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

“Had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election, and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters, I might’ve been a little concerned.”
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, expanding on his statement that he did not feel threatened during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots and protests.  

“A violent insurrection against our Democracy is not showing you ‘love this country’ and when a Capitol police officer is killed and over 140 are injured that is not showing you ‘truly respect law enforcement.’ That’s why over 300 rioters have been charged with breaking the law.”
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, tweeting in response to Johnson’s comments on the riots and protests.

This week’s news

— UW-Milwaukee political science Prof. Mordecai Lee says the divide within the GOP between those who support Donald Trump and those who oppose him will likely dominate congressional politics in Wisconsin. 

Lee told WisPolitics.com in a video interview that zealous Trump supporters are not going to fade away from the political landscape and that means Republican politicians who need their votes will keep listening to them. He said those politicians know they will need support from every Republican voter to win future elections and primaries. 

“It doesn’t take very many emails or phone calls to know that the Republican base, the people they need to win a primary, are still Trump supporters, and therefore they [Republican representatives] are Trump supporters,” Lee said. 

Lee said even Republican House members who opposed at least some past Trump views such as U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Allouez, have walked back from those talking points in order to help their reelection chances.

In a video Tweet during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, Gallagher asked former President Trump to call off the riots. “This is banana republic crap that we’re watching happen,” he said. 

He also voted against House objections to Presidential Election certifications from Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Later, Gallagher voted against impeaching Trump for the second time. 

However, Lee said that same kind of support for Trump could be detrimental for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, if he decides to campaign using his Trump ties as a pillar. 

Dems will likely use Johnson’s support for Trump against him when he is up for reelection in 2022, working to divide and conquer by slamming Johnson and attempting to pull as many moderate Republican voters away from his base as possible, Lee said. 

He added both parties have drifted further away from the center over the past decades, especially the Republican Party, and the more partisan nature after that shift has led to less ideological driving forces behind both parties. 

Watch the interview.


— Gallagher yesterday in a video tweet slammed both parties in Congress for increasing their use of earmarks.

After Gallagher voted against the use of earmarks in a House Republican Conference ruling that followed a closed-door vote to bring back the use of earmarks on bills for unrelated spending, he said both Dems and Republicans will only bring more distrust in Congress from the American people with the increased use.

The Allouez Republican said Congress does not need any more help spending money after passing trillions of dollars in the past two pandemic relief bills. 

“Earmarks turn Congress from a lawmaking body, into a grant approval-making agency,” he said. “It’s no surprise that the American people have lost faith in their government and their institutions.” 

“This is bipartisan corruption,” he said. “And it represents a swamp getting far swampier, so just say ‘no’ to earmarks.” 

See the tweet.


— Johnson is again under fire for comments he made about the violent protest at the Capitol Jan. 6, this time for saying he wasn’t worried about the crowd that stormed the building but would’ve been if they’d be Black Lives Matter protesters or antifa.

Critics charged the Oshkosh Republican’s comments had racial overtones because the crowd that broke into the Capitol was overwhelmingly white while many BLM protesters are Black.

The Dem group American Bridge 21st Century first flagged the comments Johnson made to syndicated radio host Joe Pagliarulo.

“I knew those were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said of the Jan. 6 violent protest. “Now, had the tables been turned, and Joe — this is going to get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa, I might have been a little concerned.”

See more here


— Johnson also told conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna this week “if I run for anything, it’s not going to be for governor.”

Johnson has been weighing whether to seek a third term in 2022 after he pledged in 2016 that he’d only serve two.

He told reporters at the 2019 GOP state convention that he wasn’t ruling out anything about 2022 when it came to a run for guv or a third term in the Senate. “Never say never,” Johnson said at the time.

See more here


— U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil yesterday introduced a bill to stop current federal prison inmates from receiving money from the recently passed COVID-19 relief bill. 

The Janesville Republican said sending money to those prisoners does not help people truly hurt by COVID-19 and they don’t need the money because they do not have to pay rent or worry about losing their job because of COVID-19. 

“Regardless of ideology or political party, we should all agree that sending taxpayer-funded checks to prisoners has nothing to do with coronavirus relief,” Steil said. 

There are 911 inmates at the only federal prison in Wisconsin, Federal Correctional Institute Oxford, located in Adams County, according to the Bureau of Prisons. 

Over 200 inmates in federal prisons across the country have died from COVID-19, according to the BOP. 

See the release.


— The Democratic National Committee is running a new ad on broadcast TV in Milwaukee that features President Biden touting the COVID-19 bill he signed last week.

The ad also will run on national cable, a spokeswoman said.

The party also placed a billboard ad along I-94 in Milwaukee knocking Johnson for opposing the bill. The billboard reads that “help is here” with “$1,400 checks & shots in arms.” The other half reads, “No thanks to Senator Ron Johnson who voted no.”

See more here


— The Dem group Opportunity Wisconsin has added a new 15-second digital ad to its six-figure buy targeting Johnson for his opposition to the COVID stimulus bill.

The digital buy is in addition to a $1 million TV campaign the group previously laid down targeting Johnson, R-Oshkosh.

The new digital ad asks if viewers saw the news that Johnson voted against $1,400 relief check and the “support Wisconsin families need to get through this pandemic.”

See more here


— Wisconsin is getting federal support for a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Gov. Tony Evers says.

FEMA will coordinate staffing support to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Wisconsin has committed to providing at least 7,000 weekly vaccine doses from the state’s allocation for the site.

“We truly appreciate this much-needed support from our federal partners at FEMA that comes at a critical time when Wisconsin is receiving more vaccine and we need more vaccinators getting shots into arms,” said Evers. “This mass vaccination clinic can help with the larger population while allowing our partners at the city and county levels to focus on getting the vaccine to more vulnerable populations in harder to reach areas of their communities.”

See more here


— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin reintroduced a bill to help close the health insurance coverage gap for children born with disabilities.

The Madison Dem announced she is reintroducing the bipartisan Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act in the Senate. The bill would ensure children born with disabilities receive health insurance coverage for needed treatments and procedures.

The bill was also introduced in the House, where it has bipartisan support.

See more here


— A pair of Dem-backed ads praised U.S. Rep. Ron Kind for his support of the COVID-19 relief bill. 

House Majority Forward, a PAC that backs Dems, is up with a new TV ad praising U.S. Rep. Ron Kind for “breaking through Washington gridlock to get Wisconsin back on track” with the COVID-19 relief bill.

The group said it’s part of a $1.4 million buy across nine congressional districts.

It’s also the latest group to run ads in Wisconsin on the $1.9 trillion bill. The DCCC has done digital ads praising the La Crosse Dem after his vote in favor of the bill, while the conservative American Action Network targeted him with spots critical of his support.

The DCCC spot comes after some GOP groups have targeted Kind over the stimulus bill and reopening schools.

See more on the HMF ad here

See more on the DCCC ad here


— The conservative American Action Network, which has knocked Kind on issues such as school reopening and the COVID-19 bill, is doing a new digital ad hitting the La Crosse Dem on border security.

The digital display ad reads, “Stop the Biden border crisis. Tell Rep. Kind we need border security now!”

AAN is doing similar ads in 15 other House districts as part of an effort the group said is in the mid-five figures.

See the ad.


— Johnson’s vote against confirming Deb Haaland as next secretary of Interior was the only vote against a Biden nominee from Wisconsin’s Senate delegation this week. 

Baldwin joined colleagues voting 51-40 to confirm Haaland as the first Native American secretary of Interior. 


— Johnson and Baldwin both voted in favor of confirming Isabella Guzman as next administrator of the Small Business Administration and Katherine Tai as next United States trade representative. 

Guzman received an 81-17 vote.

Tai received a 98-0 vote. 


— Carrie Lee Nelson, widow of former governor and U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, died Monday of congestive pulmonary disease. She was 98.

Carrie, who met Gaylord while she was in the Army nurse corps and he was a lieutenant, had been living in Kensington, Md.

She is survived by two sons, Gaylord Jr. and Jeffrey; and a daughter, Tia.

A memorial service will be held at a later date, and she will be buried next to her husband in Clear Lake.

See more here.

Posts of the week



‘A heartbreaking St. Patrick’s Day’: Gov. Tony Evers, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and others react to the killings at Roundy’s in Oconomowoc

Quiet no more: Bryan Steil goes from background Trump supporter to vocal Biden critic

WATCH: Rep. Glenn Grothman responds to accusations of racism in 1-on-1

GOP Men Are Most Likely To Say They’ll Refuse COVID-19 Vaccine

‘It is beyond racist’: Wisconsin leaders respond to Ron Johnson’s comments on Capitol Riot

‘Everything has changed and nothing has changed’: Baldwin, Pocan adjust to new power structure

State Debate: As aid checks arrive, James Rowen pens a letter Wisconsin GOP can send constituents

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