• WisPolitics

Thursday, December 19, 2013

 5:07 PM 

Baldwin seeks USDA cranberry purchase

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin today asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to back an agency purchase of cranberries to alleviate a surplus supply of the state's official fruit.

The letter -- which Baldwin authored with fellow Dem Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington -- says the industry has seen a 60 percent increase in inventories over the past two years.

The purchase from the USDA would be funded through customs receipts and distributed to food pantries.

The letter comes on the same day the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association announced that Baldwin, D-Madison, would serve as a co-chair of the 22-member Congressional Cranberry Caucus. U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, is also a co-chair, and the caucus includes fellow Wisconsin Reps. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh.

"Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state," Baldwin said in a statement on the USDA letter. "In a state that depends on agriculture to support hundreds of thousands of jobs and communities small and large, it’s essential that we provide our growers with the tools and resources they need to continue to succeed."

 9:59 AM 

Amendment for Wis. Civil War casualty included in defense bill

U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, and Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, hailed Senate support for the National Defense Authorization Act Wednesday, which includes a provision allowing a Wisconsin Civil War soldier to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The amendment would waive the normal timing requirements for awarding the medal to Lt. Alonzo Cushing, pending approval from the Defense Department. Cushing, a Delafield native, was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg while commanding his troops against the famed Pickett's Charge.

Sensenbrenner and Kind said in a statement that Cushing's efforts helped turn the tide of the battle.

"It’s never too late to do the right thing, especially when it comes to honoring our war heroes," Kind said. "I am heartened to be joined by my colleagues in Congress in sending this bill to the President so we as a nation can finally honor Lt. Cushing with his well-deserved Medal of Honor."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

 5:00 PM 

Senate passes budget compromise

The U.S. Senate this afternoon voted to pass a bipartisan budget compromise by a 64-36 margin.

Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, was one of nine GOP senators to vote for the proposal, joining Tammy Baldwin of Madison and the rest of the Senate Dem caucus in support.

The measure, co-authored by House Budget Chair Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, and passed by that chamber last week, now heads to President Obama for his signature.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

 12:13 PM 

Baldwin, Johnson back measure to advance budget deal

Both of Wisconsin's U.S. senators today voted in favor of a motion to cut off debate on a compromise budget proposal, clearing the way for likely passage later this week.

The motion passed 67-33, with all "no" votes coming from Republicans. Johnson, however, has indicated he would support the budget, which passed the GOP-controlled House last week.

Monday, December 16, 2013

 7:53 AM 

Johnson to support budget deal

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, says he’ll support the budget deal that passed the House last week “as long as the Senate does nothing to worsen the bill.”

Johnson had expressed some reservations about the deal when it was first announced. The senator said while the deal is no “grand bargain,” he credited U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, with understanding a more significant compromise wasn’t possible at this time.

“This is a limited agreement that prevents government shutdowns through fiscal year 2015 that would hurt economic growth and new job creation,” Johnson said, noting he disagrees with a number of provisions in the bill. “It also provides executive agencies and congressional committees the opportunity to prioritize spending and eliminate duplicative programs – which is long overdue.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, praised the budget deal last week as a "fair bargain," adding it was important both parties worked together to "put progress ahead of politics."

"The bipartisan budget agreement isn't perfect, but it is progress that will help break this destructive pattern of drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next," she said. "This agreement is a fair bargain that invests in middle class families, reduces the deficit, and rolls back the arbitrary cuts of sequestration that have slowed economic growth and cost our economy jobs."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

 6:32 PM 

Pocan only member of House delegation to vote against budget deal

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said members of Congress "have to do better" than the compromise budget package unveiled earlier this week, saying "just because Congress has a deal does not mean Congress has done its job."

Pocan, D-Madison, was the lone member of Wisconsin's House delegation to vote against the proposal, which passed by a 332-94 margin. He said while the deal provides "some minor relief" from federal sequestration over the next two years, continued cuts "will continue to do needless harm to our families, our students and our economy in the coming year and for years to come."

He also said the bill "abandons 1.3 million Americans who desperately need unemployment insurance, and does nothing to promote economic growth or job creation."

The remainder of the delegation, meanwhile, largely characterized the deal -- offered by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. -- as a small step toward bipartisan cooperation.

"Given the current atmosphere here in Washington, it’s clear that we need to walk before we can run," said U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse. Fellow Dem Gwen Moore of Milwaukee said the proposal "affords us the opportunity to discuss items not directly related to the budget, such as passing comprehensive immigration reform."

On the GOP side, U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble of Sherwood said he's "encouraged that Congress will -- for the first time since I’ve been in Washington -- return to a functioning budget process."

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, called the budget "a strong starting point for further deficit reduction and government reforms," and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said, "While I wish the bill went further to address our nation’s debt, I supported it and commend my friend Paul Ryan for his dedication to our country’s fiscal stability."

Ryan thanked members on both sides of the aisle for supporting the deal, saying it would "stop Washington’s lurch from crisis to crisis."

 8:10 AM 

Baldwin calls for expanded investigation into ATF operations

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, has sent a letter to Department of Justice's inspector general requesting the office expand its investigation into the ATF's use of the developmentally disabled for drug-and-gun operations.

Baldwin noted the office has previously conducted an internal review of ATF tactics. But she cited a media report that the ATF intentionally targeted the developmentally disabled to carry out illegal activities as part of storefront stings in Milwaukee and four other cities in requesting the expanded review.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

 9:26 AM 

Ryan: Budget deal a 'step in the right direction'

GOP U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is touting a budget deal he worked out with Dem Sen. Patty Murray as a "step in the right direction."

The Budget chairs for their respective houses unveiled the deal late yesterday. It includes setting discretionary spending for fiscal year 2014 at $1.012 trillion and $1.014 trillion in fiscal year 2015. Spending in the first year is about halfway between the Dem Senate budget of $1.058 billion and the GOP House version at $967 billion.

There's also $63 billion of sequester relief over two years split evenly between defense and non-defense programs.

"I'm proud of this agreement," Ryan said. "It reduces the deficit -- without raising taxes. And it cuts spending in a smarter way. It's a firm step in the right direction, and I ask all my colleagues in the House to support it."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

 11:46 AM 

Dems urge congressional action on unemployment benefits

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan and 51 state legislators today called on Congress to pass an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, saying thousands of Wisconsinites could lose needed income when the emergency provisions expire later this month.

"Without Congressional action, the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Wisconsin families will be threatened just days after Christmas," Pocan, D-Madison, said in a statement. "As our economy continues to recover, we must maintain this vital unemployment insurance for Wisconsin job seekers who would like nothing more than to re-enter the workforce."

Pocan pointed to a report from Dem members of the House Ways and Means Committee showing 23,700 Wisconsinites would lose coverage beginning Dec. 28, with benefits for 41,800 more in jeopardy over the following first months of 2014.

State Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, echoed those concerns in a letter to the state's congressional delegation signed by 50 of his legislative Dem colleagues.

"For those laid-off workers still searching for jobs, unemployment benefits are often the only thing keeping their families financially afloat," Mason said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, added in an emailed statement that "Wisconsin’s economy continues to lag behind other states" and that allowing the benefits to expire would "cost our economy jobs and slow growth."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

 3:02 PM 

Pocan calls for minimum wage increase

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, took to the House floor today to tout legislation that would raise the national minimum wage, calling it "common sense economic policy."

"When millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules can't support themselves or their families, when they live in poverty, we face an economic crisis," Pocan said.

In a statement, Pocan said the Fair Minimum Wage Act would boost wages for 30 million Americans, raising income by more than $50 billion over the three-year course of gradually raising the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour. The level would be indexed to inflation thereafter.

Pocan's speech coincided with protests and single-day strikes at fast food restaurants in more than 100 cities nationwide, including Milwaukee and Madison.

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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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