Quotes of the week
I think it would just be tragic if we bugged out, left the Kurds who, by and large, have done the fighting and have defeated the ISIS caliphate, the territorial caliphate and ISIS, if we just abandoned them to the mercies, and I use that term loosely, of Russia and Iran and possibly Turkey. It would just be unconscionable.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in a Fox News interview over the weekend. The Oshkosh Republican pushed back on President Trump’s plans to withdraw all American troops from Syria.
I’m sure there are many Republicans shaking in their boots about that happening with a future Democratic president.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where the Madison Dem predicted Republicans were getting nervous at the prospect of President Trump declaring a national emergency to begin construction on a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
President Trump’s vision for our nation’s future, which includes fighting for American workers and farmers by leveling the playing field on trade, strengthening our military, and securing our southern border, should make every American proud.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, praising President Trump’s State of the Union address, saying “the American Dream is alive and once again achievable.”
I stand ready to work with all of my colleagues to find common ground, and will fight to break down the hyper-partisanship in Congress to make life better for Wisconsinites.
– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, saying he was “encouraged” by some of the proposals Trump put forward in his speech.
This week’s news
— Tammy Baldwin says she’s flattered by calls for her to run for president next year but says she’s sticking to her role as senator for now.
The Madison Dem’s comments came after a New York Magazine column this week suggested Baldwin is “a uniquely compelling” 2020 candidate, and may be the party’s most “electable.”
“It’s very flattering, but I’m focused on doing my job for Wisconsin and bringing the Democratic Convention to Milwaukee,” Baldwin said in a statement provided by her campaign.
This week’s column — written by Eric Levitz, the magazine’s Daily Intelligencer Associate Editor — pointed to Baldwin’s history as the first openly gay women elected to Congress, her support for single-payer health care and gun control legislation and her double-digit win over Republican opponent Leah Vukmir in November.
Levitz argued Baldwin was able to win Wisconsin “as an unabashed progressive because she gets her state.” He pointed to her “Go Pack Go Act,” which would have allowed Wisconsinites in all media markets watch Packers games.
A potential Baldwin presidential bid also has support from a newly created Twitter account: Tammy Tammy 2020. The account, which has more than 650 followers, is calling for a Baldwin-U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., ticket.
“Time for a Tammy Tammy double whammy! No matter who tops the ticket, a Tammy Tammy twosome will trounce Trump in 2020!” the account’s bio reads.
— Baldwin this week also signed onto three letters calling on executives at three major insulin makers to share information about rising costs.
“According to the World Health Organization, insulin is an essential medicine, meaning that access to this drug at a price that individuals and communities can afford is a basic requirement of a functioning health care system,” she and her Senate colleagues wrote. “Unfortunately, rapidly increasing insulin prices mean that for many patients, access to this essential medicine is threatened.”
— Committee and subcommittee assignments for the state’s House members have been largely finalized for the new session.
The group’s lone freshman, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, has been assigned to the Financial Services Committee, which oversees insurance, banking, securities and other industries. The Janesville Republican will also serve on three subcommittees: Housing, Community Development, and Insurance; Oversight and Investigations; and Diversity and Inclusion.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner — the dean of the state’s congressional delegation — will continue serving on the House Judiciary and House Foreign Affairs committees. The Menomonee Falls Republican is also the ranking member of the Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee.
His other subcommittee assignments are: Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations; Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations; and Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and Environment.
Meanwhile, other reps’ assignments include:
*U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau: member of the House Financial Services; ranking member on Housing and Insurance Subcommittee.
*U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay: Membership on two committees, Armed Services and Transportation and Infrastructure, and five subcommittees: Intelligence, Emerging Threats & Capabilities; Seapower and Projection Forces; Highways and Transit; Aviation; and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
*U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah: member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and Education and Labor Committee; and member of four subcommittees: Government Operations; Economic and Consumer Policy; Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education; and Higher Education & Workforce Development.
*U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse: Ways and Means Committee member; and will also sit on the Health and Trade subcommittees.
*And U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee: Newly appointed member of the House Ways and Means Committee; also serves on three subcommittees: Oversight, Select Revenue Measures and Worker and Family Support.
*U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont: member of the House Appropriations Committee; serves on the following subcommittees: Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; and Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies.
— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman has introduced a bipartisan bill aiming to prevent future government shutdowns.
The bill, called the “End Government Shutdown Act,” would prevent government shutdowns by funding the government at the previous year’s levels if Congress fails to pass an appropriations bill.
Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, noted Wisconsin’s state government has had its own version of his bill in place since 1953; it has helped the state complete its budget on time and avoid shutdowns.
“For too long, politicians on both sides of the aisle have used government shutdowns and other budgetary gimmicks that put federal workers in harm’s way,” Grothman said. “My bill, the End Government Shutdowns Act, will eliminate federal shutdowns and force politicians to work together to produce a budget that works for everyone.”
The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa.
See more on the bill here.
— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is pushing a bill to lower the costs of prescription drugs.
The bipartisan bill, called the “Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act,” would bar pharmaceutical and biological companies from engaging in anti-competitive actions to block cheaper generic drugs, according to a release from the Menomonee Falls Republican.
“Americans of all ages are burdened by high prescription drug prices, and we must address this growing issue,” Sensenbrenner said. “I’m proud to sponsor this common-sense bill that will implement market-based solutions, making prescription drugs more affordable, saving taxpayers money, and providing much-needed relief to the American people.”
— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore is bringing back her bill to block President Trump from using taxpayer dollars to pay for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
“My constituents don’t want a wasteful wall,” she said. “They want effective border security, to feel safe in their homes, and to know their hard-earned tax dollars are used appropriately, especially during tight fiscal times. President Trump’s wall does nothing to further this mission, nor secure the border.”
The Milwaukee Dem introduced a similar bill last session that didn’t go anywhere.
— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is looking to increase access to retirement savings opportunities, under plans provided by employers in a new bill.
The bipartisan legislation, called the “Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act,” is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.
“As a nation, we have a problem when it comes to retirement savings. We need to take common sense steps to ensure our businesses are offering their employees flexible retirement plans that set our workers up for success in their golden years,” Kind said in a statement this week.
— Kind has brought on a new chief of staff.
That’s Hana Greenberg, former legislative director, who replaces former chief of staff Brad Pfaff. Pfaff left the La Crosse Dem’s office following his appointment as Tony Evers’ Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection secretary.
Meanwhile, Alex Eveland is taking over as Kind’s legislative director, after working as his legislative assistant.