DC Wrap

Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly: https://forms.gle/YLYZtJWHPSt24HhZ7

Quotes of the week

The Navy lacks a clear plan to both deter Chinese aggression and build the fleet it needs to beat the PLA Navy. This needs to change.
-U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Allouez, on why the U.S. needs the power of its Navy. 

I just think it’s unfortunate that we are sort of blaming hard-working seniors for decisions that we have made in the past.
–U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore. D-Milwaukee, on raising the minimum Social Security benefit, restoring the college student benefit and increasing the COLA to better support seniors in our modern times.

This week’s news

— U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, joined 14 House members to vote against a bill, now headed to President Biden’s desk, that would make Juneteenth a national holiday. 

All of his Wisconsin colleagues voted in favor of the measure to nationally commemorate June 19 as the last day slaves were freed in the United States in 1865 after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act cleared the House last night after a 415-14 vote. 

Ahead of a unanimous vote in the Senate, Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, backed away from his votes in previous years blocking Juneteenth as a national holiday. He said he withheld his objections this time because Congress doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. But he still has some reservations. 

“Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate,” Johnson said. “While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter.”

During last year’s attempt, he tried unsuccessfully to add an amendment to take one current holiday away from federal workers in exchange for recognizing Juneteenth.

Wisconsin began recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday in 2009 when then Gov. Jim Doyle signed it into law in Milwaukee. 

Milwaukee started its own Juneteenth celebrations in 1971, making this year its 50th anniversary. 

The day is significant because it marks the day when the last remaining slaves in the country, in Galveston, Texas, received news of President Abraham Lincoln’s Jan. 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. The 250,000 formerly enslaved people received the news from Union Army soldiers more than two years later on June 19, 1865. 

“Since then, this day represents freedom for African-Americans,” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, tweeted about Juneteenth. 

 

— The Milwaukee Press Club has reposted a video of a recent event with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson that YouTube took down for violating its policy on misinformation regarding COVID-19 treatments.

During the June 3 luncheon, the Oshkosh Republican discussed the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease and posted snippets of the interview to the video-sharing site. YouTube bans content endorsing the use of the drug as a COVID-19 treatment.

YouTube took Johnson’s video down Friday and suspended his account for one week. It also removed the video of the full luncheon, held in conjunction with WisPolitics.com, from the Milwaukee Press Club’s site.

Johnson slammed YouTube’s move on Twitter, saying it put lives in danger.

“YouTube’s arrogant Covid censorship continues. How many lives will be lost as a result? How many lives could have been saved with a free exchange of medical ideas?” he wrote. “This suppression of speech should concern every American.”

The Milwaukee Press Club has now posted the video to Vimeo and embedded it on the club’s website.

The press club in a statement on its site said it hosts events with newsmakers and journalists so the public can get a better understanding of what politicians and other decision-makers are thinking. It also noted the organization doesn’t endorse the views of its guests.

“As an organization that includes journalists as well as others who strongly support our nation’s First Amendment, the Milwaukee Press Club believes it is extremely important to provide information on topics of interest regardless of their political perspective,” the statement read.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman also released a statement about YouTube’s decision to take down the video and suspend Johnson’s account earlier this week.

“While some people may disagree with Senator Ron Johnson’s politics, that is not reason enough to withhold the information he has from people who want to hear it,” said Grothman. “I don’t feel that one can truly be an informed citizen without hearing both sides of an argument. YouTube has tried to brand itself as an impartial source of information for those seeking to research topics of the day, but is denying people access to relevant information.

See the statement and watch the video (the Q&A regarding hydroxychloroquine begins at the 9-minute mark) :

https://milwaukeepressclub.org/milwaukee-press-club-re-posts-johnson-video-after-youtube-removed-it-from-clubs-page/

See U.S. Rep. Grothman’s release here.

 

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher introduced a bill this week to ban federal dollars funding any kind of vaccine passport system.

The Allouez Republican said the federal government should not fund vaccine passports because forcing members of the public to expose normally private information is a terrible idea. 

“At a minimum, Congress should ensure that federal dollars don’t go to developing systems that will limit Americans’ ability to live their lives and provide for their families.”

While some states have already banned vaccine passports, the No Vax Pass Act would ensure that federal funds could not be used by state and local governments that want to create a vaccine passport system.

See the release here.

 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin praised the Save Our Stages Act, now the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, for helping keep living music venues such as Summerfest open during the pandemic. 

In a letter to Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, the Madison Dem urged her to start disbursing the grants to event venues that have been affected by the pandemic soon.

“As supporters of the SVOG program, we urge you to take immediate action to ensure that the relief reaches eligible applicants without further delay.”

The Save Our Stages Act was passed by Congress six months ago, and it has been 51 days since the SBA has started to receive applications for grants. Lawmakers who also signed Baldwin’s letter said further delays are unacceptable and the “bureaucratic process cannot stand in the way of getting these desperately needed funds out the door.” 

See the release here.

 

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman introduced the Tax Fairness Act this week in an effort to make the U.S. tax code more equitable for working-class Americans.

He says the measure is important because it would close the carried interest tax loophole. The proposed legislation would tax carried interest as regular income. Currently, carried interest is taxed at the capital gains rate, which is a lower rate than regular income is taxed at in higher tax brackets.

“The federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The ‘carried interest loophole’ creates an unfair advantage for Wall Street over Main Street,” he said. “President Trump campaigned on a promise to close this loophole, but, for whatever reason, never did.”

See the release here.

 

— Two Assembly Republicans who traveled to Arizona to witness the partisan audit of the 2020 election told WisPolitics.com they’d like to see a similar review of Wisconsin’s presidential results as part of an ongoing Legislative Audit Bureau review.

But the ranking Dem member of the Campaign and Elections Committee called the idea of replicating the much-maligned Arizona audit in Wisconsin “ridiculous.”

Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls and chair of the Campaigns and Elections Committee, said she’s not sure the Legislative Audit Bureau has the authority to conduct such a review. But Brandtjen argued such a review was warranted considering the amount of private money that went into some of the state’s largest communities to help cover the costs of putting on the elections during a pandemic.

See more here

 

— Rep. Mark Spreitzer, ranking Dem member of the Campaign and Elections Committee, said the call for an Arizona-style review in Wisconsin is a sign that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has lost control of efforts to review the 2020 election.

Vos charged the Campaign and Elections Committee with reviewing the 2020 election, and he has hired retired law enforcement officers to work in conjunction with the committee. They will be overseen by an attorney and can ask the committee to subpoena witnesses.

Spreitzer, D-Beloit, mocked the Arizona audit, including the allegation that ballots were shipped in from Asia and that investigators were looking for bamboo fibers to prove the claim. Spreitzer said he originally thought Vos was only trying to “fan the flames of voter suppression” to justify passing a string of bills to overhaul election laws. He said if GOP members now want to pursue the conspiracy theory that ballots were manufactured, it’s a sign the effort has taken a darker turn.

Federal law requires ballots for a U.S. election to be preserved for 22 months. Under state law, ballots are considered public records and can be accessed once the period for a recount has passed.

See more here

 

— Gov. Tony Evers says he’s leaning toward vetoing a GOP bill that would cut off enhanced federal unemployment benefits of $300 a week.

“I’ll take a look at it but certainly leaning that way,” he said on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “The bill is based on who knows? There isn’t data to support this. This is something we’re seeing all across the country.”

Trade associations and chambers of commerce across Wisconsin have sent Evers letters asking him to drop the benefit. UpFront host Adrienne Pedersen asked what specific evidence he wants.

See more here

Posts of the week

ICYMI

U.S. Senate votes to designate Juneteenth a national holiday after Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson drops his objection

Sen. Baldwin Hosts Roundtable on Strategies to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes

Rep. Mark Pocan ‘just checking in’ as he tours Sauk County post-pandemic precautions

Steil ‘disappointed’ after Keystone XL pipeline expansion plan is dropped

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