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 think it’s proof of what we’ve long known, the primary victims of the brutality, the recklessness, the sheer incompetence of the Iranian regime, are the Iranian people themselves.”
-U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay talking to CNN about a passenger plane the Iranian military accidentally shot down, hours after bombing a U.S. base in Iraq.

“What we don’t want to happen is presidents using old (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists authority) to go to war for other purposes … Constitutional authority is given to Congress (to declare war), we need to take that back so any president, Democrat or Republican understands they have to come before Congress.”
-U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont to PBS Wisconsin on the War Powers Resolution that was passed in the House of Representatives.

This week’s news

— Making his first stop of 2020 in a state that many believe is key to his reelection hopes, President Trump on Tuesday touted his trade policies as a win for Wisconsin.

Critics have suggested Trump’s trade policies, particularly toward China, are at least partly to blame for the dairy farms Wisconsin has lost during his administration and for weak spots in the manufacturing industry.

But Trump told supporters at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena his new trade deals will benefit the state.

Trump called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal poised for Senate approval “a giant victory for Wisconsin workers, farmers and dairy producers.”

And he said on Wednesday he will sign phase one of a trade deal with China, “massively boosting exports of products made and produced right here in the great state of Wisconsin.”

He noted America and Wisconsin are seeing record-low unemployment rates. The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.8 percent in April — the lowest it’s been in state data that goes back to 1976 — but has since ticked up to 3.3 percent in November.

“In Wisconsin, the unemployment rate has reached its lowest level in history,” Trump said, adding “that’s because we got a lot of help from a guy named Scott Walker,” referencing the former GOP guv who lost his reelection bid in 2018, and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh.

Trump’s appearance was just blocks from the Fiserv Forum, where Dems will meet in July for their national convention to formally nominate their selection to face the president. It was his first stop in six months in the state he won in 2016 by fewer than 23,000 votes. And it coincided with the final Dem debate ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

During the roughly 90-minute speech, Trump praised Wisconsin GOP officials and urged the crowd to back conservative state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who is up for a full 10-year term in the April election. He said Kelly “will defend the rule of law in Wisconsin.”

About a third of the way through his address, he called Wisconsin’s GOP congressional delegation up to the stage, along with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Senate President Roger Roth and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. He also invited on the stage former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy and Reince Priebus, who served as chair of the Wisconsin and national Republican parties before becoming Trump’s first chief of staff. The president fired Priebus six months into his term.

“This is a great group of Republican people, and most importantly, it’s a great group of winners,” Trump said.

Trump handed the podium over to Johnson, who praised Trump’s work ethic.

“I have never seen a man work harder, so dedicated, in love with America,” Johnson said. “That’s why we need to see him win a second term.”

See more coverage of the rally on WisPolitics.com. 


— The presidential race remains nip-and-tuck in Wisconsin with the latest Marquette University Law School Poll finding President Trump within the margin of error when paired against four potential Dem rivals.

Former Vice President Joe Biden also continued to be the top choice for those who expect to vote in the state’s April 7 primary.

In the presidential matchups, Biden was backed by 49 percent, while Trump was supported by 45 percent. In last month’s poll, it was Biden plus-1.

For others:

*Bernie Sanders 47, Trump 46 after Trump was plus-2 last month.

*Trump 48, Elizabeth Warren 45 after Trump was plus-1 last month.

*Trump 46, Pete Buttigieg 44 after Trump was plus-1 last month.

Biden continued to lead his party’s primary with 23 percent of those who say they intend to vote in the Dem primary identifying him as their first choice. Sanders was next at 19 percent, while Buttigieg was at 15 and Warren 14.

Mike Bloomberg and Andrew Yang were at 6 percent each, up from 3 percent last month.

Franklin noted the top tier has been fairly consistent in recent Marquette polling, both in order of support and their numbers. Warren’s number dropped 2 points, but that’s well within the margin of error.

“It’s been a really strikingly stable contest during the fall here as the order has stayed pretty much the same and the actual percentages have not changed much,” Franklin said.

On the impeachment front, 47 percent of Wisconsin voters approved of the House voting to impeach Trump, while 49 percent disapproved.

Meanwhile, 44 percent say the Senate should vote to convict Trump and remove him from office, compared to 49 percent who say he should be acquitted.

Trump’s job approval also continues to tick up, though Franklin noted the movement has been within the margin of error.

Forty-eight percent approved of the job Trump is doing, while 49 percent disapproved. That’s a slight improvement from a 47-50 split last month.

In January, Trump’s split was 44-52, and the latest poll is the first time since March 2017 that his job disapproval number was below 50 percent.

See the full poll results:


— Wisconsin lawmakers split along party lines as the U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution aimed at limiting future military action against Iran without congressional approval.

The non-binding resolution was designed to reign in the president’s authority to take military action against foreign countries. The move comes on the heels of President Trump authorizing a drone strike killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Iran responded by attacking a U.S. base in Iraq with targeted missile strikes days later, which drew calls from both sides of the aisle in D.C. to de-escalate the conflict.

The delegation’s Dems largely hailed the move.

“We are not convinced that the president acted correctly and that’s why Congress, after quite a long period of giving up our jurisdiction, take [WPR powers] back and should be done in a bipartisan way,” U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said in a news conference.

Pocan was one of the two Wisconsin Dems who cosponsored the resolution, along with U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse. 

“No one wants another prolonged U.S. military involvement in the Middle East,” Kind said in a release. “If the president wants to continue escalating an already tense situation with Iran, then his administration must come to Congress and present a clear, thought-out strategy.”

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, called Trump’s actions “ill advised” in a release, urging the passage of the resolution before “disastrous unintended consequences for American security” were set in motion. 

GOP members, meanwhile, voted unanimously against the resolution in the House. 

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, came out strongly against the resolution. 

He slammed Dems for “rushing to use the WPR to score political points,” and noted because the measure was not a joint resolution, it wouldn’t hold the force of law even if it passed the GOP-controlled Senate. 

“This resolution has nothing to do with the merits of our actions against Iran’s foremost terrorist, but rather, political messaging,” Gallagher said.

The Green Bay Republican also cited a study from the Congressional Research Service that found only one of 168 reports required by the original War Powers resolution created in 1973 have triggered a congressional withdrawal of troops. 

“This is not the record of an effective tool to restore congressional war powers,” he said.

After the resolution was passed in the House, it was sent to the Senate where key revisions were made by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. 

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com, that he was concerned the move would “hamstring a president,” 

“Not just this one, but future [presidents] as well,” said the Oshkosh Republican. 

Johnson’s said his main concern was that presidents would “have a very difficult time running to Congress” to try and authorize military force when time is running short, or when most of the intel the president is using is classified.

Dem leaders in Washington indicated they had the votes in the Senate to pass the resolution. A vote could be scheduled as soon as next Tuesday. If the revised resolution clears the Senate, it could then be sent back to the House, and if it passes a second time would become law.

See Rep. Moore’s statement here.
See the news conference with Pocan here.
See the War Powers resolution here.
See Rep. Kind’s statement here.
See Rep. Gallagher’s statement here.
See U.S. Sen. Johnson’s interview here.


–U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil touted a bill that would help law enforcement agencies secure funding for devices that screen for fentanyl and other dangerous drugs.

The Providing Officers With Electronic Resources —  or POWER — Act would establish a yearly grant for law enforcement agencies to train officers on how to use “chemical screening devices” that would alert officers to fentanyl in confiscated materials before they come into contact with it. 

Under the proposal, agencies would be required to submit an application to the Attorney General’s office to obtain a portion of the $20 million grant.

“As I meet with our police officers, sheriffs, and first responders, issues concerning fentanyl are front of mind,” Steil, R-Janesville, said in release. “We must ensure law enforcement and first responders have the tools to keep themselves safe from exposure.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fentanyl overdoses and deaths are on the rise — nearly 30,000 people died from fentanyl in 2017, a 47 percent increase from the year prior.

See the Steil’s press release here.
See the CDC page on fentanyl here.
See the proposed bill here.


— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin joined two colleagues in demanding Boeing’s board of directors cancel a $7 million bonus payout to its new CEO.

A company filing to the Securities and Exchange commission showed David Calhoun, the company’s latest chief executive, would be eligible for the bonus if he returned the 737 MAX to service. 

Recent reports show Boeing officials mismanaged development of the 737 MAX, which some charge led to two plane crashes that killed 346 passengers in late 2018 and early 2019.

Baldwin and her peers on the letter — U.S. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. — said the bonus “continues a pattern of corporate decision-making” which prioritizes “profit over the wellbeing of the flying public.”

“This reward represents an inappropriate incentive for Mr. Calhoun to pressure regulators and attempt to rush the 737 MAX back into the sky before its safety is guaranteed,” they wrote. “We urge you to cancel this incentive payment immediately and cease all efforts to rush the 737 MAX back into the sky.”

See the Senators’ letter here.
See the released Boeing employee emails here.


Posts of the week


Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said he fears ‘Democrats will destroy this country’
Baldwin Believes USMCA and Impeachment Can Be Handled at The Same Time
Rep. Gallagher: U.S. Needs More Agile Forces in the Pacific
Gwen Moore: Donald Trump has a lot to answer for in Milwaukee
Steil shares selfie with Wisconsin Republicans on Air Force One


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