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Thursday, October 8, 2015

 1:00 PM 

Ryan won't be candidate for speaker after McCarthy drops out

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan says he will not be a candidate for speaker now that the Republican he endorsed for the post has dropped out of the race.

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., abruptly dropped out of the race following criticism that remarks he made about the House’s Benghazi hearings backed Dem complaints they were politically motivated to embarrass Hillary Clinton.

Ryan this afternoon took to Twitter, where he issued a statement saying McCarthy was the best person to lead the House and he was disappointed in the decision.

“Now it is important that we, as a conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership,” Ryan said. “While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as chairman of the Way and Means Committee.”

 9:32 AM 

Former Gov. Doyle urges support for Pacific trade deal

Jim Doyle is one of 14 former guvs who signed onto a letter urging their fellow Dems to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, arguing it will promote sustainable growth and high-paying jobs through new export opportunities.

The 14, which includes Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, argued the deal will also establish "strong and enforceable rules of engagement that will level the playing field for American workers."

"Trade is a critical component of our strengthening economy since the Great Recession, and the more we export outside our borders, the more jobs we support here at home," they wrote. "With export-supported jobs paying up to 18 percent higher on average, trade-related growth in communities across the country is creating jobs and raising wages."

The letter was put together by the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs and distributed by the White House.

Read the letter:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

 8:42 AM 

Trade deal draws mixed reaction from Wis. congressional Democrats

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind struck a different tone on the trade deal announced Monday than two other Dems in Wisconsin's congressional delegation.

After years of talks, negotiators from the 12 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership said in Atlanta today they've agreed to what would be the largest free-trade deal ever. Many Dems in Congress have been skeptical of the TPP, although Kind chairs the New Democrat Coalition, whose members have generally been more open to a trade deal.

The La Crosse Dem said the pact "will set the trading rules for this region and 40 percent of the global economy," which would help "level the playing field for American workers, farmers and businesses."

"In the coming months, I look forward to joining my colleagues in reviewing the final agreement," Kind said. "As we review, I believe we need to do so in the context of the status quo. Without a high standard TPP, the U.S. will face a Pacific region that could have no trading rules or possibly China's rules. In order for our economy to continue to grow, the United States must be at the table setting the rules for 21st century trade."

President Obama has to make the full text of the deal available for at least 60 days before Congress can approve it.

But U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, both Madison-area Dems, called for Obama to release the full text of the deal right away, with Baldwin saying the deal was "hatched in secret behind closed doors."

"Any deal that does not help level the playing field for the American worker will not have my support - from currency manipulation to state-owned enterprises to labor standards, American workers shouldn't be put at a disadvantage by unfair trade deals that rig the game against our Made in America economy," Baldwin said.

Pocan said it's "imperative Congress rigorously reviews this deal to ensure the American people are not being taken for a ride yet again."

A vote on the deal in Congress is expected sometime next year. In June, Congress approved fast-track Trade Promotion Authority that ensures the vote on the deal will be an up-or-down vote, with no amendments possible.

Key supporters of the fast-track TPA included U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. Ryan said the White House "must clearly explain the benefits of this agreement and what it will mean for American families."

"A successful Trans-Pacific Partnership would mean greater American influence in the world and more good jobs at home," Ryan said. "But only a good agreement--and one that meets congressional guidelines in the newly enacted Trade Promotion Authority--will be able to pass the House. I am reserving judgment until I am able to review the final text and consult with my colleagues and my constituents."

See more reaction in the press release section at WisPolitics.com.

Monday, October 5, 2015

 11:12 AM 

Johnson: 'Thoughtful discussion' needed on gun laws

The country needs a "thoughtful discussion" on gun laws that avoids politics and focuses on the causes of mass shootings such as the one in Oregon Thursday, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said.

The Oshkosh Republican was responding to questions at Madison-Kipp Corp. on Madison's east side Friday during the kickoff of his tour of companies in recognition of Wisconsin Manufacturing Month. Those questions focused on the shooting at Umpqua Community College that left nine people dead.

But Johnson told reporters any solution proposed to curb gun violence needs to show how it would have prevented the shootings.

"So I'm not just all for hopping on some particular solution just because, 'Well, we've got to do something,'" Johnson said. "Well, we have to make sure that whatever we do actually fixes the problem without depriving Americans of their constitutional and basic rights."

He said reviewing gun laws, the process for background checks and what some say is a loophole in the gun show law is worthwhile as long as it leads to gun violence prevention rather than just more bureaucracy.

He said lawmakers debated the topic after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. But Dems, he said, blocked an amendment that would have strengthened enforcement of gun laws and dealt with concerns about straw purchases.

The two sides, Johnson said, need to find common ground when seeking a solution.

"There are plenty of things that Republicans and, I think, Democrats could have agreed on if we would concentrate on what we agree on, the things that unite us, rather than things that exploit our divisions," he said.

There is a point President Barack Obama made that Johnson said he shares.

"We're getting immune," Johnson said. "It's happening way too often. So let's start the thoughtful discussion now. But, again, let's not politicize it."

Johnson also offered his ideas on Syrian refugees, including prioritizing those with family in the U.S. and using DNA testing to confirm the relations.

"We could do that actually very quickly," he said. "Those family members could be made to be responsible financially for the refugees coming in so the American taxpayers, their support is going to be minimal.

"So there's a way of doing this smartly, and that's what we have to do."

Johnson made it clear he does not think Obama has used a smart approach in Syria or the rest of the hotspots in the Middle East. Saying the president made a "historic blunder" by not leaving a stabilizing force in Iraq, the senator said the U.S. now needs to build a coalition to establish no-fly zones and safe havens for refugees in that country.

"President Obama has a strategy in the world, particularly in the Middle East," Johnson said. "It's called peace through withdrawal, and it's been a miserable failure. So you have to achieve peace through strength."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

 8:48 AM 

Ryan supporting McCarthy for speaker

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, is again offering an endorsement in the coming House leadership races, backing Kevin McCarthy for speaker.

McCarthy called the California Republican an "effective leader."

"At this critical moment, Kevin McCarthy is the right person to lead the House of Representatives. Many opportunities and challenges lie in the months ahead -- and Kevin knows that if we are going to be successful, the next speaker must listen to not only congressional Republicans, but also to the American people."

Ryan on Monday backed Tom Price, R-Ga., for majority leader.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

 8:44 AM 

Ryan backing Ga. U.S. Rep. Price for majority leader

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is backing Georgia Republican Tom Price for majority leader in the upcoming leadership elections, calling him a "committed conservative and a good friend."

Price faces Reps. Steve Scalise, R-La., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., for the No. 2 spot in House leadership.

"He and I have served for years together on the Budget and Ways and Means Committees, working to pay down our debt, fix our tax code, and grow our economy," said Ryan. a Janesville Republican who heads Ways and Means. "Tom has a proven record of advancing conservative solutions and principles. He has the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective Majority Leader, and I'm proud to support him."

Friday, September 25, 2015

 5:33 PM 

Boehner's resignation surprises Wisconsin delegation

The prevailing mood on Capitol Hill after Speaker John Boehner's announcement that he will resign from his post next month was one of surprise.

"I was with the speaker in a private meeting yesterday and he never mentioned it," Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Appleton. "I was totally caught off guard."

Despite not even confiding in even his closest allies until minutes before telling the House Republican Conference in a closed-door meeting, the response was almost universally positive. Despite grumblings from the rank-and-file and challenges to his speakership from his right flank, most members applauded him for a thankless job well done.

The Wisconsin delegation was no different.

Rep. Paul Ryan, whose spokesman responded with a flat "no" when asked if he would pursue the speakership, called Boehner's move "an act of pure selflessness."

"We will miss John, and I am confident our conference will elect leaders who are capable of meeting the challenges our nation faces," the Janesville Republican said.

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, called the Ohio Republican "the epitome of the American dream" and said, "His strong Midwestern work ethic and devout Catholic faith have served him well in his political career and allowed him to follow his heart and conscience, regardless of his critics' concerns.

"I value his leadership, I am grateful for his friendship, and Rachel and I will always appreciate the extra care he showed our family," Duffy said, referring to Boehner's patience when he and his wife, Rachel, were wrangling five of their children into place to take the official photo of Duffy's swearing-in with Boehner in 2013. The couple has seven children. Watch video of the ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVUD_KFqS_A

The dean of the Wisconsin delegation, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, had kind words for Boehner as well.

Boehner "led the Republican Party to its largest majorities since the 1920s," Sensenbrenner stated. "And in a contentious political atmosphere where it's nearly impossible to achieve anything, he has done an exceptional job building relationships, bridging gaps and passing meaningful and necessary legislation."

The only freshman in the delegation, Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, has previously noted what a difficult job Boehner had keeping the fractious GOP conference in line.

"He grew the Republican majority by over 60 seats during his tenure," Grothman noted in wishing Boehner well. "Congress has a lot of work to do in the coming months, and I am confident we will elect the right leadership to move the Republican Conference forward."

Wisconsin's House Democrats also spoke favorably of Boehner, and noted what a hard job he had.

"Speaker Boehner has been a friend since the days we served on the House Education and Workforce committee together," Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, stated. "He was tasked with making Congress function but was often stopped at every turn by members of his own party who refused to work together to get to yes.

"In light of this frustration I am not surprised he is stepping down," Kind noted.

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, praised Boehner for his leadership in ending the conservative-driven government shutdown in 2013.

"He did a great job," she said. "I felt sorry for him for a long time; it's a really unmanageable herd, really."

By Nicole Duran
For WisPolitics.com

Thursday, September 24, 2015

 10:55 AM 

Column: Sensenbrenner slams Obama on criminal justice reform

This is an excerpt from Nicole Duran's weekly DC Wrap column. Sign up to get the full column in your inbox each week. 

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner didn't take kindly to the White House's claim that Congress is stalling on legislation to overhaul the criminal justice system.

"I'll be blunt -- while the president has been peddling a catastrophic Iran deal and posing for holy photos in El Reno, Congress has been working in a diligent and bipartisan way to pass meaningful criminal justice reform," the Menomonee Falls Republican said after a White House spokesman accused Congress of dallying, referring to Obama's trip in July to a federal prison in Oklahoma.

"If the president is truly 'eager to get to work' on criminal justice, then I encourage him to start by endorsing the SAFE Justice Act," Sensenbrenner said. His legislation would overhaul the federal sentencing and corrections system to combat recidivism, maintain lengthy sentences only for violent and career criminals and seek alternatives to jail for nonviolent offenders.

"The White House will achieve a lot more by backing this bipartisan, evidence-based legislation than it will with kneejerk attacks on Republicans in Congress," Sensenbrenner concluded.

He was reacting to White House spokesman Josh Earnest who in talking about how criminal justice reform is a priority for President Obama said that Congress was pre-occupied.

"[W]e welcome and even have been complimentary of some Republicans with whom we don't often agree about their support for some of these issues," Earnest said. "I mean, I'll be blunt; I don't think that there's been a lot of legislative work that's been done on this ... primarily because Congress has been out of town for most of the last couple of months, and since they've gotten back they've been bogged down in some of these issues related to funding for Planned Parenthood.

"Now, there have been some conversations, but the real legislative hard work and legislative negotiations that need to take place are still a little bit down the line," Earnest said.

Obama has made revamping the nation's criminal justice system a top priority for the remainder of his presidency.

Sensenbrenner's legislation, which he introduced with Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., is the only comprehensive bill pending before Congress. The package has attracted support ranging from the ACLU to the Koch brothers.

Read Duran's column for more on other DC issues, including Sen. Ron Johnson on Chinese hacking accusations and Pope Francis' visit.

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· Tammy Baldwin (D)
· Ron Johnson (R)

· 1st CD: Paul Ryan (R)
· 2nd CD: Mark Pocan (D)
· 3rd CD: Ron Kind (D)
· 4th CD: Gwen Moore (D)
· 5th CD: F. James Sensenbrenner (R)
· 6th CD: Glenn Grothman (R)
· 7th CD: Sean Duffy (R)
· 8th CD: Reid Ribble (R)



· July 2013: Wood's 2001 DC inauguration trip turned into new career
· May 2013: Hard work propels Berens from Doyle to Pelosi to DGA
· March 2013: Riemann uses PR skills, 'lunch-pail work ethic' to boost state interests in D.C.
· Feb. 2013: Stocks seeks to remake NEA as 'more than a traditional labor union'
· Dec. 2012: As modest Kohl bids farewell to Senate, others do the bragging
· Dec. 2012: Wisconsin experience provides guideposts to Priebus at RNC


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