U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on Thursday charged that the Obama administration used UN Ambassador Susan Rice to mislead the public about the nature of the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
"This administration purposefully misled the American public for a couple weeks after that attack," the Oshkosh Republican told Fox News following a Senate Homeland Security Committee briefing on the Sept. 11 attack. "And they basically used Ambassador Rice as the tool ... to do a part of the very large job of that misleading."
Johnson said lawmakers need to find out "who directed the entire effort of changing the narrative," but that the problem "really falls on President Obama."
He alleged that the Obama administration didn't want to change the narrative that he "had al Qaeda on the run."
"Let's face it, al Qaeda is not decimated," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, it's on the rise and it's threating America."
He added that Rice has "blown that level of credibility with the American people," and that it would be "probably disqualifying" if she were nominated to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State.
U.S. Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., today urged President Obama to back a tax increase on high-income earners as part of a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year.
In a letter to the president, Baldwin and Whitehouse -- the House and Senate sponsors, respectively, of the "Buffett Rule," named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett -- wrote that requiring a 30 percent effective federal tax rate for "multi-million-dollar earners" should be part of any budget deal.
"In addition to letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for incomes above $250,000 as you have pledged to do, we believe it is imperative to enact a safeguard to ensure that the highest-earning Americans cannot subvert the progressivity of the tax code through loopholes and special rates not available to middle-class families," the lawmakers wrote.
Mark Pocan today announced that Glenn Wavrunek, a long-time aide to the Madison state rep., will serve as his chief of staff when he takes office in Congress next year.
The congressman-elect also announced that Janet Piraino, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, then-U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, will serve as his district director.
“Glenn and Janet have a combined 43 years of experience serving Wisconsinites at the federal, state and local levels of government,” Pocan said in a statement. “These are two seasoned professionals with strong ties to our community, a deep understanding of the needs of our region and a sincere devotion to public service. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan has been granted a waiver to continue as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
House Republicans have a six-year term limit on committee chairmen and ranking members. But the House Republican Steering Committee made an exception for Ryan yesterday in recommending him to continue leading the committee.
The full GOP caucus is expected to vote today on the recommendations.
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, announced earlier this month that he was seeking the chairmanship of the Science, Space and Technology Committee. But the steering committee recommended Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas.
See Speaker John Boehner’s statement on the slate of committee chairs here.
U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Tim Walz, D-Minn., today asked federal officials to lift trade restrictions currently barring domestic dairy exports to Russia.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the lawmakers note that a recently passed House bill would normalize trade relations with Russia, arguing the federal government should “address any non-science-based sanitary and phytosanitary issues that have continued to prohibit U.S. dairy exports from having access to the Russian market.”
"Establishing normal trade relations with Russia and holding them accountable through the World Trade Organization not only expands diplomatic and economic engagement in the growing Russian marketplace but creates increased economic opportunities for dairy farmers in Wisconsin and across the country,” Kind said in a statement.
“What I am asking the president to do and the Senate Democrats to do is put a plan on the table,” he said on the public affairs program, produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. “Let the American people see what your plans are for closing a trillion dollar a year deficit.”
Johnson, R-Oshkosh, claims in President Obama’s four years as president, he has yet to lay out a plan to “save” Social Security or Medicare and "misled the American public" during the campaign by focusing on tax increases for the rich.
Johnson said voters believed the deficit and economic recession would be solved “if all we do is make the rich pay their fair share and produce a balanced approach to deficit reduction,” he said. “The president misled the American public ... I don’t believe enough Americans really understand the depth of our fiscal situation and what it will take to solve it.”
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has been elected leader of the centrist New Democrat Coalition.
Kind, D-La Crosse, has been a member of the organization since 1997 and vice chair since 2003. The group of more than 50 lawmakers advocates "pro-growth strategies."
"We have an opportunity now to find ways to work across the aisle and bring our country back together again," Kind said in a statement. "The New Democrat Coalition can play a critical role in achieving that."
The four Dem members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation -- along with its newest member -- today asked Gov. Scott Walker to set up a Wisconsin-specific health insurance exchange under the federal health care reform law.
In a letter to the governor, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl of Milwaukee, U.S. Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin of Madison, U.S. Reps. Ron Kind of La Crosse and Gwen Moore of Milwaukee, and U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Pocan of Madison argue that exchanges are "transparent, consumer-friendly, and operate on free market principles," and that ceding control of Wisconsin's exchange to the federal government would result in long-term consequences for the state.
The Walker administration faces a Friday deadline to notify the Obama administration of its plans for an exchange. That date was also the deadline for states to outline their plans for specific exchanges, but U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has pushed that deadline back into December.
Should the state not pursue its own exchange or a hybrid state-federal program, the federal government will step in to set up an exchange. The governor's office has not signaled what it plans to pursue at the end of the week.
"With one of the strongest health care systems in the country, Wisconsin is uniquely positions to manage its own insurance marketplace," the letter reads. "Unfortunately, if your administration chooses to pass the responsibility to operate our exchange to the federal government, important decisions will be made in Washington instead of Wisconsin."
“Health insurance exchanges have previously had bipartisan support," added Kind in a statement from the five lawmakers. "Now is the time to put partisanship aside and do what is best for the people of Wisconsin.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced today that he's seeking the chairmanship of the House Science Committee, saying "our nation’s science and space policy is at a critical juncture."
The Menomonee Falls Republican -- who currently serves as the committee's vice-chair -- said in a statement that he hopes to responsibly fund research and development, refocus the nation's space program and foster private sector progress in space exploration, and "put the United States back on a path toward being a leader in STEM education.”
“Additionally, it’s more important than ever that the House exercises our constitutional oversight role," Sensenbrenner said. "The Obama Administration has shown its willingness to manipulate science for political ends and threaten our domestic energy production and our economy in the process."
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Oshkosh has signed onto a letter with three GOP colleagues pushing the Obama administration to answer questions about the attacks on the Benghazi consulate in Libya.
The letter, also signed by Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona, restates a series of questions they and their GOP colleagues have sent the Obama administration related to the attacks. They complained in the letter that the administration has not been forthcoming in responding.
"The American people and their representatives in Congress need to understand what you knew about the Benghazi terrorist attack and when you knew it," they wrote. "We also have a right to know what steps you and your administration took-or failed to take-before, during, and after the terrorist attack to protect American lives."