clinton, even though Marquette polls had him losing the state. 

“2016 was historic because we had a 250,000 Dem voter drop-off, and I don’t think you’re ever gonna have that again,” Pocan said. “All things equal to 2016, maybe they’re getting the right results but I don’t think that’s 2020.”

The 2nd CD Dem also slammed Republicans for criticizing Dems’ efforts on reworking the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, citing concerns over “the big wet sloppy kiss to Big Pharma” of 10-year market exclusivity protections for biologic drugs and lax environmental and labor protections enforcement language. 

“Two of the last three trade agreements we had to reopen because of this,” Pocan said on the protections enforcement language. “So we’re saying ‘why do it wrong to begin with?’”

The USMCA would replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement between the three nations. 

Pocan said the House of Representatives and the White House could be close to an agreement “but predicting Donald Trump is something I’ve given up on a while ago.” He said the Trump administration isn’t treating the trade agreement as a priority, citing weeks-long wait times for responses in negotiations. 

Pocan also said he is “not super confident” that Congress will pass its budget bills by Dec. 20, when the continuing resolution to keep the government open expires. He said he could see lawmakers extending the deadline with another continuing resolution into “February or March or so.”

“If you have that, that’s kind of a bad sign because if you’re halfway through the year with a continuing resolution. I think it’s more likely you don’t see all the work that we did this year actually happen and we’ll be starting again next year,” Pocan said. 

 

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson praised the “swift and courageous action of students, teachers, school administrators, and armed school resource officers” following officer-involved shootings at state high schools in back-to-back days.

On Tuesday morning, the Oshkosh Police Department reported an officer at Oshkosh West High School shot a student after that student stabbed the officer.

This came one day after an officer at Waukesha South High School shot a student who brought a pellet gun to campus and aimed it at another student’s head, according to an account of the incident given by the Waukesha Police Department.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said the incidents “remind us that we do not possess the capability to completely prevent someone from bringing a weapon to school.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, in a release after the incident at Waukesha South praised the swift response to the incident by students, school personnel, and first responders. 

But the congressional delegation was split on how to move forward from the shootings.

“We need more than thoughts and prayers, @SenateGOP, we need common sense gun reform that places people over profits and special interest.  #GunReformNow,” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore tweeted on Tuesday from her campaign account. 

But Johnson touted a Department of Homeland Security website that will soon go online with school safety best practices.

Let’s not let anyone’s vision of the ‘perfect’ solution prevent us from taking action that will do some good,” Johnson said in a release. 

See Sensenbrenner’s release: https://sensenbrenner.house.gov/press-releases-statements?ID=56EC20CB-0E76-48DE-9AC9-43229D6C605B

See Moore’s tweet: https://twitter.com/RepGwenMoore/status/1201633791271428099

See Johnson’s release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/u-s-sen-johnson-statement-on-wisconsin-high-school-incidents/

 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin unveiled bipartisan legislation that aims to mitigate the damage from VA accounting errors.

The bill would require the VA to assume any debt caused by its own miscalculations resulting in overpayment notices and simplify debt notices by instructing the VA to update its computer system.

According to Baldwin’s office, many of these debt overpayments are at no fault of the veteran or their dependents, but rather VA accounting errors and record mismanagement. 

“Forcing our veterans and their families to use their VA benefits for the department’s own accounting mistakes dishonors their service and sacrifice. We must do right by our veterans and protect their economic security,” Baldwin said. 

Other cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, and Kamala Harris, D-CA.

See the release: https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/veterans-debt-fairness-act

 

— U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil joined congressional colleagues in support of legislation to supplement child care costs in the first year after birth or adoption.

The bill, which would assist parents with expenses ranging from daycare to baby supplies, allows the option for parents to extend their Child Tax Credit up to $5,000 upon the birth or adoption of a child. If parents choose to take the advance, they will receive an adjusted credit of $1,500 annually over the following 10 years. 

“Working parents deserve flexibility when dealing with child care costs. The first year of a child’s life can be one of the most expensive. Our proposal gives parents the option to receive additional support following the birth or adoption of a child,” Steil said in a release.

This came after Dems earlier this year introduced similar legislation that would decrease the share of income spent on child care services for middle and low-income families. The bill, which would also increase funding for preschool programs, was backed by U.S. Reps Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan. 

See Steil’s release: https://steil.house.gov/media/press-releases/steil-co-introduces-solution-help-working-families

See the Dem bill fact sheet: https://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/CCFWFA%20Fact%20Sheet%20116th%20Congress%20FINAL.pdf

Posts of the week

 

ICYMI

Rep. Gwen Moore backs expanded tax credit
3 Democrats plan to take on Rep. Glenn Grothman in 6th Congressional District
Sen. Baldwin calls out Trump administration for flip flopping on e-cigarette crackdown
Jake Tapper Grills GOP Rep.: Are You OK With Future Presidents Asking Foreign Countries to Investigate Rivals?
Congressman Mark Pocan Says US House Must Impeach Trump, Regardless Of Political Fallout
Impeachment process a hot topic nationally as well as for readers of PolitiFact Wisconsin

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