Three lawmakers representing northeastern Wisconsin today asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to extend duties imposed on paper imports from Germany and China.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and GOP U.S. Reps. Tom Petri of Fond du Lac and Reid Ribble of Sherwood told the commission the duties remain necessary to prevent foreign paper producers from gaining an unfair advantage in the marketplace. Appleton-based Appvion originally petitioned for the duties in 2008.
"American manufacturers, particularly those in Wisconsin, are ready, willing and able to compete globally. They welcome the opportunity to put their products up against those of other nations," Petri said. "But true competition is undercut when prices are subsidized or products are sold below cost in order to grab market share."
Baldwin, in her testimony, noted German company Koehler has seen two findings of fraud by the federal government.
"Allowing foreign suppliers unrestricted access to our open market, while they are knowingly defrauding the U.S. government by dumping undervalued products in our markets, is unconscionable," Baldwin said.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's campaign counts 15 events he's done for legislative candidates this fall, three for those running statewide, five for Wisconsin congressional candidates and nine for U.S. Senate candidates around the country.
While he senses a divided Wisconsin that's contributing to a tight guv race, he's noticed a different vibe in the rest of the country.
"Let's put it this way, 2014 in North Carolina had a feel of Wisconsin in 2010," the Oshkosh Republican said in a WisPolitics.com interview, referencing the GOP wave that helped sweep him into office four years ago.
Johnson traveled Wisconsin in 2012 to bolster the candidacies of Tommy Thompson for U.S. Senate and Mitt Romney for president. At the time, he noted how the endless campaign cycle in the state had worn out voters.
He said he's noticed a little bit of that dynamic still lingering two years later. But he says there's something else driving a different feel in Wisconsin this fall than in the rest of the country, where some are predicting a very good year for Republicans in national elections with President Obama weighing down Dem candidates.
Johnson compared the national environment this fall to 2010, saying voters are unhappy at the damage Obama has done.
"People in such uncertain times are looking for safety and security and they're finding after 5.5 years of President Obama they're not feeling particularly secure," he said. "That's the issue in the Senate races. Back here in Wisconsin, it really continues to be a verdict on Scott Walker's administration."
Republicans are in good position to take control of the Senate, and some predict that happening could produce gridlock with the GOP pushing a series of bills that Obama opposes.
But Johnson argued it could represent a "sea change in attitude in Washington."
Dem members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation today called for election monitors and other resources "to oversee the elections in Wisconsin" in a letter to the U.S. Justice Department.
In the letter -- authored by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee and signed by fellow Reps. Ron Kind of La Crosse, Mark Pocan of Madison and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Madison -- the lawmakers cited potential confusion over the voter ID law, arguing voters "have likely received conflicting information about the election requirements."
The Dems also cited recent comments by Milwaukee County Election Commissioner Rick Baas that, they said, "urged a crowd of volunteers to exercise vigilantism for voter fraud and challenge voters who are suspected of improperly voting."
"Such in-person challenges are likely to be used improperly, and they would dissuade voters from exercising their right to vote," the letter reads.
GOP members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation are calling for more action to address concerns over the Ebola virus.
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble of Sherwood urged House Speaker John Boehner to call the House back into session to, in part, impose a travel ban on West African nations affected by the epidemic and authorize additional aid for the region.
"The present and growing threat of Ebola is one that, if left unchecked, could inflict lasting and severe harm on not only the United States but upon all nations," Ribble wrote in his letter to Boehner.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Oshkosh also called for restrictions on travel for those in nations hit hard by the virus, and chastised the Obama administration and the Centers for Disease Control for their response to the ongoing epidemic.
And U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls urged the CDC to focus on top health priorities, saying past efforts addressing issues such as transportation safety and farmers' markets reflect "how the cost of mission creep and government expansion can be measured in lives as well as money."
"The CDC has just now released protocols for healthcare workers to minimize the risk of infection from communicable diseases," Sensenbrenner said. "This should have been done years ago -- before two healthcare workers were infected with Ebola. It is past time for the CDC to prioritize its mission and spending."
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, has criticized the calls for travel bans, saying such restrictions would be impractical and make the disease harder to track.
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore today criticized calls for a ban on travel to and from West Africa in light of concerns over the Ebola outbreak in the region and newly diagnosed cases in Texas.
"This idea may seem like a quick fix but in reality, isolating West Africa will only exacerbate the epidemic in the region," said Moore, D-Milwaukee. "Aside from being impractical, this reactionary strategy will force Ebola patients underground making it nearly impossible to track their movements, hinder the capacity for international healthcare workers to transport and administer critical aid, and erode the continent’s fragile economy."
Moore also knocked U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, after he called for quarantines and "some measure of travel bans" during a stop in Marshfield. Johnson has also criticized the initial response from the Centers for Disease Control.
"If Senator Johnson and his colleagues are looking for a silver bullet to address Ebola, they will be sorely disappointed to learn that such a thing doesn’t exist," Moore said. "Those calling for travel bans need to remember that it is paramount for us as elected officials to inform, not inflame."
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said he believes the debate over same-sex marriage is settled during an appearance on Sunday's "UpFront with Mike Gousha."
The Madison Democrat, who is openly gay, said the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to consider appeals to multiple court rulings indicate bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
According to Pocan, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely delay ruling on the issue until a lower court issues a decision that differs from those seen in other states, or until same-sex marriage reaches a "critical mass" of legality in at least 34 states, as happened with interracial marriage.
"It is very clear that the Constitution says we have to have equal access to marriage," Pocan said.
Pocan said the state ban on same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships prevented him and his partner, wed in Canada in 2006, from filing joint taxes or having access rights in the event of an emergency.
"The fact that my state and my federal government are in unison on the law, that our marriage is the same as anyone else's marriage, that is really very substantial," Pocan said. "We have the same equal access to the privileges and responsibilities that are under marriage, and I think that is a good thing for thousands and thousands of couples across the state."
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is calling on the Obama administration to alter federal railroad regulations discouraging "competitive switching," in which freight rail shippers use different rail lines.
In a letter to Surface Transportation Board Chairman Daniel Elliott, the Madison Dem, along with fellow Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and David Vitter, R-La., writes that switching would provide "more options and better service" for rail companies.
By contrast, the senators write current regulations discourage switching, leading to reduced competition and increased shipping costs for businesses. They also note "recent projections of record grain and soybean harvests could set the stage for unprecedented disruptions this fall," and that affected power plants could result in shutdowns and higher energy prices.
"Businesses and consumers throughout our economy’s supply chain stand to be negatively affected by these disruptions," the senators write.
Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner joined a bipartisan group of colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee in pressing acting Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy for answers to more than a dozen questions surrounding recent security breaches.
In addition to Sensenbrenner, chair of the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee, those signing the letter included: Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers, D-Mich.; and Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby Scott, D-Va.
"In light of recent events and evident security failures, the House Judiciary Committee has grave concerns about the policies, procedures, and judgment of the United States Secret Service," they write.
The list of 13 questions focuses primarily on policies and procedures related recent security breaches, including a Sept. 19 incident in which man jumped a fence and made it into the White House, and an incident three days earlier in which an armed security contractor with a criminal record was allowed to ride in an elevator with the president. The letter also asks which steps are being taken to improve morale at the Secret Service.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy and three other Wisconsin Republicans were among nine members of Congress to oppose a proposal to place a species of bat on the endangered list.
In a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel Ashe, the lawmakers -- led by Duffy, R-Weston -- wrote that listing the species would "have a significant impact on industries throughout the upper-Midwest while doing little to address the cause of the Northern Long-Eared bats’ supposed population decline."
The letter adds although the lawmakers support measures to combat White Nose Syndrome -- a fungal disease that has decimated bat populations in other states -- additional information on its transmission and spread is needed "before implementing regulations that will do nothing to control this disease."
"The FWS itself recognizes that human activities and land management have not had an appreciable effect on the Northern Long-Eared bat," the lawmakers wrote. "Yet an endangered species listing would likely focus on curtailing all conceivable human-induced impacts."
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and U.S. Reps. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, were the other Wisconsin lawmakers signing onto the letter.