DC Wrap

Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.

Quotes of the week

“You’ve got to remember people have wanted to impeach President Trump since the day he took office. And there are reasons why he is more of a lightning rod or hated prior to his predecessors. He is trying to drain the swamp.”
– U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman discussing the impeachment inquiry during an appearance on “UpFront”

“We’ve gotta fix this, because all Americans should have a right to be safe in their homes, and this is particularly true for women. Our Violence Against Women Act just will not mean anything unless we include Native women within those protections.”
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore talking up new legislation in a Twitter video honoring missing and murdered Indigenous women during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


This week’s news


— Vice President Mike Pence during a stop in Pleasant Prairie on Wednesday called on Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, saying it’s “a win for Wisconsin and a win for America.”

Pence, speaking at an America First Policies event at the Uline warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, urged attendees to contact Dems representing Wisconsin in Congress, singling out U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.

“Tell the Democrats representing Wisconsin in Washington, D.C., that Wisconsin needs the USMCA,” Pence said.

But he said there’s no need to contact Republicans representing the state, as “they’re fighting every day for the USMCA.”

Pence said the trade agreement would boost both manufacturing and agriculture in Wisconsin and the U.S.

“It’s a win in the city and on the farm, and it’s still sitting there on the speaker’s desk,” Pence said.

He predicted that if Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., brought the trade deal to the floor, it would pass with bipartisan support.

Pence drew applause several times during his address before a large crowd on Uline’s warehouse floor, particularly when highlighting economic gains made under President Trump.

“It’s been three years of action. It’s been three years of results. It’s been three years of promises made and promises kept,” Pence said. “And we’re just getting started.”

Pence was introduced by U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, and U.S. Solicitor of Labor Kate O’Scannlain; they both praised the trade agreement.

Ahead of the stop, Dems and union officials gathered in Kenosha to slam what they called a string of broken promises from the Trump administration.

John Drew, a former UAW Local 72 president, charged Trump has used working people as props. He pointed to the president’s promise that he would save jobs at a Carrier Air Conditioner plant in Indianapolis only to see them sent to Mexico. Drew said Trump promised he would save a GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, telling people at a nearby rally not to sell their homes because the jobs were coming back, but it is still slated to close. And he noted the president attacked Harley-Davidson for producing more motorcycles overseas, and the company’s recent report showed earnings fell 24 percent in the quarter as tariffs and weak sales hurt the company’s bottom line.

The only promise Trump has kept, Drew said, was to cut taxes, but that has largely benefited the rich.

“Working people can’t afford four more years of broken promises,” Drew said. “We need a president who will hear our concerns and keep their word, not someone who sells us out.”

See more on Pence’s speech:



— U.S. House Dems are “trying to get to ‘yes'” on President Trump’s United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal, according to U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Ways and Means Committee member.

“We’re not trying to kill this initiative simply because it’s a Trump initiative,” the Milwaukee Dem said at a WisPolitics.com DC breakfast on Wednesday. “We want to do the right thing for the country.”

If approved by all three nations involved, USMCA would replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement, established Jan. 1, 1994.

The three countries agreed on the modification to trade policy on Oct. 1, 2018. Negotiations began back in summer 2017.

The Mexican government ratified the USMCA in July this year shortly after Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, their newly elected president, took office. The U.S. and Canada have yet to approve of the deal through their respective governments.

Moore said some House Dems have concerns over the labor standards in the agreement and a lack of enforcement measures to make sure those standards are met. She said another Dem issue with agreement is the chapter on patents and intellectual property rights for the pharmaceutical industry.

Any changes to the deal made by the U.S. politicians would need new approval in Mexico and Canada.

Moore also said they need President Trump “to do something other than take the tour to try to stir up support” and get behind working with Dems to pass the agreement in the House. She said Trump and the GOP need to get support “from a broad swath of our caucus” to pass the trade deal.

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s website, one aspect of the deal is it would open U.S. access to Canada’s dairy industry by providing “new tariff rate quotas exclusively for the United States.” Restrictions on most agricultural trade between the nations would be lowered from current standards.

Read their report:


See Friday’s REPORT for more on the event with Moore. 


— Wisconsin federal lawmakers this year received nearly half a million dollars from industries they help regulate, according to a WisPolitics.com review of campaign finance reports. 

The review checked contributions received between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 from corporate PACs against Wisconsin Congressmembers’ committee assignments to examine if companies influenced by the panels financially supported the campaigns of its members. 

It found three-quarters of the $495,000 total from corporate PACs comes from contributions to two Republicans responsible for writing laws that govern financial institutions and the insurance market: U.S. Reps. Bryan Steil of Janesville; and Sean Duffy of Weston, who resigned his seat in mid-September. 

Funds donated to U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, rounded out the remaining 25 percent. 

Reps. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, and Ron Kind, D-La Crosse,  sit on panels with jurisdiction too broad to explicitly link contributions to policy decisions or on committees that deal with functions of government, not the private sector. 

Grothman, for example, is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is charged with conducting investigations into government malfeasance, and the Education and Labor Committee, the latter of which reaches into nearly every aspect of private-sector business. 

Similarly, Moore and Kind sit on the powerful Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over “all taxation, tariffs, and other revenue-raising measures,” a broad mandate that affects nearly all lines of work. 

Rep. Mark Pocan, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, doesn’t take corporate PAC money.

Steil is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which develops policy that governs banks and insurance companies, while Duffy sat on the committee while he was in Congress. 

Steil raised $240,250 from PACs representing businesses in the financial services and insurance industries, a total that is just under a fifth of the cash he has pulled in so far this year. 

Under FEC guidelines, candidates can receive up to $5,000 for an election, with primaries and generals counting separately. Under those restrictions, PACS can donate up $10,000 to a candidate’s committee each election cycle. 

An FEC spokesman told WisPolitics.com are no legal restrictions on lawmakers receiving donations from PACs that represent industries they play a role in regulating. 

Still, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics said such fundraising raised ethical questions and added providing transparency to campaign finance was “the reason we exist.”

But when quizzed by WisPolitics.com about potential ethical issues, Steil defended the haul. 

“Employers like Northwestern Mutual, American Family, Sentry, and Accuity provide thousands of family supporting jobs in Southeast Wisconsin and I am proud to have the support of so many people working there,” he said in a statement. 

Steil has so far received: 

*$9,500 from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers; 

*$7,000 from Northwestern Mutual and Goldman Sachs; 

*and $6,000 from Ally Bank, New York Life Insurance company and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. 

The Janesville Republican also received $12,000 from the accounting firm Ernst & Young this year, though $5,000 of that total was specifically earmarked for paying off debt the Steil campaign accrued during the 2018 cycle. 

Duffy, meanwhile, received $130,500 this year from financial and insurance PACS, which represents roughly 16 percent of his total fundraising haul. He received $5,000 each from Capital One, Experian, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Experian, among others. 

For comparison, freshman Dem U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, who sits on the Financial Services Committee, pulled in $58,500 from PACs representing banks and insurance companies, which represents 4 percent of her total fundraising effort this year. 

Other freshmen on the committee, such as U.S. Reps. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, did not have PAC contributions from financial institutions or insurance companies. 

Still, some of the top financial services PACs also made sizeable contributions to the Wisconsin delegation’s Dems. Kind received $25,000 from Steil’s top 10 financial and insurance donors, including $5,000 from Ernst & Young, $4,500 from Northwestern Mutual and $5,000 from New York Life, among others. 

Moore received $15,500 from those 10 donors, including $5,000 from Northwestern Mutual, $2,500 from Ernst & Young and $1,000 from Goldman Sachs. 

Rep. Mike Gallagher — who sits on the Armed Services and Transportation and Infrastructure committees — received the next highest total, pulling in $85,750 from companies under the jurisdiction of those two panels. 

On the Armed Services side, Gallagher received $37,250 in contributions, including the maximum $10,000 from Raytheon, $6,000 from Lockheed Martin and $5,500 from Northrop Grumman. He also received $48,000 from companies that are regulated by legislation crafted in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 

On the other side of the U.S. Capitol, only one of the four committees Johnson sits on plays a role in regulating private industry. 

The WisPolitics.com review found the Oshkosh Republican received $29,000 from PACs representing industries with business before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. That included donations of $10,000 from the National Star Route Mail Contractors Association, $5,000 from Delta Airlines and $4,500 from the FAA Managers Association. 

Baldwin also sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and raised $3,000 from three separate $1,000 donations from industry-aligned PACs. The Madison Dem — who also sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — raised $6,500 from PACs representing medical groups, including $2,000 from the American Chiropractic Association and $1,500 American College of Surgeons Professional Association. 

Johnson’s haul represents 26 percent of the funds he has raised so far this year. For Baldwin, the total is less than 1 percent. 

A spokesman for Johnson’s campaign replied “no” when asked by WisPolitics.com if it was problematic, ethnically or otherwise, for a quarter of the senator’s campaign funds raised this year to come from industries he plays a role in regulating. 

Spokesmen from the Duffy, Gallagher and Baldwin campaigns did not return WisPolitics.com’s request for comment on the story. 

See the contributions to Steil: https://staging.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Steil-Final.pdf  

See the contributions to Duffy: https://staging.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Duffy-Final.pdf  

See the contributions to Wexton: https://staging.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Wexton-Final.pdf  

See the contributions to Gallagher: https://staging.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Gallagher-Final.pdf  

See the contributions to Johnson: https://staging.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Johnson-Final.pdf  

See the contributions to Baldwin:  https://staging.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Baldwin-Final.pdf   


— U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil announced Wisconsin’s DOJ is set to receive $4.2 million in funding to reduce and prevent domestic violence across the state, saying he’ll “continue supporting” the Violence Against Women Act.

This came after Wisconsin’s congressional delegation split evenly over the reauthorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. When the bill was taken to a vote in April, Steil sided with his Dem colleagues.

The bill, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Gwen Moore, received mixed support in the House. U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, Jim Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman and former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy voted against it, while U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan joined Steil, Kind and Moore in supporting the legislation.

Several changes were made to the bill, including a new provision known as the “boyfriend loophole,” which would prevent domestic abusers from owning guns.

There is no partisanship when it comes to protecting women and girls. This money will go directly to services that help survivors and ensure the perpetrators of these evil crimes are brought to justice,” Steil said in a release.

The funds will be distributed to various organizations that provide support to survivors of assault. They will also attempt to improve partnerships between state and local governments. 

See the release: https://steil.house.gov/media/press-releases/steil-announces-funding-wisconsin-protect-domestic-abuse-survivors


— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin joined Senate colleagues in calling for an investigation into trade market integrity following President Trump’s public comments about trade negotiations.

The senators released a letter citing a Vanity Fair article that called attention to suspicious bets timed with subsequent comments from Trump regarding the trade war. 

“Some may have an unfair trading advantage because of privileged access to nonpublic market-moving information potentially from government sources and, as a result, raise concerning questions about the integrity of our financial markets and our public institutions,” the Senators wrote.

The letter, which was addressed to Attorney General William Barr, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, CFTC Chairman Dr. Heath Tarbert and FBI Director Christopher Wray, called for a full, formal investigation into potentially compromised financial markets.

See the letter: https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2019-10-21%20Ltr%20to%20SEC%20CFTC%20DOJ%20FBI%20re%20Suspicious%20Trading.pdf


— Former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, has joined CNN as a contributor and commentator.

Duffy, who resigned from office last month, was introduced on CNN’s “State of the Union” by host Jake Tapper for a panel discussion.

“Thank you for being here and congratulations on joining the CNN family,” Tapper said.

Duffy cited the pending birth of his ninth child in his resignation after discovering she had a heart defect that would require surgery.


Posts of the week


Gwen Moore, Tom Barrett named co-chairs of Milwaukee’s 2020 DNC host committee
Republican Jim Sensenbrenner says no thank you to chance to sit in on closed-door House impeachment inquiry
Ron Kind: Trump Impeachment Should Be ‘Last Resort’
Rep. Gallagher: We don’t need hundreds of thousands of troops in these countries to have influence. And we don’t need to abandon entirely.
Senator Baldwin Pushing for 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline
Sen. Ron Johnson: Clinton-Ukraine collusion allegations remain unaddressed by media

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