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
“I think our economy is just poised to take off. There is such pent up demand, there is a dramatic increase in savings and disposable income, it’s going to take off on it’s own.”
-U.S. Sen. Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on why he believes universal direct COVID-19 relief payments are not needed.
“I joined a bipartisan majority of the Senate who voted that the impeachment trial is in fact constitutional, because it is. With that settled, let’s focus on the facts & the truth. Trump is charged with inciting a violent insurrection against the will of the people and Congress.”
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, in a tweet on Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
This week’s news
— U.S Rep. Gwen Moore praised her fellow House Ways and Means Committee members for additions to the latest COVID-19 relief package she said will help people cope with hunger, evictions and racism.
The Milwaukee Dem in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing yesterday on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget said she’s proud of her fellow committee members’ work on their $941 billion portion of the latest $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.
The proposals include another round of direct stimulus checks, this time $1,400, as well as more subsidized healthcare coverage, child care assistance, supplemental unemployment benefits and refundable tax credits.
Moore also said economic issues disproportionately affected people of color before the pandemic, which only exacerbated those problems.
“COVID-19 is not racist, but it certainly has elucidated the structural racism within our country and that not all boats are being lifted evenly.”
She added that Black people have died at one and a half times the rate of white people despite the fact that non Hispanic white people make up the majority of that country’s population, according to COVID Tracking Project numbers on race.
“Today we’re making clear that all Americans, and not just the 1 percent or the well-off, can make it through these trying and turbulent times,” Moore said. “Our economy is just stuck in a ditch, and today we’re making a comprehensive approach to help get individuals and families out.”
Moore added that those provisions specifically help address child hunger. Citing a September Feeding Wisconsin statement, Moore said about one in four Wisconsin children would experience food insecurity by the end of the year.
She said the pandemic has “thrown millions of Americans out of work and into food insecurity and facing eviction” and she’s “so proud of the measures” the committee has taken to address those issues.
Watch the committee hearing.
See more on the committee proposals.
See the COVID Tracking Project numbers.
See the Feeding Wisconsin statement.
— U.S. Sen. Johnson during a Senate Homeland Security hearing on White House Budget Director nominee Neera Tanden said he was concerned huge pandemic rescue packages could overheat the economy.
The Oshkosh Republican expressed concerns during the committee meeting this week about rising interest rates, inflation and the U.S. economy’s position as the global reserve currency being threatened by Chinese and other countries’ economic growth.
He said he is concerned about increased personal savings and more expendable income for people flooding the markets after receiving trillions of dollars from COVID-19 relief packages “overheating our economy.”
Tanden said she thinks it’s important to be concerned about the country’s long term economic health, adding “as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, interest rates are something that I would monitor very closely.”
She added that the Federal Reserve can help control interest rates, which would also help keep inflation down. “We have to be concerned about inflationary pressures, but the real challenge right now is that we can face the potential of significant scarring in this economy and I believe the President recognizes it’s vital that we act,” Tanden said.
Still, Johnson said “I think the economy is just poised to take off,” adding “it’s just going to take off on its own.”
Johnson added that people need direct economic relief, but he favors a more targeted approach.
“There are still people suffering; there is no doubt about that,” Johnson said. “But I think that speaks more to the fact that the $4 trillion we spent wasn’t directed very well.”
Tanden said the targeted relief approach already exists in assistance programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance, but “one of the benefits of the CARES process was that we learned that direct payments did insulate a lot of the suffering, and it is sometimes hard to target our resources to the families who are struggling.”
See the hearing.
— A coalition of Wisconsin activist groups demanding immediate, direct relief launched a Super Bowl ad slamming the two-term senator for his reaction to pandemic problems.
The group, called #ReliefNOW and led by Tax March, aired the 30-second ad slamming U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson for his statements against direct stimulus payments to all Americans during the Super Bowl.
The ad said wealthy people gained far more than people who are struggling to make ends meet and called for Congress to pass at least some form of COVID-19 relief bill immediately.
In addition to the Super Bowl ad, the group in a statement said it will sponsor a football-themed billboard truck with a similar message that can be seen around Johnson’s Milwaukee office.
“The government must act and pass a comprehensive emergency COVID bill immediately, and I urge Sen. Johnson to support it,” Milwaukee Area Technical College teacher Luz Sosa said in the statement. “When it came to tax cuts for Wisconsin’s eight billionaires, Sen. Johnson was there. Now, he must fight for relief for the rest of us and stop claiming ‘we simply can’t afford’ it.”
Partners of the #ReliefNOW campaign:
*A Better Wisconsin Together;
*All In Wisconsin;
*Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC);
*Citizen Action Wisconsin;
*Main Street Action;
*Protect Our Care Wisconsin.
See the Super Bowl ad.
— The U.S. Senate, with support from Wisconsin’s two senators, confirmed Denis McDonough as the next Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs.
Senators in an 87-7 vote this week confirmed the former White House chief of staff during the Obama administration as the new secretary of Veteran’s Affairs for the Biden administration. McDonough also served as the National Security Council chief of staff and deputy National Security advisor before being promoted as Obama’s top aide in 2013.
Both senators from Wisconsin voted in favor of confirming McDonough, helping him become Biden’s seventh cabinet-level appointee to pass Senate confirmation.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, tweeted her support for McDonough before the vote.
“He is an experienced public servant who knows how to deliver results and I know he will work hard to get the job done for our veterans and their families,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, also voted in favor.
A Johnson spokesman told WisPolitics the former chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voted to confirm McDonough because he generally believes presidents should have a team of advisors he can trust.
See the Baldwin tweet.
See the roll call.
— Johnson was also one of 11 Republicans to vote against the bipartisan organizing resolution for the impeachment trial of former President Trump.
Johnson then joined most Republicans in opposition to moving ahead with the impeachment.
Johnson in recent weeks has argued it is unconstitutional to try a former president.
See the roll call.
— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, of La Crosse, is one of 47 Dems on the NRCC’s target list for the 2020 election cycle.
Donald Trump won western Wisconsin’s 3rd CD by 4.5 percentage points in 2016, when Kind was unopposed for reelection, and by 4.7 points in November as the La Crosse Dem won his tightest contest since 1996.
Kind beat Republican Derrick Van Orden by 2.7 percentage points, or 10,346 votes, and the former Navy Seal is widely expected to look at running again.
Still, the 3rd CD also could change significantly in the next round of redistricting.
See the NRCC release.
— President Biden will be in Milwaukee on Tuesday for a town hall with CNN.
The network announced the event will air live from Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater at 7 p.m. Central time and will run at the same time that Gov. Tony Evers plans to deliver his budget address. Evers announced plans in December for when he would be formally introducing his two-year spending plan, a centerpiece to his possible reelection bid.
Biden’s first official trip since being sworn in will be moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The network said the audience will be invitation-only and socially distanced.
See more here.
Posts of the week
This is great news for our community. The hardworking men and women at Marinette Marine are the best shipbuilders in the world, and this project helps ensure they have the facilities they need to produce high-quality ships for generations to come.https://t.co/gLVmDM5t9g
— Rep. Mike Gallagher (@RepGallagher) February 10, 2021
Proud to once again be named to the National Rural Broadband Task Force. Now more than ever, it's critical that communities across WI have access to high-speed, affordable internet. I'll keep working to close the rural-digital divide for all Wisconsinites. https://t.co/uDAO1eGX3c
— Rep. Ron Kind (@RepRonKind) February 9, 2021
View this post on Instagram
February is Career & Technical Education Month in Wisconsin.
Too many politicians don’t recognize the value of career and technical education, but these students are the future of #WI manufacturing and other skilled professions and should be celebrated and supported. #WICTEMonth pic.twitter.com/x9Jn0afZrg
— Rep. Glenn Grothman (@RepGrothman) February 9, 2021
I visited KANDU Industries in Janesville. KANDU provides job opportunities & a sense of community to those with disabilities who want to work. The workers I met with today are proud of their work and benefit from KANDU!
— Bryan Steil (@RepBryanSteil) February 8, 2021
— Rep. Tom Tiffany (@RepTiffany) February 8, 2021