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By: Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times

One House committee chairman officially fired off a request Wednesday for six years of President Trump’s tax returns, as another won the authority to issue subpoenas to demand special counsel Robert Mueller’s full investigative file of Mr. Trump.

The twin moves marked escalations in Democrats’ scrutiny of the president, and both threatened to spark legal battles.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, Massachusetts Democrat, sent his demand to the IRSfor the president’s tax returns from 2013 through 2018. He also asked for returns from eight Trumpentities, including his revocable trust and his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Mr. Neal said his committee is thinking about passing legislation on government audits of presidents and therefore has the right under its oversight powers to demand to see the information.

He set an April 10 deadline for the IRS to comply.

Mr. Trump, saying he is under audit, has repeatedly rebuffed calls to make his tax returns public. He signaled Wednesday that he is likely to battle Mr. Neal’s demand.

“Until such time as I’m not under audit, I would not be inclined to do it,” he told reporters at the White House.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to give Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, the power to issue a subpoena to demand that the Justice Department turn over the special counsel’s report into Mr. Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as all investigative files that Mr. Mueller developed.

That expansive subpoena was joined by other subpoenas for five former Trump White House officials, including onetime chief of staff Reince Priebus, former top attorney Donald McGahn and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The 24-17 committee vote did not issue the subpoenas, but it gave permission to send them at any time to Mr. Nadler, who would oversee any impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump.

The subpoena would demand access to classified documents and to information that stemmed from the grand jury that Mr. Mueller relied upon during his investigation.

Under the law, grand jury proceedings are supposed to be sealed, though a court can unseal them.

“We need these materials to fulfill our constitutional obligation,” said Mr. Nadler, adding that Congress received classified data and grand jury information during impeachment-style investigations into President Nixon in the 1970s and President Clinton in the 1990s.

Republicans said the demand was premature.

Attorney General William P. Barr said he is planning to release as much of Mr. Mueller’s final report as possible this month.

The materials he isn’t releasing are supposed to be kept secret under the law, they said, and if Mr. Nadler wants to see those, he will have to go through a long legal battle in the courts asking them to unseal grand jury information.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, one of the Republican impeachment managers against Mr. Clinton in the 1990s, said he would join Mr. Nadler in making that request to the courts but added that approving the subpoena now would make no sense.

“Go to court and let the judge make the decision,” he said.

Mr. Nadler, though, said he wanted to have the subpoena in hand first and then go to court if necessary.

Mr. Nadler was on the other side of the debate in the 1990s, arguing that the Clinton investigation information should not be provided to Congress. He lost then and now says that precedent holds today for the Mueller investigation into Mr. Trump.

“Our chief constitutional obligation is to hold the president accountable, especially in an instance where the Department of Justice says it cannot hold the president accountable,” he said. “Those judgments must be made by Congress, not by a political appointee, the attorney general.”

If Mr. Nadler’s subpoena powers are challenged in court, then they are likely to be joined by Mr. Neal’s request.

Although Mr. Trump joked about the request for six years of returns — “is that all?” he said to reporters — the power to demand a taxpayer’s information is due to be tested.

The power rests in Section 6103 of the tax code, which orders that tax returns be kept private under federal law but includes a provision giving the heads of the tax-writing House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees the ability to request “any return or return information.”

Although information that can be traced back to an individual is supposed to be viewed only in closed session by the committee, the expectation on Capitol Hill is that the information will quickly find its way into the public sphere, possibly through a vote by the full Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. Neal said Mr. Trump’s information is needed to write better laws, but fellow Democrats made clear that they plan to expose the president politically.

“For much of his adult life, Trump has used his power to shield himself from scrutiny or accountability. Subjecting his tax records to sunlight can finally hold him to both,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat.

Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on Mr. Neal’s committee, urged the Treasury Department and the IRS to refuse the request.

“This particular request is an abuse of the tax-writing committees’ statutory authority, and violates the intent and safeguards of Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code as Congress intended,” he said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said he doubts Mr. Mnuchin will be able to resist complying with Mr. Neal’s request.

“The law is crystal clear,” he said. “I expect the Treasury Department to comply in a timely manner.”

He said he wants the Republican chairman of the Finance Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, to make the same request for the Senate.

Mr. Grassley has criticized requests for Mr. Trump’s tax returns as an effort to “weaponize” the tax law for political purposes. But he also has said that if the House did it, then he would make the same request to prevent any mischief on Democrats’ part.

On Wednesday, a representative for Mr. Grassley said he takes a dim view of Mr. Neal’s move.

“Those seeking an individual’s personal tax returns to exact political damage would be opening the door to future abuses of power and would poison the public trust in the ability of the IRS to keep personal information private. That’s an outcome every taxpayer and their elected representatives should want to avoid.”

By: Leandra Bernstein of NBC 15

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas so members of Congress can read the unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

In a party-line vote, the committee gave the chairman the authority to subpoena the Justice Department for the report and all of the underlying evidence gathered during the two-year investigation into the Trump campaign.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. did not pull the trigger, yet. The subpoenas from the House Judiciary will likely come later this month after Attorney General William Barr is expected to release a redacted version of the report.

Barr indicated last week that he will not release the full 400-page report, prompting Democrats to dig in their heels for a lengthy political and legal fight.

In a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Barr said he planned to redact classified information, grand jury materials, information related to ongoing investigations and information that could violate the privacy and reputation of individuals named in the report.

Democrats argued the redactions were unacceptable and unprecedented. "The department is wrong to try to withhold that information from this committee," Nadler stated. "Congress is entitled to all the evidence."

Nadler said he is currently negotiating with Attorney General Barr to produce the documents. If those talks fail, he will bring the issue before a judge in the hopes of compelling the release of the redacted materials.

"We're going to work with the attorney general for a short period of time in the hope that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report and the underlying materials. And we'll go to court to get permission to have the [grand jury] material," Nadler told reporters after the vote. "But if that doesn't work out in a very short order, we will issue the subpoenas."

In addition to the Mueller report, the Judiciary Committee is prepared to subpoena five former Trump White House figures, Don McGahn, Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus and Ann Donaldson.

Submitting a redacted report to Congress would be a departure from previous investigations where lawmakers were given full access to reports, underlying evidence and grand jury materials. In the Ken Starr independent counsel investigation of Bill Clinton and Leon Jaworski's special counsel investigation of Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal, Congress was provided all of the information.

However, the special counsel law changed after the 1999 Clinton impeachment and Starr report.

Under the revised statute, the special counsel is only required to provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining any decisions to prosecute or decline prosecution. There is no obligation to provide Congress or the public with a full account. In his January confirmation hearing, Barr pledged to make public as much of the Mueller report as he could "consistent with the law."

Doug Collins of Georgia, the Republican ranking member on the Judiciary Committee argued that the Justice Department has the right to withhold its evidence from Congress, unless the chairman was willing to launch an impeachment investigation, as with Clinton or Nixon.

"If the chairman truly wanted to get at this information, then he can go to what I believe many in their heart desire, is open the impeachment inquiry," Collins said.

Leading Democrats have resisted calls for impeachment from their base and some of the party's more left-leaning members.

Chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, told SBG that the Democrats subpoena threat was "political theater."

"This is a 2020 subpoena. It's not a transparency subpoena," he argued. "This is all about politics. It really has nothing to do with getting to the truth."


Congress could receive the redacted Mueller report as soon as next week. But that will be the beginning, not the end of the fight.

On Wednesday, both Republicans and Democrats signaled that they are prepared to take the next step and fight the Justice Department in court.

Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin stated he would be "happy" to be a co-plaintiff in a case demanding the release of grand jury material gathered in the Mueller investigation.

Sensenbrenner, who voted against subpoenaing the Justice Department, argued the resolution was "toothless" and that an attempt to enforce the subpoena would inevitably be tied up in litigation for years.

"The thing to do to put teeth into a subpoena is for Congress and this committee to go to court and ask for an order allowing for the release of the grand jury material," the congressman stated.

Otherwise, the Justice Department will quash the subpoena, Sensenbrenner continued, "and it will be in court for months and maybe years until the Supreme Court decides this issue because it's a dispute between the legislative and executive branches of government."

Democrats on the committee indicated they were open to Sensenbrenner's suggestion but hoped to negotiate with Attorney General Barr outside of court first and then move to issue subpoenas.

"This is the first step of the Judiciary Committee making certain we get the Mueller report and all the supporting documents," Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., told Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Both parties in Congress have expressed a strong desire to see the full report on the Trump campaign and alleged Russian collusion.

Last month, the House passed a resolution unanimously, 420 - 0, supporting the public release of the Mueller report. Many in the Senate hoped to pass a similar resolution but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked it from coming to the floor.

Among the general public, recent polls show the overwhelming majority of Americans want to see the full report and a majority (66 percent) want to see Robert Mueller testify before Congress.

President Donald Trump originally supported the full release of the report after Barr issued a 4-page memo essentially clearing the president and the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Russian government. Trump claimed he was "totally exonerated."

This week, Trump appeared to change his tune, tweeting that Democrats' demands for full documentation were an attempt to relitigate the two-year investigation.

Even though the attorney general is not obligated to give lawmakers the underlying documents in the Mueller investigation, Congress does havevirtually unlimited authority to subpoena information from the executive branch.

House Republicans regularly exercised that authority and issued hundreds of subpoenas—with limited success—when they held the majority during the Obama and early Trump administration. In 2017, a handful of Republicans went so far as threatening to hold the deputy attorney general in contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents related to Hillary Clinton's email investigation.

By: Bart Jansen of USA Today

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to authorize a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report and the evidence his investigators gathered, setting up what could be a historic legal clash with the Justice Department.

The panel also voted to authorize subpoenas for evidence from some of President Donald Trump’s former top advisers, including strategist Steve Bannon, communications director Hope Hicks, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House counsel Donald McGahn and counsel Ann Donaldson.

The committee did not issue the subpoena immediately. Instead, the vote gave Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the authority to do so in the future, the first step by Congress to force Attorney General William Barr to release Mueller’s entire confidential report about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The committee approved the subpoena by a party-line vote of 24-17. 

Nadler said Mueller's report “probably isn’t the ‘total exoneration’ the president claims it to be,” so Congress must review the whole thing. He said the Justice Department should not seek to withhold parts of it, as Barr has said he plans to do.

“We are dealing now not with the president’s private affairs, but with a sustained attack on the integrity of the republic by the president and his closest advisers,” Nadler said. “This committee requires the full report and the underlying materials because it is our job, not the attorney general’s, to determine whether President Trump has abused his office.”

Mueller completed his investigation and submitted his report to Barr on March 22. Barr said the investigation did not establish that Trump or his campaign had coordinated with efforts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 election. Mueller declined to draw a conclusion about whether Trump had obstructed justice during the investigation; instead, Barr said he and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, concluded based on the evidence Mueller gathered that the president had not.

Trump, who has endorsed the release of Mueller's report, appeared more cautious in recent days. He told reporters Tuesday that Democrats would never be satisfied by Mueller's conclusion that the investigation did not establish a conspiracy involving his campaign, calling it "politics at a very low level."

“Anything you give them, it will never be enough,” Trump said. “They'll always come back and say it's not enough, it's not enough.”

Barr has told lawmakers that he and other Justice Department officials are examining the nearly 400-page report, plus tables and appendices, to remove grand jury evidence, intelligence material, evidence that could affect other cases and information that could infringe on the privacy of people who weren’t charged. Barr said he expected to give Congress his redacted version of the report by mid-April.

Nadler said he would not issue the subpoenas to Barr immediately but instead "will give him time to change his mind" on releasing grand jury material. He said he expected to subpoena the report "in very short order." 

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the committee, said Democrats set an arbitrary deadline to receive the Mueller report from Barr and then demanded material that the law does not allow to be shared outside the Justice Department.

"In the face of laws and rules he finds inconvenient, the chairman demands our nation’s top law enforcement official break the law instead of supporting him in enforcing it," Collins said. "This is reckless. It’s irresponsible. It’s disingenuous."

The meeting began testily, with Collins forcing Nadler to have his amended resolution read for the committee.

“I really wish we could work on big issues rather than on this circus of undermining the president of the United States,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said he wants to read Mueller's report rather than Barr's redacted version, because he was among the “fire-throwers” who expected explosive results from Mueller’s report.

“I want to find out if I was wrong, and I want the public to see it, too,” Cohen said.

After giving Barr a Tuesday deadline to give Congress Mueller’s full report, Nadler is moving to force Barr’s hand. Nadler cited precedents in investigations involving former presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, in which prosecutors turned over grand jury materials. Nadler held up thick volumes of evidence from the Clinton investigation, citing grand jury testimony on page 3,341.

"The same type of evidence has to be produced here," Nadler said.

Nadler also said the Justice Department released 880,000 pages of internal investigative records in July 2018 about the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and thousands of pages dealing with the Russian investigation that Mueller took over. The records included highly sensitive information including applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, classified documents and deliberative material of the FBI and Justice Department, he said.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a former prosecutor, suggested the committee drop its demand for grand jury information, but his proposal failed in a party-line vote. 

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the Justice Department probably would move to block the subpoena, a battle that could take months or years before being resolved at the Supreme Court. Instead, he said Congress should ask a federal court for an order releasing grand jury evidence – an effort he offered to join – as happened in the Nixon and Clinton investigations.

“The chairman and his supporters are putting the cart before the horse,” Sensenbrenner said. “I think we all want to get to the bottom of this.”

The fight over releasing the full Mueller report is already in federal court. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a request Monday to U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell to authorize public release of any grand jury material that is “cited, quoted or referenced” in Mueller’s report to Barr.

“The calls for transparency are broad and bipartisan," said Katie Townsend, the committee’s legal director. "The president himself has said the report should be made public. We agree.”

By: Rachael Bade of The Washington Post

A House panel voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas to obtain special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s full report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, laying down a marker in a constitutional power struggle that could end up in the courts.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 24 to 17 along party lines to authorize its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to subpoena the report and underlying documents of Mueller’s probe from Attorney General William P. Barr.

The panel, which has jurisdiction over impeachment, also voted to subpoena five former White House officials it believes may have received documents relevant to the special counsel’s probe.

“This committee has a job to do,” Nadler said. “The Constitution charges Congress with holding the president accountable for alleged official misconduct. That job requires us to evaluate the evidence for ourselves — not the attorney general’s summary, not a substantially redacted synopsis, but the full report and the underlying evidence.”

The much-anticipated move to compel the Justice Department to release the report comes one day after Barr missed a House-imposed deadline to turn over the nearly 400-page document. Barr told lawmakers last week that although he could not meet their Tuesday deadline, he promised to deliver a redacted version of Mueller’s findings by mid-April, if not sooner.

But Democrats, who are leaving for a two-week congressional recess next week, have made clear that redactions are unacceptable and have sought to give Nadler the tools needed to respond at any moment.

Nadler told reporters after Wednesday’s vote that he will hold off on serving Barr with a subpoena, seeking to first negotiate with him for the full range of Mueller’s documents. The Democrat would not specify, however, how long he would wait.

“We’re going to work with the attorney general for a short period of time in a hope that he will reveal to us the entire Mueller report and will go to court to get permission to get the [grand jury] material,” Nadler said, referring to interviews and documents presented during the proceedings throughout the investigation. “But if that doesn’t work out, in a very short order we will issue subpoenas.”

After reviewing the report, Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress on March 24, saying Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Mueller also made no determination about whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice during the inquiry, arguing that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” according to Barr’s summary.

That has not stopped Trump and his GOP allies from claiming it does — even as Democrats counter that Barr, a Trump appointee, is hardly a neutral observer and is protecting the president.

On Monday, Trump asserted on Twitter that “no matter what information is given to the crazed Democrats from the No Collusion Mueller Report, it will never be good enough.” Republicans argued during Wednesday’s hearing that Democrats simply want to embarrass or impeach Trump.

“My friends across the dais are eager for headlines, so they’re issuing subpoenas . . . despite the fact the special counsel spent nearly two years examining exactly what House Democrats are fishing for here,” said Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the committee.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an outspoken Trump ally, asked: “Why are we here? Seems to me we’re here because the Mueller report isn’t what the Democrats wanted it to be . . . just the opposite.” 

Democrats objected, reminding Jordan that neither they nor the GOP has seen a single page of the Mueller report.

However, House Democrats in recent days have sought to shift the focus away from their investigations of the president, especially talk of impeachment. Some Democrats worry the nationwide focus on their efforts probing Trump is drowning out their legislative message, which they deem vital to maintaining their majority in 2020 and defeating Trump.

Still, party leaders have argued that Barr — who personally determined there was not sufficient evidence to establish obstruction, absent a Mueller recommendation on the matter — could have misrepresented Mueller’s findings and that Democrats need to review the report themselves.

“We do not need your interpretation. Show us the report,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week, calling Barr’s handling of the matter “condescending” and “arrogant.”

Nadler echoed that sentiment Wednesday: “We are not willing to let the attorney general . . . substitute his judgment for ours.”

The Judiciary Committee on Wednesday also approved subpoenas for five former White House aides: former White House counsel Donald McGahn; former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon; former communications director Hope Hicks; former chief of staff Reince Priebus; and Ann Donaldson, McGahn’s former chief of staff.

The five were among 81 individuals and entities Nadler sent document requests to last month as part of his investigation into whether Trump abused power, obstructed justice or engaged in public corruption.

The fight over the Mueller report is expected to land in the courts. Senior Justice Department officials have expressed opposition to releasing information that could damage an individual who is not charged with a crime. But when it comes to the president, Democrats argue, Barr has an obligation to make the report public, and they have said they will sue for the entire document if Barr does not comply.

The House voted 420 to 0 last month to urge Barr to release the report. But since then, House Republicans — particularly on the Judiciary Committee — have deferred to Barr, arguing that he would make the best legal decision about what to make public.

Barr and Justice Department officials are working behind the scenes to redact grand-jury information, classified material, details related to ongoing prosecutions and “information that may unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties,” according to Nadler.

But Democrats have argued that Congress deserves to see all the information, citing as precedent former independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s delivery to Congress of his full, unredacted report on President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. The Starr report in 1998 was complete with grand-jury testimony.

Nadler at one point during the committee session held up two massive books from Starr’s investigation, noting he gave Congress “boxes and boxes” of such information.

“The department is wrong to try to withhold that information from this committee,” Nadler said. “Congress is entitled to all of the evidence.”

Collins challenged Nadler’s logic, mocking his use of props by holding up his own makeshift display — two water bottles, one empty, one full — to argue Nadler is comparing apples and oranges.

Starr, Collins argued, was appointed under a different law and made recommendations on impeachment.

“I’m glad we’re using props today, because the chairman is wanting you to look at one thing when the reality is another thing,” Collins said. “It doesn’t work! They’re not the same!”

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) argued that previous special counsels and prosecutors who handed over grand-jury information to Congress received permission from the courts to release such sensitive material.

Sensenbrenner, who said he would be “happy to be a co-plaintiff” in a court motion to release the full report, encouraged Nadler to hold off on his subpoena and go to a judge. “We ought to do what we need to do first,” he said, “. . . and that’s go to court.”

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) countered that in those circumstances, the special counsel or special prosecutor went to the courts “on their own” without Congress to get permission. 

Barr “has attempted to keep the information,” Cicilline said, “so for us to wait and pray and hope that Mr. Barr will find his way to the courthouse is foolish.”

Since Barr’s four-page summary of the findings were released, support for House Democratic investigations of the president has hardened along party lines, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll. The division offers a stark contrast to the start of the year, when an overall majority backed the lower chamber’s effort to probe whether the president or his allies conspired with Russia.

Still, 83 percent of respondents said the Mueller report should be made public in its entirety, public sentiment Democrats can use to their advantage when pressing for its release.

By: the Sierra Sun Times

WASHINGTON—The following is a statement from AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond on the approval of two bills endorsed by AARP: Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act (H.R. 965) and the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2019 (H.R. 1499).

“AARP thanks the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee for approving the bipartisan CREATES Act, sponsored by Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Peter Welch (D-VT), and David B. McKinley (R-WV). The CREATES Act closes loopholes to stop drug companies from blocking the development of lower-cost generic drugs.     

“AARP also thanks the subcommittee moving forward on the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2019, sponsored by Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL). This bill would ban pay-for-delay deals that price gouge consumers by blocking access to less expensive medicine.

“Big drug companies have a monopoly that stifles competition and protects their profits. AARP believes that eliminating these deliberate anticompetitive behaviors will result in a more robust generic drug market and greater savings for both patients and taxpayers. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that legislation like the CREATES Act could save taxpayers more than $3 billion over a decade.

“AARP applauds the subcommittee and Congressional leaders for standing together in a bipartisan manner to help take real steps to tackle our national crisis of high drug prices. We urge Congress to enact these bills to increase competition and the availability of less expensive generic drugs.”


Quotes of the week

Congress and the American people deserve to read Mueller’s full report, and we must demand complete transparency. It’s the only way forward from here. 
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, in a tweet joining fellow Dems in calling on the attorney general to give Congress and members of the public access to the special counsel’s full report from his investigation of President Trump. AG William Barr released a four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation over the weekend.

Unfortunately, the investigation took almost two years and was a huge distraction from the significant problems facing our nation. Hopefully, the attorney general can quickly conclude his final report and allow us to turn our full attention to those other challenging issues.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in a tweet applauding the report’s findings that Trump’s campaign didn’t collude with Russian actors in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

What is it that we have a problem with, with children who are in special education?
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, as quoted in an NBC News report questioning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing this week. The federal Education Department has proposed $7 billion in cuts overall, including nixing $18 million in federal funding supporting Special Olympics. DeVos called the Special Olympics as “an awesome organization” and said the agency “had to make some difficult decisions with this budget.”

Small business owners, in particular, have shared fears that they will be unable to bear the new compliance burdens and may have to shutter their businesses. 
– U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, touting his federal online sales tax bill. The bill comes after a June U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to collect online sales taxes from retailers without a physical presence in the state. Sensenbrenner’s bill would ensure states can’t retroactively collect the taxes on transactions before Jan. 1, 2019, among other things.

This week’s news

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is pushing a bill he says would prevent Democratic “court packing” efforts.

The effort, a constitutional amendment, would keep the U.S. Supreme Court’s size at nine justices.

The bill comes as Dem presidential candidates have expressed an openness to expanding the size of the high court. That includes U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kristen Gillibrand and Cory Booker, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, per national media reports.

Gallagher said in light of those “partisan calls,” the time is now to pursue a constitutional amendment.

“Americans rely on the Supreme Court to faithfully uphold the Constitution, and with Democrats’ partisan calls to increase the Court’s size gaining momentum, it is now more important than ever to preserve the legitimacy of the highest court in the land,” the Green Bay Republican said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. The House bill has three GOP cosponsors.

Constitutional amendments must pass both houses of Congress with a two-thirds majority, before being sent to the states where three-fourths have to ratify them in order for the changes to be adopted.


— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is bringing back her bill aiming to curb stock buybacks and give workers a bigger say in company decision-making.

The Madison Dem’s legislation, called the “Reward Work Act,” would bar corporations from being able to re-buy their own shares. It would also let employees directly elect one-third of their company’s board members.

Baldwin called for rewarding hard work in a statement touting her bill, saying stock buybacks are increasing wealth inequality.

“Corporate profits should be shared with the workers who actually create them,” she said. “It’s just wrong for big corporations to pocket massive, permanent tax breaks and reward the wealth of top executives with more stock buybacks, while closing facilities and laying off workers.”


— Baldwin has also been named as one of the members of a new Dem panel aimed at addressing climate change.

The Madison Dem will be one of 10 members on the newly created Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Among its responsibilities will be holding hearings and issuing findings on the consequences of climate change and the opportunities taking action to combat it would bring, according to Baldwin’s statement.

“Taking bold action to confront climate change is not just an environmental goal; it is an urgent economic necessity for us in Wisconsin,” she said.


— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson joined all Republicans this week in shooting down the Dem-backed “Green New Deal” on the Senate floor.

The measure failed on a 57-0 vote, with Dems, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, opting to vote “present” on the effort.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, called it “astonishing” that while many Dems had co-sponsored the initiative, they “unanimously failed to vote for it.”

“If Democrats hypocritically say they support their $93 trillion spending boondoggle but then don’t vote for it, no American should take them or the Green New Deal seriously,” he said in a statement.

Senate Dems, per national media reports, framed the vote as a political sham.

See the roll call vote.


— The majority of Wisconsin House members backed overturning President Trump’s national emergency declaration again this week.

But the effort, which got a 248-181 vote, fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Trump’s veto of legislation blocking his declaration to go around Congress to fund a wall along the southern border.

All of Wisconsin’s Dems and two GOP reps backed the effort the second time it came to the chamber’s floor — the same Wisconsin members who voted to back the measure the first time around.

They were: GOP U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Jim Sensenbrenner and Dem U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind.

The Republicans were two of 14 in their party who supported the resolution. Meanwhile, GOP U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, of Wausau, Glenn Grothman, of Glenbeulah, and Bryan Steil, of Janesville, again opted to oppose the bill.  

See the roll call vote.


— Wisconsin House members, led by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, are calling for an extension of Wisconsin’s SeniorCare prescription drug program.

The eight members asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a letter to provide a long-term extension to the program that expires March 31.

“Supporting this drug benefit program is in the best interest of American taxpayers, Wisconsinites, and the thousands of seniors enrolled,” they wrote. “We appreciate your consideration and attention to this request and look forward to working with you to continue to protect our states’ elderly population.”

See the letter.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (CA-14), Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), and Congresswoman Ann Kuster (NH-02) introduced the Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that states cannot require remote online sellers to collect sales tax retroactively on transactions made before January 1, 2019. It would also relieve small online businesses from sales tax collection obligations on transactions made in another state.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “I’ve heard from online sellers in Wisconsin and across the country who are concerned with the complexity of the post-Wayfair tax regime. Small business owners, in particular, have shared fears that they will be unable to bear the new compliance burdens and may have to shutter their businesses. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to provide clarity and certainty to all online sellers as well as relief to the small businesses that need it the most.”

Rep. Eshoo“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, which is why Congress must do everything it can to ease the cost of complying with new online sales tax laws. This bipartisan bill protects small businesses from the complicated and burdensome patchwork of state and local tax laws resulting from last year’s Wayfair Supreme Court decision.”

Rep. Duncan“As a small business owner and former auctioneer, I understand the threat posed by the complications and uncertainty from the Wayfair Supreme Court case. The results of the case would be detrimental to small businesses around the country, and I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan solution to provide relief.”   


Last June, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair that overturned decades of precedent regarding online and interstate sales tax collection requirements. In Wayfair, the Court struck down the “physical presence” standard established under National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Ill. and Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. Under that precedent, out of state sellers, also known as “remote sellers,” were not required to collect sales tax on transactions made in a state in which they did not have a “physical presence,” such as an office, store, or warehouse.

Since then, some states have begun requiring all remote sellers that continue to do out-of-state business to navigate the more than 10,000 different tax jurisdictions each time they complete a transaction. While some retailers can absorb the costs of the additional regulatory burden, thousands of independent online entrepreneurs are harmed.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing last July titled “Examining the Wayfair decision and its Ramifications for Consumers and Small Businesses.”

How the bill works:

The Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act bans retroactive tax collection requirements and creates a small business exemption. Specifically, it would bar states from imposing sales tax collection duties on remote sellers for any sale that occurred prior to January 1, 2019. It would also exempt small business sellers who gross less than $10 million in annual sales from collection duties until states produce a compact, approved by Congress, to simplify collection to the point where no small business exemption is necessary.

Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced similar legislation in the 115th Congress. 

By: Edwin Mora of BREITBART

WASHINGTON, DC — Antisemitic slurs by U.S. lawmakers are making the United States a weaker ally to Israel and damaging America’s credibility in Middle Eastern nations involved in efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to achieve peace between the Jewish republic and Palestine, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers.

In recent days, members from both parties, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), have blasted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for antisemitic slurs. However, the secretary did not name the Minnesota Democrat.

Pompeo did condemn antisemitic remarks by U.S. lawmakers as “abhorrent,” during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Although Rep. Omar belongs to the panel, she was not present at the time that Pompeo made the remarks.

Pompeo’s comments came in response to queries from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) who asked:

We’ve seen the rising level of anti-semitism across our country and even in our own government institutions. Several high-profile individuals have spouted off anti-Israel rhetoric that has had to be countered with condemnation resolutions by the House. The administration is currently attempting to craft a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians…do these statements damage our standing with Israel and make us a weaker ally? And Secondly, do these types of anti-semitic acts and rhetoric damage the United States’ credibility in the Middle East nations that will be involved in the final agreement?

The secretary of state responded:

I think the answer to both questions is yes and anti-semitic language is abhorrent regardless of the U.S. diplomatic outcome, but yes it makes it more difficult undoubtedly. …Language used by members of Congress matters. These countries all around the world are listening to you all they’re watching. They’re watching to see if this a whole of United States government process. They’re watching voices even if sometimes those voices are outliers. They don’t always know what to make of it.

Noting more Jews identify as Democrat, the mainstream media have been countering U.S. President Donald Trump’s assertions that antisemitism is growing among Democrat-elected officials and Jews are leaving the party.

President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been working on the administration’s Israel-Palestine peace plan.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) led a delegation-wide letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in support of Wisconsin’s SeniorCare prescription drug assistance program.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “I’m proud to lead our delegation in supporting this vital program that helps tens of thousands of Wisconsin’s senior citizens afford their life-saving medications.”

Below is the text of the letter:

March 25, 2019

The Honorable Alex Azar
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Azar:

As members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation, we wish to express our support for Wisconsin’s SeniorCare program and request your immediate attention to provide a long-term extension of this program, which is set to expire on March 31, 2019.

Wisconsin’s SeniorCare program provides prescription drug assistance to low-income seniors, age 65 and older, whose income does not exceed 240 percent of the federal poverty level. More than 45,000 seniors throughout our state rely on federal matching funds for the SeniorCare program to purchase affordable life-saving medications. To deny approval of a long-term extension would cause potential breaks in prescription drug coverage, confusion, and bureaucratic problems for vulnerable seniors who are otherwise satisfied with their coverage.

Since its implementation in 2002, this successful program has proven to be a responsible steward of taxpayer funds, while providing quality care to our state’s seniors. SeniorCare saves Medicaid money and has consistently achieved budget neutrality. Additionally, SeniorCare allows Medicaid greater flexibility than the Medicare Part D program to negotiate the best price for prescription drugs.

We respectfully ask that you fulfill our request for a long-term extension of the SeniorCare program, so Wisconsin seniors can continue to get prescription drugs at a price they can afford. Supporting this drug benefit program is in the best interest of American taxpayers, Wisconsinites, and the thousands of seniors enrolled. We appreciate your consideration and attention to this request and look forward to working with you to continue to protect our states’ elderly population.


F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.                                         Ron Kind
Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

Gwen Moore                                                                  Sean Duffy
Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

Mark Pocan                                                                    Glenn Grothman
Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

Mike Gallagher                                                              Bryan Steil
Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress 

Washington, D.C.Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation:

"Throughout this process, I have repeatedly said that Special Counsel Bob Mueller should be able to finish his investigation unimpeded and that I would withhold judgment until then. After two years, millions of taxpayer dollars, and the full power of our legal system, Mueller has confirmed that the President did not collude with Russia. The special counsel’s investigation was free of political bias, and it will be a mistake for my Democratic colleagues to continue pursuing this disproven narrative for purely partisan purposes. I am eager to read the full report, but today’s top line summary from the Attorney General is a welcomed vindication for the President."