GOP U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, who helped tally votes during the historic effort to nominate House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, praised the effort as “democracy in action.”

“I think what you really saw was that family conversation of coming together,” Steil said on WISN’s “UpFront,” which is produced in partnership with “I think at the end of the day, we ended up with a rules package that’s going to allow us to come together to address one of the biggest concerns in Washington, and that’s the runaway spending that we’ve seen driving inflation.”

Steil, who still could be tapped by McCarthy to chair the House Administration Committee, argued the numerous investigations the House GOP plans to launch won’t distract from addressing federal spending.

“I think it’s really important to make sure that we’re holding our government accountable,” Steil said. “For the past two years, we’ve seen a complete lack of accountability of our federal government.”

Steil also questioned the transparency of Justice Department officials in its investigation into President Biden’s handling of classified documents.

“I think it’s appropriate to definitely look into and understand why these documents were not held in the proper chain of custody,” Steil said. “And why, in particular, related to the Biden administration, was this information not released before the election?”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, defended voting against a bipartisan resolution that created the House Select Committee on China chaired by U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Allouez. Pocan was one of 65 members who voted against the resolution.

“It was a lot of political gesturing all week, and this committee is no different than that,” Pocan told “UpFront.” “If we’re serious, as we should be, about competition from China when it comes to economics and other areas, you’d have a resolution that did that. This resolution didn’t.”

Pocan revealed new details about his first face-to-face conversation with U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, the delegation’s newest Republican member. Pocan has previously sparred with him on Twitter about Jan. 6, 2021.

“He very clearly to me condemned the violence and said he regrets the actions that happened that day,” Pocan said. “But he hasn’t really said that publicly. He’s still playing a little bit of politics with the language. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I do believe he was being sincere about it. Let’s hope he is because for Wisconsin’s sake, we only have eight members of the House; we need everyone rowing together when it comes to things returning to the state.”

Pocan also backed the Department of Justice’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate President Biden’s handling of classified documents.

“I’m glad they appointed a special counsel right away to address this and make sure we know if there’s anything we need to correct along the way,” Pocan said. “That’s the way you’re supposed to handle it. You don’t take the documents and refuse to give them up … like we saw at Mar-a-Lago. I think the president’s doing the right thing. I think the attorney general’s doing the right thing.” 

Also on the show, Dem state Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard says “we agree with the governor” in his opposition and potential veto of a state budget that would include a flat income tax as proposed by Republicans.

“Frankly, I would hope because we’re early in the budget deliberations that the Republicans have heard that and they’re going to roll up their sleeves and retool and bring something forward that we may actually be able to all agree on,” Agard said.

Agard also said she won’t support “any medicinal bill” to legalize medical marijuana and will continue to push for full legalization.

“Well, I’m not ever going to stop being a strong advocate for full legalization, responsible adult usage in the state of Wisconsin,” Agard said. “But I welcome being at the table to talk about what a comprehensive, healthy medicinal bill would look like for the state of Wisconsin. I believe I can be involved in both of those types of conversations.”

Steve King, CEO of the 2024 Republican National Convention’s Milwaukee Host Committee, told “UpFront” the committee has raised about a quarter of the roughly $65 million needed to host the convention.

“It’s a national event, so we have the opportunity to try to raise money nationally, too,” King said about the ongoing efforts.

King says in the coming month’s events will be scheduled with area business owners, city and government officials, as well as an event specifically focused on minority and women-owned businesses.

“It’s important not only because from a morale standpoint, an ethical standpoint,” King said. “It’s important because that’s part of the agreement that we signed, the host committee signed with the city of Milwaukee.”

Also on the show, retiring Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack denounced the growing influence of politics on the court while also defending her recent endorsement of Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow saying: “I don’t think Jennifer is a particularly political player.”

“I think it’s too bad,” Roggensack added about the political nature of the campaigns. “Many, many things have become political now, and I think instead of working to elect different legislators if they don’t like the Legislature, the tactic now is to always bring it to the court, and that’s not our job. It’s really not.”

Roggensack attended the WisPolitics forum that featured all four Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates on the same stage.

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