The Tiffany Telegram: February 26, 2021
This week, the House of Representatives reconvened to consider several far-reaching bills that unfortunately continue to undermine America’s economic well-being, erode many of our fundamental rights and institutions, and once again the interests of federal bureaucrats ahead of the working families across the country that pay their salaries.
The House started off the week by passing a controversial bill that they call the “Equality Act” – which couldn’t be more inappropriately named. In fact, the legislation represents a brazen attack on the rights of women and girls, and further chips away at the fundamental right to religious freedom guaranteed to all Americans by the U.S. constitution. It would force female athletes to compete against biological men in sports, slamming the door of opportunity for women and girls to excel in athletics. It would also threaten the privacy of women and girls by allowing biological men into female locker rooms. Even worse, the bill explicitly declares that deeply held religious beliefs will no longer be protected by the landmark Religious Freedom Restoration Act – potentially subjecting houses of worship, religious schools, clergy and even private business owners who wish to operate their shops and offer benefits consistent with their own religious beliefs. I am committed to protecting the freedom of conscience and religious beliefs of everyone in our community, which is why I voted against this misguided bill.
Lawmakers also took up a partisan, budget-busting $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” package. Again, this legislation has been mislabeled by my Democratic colleagues, and many in the media, given that just 9 percentof the funds in the bill are dedicated to direct, virus-related priorities. In fact, in classic Washington, DC fashion, this massive giveaway bill is packed with special interest goodies and bad ideas, including an expansion of unemployment payments that can, in some cases, be more lucrative than working, massive bailouts for big-spending governments in places like Illinois and New York, whose fiscal problems are self-inflicted thanks to gross financial mismanagement and self-destructive business lockdowns, and a job-killing plan to more than double the minimum wage even as small businesses are reeling from government-mandated business closures. The package also funnels more tax money to Planned Parenthood, subsidized art, foreign aid, and even contains an earmark for a bridge in New York. One provision of the bill will even pay some federal employees – who already enjoy six-figure compensation packages that are far higher on average than those of their private sector counterparts – another $21,000 per year: A classic example of “The Swamp” taking care of its own.
|At the Listening Sessions, many were asking about the fencing around the
U.S. Capitol. Watch my take here.
While I will continue to support targeted relief to help families and small businesses harmed by the pandemic, I will not support a massive spending bill that digs our kids and grandkids further into debt to fund pet-programs and projects that have little to do with COVID relief.
With that report from the Capitol, here is this week’s Telegram.
Member of Congress
This week, the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on the Rise of Domestic Terrorism. All Americans know we have seen an increase in criminal activity from radical groups, starting last summer with the violent riots, looting, arson and property destruction that gripped cities like Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Madison and Kenosha. For months, Democrats shockingly characterized this rampant and coordinated criminal activity as “peaceful protest” and worked to de-fund the police, even as the violence surged and once-peaceful neighborhoods were victimized by groups like Antifa. I unequivocally condemned the violence then, and I unequivocally condemn it now. My position is clear: Political violence and criminal activity are never acceptable regardless of which end of the spectrum they emanate from. We must all work together – Democrats and Republicans alike – to put an end to this violence and mayhem whenever it rears its ugly head and demand that the perpetrators be held accountable.
This week I co-offered an amendment to the Democrats partisan stimulus plan to try and improve it. The amendment, authored by my colleague Rep. Stauber of Minnesota, directs the Secretary of Agriculture to administer financial assistance to timber harvesters and haulers that have been harmed by pandemic-related supply chain disruptions thanks to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Unfortunately Democrats chose not to allow a vote on this amendment. These funds have been held up in a bureaucratic black hole and you may remember that I joined several of my colleagues in sending a bi-partisan letter earlier this month to the administration on this issue. Like many other areas of previously authorized assistance – some $1 trillion in previously approved assistance remains unspent – the tendency in Washington seems to be for lawmakers to approve new spending faster than it can be obligated.
I also filed an amendment to the Democrats so-called “recovery’ bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Projects like Keystone are central for American energy security and provide thousands of good, family-wage jobs. President Biden’s decision to kill this important investment is already having negative impacts on our state economy, destroying jobs and harming many other businesses that indirectly benefit from the project, like Main Street shops, restaurants and taverns. Unfortunately, Democrats rejected my amendment. Economic recovery starts with private sector investment, job creation, and getting government bureaucracy out of the way so employers and workers can do what they do best, and I’m committed to finding ways to remove the barriers that prevent them from getting back to work.
I joined my Wisconsin colleagues in introducing legislation authorizing a Medal of Honor Authorization for James “Maggie” Megellas. Maggie passed last year and left a storied legacy. Maggie was a native of Fond du Lac and joined the Army as a senior in Ripon College. On January 28, 1945, First Lieutenant Megellas led his platoon in a successful attack on an enemy battalion near Herresbach, Belgium, that outnumbered it ten-to-one. After the attack, he advanced his platoon towards the town when a German Mark V Panther tank pinned them down. Megellas weathered enemy fire to attack and destroy the tank himself with just two grenades and his submachine gun. He then led his platoon to secure Herresbach for advancing Allied forces. Under Megellas’ command, his platoon did not suffer a single casualty that day. Megellas is the most-decorated soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star for his actions during the Battle of the Bulge. He was born and raised in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and graduated from Ripon College. Megellas made his home in Colleyville, Texas until his passing on April 2, 2020 at age 103. This is one example of the many brave men and women who have helped forge our history; and I am proud to work with Rep. Grothman and the rest of the delegation to help honor him and his family for their sacrifices.
This week I joined several of my Republican colleagues asking that Health and Human Services Principal Investigator Christi Grimm open an investigation into the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). In the past year there has been growing concern that the Chinese Communist Party-operated lab may have been the source that introduced the COVID-19 virus into the global population, potentially due to an error in bioengineering during reckless experimenting, and a lack of adequate containment protocols. The letter asks that the NIH answer several questions about the relationship between their agency and the WIV during the months leading up to the spread of COVID-19, and raising concerns about U.S. taxpayers potentially funding this Chinese lab through the year 2024. Any project funded through an American grant should involve the same standard of transparent and responsible experimentation that we require of domestic researchers and public health officials. However, the COVID experiments conducted at the WIV skirted that standard – and may have cost 500,000 American people their lives. You can read more about the letter and our specific asks of NIH in the story published in Townhall.
The current 7-day average for positive cases is 604, a huge achievement compared to early November when that number hovered above 6,000 each day. Additionally, this week we marked the first occurrence of two consecutive days without reported deaths since the summer. We thank our healthcare workers and those working on the frontlines making sure these numbers remain at low levels moving forward.
Beginning on Monday the second half of the Phase 1B population will become eligible for a COVID vaccine. The Department of Health Services (DHS) reports that more than half of all residents 65 and older have received a first dose, putting them in a comfortable place to begin vaccinating other groups. Groups receiving eligibility beginning March 1 listed by priority include: education and childcare workers, people in long-term Medicaid programs, public-facing essential workers i.e. 911 operators, public transit workers, and food supply chain workers, non-frontline healthcare personnel, people in congregate living settings, and mink husbandry workers.
|Source: Wisconsin DHS|
In addition, DHS is currently in the pilot phase for a vaccine registry database that they hope to launch statewide by the end of March. Currently, nine different health departments statewide are testing the system. The database would help simplify the process of registering and being placed on a waitlist to be vaccinated at a facility near you. Our office will keep you updated when that system becomes available to the full population.
H.R. 803 Partisan Land Grab and Wildfire Creation Bill Vote: No
H. R. 5 Legislation Undermining Religious Freedom,
Privacy and Opportunity for Women and Girls Vote: No
The USDA continues to make resources and assistance available to agricultural producers and working families to ensure access, safety and stability for food markets and supplies.
Small businesses can also apply for assistance through the Economic Injury and Disaster Loan program. This program provides economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue as a result of the pandemic.
The Congressional Art Competition is now open to high school students in the district. The deadline to submit artwork is April 14th, 2021. For rules and more information on the competition, visit my website.
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As always, you are welcome to visit my website or to contact my offices in Washington, DC or Wisconsin, which remain open for service, if you have any questions or need assistance.