Note: This DC Wrap issue was resent because of a distribution issue with the initial launch.
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
“Putin is a brutal dictator who has repeatedly violated international law since coming to power and he should be held accountable.”
-U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, supporting a resolution to condemn Russian war crimes.
“Stop leading from behind. Actually provide the type of weaponry – the Stingers, the Javelins, the drones would be helpful. I was fully supportive of the MiG jets. Give the brave people of Ukraine all the tools they need to defend themselves, to stop the slaughter, the atrocities, the war crimes.
-U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on Biden’s response to Russia invading Ukraine.
This week’s news
— Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday urged members of Congress and President Biden to do more to support the country against Russia.
Zelenskyy again called the U.S. to implement a no-fly zone in Ukraine, and asked that the country provide additional military aid if a no-fly zone was asking too much. Biden has said he will not support a no-fly zone.
Following the speech, Biden announced $800 million in additional military aid to Ukraine.
In his speech, Zelenskyy invoked the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor attacks. He said Ukraine has faced attacks like 9/11 every night for the last three weeks.
Near the end of his remarks, Zelenskyy shared a video of some of the violence and death in the country since the Russian invasion began and directly called on Biden in English to take action.
Both Republicans and Democrats praised Zelenskyy and called to support Ukraine against Russian attacks.
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said the U.S. must keep up pressure on Russia.
“President Zelenskyy’s call for peace has never been more urgent. War begets war. We must continue pressure on Russia in order to ensure a safe Ukraine,” the Town of Vermont Dem said on Twitter.
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a former Marine, called the address “a powerful reminder that America must lead to prevent further death, chaos, and destruction” in Ukraine.
The Green Bay-area Republican said ahead of Biden’s announcement the U.S. should not only expand defense assistance, but also make it clear to the Chinese Communist Party that any military aid to Russia would be punished. He added that the U.S. should immediately ban the export of semiconductor equipment and design software to CCP-directed firms, dependent on the nation’s actions.
He also suggested the U.S. ramp up domestic energy production to put pressure on the Russian economy. U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil also in response to Zelenskyy’s speech said the U.S. should increase domestic production.
“President Zelenskyy continues to show steadfast leadership amidst the unjust, unproved attack from Russia,” the Janesville Republican said in a statement. “His message to Congress was clear: the United States must stand in support of Ukraine. To support Ukraine, it is imperative that we increase U.S. domestic energy production and end Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said Zelenskyy’s remarks reflect “the courage and strength of the Ukrainian people.”
“I believe we need to keep standing strong with Ukraine, our European allies, and NATO by continuing to provide them the support they need to defend against Putin’s war against freedom, and help our allies address the tragic humanitarian crisis he has created for millions of innocent Ukrainians,” Baldwin said in a statement.
The Senate passed a resolution this week that Baldwin co-introduced to support investigations of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian forces and their proxies for war crimes.
— National party officials at a WisPolitics.com event in DC said the 1st Congressional District could be a more competitive than usual if Gov. Tony Evers’ maps stick.
GOP National Committeeman Tom Schreibel of Wisconsin at the breakfast event said U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil’s character suits his district well and Dems would be hard pressed to find a match. Democratic National Committee Executive Director Sam Cornale said he’s encouraged by more than just Evers’ maps.
“We’re heartened that it’s getting more competitive, but at the same time, you know, the demographic shifts and the continued march by Democrats into the suburbs and now the exurbs I think bode well for that seat for the long term,” said said Cornale, a Wisconsin native.
Schreibel said the Janesville incumbent’s work ethic and ability to connect with his constituents will be hard to beat.
“We have a great candidate,” he said. “That’s going to be I think one heck of a race.”
Both Dem and GOP national parties have launched their campaign efforts earlier than usual, both speakers said.
— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore joined fellow members of the Helsinki Commission, responding to reports that non-white refugees from Ukraine are being denied entry into neighboring countries because of their race, in callingg on the European Union to address the issue.
Commissioners in the letter said they are concerned about ongoing reports of racial profiling and discrimination at border crossings, specifically profiling against Africans who live in Ukraine and are attempting to flee the war torn country. They demanded European nations thoroughly investigate the matter and work with Ukrainian officials to ensure discrimination against refugees does not continue.
“Unfortunately, we are deeply troubled by these reports of blatant racial bias and discrimination against vulnerable refugees and ask for your leadership in strongly condemning any such acts, swiftly investigate the claims, and move quickly see that they stop, that all refugees can continue to freely move to safety and are able to receive food, water, and other basic humanitarian supplies as they undertake this arduous and dangerous effort to find safety,” they said.
They also praised Ukraine and its neighbors for working to get over 1 million refugees out of the country and set up a hotline for international students seeking refuge after Russia invaded, but commissioners still have concerns about discrimination.
“Among the refugees, many African and other foreign nationals, particularly students, are reportedly being denied or delayed access to safety due to racial profiling and discrimination,” they said.
— Steil said a reported phased reopening of the U.S. Capitol “simply insufficient” and called again for the House of Representatives to take up his resolution to reopen the Capitol.
“Museums, stadiums, businesses, and workplaces across the country have successfully reopened, and the United States Capitol shouldn’t be any different,” the Janesville Republican said in a statement.
Reports this week indicated a plan to reopen the Capitol in three phases starting March 28. Steil said the plan didn’t go far enough and that his resolution would make the reopening a “top priority that is done expeditiously and safely.”
Steil’s resolution also calls for the House to remove restrictions to public access to the House wing of the Capitol and House office buildings such as visitor logs, take measures to ensure those spaces remain safe and open to the public and express to Capitol police that the reopening should be prioritized.
The resolution has 81 cosponsors, including GOP U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Glenn Grothman.
— Gallagher honored UW System President Tommy Thompson by entering a statement recognizing his decades of public service into the Congressional Record.
Thompson was presented the award at UW-Green Bay on Tuesday. The Allouez Republican in the Congressional Record entry praised Thompson’s work as UW System president, former governor of Wisconsin and Health and Human Services secretary under former President George W. Bush.
“As we look back on Mr. Thompson’s career, there is no doubt that he has dedicated his life to making the world around him a better place,” he said. “Mr. Thompson’s continued service to both the State of Wisconsin and the United States is worthy of our highest degree of recognition.”
— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson called for mothers on government assistance to work at child care facilities where their children are enrolled.
The Oshkosh Republican in a telephone town hall told a caller he believes “an elegant solution” to mothers who receive government assistance would be to have them work at child care facilities.
“I understand, you know, having a mother in charge of a bunch of kids plus her own kids, she may not provide the care to the other kids. Again, I understand the concern,” he said. “There’s got to be an imaginative solution where moms who are getting assistance can be involved in the child care centers for other moms and just be a cooperative type of arrangement here.”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Philip Shulman in a press release said, “Ron Johnson couldn’t care less about Wisconsin parents and children.”
“Instead of offering meaningful solutions that would lower costs, he’s pushing a self-serving agenda that harms Wisconsin families,” he added.
— Baldwin, D-Madison, co-introduced a bill to authorize a national maternal health hotline for pregnant and postpartum women with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
The Maternal Mental Health Hotline is a 24/7 program that connects trained health care professionals with pregnant or postpartum women and affected family members.
The bill would also amend the Public Health Service act to reauthorize a grant program for screening, assessment, and treatment services for maternal mental health and substance use disorders.
“Every new mother deserves access to mental health care resources, but sadly, we are leaving too many moms behind, often women of color,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said the legislation would help ensure women have the resources they need to address mental health or substance abuse issues and go on to lead healthy lives, regardless of where they live.
Adrienne Griffen, Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance executive director, applauded the effort.
“The hotline will ensure that support and information is available anytime day or night, and the additional funding for grants will increase four-fold the number of states able to implement proven programs to treat maternal mental health conditions,” Griffen said.
— Baldwin also co-sponsored a bill to implement a quarterly tax on large oil companies to provide relief from rising fuel prices.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, would institute a per-barrel tax equal to 50 percent of the difference between the current cost of a barrel of oil and the pre-pandemic average between 2015 and 2019.
“Wisconsin is feeling the Putin price hike at the pump and we cannot afford to have big oil corporations taking advantage of market disruptions to pump up their profits,” Baldwin said in a statement. “I support this legislation because it can provide some economic relief to working families and help put their pocketbooks ahead of more profits for big oil.”
The bill would apply to oil companies that produce or import at least 300,000 barrels per day or produced or imported that amount in 2019.