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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

 8:48 AM 

Ryan supporting McCarthy for speaker

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, is again offering an endorsement in the coming House leadership races, backing Kevin McCarthy for speaker.

McCarthy called the California Republican an "effective leader."

"At this critical moment, Kevin McCarthy is the right person to lead the House of Representatives. Many opportunities and challenges lie in the months ahead -- and Kevin knows that if we are going to be successful, the next speaker must listen to not only congressional Republicans, but also to the American people."

Ryan on Monday backed Tom Price, R-Ga., for majority leader.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

 8:44 AM 

Ryan backing Ga. U.S. Rep. Price for majority leader

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is backing Georgia Republican Tom Price for majority leader in the upcoming leadership elections, calling him a "committed conservative and a good friend."

Price faces Reps. Steve Scalise, R-La., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., for the No. 2 spot in House leadership.

"He and I have served for years together on the Budget and Ways and Means Committees, working to pay down our debt, fix our tax code, and grow our economy," said Ryan. a Janesville Republican who heads Ways and Means. "Tom has a proven record of advancing conservative solutions and principles. He has the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective Majority Leader, and I'm proud to support him."


Friday, September 25, 2015

 5:33 PM 

Boehner's resignation surprises Wisconsin delegation

The prevailing mood on Capitol Hill after Speaker John Boehner's announcement that he will resign from his post next month was one of surprise.

"I was with the speaker in a private meeting yesterday and he never mentioned it," Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Appleton. "I was totally caught off guard."

Despite not even confiding in even his closest allies until minutes before telling the House Republican Conference in a closed-door meeting, the response was almost universally positive. Despite grumblings from the rank-and-file and challenges to his speakership from his right flank, most members applauded him for a thankless job well done.

The Wisconsin delegation was no different.

Rep. Paul Ryan, whose spokesman responded with a flat "no" when asked if he would pursue the speakership, called Boehner's move "an act of pure selflessness."

"We will miss John, and I am confident our conference will elect leaders who are capable of meeting the challenges our nation faces," the Janesville Republican said.

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, called the Ohio Republican "the epitome of the American dream" and said, "His strong Midwestern work ethic and devout Catholic faith have served him well in his political career and allowed him to follow his heart and conscience, regardless of his critics' concerns.

"I value his leadership, I am grateful for his friendship, and Rachel and I will always appreciate the extra care he showed our family," Duffy said, referring to Boehner's patience when he and his wife, Rachel, were wrangling five of their children into place to take the official photo of Duffy's swearing-in with Boehner in 2013. The couple has seven children. Watch video of the ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVUD_KFqS_A

The dean of the Wisconsin delegation, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, had kind words for Boehner as well.

Boehner "led the Republican Party to its largest majorities since the 1920s," Sensenbrenner stated. "And in a contentious political atmosphere where it's nearly impossible to achieve anything, he has done an exceptional job building relationships, bridging gaps and passing meaningful and necessary legislation."

The only freshman in the delegation, Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, has previously noted what a difficult job Boehner had keeping the fractious GOP conference in line.

"He grew the Republican majority by over 60 seats during his tenure," Grothman noted in wishing Boehner well. "Congress has a lot of work to do in the coming months, and I am confident we will elect the right leadership to move the Republican Conference forward."

Wisconsin's House Democrats also spoke favorably of Boehner, and noted what a hard job he had.

"Speaker Boehner has been a friend since the days we served on the House Education and Workforce committee together," Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, stated. "He was tasked with making Congress function but was often stopped at every turn by members of his own party who refused to work together to get to yes.

"In light of this frustration I am not surprised he is stepping down," Kind noted.

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, praised Boehner for his leadership in ending the conservative-driven government shutdown in 2013.

"He did a great job," she said. "I felt sorry for him for a long time; it's a really unmanageable herd, really."

By Nicole Duran
For WisPolitics.com


Thursday, September 24, 2015

 10:55 AM 

Column: Sensenbrenner slams Obama on criminal justice reform

This is an excerpt from Nicole Duran's weekly DC Wrap column. Sign up to get the full column in your inbox each week. 

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner didn't take kindly to the White House's claim that Congress is stalling on legislation to overhaul the criminal justice system.

"I'll be blunt -- while the president has been peddling a catastrophic Iran deal and posing for holy photos in El Reno, Congress has been working in a diligent and bipartisan way to pass meaningful criminal justice reform," the Menomonee Falls Republican said after a White House spokesman accused Congress of dallying, referring to Obama's trip in July to a federal prison in Oklahoma.

"If the president is truly 'eager to get to work' on criminal justice, then I encourage him to start by endorsing the SAFE Justice Act," Sensenbrenner said. His legislation 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 White House will achieve a lot more by backing this bipartisan, evidence-based legislation than it will with kneejerk attacks on Republicans in Congress," Sensenbrenner concluded.

He was reacting to White House spokesman Josh Earnest who in talking about how criminal justice reform is a priority for President Obama said that Congress was pre-occupied.

"[W]e welcome and even have been complimentary of some Republicans with whom we don't often agree about their support for some of these issues," Earnest said. "I mean, I'll be blunt; I don't think that there's been a lot of legislative work that's been done on this ... primarily because Congress has been out of town for most of the last couple of months, and since they've gotten back they've been bogged down in some of these issues related to funding for Planned Parenthood.

"Now, there have been some conversations, but the real legislative hard work and legislative negotiations that need to take place are still a little bit down the line," Earnest said.

Obama has made revamping the nation's criminal justice system a top priority for the remainder of his presidency.

Sensenbrenner's legislation, which he introduced with Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., is the only comprehensive bill pending before Congress. The package has attracted support ranging from the ACLU to the Koch brothers.

Read Duran's column for more on other DC issues, including Sen. Ron Johnson on Chinese hacking accusations and Pope Francis' visit.

Monday, September 21, 2015

 10:50 AM 

Ribble stresses civil discourse on 'UpFront'

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble says presidential candidate Donald Trump's tactics in his race for the GOP presidential nomination are the "wrong type of behavior" for a Republican leader.

Referencing the insult Trump leveled at Sen. Rand Paul's appearance during last week's debate, Ribble said "that childish dialogue ... demeans the office of the White House." The Sherwood Republican told "UpFront with Mike Gousha" he took to Twitter to engage with Trump on the issue.

"Civil discourse is something that really is important to me. I think it's important to our political system," Ribble said on the program, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Ribble pointed to his friendship with Rep. Mark Pocan, a Madison-area Democrat, saying the two are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but share a mutual respect. He said personal attacks stymie efforts to engage in serious policy discussions.

"When there is respect between people, walls go down and discussion increases," Ribble said. "When you are insulting people, walls go up and discussion stops."

Turning his attention to the House leadership, Ribble expressed support for Speaker John Boehner, saying he has "one of the toughest jobs in Washington." He predicted a change in leaders wouldn't help much in how the House functions.

"The idea that we should just grab whoever because we don't like the way things are going isn't the right approach," Ribble said.

See more from the show:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

 12:44 PM 

Column: Johnson wants to 'ban the box' for federal jobs

This is an excerpt from Nicole Duran's weekly DC Wrap column. Sign up to get the full column in your inbox each week. 

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, is part of a bipartisan, bicameral quartet that has introduced legislation to make it easier for felons to find work. 

President Obama and civil rights group have elevated the issue of "banning the box" from employment applications, referring to the standard box on most asking whether job seekers have a past felony conviction. Johnson, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif., introduced a bill on Thursday that would prevent the federal government, and its contractors, from initially asking about candidates' criminal pasts. 

Once an applicant is conditionally offered a position, however, their would-be federal employers can then inquire.

"What has struck me most is how challenging we make it for those who truly want to turn their lives around," Johnson stated about his conversations with ex-convicts. 

"If someone getting out of prison wants to work, wants to be a productive member of society, we should do everything we can to facilitate that," he said. 

"Let's follow the growing number of our states and cities and private companies who have decided to 'ban the box' ... so that former prisoners who have done their time and are now trying to get straight with society have a decent shot in a job interview," Obama said in July while addressing the NAACP's annual conference in Philadelphia. 

Obama wants legislation like Johnson's to be just one component of comprehensive justice reform. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., introduced such a bill, the SAFE Justice Act, in July. 

Sensenbrenner is "open to considering it," his spokeswoman has said of the "ban the box" idea. 

Approximately 9 percent of the population has been convicted of a felony. 

Read Duran's column for more on other DC issues, including Planned Parenthood and a legislative staffer headed to Afghanistan.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

 10:00 PM 

Baldwin, Johnson split on nixing Iran nuclear deal

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson split today on a procedural vote that prevented Republicans from taking up legislation meant to kill President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

Baldwin, D-Madison, joined 39 other Dems and the chamber's two independents in voting against the cloture motion, which failed 58-42. Republicans needed 60 votes to take up the bill.

Three Dems joined Johnson and every Republican in the chamber in voting yet.

See the roll call:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

 6:26 PM 

Kind backs Iran nuclear deal

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind announced today he's backing the Iran nuclear deal, saying it's "the best option" to avoid an Iran with a nuclear weapon. 

Kind's support gives President Barack Obama the backing of all four Dems from Wisconsin's congressional delegation. His statement came as Obama picked up support today from three more Senate Dems, giving him 41 votes in the Senate -- enough to block a resolution of disapproval in the GOP-controlled chamber. 

Kind, D-La Crosse, said the deal is "not a perfect solution to a complex problem," but said he made his decision after careful readings of the agreement and briefings on it, as well as a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he traveled to Israel. 

"This agreement gives us the best opportunity to avoid military action and may accomplish our ultimate objective: to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, protecting the security of our allies in the region, and avoiding a nuclear arms race in the Middle East," Kind said. 

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, announced their support for the deal last month.

 6:23 PM 

Johnson: Treat nuke deal as a treaty

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says President Barack Obama's Iran nuclear deal will funnel billions to state sponsored terror.

Criticizing the president's decision to call the move an executive agreement, Johnson said lawmakers would negotiate a better deal if the agreement was handled like a treaty. He told "UpFront with Mike Gousha" over the weekend he U.S.-led deal threatens world peace.

"President Obama basically lost these negotiations before they started by acknowledging Iran's right to rich uranium," Johnson said on the program, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Johnson also knocked Dem Russ Feingold ahead of their expected rematch in 2016, accusing him of breaking a campaign pledged to keep out-of-state donations below 50 percent.

See more on Sunday's show:

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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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