With the House postponing a vote late last night on House Speaker John Boehner's debt ceiling bill, Dem Congressman Ron Kind is advocating legislation that would stop payment of members' salaries if the government defaults.
"There is no reason Members of Congress should be paid if veterans, seniors and the disabled aren’t receiving their benefits," said Kind, D-La Crosse. "Hopefully this will be the motivation my colleagues need to get our country on a sound fiscal path."
As the debate over the House GOP bill continues, the Dem-controlled Senate and the White House insist that bill won't be considered as the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling looms.
Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson told a Senate subcommittee today that the bridge crossing the St. Croix River between Houlton and Stillwater, Minn., was never intended to handle as much traffic as it does today.
Each urged the Subcommittee on National Parks to advance the St. Croix River Crossing project to construct a replacement for the 80-year old bridge.
"I remember driving across the bridge during the 70’s," Johnson, R-Oshkosh, told the committee in prepared remarks. "It didn’t feel very safe to me then, and now the safety ratings from the Minnesota Department of Transportation indicate the bridge is one of the least safe bridges in the Midwest."
The proposal must be exempted from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to move forward, with Johnson adding that it would not require additional federal funding.
Walker submitted written testimony to the panel, calling the bridge project "absolutely imperative."
"The Minnesota and Wisconsin state governments both recognize the importance of this bridge and the need for a replacement, and I am respectfully asking your subcommittee to do the same," Walker wrote.
With a vote expected later today on House Speaker John Boehner's bill to address raising the nation's debt ceiling, Wisconsin's GOP congressmen have so far been supportive of the measure.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, wrote Tuesday in a National Review column that while the bill is "far from perfect," the measure "takes an important step in the right direction by cutting $1.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade."
"Critically, it does this without resorting to Senator Reid’s gimmicks and without imposing the president’s preferred tax increases on American families and the struggling economy," wrote Ryan, the House Budget chairman.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, said in a statement Tuesday that he'd support the measure as well.
“Since day one I’ve been clear on the debt ceiling increase: if the President was willing to cut up the country’s credit card, then I’d be willing to pay the bill. This plan does just that," Duffy said.
And the office of U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble said the De Pere Republican would also vote for the bill.
The offices of U.S. Reps. Tom Petri of Fond du Lac and Jim Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls didn't respond to emails from WisPolitics.
Wisconsin's three Dem members of Congress have requested that U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reject an anticipated request from the Walker administration to change the state's Family Care waiver.
In a letter dated Monday, U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Madison, Ron Kind of La Crosse and Gwen Moore of Milwaukee write that the expected request would eliminate the "entitlement to services" provision of the current waiver, which would "fundamentally change the program" for the 35,000 Wisconsinites who currently rely on Family Care.
They argue the changes in state budget could prevent up to 16,900 people from enrolling over the next two years.
The lawmakers ask Sebelius to reject the request, as well as to "carefully vet all requests to change current Wisconsin Medicaid rules."
"We must ensure that the health needs of our constituents are put first, rather than personal ideology," the letter reads.
The DCCC is starting robocalls in four Wisconsin House districts as part of a national “We Don’t Quit” campaign on the debate over raising the debt ceiling.
The targeted GOP Wisconsin lawmakers in include U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy of Ashland, Tom Petri of Fond du Lac, Reid Ribble of Kaukauna and Paul Ryan of Janesville. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it will do the automated calls in 60 districts nationwide; President Obama won 83 percent of those districts in 2008.
Here’s the Duffy script:
“Congressman Sean Duffy and Speaker Boehner would rather our economy default just to protect tax breaks for Big Oil companies and billionaire jet-owners. Republicans quit negotiating with President Obama on raising the debt ceiling.
“This is serious. Duffy's billionaire buddies will be OK. But we will pay the price if government can’t pay its bills. Our Social Security and Medicare benefits are at risk. Interest rates would spike for our credit cards, car loans and mortgages. Our 401(k) retirement accounts would drop. And, gas and food prices would skyrocket.
“Enough is enough. Call Congressman Duffy and tell him not to gamble our future to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and billionaires.”
UPDATE: NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek responded, "The fact that Democrats won't quit is exactly why Americans are disgusted with Washington and the unfortunate situation our country now faces. Democrats won't quit spending money we don't have, and they won't quit raising taxes and burdening Americans with policies that make a bad economy even worse."
The Service Employees International Union and Americans United for Change are targeting U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy in a new TV ad as negotiations continue on a deal to raise the nation's debt limit.
The ad, which shows a camera careening around roads before a shot of a car falling off a cliff, says Duffy, R-Ashland, and his House GOP colleagues are risking default, jobs and the American economy "all to protect the tax breaks of millionaires, oil companies and CEOs who fly around in corporate jets."
"Congress should be focused on creating jobs, not finding ways slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement. "Working families will not forget those who step forward for a balanced approach and those who wish to sacrifice the American Dream to satisfy an ideological agenda."
The ad begins airing Thursday in the Wausau broadcast TV market, and the groups say they'll also target local news websites and Google's network in the 7th CD. Similar spots are targeting House Republicans Dave Camp of Michigan, Chip Cravaack of Minnesota and Richard Hanna of New York.
State GOP Executive Director Stephan Thompson responded in a statement, "While union bosses hate the idea of getting less of our money, Congressman Duffy understands the needs of middle-class families, and that if we are to break the cycle of ever-increasing unemployment numbers, we must break the cycle of bloated government spending."
Wisconsin’s congressional delegation split along party lines on the GOP’s “Cut, Cap and Balance Act,” which passed Tuesday on a largely party line 234-190 vote.
All five Republicans backed the plan, which would impost statutory spending caps that would reduce government spending $5.8 trillion over the next decade. All three Dems opposed it.
"Families across Wisconsin have been forced to scale back their spending and balance their budgets, yet the federal government has failed to do the same," said U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-De Pere, in a statement. "The three-step approach we outlined in this legislation will make sure Congress pays off its debt and operates within its means, so that we don’t place this burden on the backs of our children and grandchildren."
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, however, chastised Republicans for "wasting time on a bill that only plays to their base."
"Amending the Constitution is not required to get our fiscal house in order," Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a statement. "It’s time to take a realistic approach when our country is in jeopardy of defaulting on its obligations."
Three Wisconsinites turned up on the president’s list of bundlers who helped him raise $86 million in the second quarter for his re-election.
Patrick Guarasci, a campaign aide to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Mary Lang Sollinger, an Obama ally in Madison, and Paul Schmitz, the national CEO of Public Allies, were listed among those who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama’s campaign.
Former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow reported more than $89,000 raised during his first quarterly filing with the Federal Election Commission as he prepares to challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy.
Kreitlow, D-Chippewa Falls, disclosed spending $8,300 in the second quarter, running from April 1 through June 30; he announced his candidacy in late April. He had a cash balance of nearly $82,000 at the end of the period.
Duffy, R-Ashland, reported more than $363,000 raised and more than $78,000 spent during the quarter. His final warchest was more than $522,000.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin says she'll make up her mind by mid- to late August on whether to run for the Senate next year, but added on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” that she's “very likely to jump in.”
Baldwin, D-Madison, said she has talked over a run with former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and said his decision about running for the office is “a very important factor in my thinking.”
“He was very encouraging on my exploring a candidacy for Senate,” Baldwin said on the show, a statewide TV newsmagazine produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com.
Feingold has said he plans to make a decision on a run by Labor Day.
Gousha asked Baldwin to respond to critics who say she's “the quintessential Madison liberal” and would be unable to carry the state. Baldwin responded by saying that her so-called liberal positions are “very consistent with Wisconsin values.”
Baldwin also said she was optimistic a debt deal could be reached.
She knocked “Republican game playing” and praised President Obama for his willingness to compromise.
But she made it clear she believes certain programs take precedent over others.
“I think we have to very aggressively protect Social Security and Medicare, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about ways to make it more efficient,” Baldwin said.
Gousha also sat down with UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin to discuss GOP redistricting legislation on the fast track in Madison.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan once again raised the most in quarterly campaign contributions in the Wisconsin House delegation, according to the latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
But his first announced Dem opponent, Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban, reported more than $100,000 raised during the quarter in his first FEC report, well ahead of the pace of most previous Ryan challengers. Zerban's campaign spent $16,734 during the period and had an ending cash on hand total of nearly $205,000.
Ryan, R-Janesville, reported raising more than $890,000 during the second quarter, which ran from April 1 through June 30. He spent nearly $220,000 in the quarter and reported a cash balance of $3.8 million.
Other fundraising totals reported by Friday's deadline included:
- U.S. Rep. Ron Kind reported raising nearly $404,000 in the quarter. The La Crosse Dem spent more than $107,000 and reported a $478,000 warchest.
- U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, reported raising nearly $113,000, spending more than $100,000 and an ending cash balance of nearly $43,000.
- U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, reported more than $363,000 raised and a warchest of more than $522,000. He spent more than $78,000.
- U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-De Pere, had more than $347,00 cash on hand after raising more than $224,000 and spending more than $73,000 in the quarter.
U.S. Rep. Tom Petri reported more than $127,000 raised during the second quarter of 2011, according to his latest FEC filing.
Petri, R-Fond du Lac, reported spending more than $57,000 between April 1 and June 30, and had a cash balance of more than $962,000 at the end of the period.
His longtime House GOP colleague, Jim Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls, reported raising nearly $50,000 during the period and spending nearly $49,000. He reported an ending warchest of more than $362,000.
Reports from the second quarter are due to the FEC tomorrow.
Gov. Scott Walker today sent letters to the chairmen of the House and Senate natural resources committees urging passage of legislation to replace a lift bridge between Houlton and Stillwater, Minn.
Walker noted that the bridge has remained operational as a "critical service" despite Minnesota's government shutdown, and said both state's governments have been working to replace the bridge for 30 years.
"The bridge is in desperate need of replacement and Minnesota has indicated that money allotted to a new bridge will need to be reallocated if Congress does not act before September 30th," Walker writes.
Bucyrus CEO Tim Sullivan, whose company has just sold to Caterpillar, told "UpFront with Mike Gousha" Sunday he's not yet ready to make a decision and is currently weighing a variety of options, including CEO positions outside of the state.
“I think it really depends on what is available out there to me,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan said if he runs, he'd do so as an independent, citing political polarization as his inspiration.
“I couldn’t pick sides, quite frankly I have a problem with both sides,” said Sullivan. “The whole country was founded on collaboration and compromise, I don't know what happened.”
Republican legislative leaders released proposed maps Friday to dramatically overhaul Wisconsin’s political boundaries, including making moves to shore up freshman GOP U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy.
The map of House districts would swap several areas of the 7th and 3rd CDs to make the former more Republican and the latter more Dem. Duffy, R-Ashland, would pick up growing St. Croix County on the western edge of the state, while shedding all of Portage and most of Wood counties, which would be added to the 3rd, held by La Crosse Dem Ron Kind.
Duffy would also lose the southern third of Chippewa County.
Bucyrus CEO Tim Sullivan says he would likely run as an independent if he decides to get in the race for U.S. Senate next year.
"I couldn't pick sides, quite frankly,” Sullivan says in an interview taped for “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” which is produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. “I have a problem with both sides. I think both sides right now have their issues. They're so polarized. The whole country was founded on collaboration and compromise. I don't know what happened -- it's gone."
In the interview, which will air Sunday, Sullivan said he has some time to work through options that are available to him. He has said previously he would decide his future plans after the sale of Bucyrus to Caterpillar is complete, and that process is wrapping up.
“I'm going to weigh up all of the options I've been looking at here in the last month or so and I guess I'll make a decision sooner or later, but I'm not ready yet," he said.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, suggests a deal regarding the U.S. debt ceiling will be reached before the Aug. 2 deadline.
“Our goal is not to default. ... Our goal is to get spending under control and get a really good down payment on the debt,” said Ryan on Sunday's “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” a statewide TV newsmagazine produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com.
The Janesville Republican said that his philosophy for dealing with debt crisis is simple: “For every dollar that the president wants to increase the debt limit ... cut more than a dollar’s worth of spending.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind told Gousha, "We better have a deal."
"The economy is fragile enough," Kind said. "Something like this could tip it over again.”
The La Crosse Dem emphasized the need for shared sacrifice.
“When you’ve got large oil companies sitting on record profits ... and the (governor's) budget is asking seniors to double their out of pocket expenses for the health care that they desperately need, I think our priorities are a little bit out of whack,” Kind said.