U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin have unveiled separate legislation in response to the shooting at a Tennessee military recruiting office.
Johnson's bill, dubbed the "Armed Forces Self-Defense Act" would end restrictions on members of the armed forces carrying certain firearms on military installations.
Johnson noted other members have proposals of their own to address the issue, and he plans to work with them on a final bill.
"These are heroes," Johnson said. "We entrust them to defend us. They shouldn't be left vulnerable when it comes to defending themselves and their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines."
Johnson's bill would:
*let military personnel carry privately owned firearms on military installations, including reserve centers and recruitment offices; *make it Department of Defense policy to let trained personnel carry personal firearms while on military installations in the U.S.; *and repeal any regulations or orders that restrict or prohibit military personnel from carrying personal firearms on installations.
Baldwin's bill would post military police or other armed personnel at recruiting and reserve facilities for security.
*let the secretary of Defense contract with state and local law enforcement or state National Guards for armed protection if military personnel are not available; *provide specialized training for those stationed at the facilities for protection that would cover civilian law enforcement rules and procedures; state and local gun laws; and gun safety measures; *and provide security enhancements at military facilities, including bullet-proof glass and improved video surveillance.
"We need to make certain that the brave men and women of our all-volunteer force who work in their communities are adequately protected here at home," Baldwin said. "This legislation will put in place qualified, armed force protection to strengthen the safety and security at our military facilities."
President Obama's visit last week to La Crosse was very much a "thank you" to the 3rd District Democrat who helped him secure fast-track authority for trade deals. But his trip to the Dairy State also highlighted how dependent Obama is on cheeseheads beyond western Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind to advance his final legislative priorities.
"We're kind of right in the center of his legislative agenda," Kind said about himself and his nine colleagues. "As a delegation, we're strategically placed. And we try to work together. We should be working more in that fashion in Congress -- working together to try and get things done," Kind said.
The alignment of the delegation's and Obama's priorities is more than just good committee assignments, mused Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls.
"We in Wisconsin are interested in results and think outside of the box to try and get them," he said, jokingly adding: "There must be something in the milk around here."
When the USA Patriot Act briefly expired last month, the White House pushed Sensenbrenner's USA Freedom Act, which ended bulk collection of Americans' phone records but extended other authorities to help the intelligence community thwart terrorists.
And Obama last week hinted that he'd turn to Sensenbrenner again soon.
"I am really interested in the possibilities--the prospect of bipartisan legislation around the criminal justice system," Obama stated last week. "And we've seen some really interesting leadership from some unlikely Republican legislators, very sincerely concerned about making progress there," he said, most likely referring to Sensenbrenner and his recently introduced Safe, Accountable, Fair and Effective, or SAFE, Justice Act.
"I welcome the president's support," Sensenbrenner responded, adding the administration "must have liked" the legislation that came out of the House Judiciary Committee-sanctioned task force led by him and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va..
The SAFE Justice Act would overhaul the federal sentencing and corrections system to combat recidivism, maintain lengthy sentences only for violent and career criminals and seek alternatives to jail for nonviolent offenders.
The package has attracted a lot of support from the left and right, Sensenbrenner said. "When you get the ACLU and Koch brothers on the same page, you know you have something," he said. "One thing that you need to get anything done in Washington is to make it bipartisan and bicameral," the veteran lawmaker said in explaining his approach.
And of course Obama could not advanced his trade agenda without House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, whom he will also need to keep the Highway Trust Fund from again going bankrupt at month's end.
"I'm glad the president is finally working more closely with the Wisconsin delegation," Ryan said in a statement. "It goes to show just how much we can get done when we focus on finding common ground."