• WisPolitics


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

 8:55 AM 

New session brings changes to congressional chiefs of staff ranks

Half of the Wisconsin congressional delegation's returning members have seen changes at the top of their office staffs since the beginning of the previous session.

In early December, Tony Blando, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's initial state director, moved up to chief of staff. Senior adviser Ken McKay had taken over the Oshkosh Republican's office on an interim basis after the departure of original chief of staff Don Kent. Kent left last year to join the consulting firm headed by former boss and ex-U.S. Rep. Don Nickles.

The dean of the Wisconsin delegation, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner also has a new chief of staff. Bart Forsyth took that position shortly after the election, replacing Mike Lenn. Forsyth has been with the Menonomee Falls Republican in a number of different capacities; Lenn had been promoted from deputy chief of staff after the departure of Tom Schreibel.

Fellow Republican Sean Duffy of Weston's new chief of staff is Pete Meachum, who took that position in December, while Minh Ta has been working as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, for more than a year. Ta was previously legislative director for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

Bill Murat, meanwhile, has moved from the House to the Senate, where he'll continue to serve as chief of staff to Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison. Baldwin also announced today that Will Hansen will serve as her legislative director, Doug Hill will serve as state director, and Carolyn Walser will be director of scheduling and executive assistant.

Baldwin's successor in the 2nd CD, Mark Pocan, D-Madison, has named longtime aide Glenn Wavrunek as his initial chief of staff.

The delegation's four remaining members have the same chiefs of staff as they did two years ago. They include: Erik Olson (U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse), Debbie Gebhardt (U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac), McKay Daniels (U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood), and Andy Speth (U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville).


Monday, January 28, 2013

 3:34 PM 

Baldwin: Immigration deal a step 'in the right direction'

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin called an immigration reform deal announced today by a bipartisan group of senators "a step forward in the right direction."

The proposal, backed by four members of each party, would, in part, provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.

"Our immigration system is broken and we need to find common ground, working across party lines to fix it," Baldwin, D-Madison, said in a statement to WisPolitics.com. "I support continuing our efforts to strengthen border security and creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here living in the shadows."

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said in a statement to WisPolitics that he would "certainly look at bipartisan efforts to address this serious national issue.”

“Our immigration and border security system is obviously broken," Johnson said. "It is high time that Congress does something to address it."

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, added that "the devil is in the details."

"I want to see actual legislation and assess the intended and unintended consequences of the policies," Sensenbrenner said in a statement. "Extending amnesty to those who came here illegally or overstayed their visas is dangerous waters."


 1:10 PM 

Oak Creek police chief joins White House meeting on gun control

President Barack Obama met with 13 local law enforcement officials at the White House this morning -- including Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards -- to discuss gun control issues.

Edwards was joined by officials from a number of large cities such as Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, but also by leaders from other communities marred by mass shootings over the last couple of years -- including chiefs from Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and Tuscon, Ariz.

Also participating in the meeting, according to a pool report, were Vice President Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Biden Chief of Staff Bruce Reed.

"No group is more important for us to listen to than our law enforcement officials. They are where the rubber hits the road," Obama said in remarks prior to the meeting in the Roosevelt Room. "And so I welcome this opportunity to work with them; to hear their views in terms of what will make the biggest difference to prevent something like Newtown or Oak Creek from happening again."


 9:27 AM 

Ryan: Obama seeking 'political conquest'

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan says he held off commenting between the election and the inauguration because he wanted to see what kind of second term the president planned.

But now he’s convinced Barack Obama is “thinking more of a political conquest than political compromise.”

Ryan, R-Janesville, said on “Meet the Press” there is a coming debate on balancing the budget, the debt crisis and issues like immigration reform, saying there are Dems and Republicans who want to come together to fix the problem.

“The question is will the president frustrate that or will he facilitate that? I just don't know the answer to that question,” Ryan said.

The House Budget chair also ruled out raising additional revenues through tax reform as lawmakers try to pass a budget and was asked if he’s thinking about running for president in 2016.

"I don’t. I think it’s just premature,” he said.


Friday, January 25, 2013

 7:55 PM 

Johnson reacts to Washington Post saying he had 'worst week in Washington'

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, called the Washington Post "the poster child" of the status quo in the nation's capital after an opinion piece declared today he had the "worst week in Washington."

Post reporter Chris Cillizza gave Johnson the "award" for his questioning of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a hearing this week and then suggesting that she faked her emotional response to his questions about the attack on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.


"It’s one thing to disagree about whether the gen­esis of the Benghazi attack is critical to understanding how to prevent future assaults," Cillizza wrote. "It’s another entirely to insinuate that Clinton cried on command, faking tears to avoid facing the music."

Johnson took the shot at the Post in a statement and then called Benghazi a failure of leadership by Clinton before, during and after the attack.

"I dared to actually demand that Secretary Clinton explain why she refused to debrief her own staff and then provide truthful information to the American people," Johnson said. "In Washington, demanding the truth is apparently a sin. Every week that Washington leadership continues to sweep its dirt under the carpet, ignore America’s economic plight and turn a blind eye to its own out of control spending is a bad week for me, the people of Wisconsin and every American.”


Thursday, January 24, 2013

 1:54 PM 

Johnson backs off suggestion Clinton faked emotion, but stands by questions



U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson today backed off his suggestion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have planned her emotional response to his inquiries during a Senate hearing as a way to avoid answering a question.

But the Oshkosh Republican continued his criticism of Clinton’s response to the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi and the administration’s original explanation that it stemmed from a protest. Appearing on CNN, he accused the administration of playing election year politics.

“I believe the American people deserve to be told the truth. I believe the American people need to understand what happened, and I really think the American people do have an expectation this president, this administration is honest with them,” Johnson said. “I think it makes a great deal of difference.”

The exchange between Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and Clinton at yesterday’s hearing went viral after the lawmaker continued to push the secretary of state why she didn’t do more to find out the motivation behind the attack, which the administration initially blamed it on a spontaneous protest.

Clinton’s angrily responded, "What difference at this point does it make?"

In an interview with BuzzFeed afterward, Johnson said, “I think she just decided before she was going to describe emotionally the four dead Americans, the heroes, and use that as her trump card to get out of the questions. It was a good way of getting out of really having to respond to me."

CNN host Soledad O'Brien pushed Johnson on that remark several times, and he said he probably speculated when he shouldn’t have. But he said the American public deserves to know what happened and said he agrees with Clinton that the most important thing going forward is ensuring something like that doesn’t happen again.



Johnson’s exchange with Clinton came up again today as the lawmaker questioned Sen. John Kerry during a confirmation hearing for the Massachusetts Dem to replace Clinton as secretary of state.

Johnson asked Kerry if he was willing to work with him on finding out why the administration initially said the attack was part of a protest of agreed with Clinton “that’s yesterday’s news and move on.”

“If you’re trying to get some daylight between me and Secretary Clinton, that’s not going to happen,” Kerry answered.

Johnson continued to press Kerry, who said “I think we do know what happened” and asked Johnson if he attended a briefing on the attack. Johnson said he had not.

“Well, there was a briefing with tapes, which we all saw, those of us who went to it, which made it crystal clear,” Kerry said. “We sat for several hours with our intelligence folks who described to us precisely what we were seeing. We saw all of the events unfold. We had a very complete and detailed description.”

But Johnson countered “What we don’t know is why were we mislead?” and pressed Kerry to work with him on that.
The exchange begins about the 1 hour, 58-minute mark of this video.

UPDATE: Johnson issued a statement this afternoon about the briefing Kerry asked him about, which Johnson said was made available to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"I became a member of the Committee quite recently, and so was not invited to the briefing offered last year," Johnson said. "I have participated in multiple classified briefings on Benghazi, and others that were unclassified. I attended briefings offered to all Senators, and to members of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs."




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 12:54 PM 

Wisconsin House delegation splits on debt ceiling increase

Wisconsin's House delegation split on a GOP-authored bill that would allow the federal government to continue borrowing money until mid-May.

Republicans Sean Duffy of Weston, Reid Ribble of Sherwood and Paul Ryan of Janesville were joined by Dem Ron Kind of La Crosse in supporting the legislation, which also requires each chamber to pass a budget by April 15 or its members won't get paid. Ribble was an early proponent of such an approach.

"This vote has opened the door to transformational change in Washington," Ribble said. "For the first time, members will be held accountable for failing to pass a budget."

Dems Gwen Moore of Milwaukee and Mark Pocan of Madison were joined by Republicans Tom Petri of Fond du Lac and Jim Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls against the bill, which passed 285-144.

Some conservatives raised objections to the bill because they argued it would allow the government to continue accumulating debt, while some Dems raised concerns the legislation violates the 27th Amendment. It prohibits lawmakers from increasing or decreasing their pay until the start of a new term.

See the roll call.


 10:57 AM 

Johnson, Clinton have testy exchange over Benghazi



U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, had a testy exchange with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today as he pressed her on the administration’s initial explanation that attacks on the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi sprang out of a protest.

Johnson asked Clinton as she testified before the Foreign Relations Committee if she spoke with any of the evacuees from the embassy or if anyone from the State Department had talked with them immediately after the attack.

Clinton said she has talked to one of them and State Department officials waited to speak with others until after an investigation had begun into what happened and the FBI interviewed them. She said the immediate concern in the aftermath of the attack was giving medical attention to those injured.

Johnson continued to press her on why the State Department did not do more to find out what happened, saying former Ambassador Susan Rice went on talk shows in the days after the attack to say it stemmed from spontaneous protests and were not terrorist attacks. The administration later classified it as a terrorist attack.

“The point I’m making is a very simple phone call to these individuals, I think, would have ascertained immediately that there was no protest prior to this,” he said, accusing Rice of “purposefully misleading the American public.”

Clinton said there was no intention to mislead and the State Department did not feel it was appropriate to speak with the evacuees until after the FBI had interviewed them and did not want to interfere with the investigation.

“I realize that’s a good excuse,” Johnson said, interrupting her.

“No, it’s the fact,” Clinton shot back.

Johnson repeated the charge that Americans were mislead and insisted the public could have known that right away if the State Department had interviewed witnesses right away.

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans?” Clinton said, her voice rising. “What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.”

Watch the exchange.




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

 4:18 PM 

Petri introduces education reform bill

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri today announced legislation he said would ease federal education regulations, enabling to schools to "teach the skills required in a modern economy."

"The skills needed for success go beyond the basics of reading, writing, and math," the Fond du Lac Republican said in a statement. "When surveyed, employers continually emphasize that, in our 21st century economy, students need to be adept at critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation."

Petri added that the bill, dubbed the 21st Century Readiness Act, would allow states and school districts access to existing federal grants.


 3:01 PM 

Baldwin supports filibuster reform

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin will co-sponsor a bill to change the filibuster process in the Senate, tweeting that, "The time for reform is now."

"Recently, the threat of filibuster has been used far too often and as a result political obstructionism in the United States Senate is now worse than it has ever been," Baldwin, D-Madison, said in a statement provided to the Huffington Post. "The people of Wisconsin and our state's progressive tradition deserve better."

The measure, offered by fellow Dem U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tom Udall of New Mexico, would, in part, require members to speak on the Senate floor during a filibuster instead of simply raising an objection to stall debate on bills. Udall has called the measure "simple, limited and fair," and argued it would prevent the Senate "from being a graveyard for good ideas."


Monday, January 21, 2013

 12:56 PM 

Wis. lawmakers react to presidential inauguration

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan offered his congratulations to President Barack Obama on his second inauguration today, conceding that although they were opponents in the fall, "today, we put those disagreements aside."

"We may disagree on matters of policy," the Janesville Republican and 2012 VP candidate said in a statement on his Facebook page. "But today we remember why we take those matters so seriously -- because we seek the public good."

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, meanwhile, said that Americans elected divided government last year, and that they want "the President and Congress to work together to address the serious challenges facing our nation."

“As Americans observe today’s inauguration, it is time to quit playing Washington politics and start acting responsibly to grow our economy and secure prosperity for future generations," the Oshkosh Republican said in a statement. "As President Obama begins his second term, preventing the bankrupting of America should be his top priority.”

Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement that he would "continue to work with President Obama during his second term to find innovative ways to reform government and provide a better tomorrow for the next generation."

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore said today's inauguration -- coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- was "fitting." Moore, D-Milwaukee, called for Obama to act on immigration, violence against women and, particularly, gun control in his second term.

"From Dr. King to the 26 victims at Sandy Hook, America has lost too many innocent civilians to gun violence," Moore said in her statement. "Taking action may be difficult, but Dr. King said ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’"


Thursday, January 17, 2013

 7:16 PM 

Kind calls on Walker to take Medicaid expansion

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind today asked Gov. Scott Walker to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid in the state, arguing that three fellow GOP governors in western states have already agreed to the expansion through federal health care reform.

“Governor Walker has the opportunity expand BadgerCare in our state and ensure affordable coverage for low-income children, the disabled, and all Medicaid recipients and still save the state money over the next ten years," Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a statement. "It’s time to rise above the politics, as other Republican governors have, and provide the people of Wisconsin access to quality health care.”

Kind noted that Jan Brewer or Arizona, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada had accepted the expansion.

The Walker administration's health secretary has said the governor would announce his decision when he releases his state budget proposal in February. But Dennis Smith also told a congressional panel last month the expansion could be a financial burden for the state going forward.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

 2:43 PM 

Moore, Kind praise president's gun control initiatives

A pair of Wisconsin Dem lawmakers today offered praise for a series of sweeping gun control measures announced by the Obama administration.

“Today’s actions by President Obama are a good first step at addressing the rampant gun violence that plagues our nation," said U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. "It is my hope that we will now demonstrate the will to see that these initiatives are enacted and take root in our communities."

The president, in addition to signing 23 executive actions based on the work of a task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden, called on Congress to institute a new ban on assault weapons mandatory background checks for all firearm purchases.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind said the "discussion is not over" about striking a balance between public safety and individual rights to own guns.

“We have a responsibility to take care of the safety and security of all of our citizens," the La Crosse Dem said. "We must move forward with a long-overdue discussion but at the same time, we must also listen to the voices of law-abiding, safety-conscious gun owners in America."

Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi was among a number of local elected officials expected to attend today's White House ceremony, according to a pool report. Obama briefly mentioned the August shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek during his remarks.

"We don’t live in isolation. We live in a society, a government of, and by, and for the people. We are responsible for each other," Obama said before launching into a list of mass shootings in recent years. "The right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin."


 1:17 PM 

Petri to chair highways subcommittee

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri has been named the chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee by House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster.

"Consumers and businesses rely on our roads and highways to move goods across the country," Petri, R-Fond du Lac, said in a statement. "Our current system faces many challenges, and I look forward to working with Chairman Shuster and others in finding workable solutions to improving and strengthening our programs."

Shuster, R-Penn., called Petri "an expert on the issues" facing the panel due to his long service on the Transportation Committee.


Monday, January 14, 2013

 3:53 PM 

Ryan supports Rubio approach to immigration

Ryan posted on his Facebook page today the he supported GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

Rubio, R-Fla., said in a Wall Street Journal interview he wants to see several bills to deal with immigration rather than an omnibus package. He has not offered specific legislation, but talked with the paper about several themes, including the creation of a way for undocumented migrants to earn a working permit and then seek citizenship eventually. He also called for strengthening border enforcement and making it easier for highly skilled workers to come to the U.S.

“I support the principles he’s outlined: modernization of our immigration laws; stronger security to curb illegal immigration; and respect for the rule of law in addressing the complex challenge of the undocumented population,” Ryan wrote on his Facebook page. “Our future depends on an immigration system that works.”

The post is getting some national attention before Ryan and Rubio are considered possible rivals for the GOP's 2016 presidential nomination.


 10:11 AM 

Ryan predicts Obamacare will 'collapse' under own weight

Franksville – U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan told a Tea Party meeting in Racine County Sunday that “ObamaCare will collapse under its own weight” and that employers will deliberately discontinue employee health care benefits, causing the program’s costs to balloon out of control.

Ryan said he has already spoken to a major Wisconsin employer that says it is poised to do just that – a move that Ryan calls “competitive dumping.”

Ryan, who would not reveal the company’s name, said it pays about $17,000 per employee for a family health plan, but its competitors can pay a $2,000 fine per employee if they do not offer health care.

“It’s a competitive advantage they say they can’t overcome,” Ryan said.

“Don’t think every company is not thinking about it. They’re all thinking about it.”

Ryan predicted health care providers also will rebel.

“Go talk to the people at Aurora, go talk to the people at Wheaton, go talk to the people at St. Catherine’s, go talk to the people at All Saints,” he said. “They will say the same exact thing, which is, ‘We are getting paid less and less per service for all these people coming in.’ You see, the government is underpaying providers for the cost of care.”

Ryan told about 200 people in attendance that opponents of the Obama administration’s Affordable Health Care Act have failed to halt the new legislation in the GOP’s two preferred ways: either by having the Supreme Court strike down the law as unconstitutional or by winning the White House

Now, Ryan said, “This is going to have to be litigated.”

See more.

By Kay Nolan
For WisPolitics.com




Friday, January 11, 2013

 4:32 PM 

Ryan to address CPAC

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, will address the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in March.

The American Conservative Union announced the speech by the GOP's 2012 vice presidential nominee Friday.

“We are pleased to announce that Congressman Paul Ryan will be a featured speaker at CPAC 2013,” said ACU Chairman Al Cardenas in a statement. “From the day he was elected, Chairman Ryan has been a strong voice in Congress for pro-growth, free market economic policies and has always been a CPAC favorite.”


Monday, January 7, 2013

 1:19 PM 

Pocan to serve on Budget Committee; named assistant whip

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan today announced his appointment to the House Budget Committee.

The Madison Dem joins committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, and fellow U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, and Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, as Wisconsin members on the panel.

“Although we come from the same part of the country and even the same general part of Wisconsin, we offer very different perspectives and approaches to the federal budget,” Pocan, a former co-chair of the state Joint Finance Committee, said in a statement. “I respect Congressman Ryan and look forward to healthy debates on some of the key financial issues facing the nation and state we both love.”

Pocan will also serve as an assistant minority whip in the Dem caucus. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Pocan “will bring an important perspective to the Whip team” as a new member of Congress.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

 3:40 PM 

Johnson to serve on Budget, four other committees

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson announced today he will serve on the Budget and four other committees in the upcoming session.

The other four are:  Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Foreign Relations, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.


 12:43 PM 

Wisconsin GOP delegation sticks by Boehner in Speaker vote

While a handful of U.S. House Republicans decided against voting for Speaker John Boehner in his successful reelection big, all five members of the GOP Wisconsin delegation -- Reps. Reid Ribble, Tom Petri, Sean Duffy, Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner -- all voted for Boehner.

Boehner won reelection 219 votes to Pelosi's 192 votes. Fifteen other members either voted for other choices or voted present.


 11:34 AM 

Baldwin sworn into Senate

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin was among the first senators sworn in today as the 113th Congress took office.

The Madison Democrat led the first group of senators, who came forward in alphabetical order, to recite the oath of office as administered by Vice President Joe Biden. Baldwin, escorted into the chamber by the now retired Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Senate colleague Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, was joined in the first group by recently re-elected Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Baldwin is the first woman from Wisconsin to serve in the Senate and became the chamber's first openly gay member.


Watch today's session here.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

 10:40 AM 

Johnson: 'Now is not the time to declare victory'

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, after voting to support a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" early Tuesday, derided the proposal's tax increases in a statement Wednesday and called on the president and Dem leaders to address the nation's deficit issues.

"President Obama got what he demanded, a tax increase on the job-creating sector of America's economy -- ‘the rich,'" the Oshkosh Republican said. "It will harm economic growth, hinder new job creation and, at most, reduce our annual deficit by about 5%."

Johnson then said the clock is ticking toward a debt ceiling bubble "that will explode in just a few weeks," and that he would not support increasing the debt ceiling "unless serious spending reductions are part of the package."

"President Obama and Harry Reid got their tax increase," Johnson said. "Where is their so-called balance? Where is their spending reduction plan?"


 7:04 AM 

Ryan, Ribble join Wisconsin Dems in supporting fiscal cliff bill

GOP U.S. Reps. Paul Ryan and Reid Ribble joined all three Dems in the state’s House delegation to support legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Republicans Sean Duffy, Tom Petri and Jim Sensenbrenner voted against the deal, which passed the House 257-167.

Duffy posted on his Facebook page that he respected the effort that went into the agreement, but his constituents want lower taxes and fiscal responsibility.

“They know that with more than $16 trillion of debt and borrowing $1 trillion a year our country is on an unsustainable path,” Duffy wrote. “I voted against this deal because it does not include a serious, sustainable plan for balancing the budget and reducing our debt.”

Ryan, the House Budget chair, praised his colleagues for "limiting the damage as much as possible" despite his concerns with other provisions in the bill. He added Americans chose divided government and elected officials have to apply their principles and weigh the benefits and costs of action and of inaction.

"In H.R. 8, there are clearly provisions that I oppose," Ryan said. "But the question remains: Will the American people be better off if this law passes relative to the alternative? In the final analysis, the answer is undoubtedly yes. I came to Congress to make tough decisions—not to run away from them."

Several members who supported the bill said it was not perfect, but praises pieces of the legislation even as they looked forward to the upcoming debate over the nation’s debt ceiling.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, said she was pleased it extends unemployment benefits and hoped Republicans would not “try to take a hatchet to the much needed social programs that will be necessary in keeping our economy moving forward” in addressing the debt ceiling.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, called the bill a compromise in which neither party got its way.

“I still believe we must go big and find real savings in defense, health care, and tax reform to get ourselves on a sustainable fiscal path,” Kind said.

Ribble, R-Sherwood, said the bill provides certainty for millions of Americans on their taxes while averting “the dairy cliff” by avoiding a potential hike in prices.

“I have been outspoken that in order to get our economy back on track, revenue must go up and spending must go down,” he said. “There is no other way to put it, so until there is significant spending cuts, our country will wind up back in the same upside down situation: spending more than we take in.”

UPDATE: Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, and Petri, R-Fond du Lac, issued statements criticizing the fiscal cliff deal for a lack of compromise on spending.

“The so-called deal doesn’t promote economic growth or job creation, it discourages it," Sensenbrenner said. "Rather than address the drivers of our debt problem, it completely avoids any serious spending reform.”

Petri added the bill was "not the deal I expected."

"I thought the deal was supposed to be that Republicans would compromise on raising taxes, and Democrats would compromise on cutting spending," Petri said. "But that didn't happen. Instead we got higher taxes and bigger deficits."


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

 2:01 AM 

Kohl, Johnson support Senate bill to avoid fiscal cliff

U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, voted early today to support the Senate bill to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Five Republicans and three Dems opposed the legislation, which now heads to the House.

See the roll call.

UPDATE: Johnson issued a statement this morning calling the deal "by no means a perfect piece of legislation" and said the revenue raised would cover about 7 percent of projected deficits.

"It is now time for President Obama and his Democrat colleagues to show the American public their plan to close the other 93% of the deficit," Johnson said. "Our nation's debt now stands at $16.4 trillion, and has reached its statutory limit. We blew through the $2.1 trillion increase in the debt ceiling granted in August 2011 in only 17 months. This is clearly unsustainable, and President Obama must begin to work with Congress to reduce the size, scope, and cost of government."


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