‘UpFront’: Johnson hopeful second government shutdown can be averted

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said the most recent government shutdown “accomplished nothing,” and expressed hope a second shutdown could be averted.

In an interview that aired Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said members of the conference committee who are negotiating a deal to keep the government open are “sounding more and more optimistic” that an agreement will be reached with the White House. “UpFront” is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

The sticking point has been President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for construction of a wall on the southern border. Democratic leaders have been unwilling to allocate money for a wall, but Johnson said that figure is “more than reasonable.”

“Do you think he’d be willing to sign, or go along with something that would provide, for example, less than $5.7 billion for sections of the border wall?” Gousha asked.

“I have no doubt that there are laws on the books the president can probably start pointing to, pockets of money that have been over-appropriated, that he may be able to access. So, my guess is he’ll probably sign the appropriations bill, and then look at some method of funding what he really ran on as a candidate,” Johnson said.

He said an agreement could include more money for several aspects of border security – better barriers, technology and more personnel “particularly at the ports of entry where all the drugs are flowing through.”

Johnson also said ongoing tariffs are hurting Wisconsin manufacturers, farmers and consumers, and costing jobs.

He said he shared Trump’s goal of fair and reciprocal trade agreements, and that he “didn’t really have a big problem with using tariffs as a negotiating tactic to bring people to the table.”

“But the president said, (Commerce Secretary) Wilbur Ross said, that once we have the new NAFTA, the USMCA signed, the tariffs would go away. They haven’t gone away. I am concerned about that,” he said.

“Tariffs are a tax on American consumers,” Johnson said.

Also on the program, Candice Owley, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, discussed her organization’s involvement in a lawsuit over Republican-passed laws limiting the authority of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.

The group is part of a coalition of unions suing over laws passed in December’s extraordinary session, and signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker just before he left office. The laws essentially keep Evers and Kaul from disengaging Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking to overturn the federal Affordable Care Act.

Owley said her members are concerned about protecting the ACA and expanding Medicaid. She said the new laws were “changes in the middle of the night, with really no hearings, really bad politics.”

“Bad policy is set like that,” she said.

See more from the show: https://www.wisn.com/upfront

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