The Tiffany Telegram: January 8, 2021
We at The Telegram hope you had a Merry Christmas and are enjoying a safe and healthy 2021.
Since our last installment, Congress passed a record-breaking spending bill, imposed a partisan new set of rules in the House of Representatives designed to restrict open debate and stifle the voice of the minority party. Congress also completed the electoral certification after debating several objections to slates of electors in states where we saw election irregularities.
We also witnessed a spate of unacceptable lawlessness and vandalism during a breach of the Capitol on Wednesday not unlike the sustained violent rioting and destruction that gripped cities like Kenosha, Madison, Minneapolis, and Chicago for months in 2020. It was wrong then and it was wrong Wednesday. Decent Americans have condemned such behavior across the board, and those who broke the law should be apprehended and punished.
Unfortunately, too many politicians and commentators on the extremes of our political dialogue spent much of last year failing to condemn such spasms of violence, and even making excuses for it in some cases, describing them as “mostly peaceful protests.” Some even cheered them on. By doing this, they conferred a sense of legitimacy on arson, looting and the destruction of property. This must stop. I condemned this violence during the riots in Madison last summer, and I continue to condemn it today. Violence has no place in our civil discourse.
In this week’s Telegram we want to get you caught up on:
- The 5,593-page, $2.3 trillion spending bill blowout
- The Electoral College count
- Dems approve “martial law” rules package to stifle debate, boost debt
- Making Washington live within its means
- Standing up for the Second Amendment
- New opportunities in Superior
- District COVID update
- Vaccine distribution
The 5,593-page, $2.3 trillion spending bill blowout
Last month I voted against a nearly 6,000 page, $2.3 trillion spending bill. The bill was approved after little debate, and just hours after the text was provided to lawmakers. No amendments were allowed, and few if any of my colleagues had time to read it. Even worse, Speaker Pelosi tried to hide the true scope of this pork-filled, special-interest spending buffet by invoking a rarely-used procedural mechanism to split the vote, with one vote on funding for the military, Department of Homeland Security, and spending related to federal law enforcement, financial services and other agencies, and a second vote that included Covid-19 assistance, eight other unrelated spending bills and at least a dozen other provisions. While some have attempted to paper over this fact, you can see for yourself that all of the spending was crammed into a single bill, H.R. 133, not one bill for COVID assistance and one for everything else. In fact the bill was so egregious, that every member of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation except for one voted against some part of the massive legislation, which included spending wholly unrelated to pandemic relief, including hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to countries like Pakistan and Burma, tens of millions of dollars in giveaways to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and even taxpayer subsidies for museums. At the same time, the bill failed to provide badly needed COVID liability protections for small businesses, which have been decimated by government-imposed closures and restrictions. I have long supported targeted pandemic relief, and will continue to do so, but I will not support a cynical and destructive cycle of take-it-or-leave-it, trillion-dollar train-wreck bills loaded with wasteful spending that insult taxpayers. You can read my statement about the vote here.
The Electoral College count
This week Congress approved the final electoral results of the 2020 presidential election. I voted in support of the objections that were filed in accordance with the constitution. I have been consistent in my concerns about election irregularities that occurred in a handful of counties, and Wednesday’s vote on the objections was the last legal option available to protect the rights of millions of voters across the country who cast legal ballots. We saw some of those irregularities in Wisconsin, where most clerks conducted clean elections, but where we sadly saw officials in Dane and Milwaukee County take steps to circumvent the election laws approved by our state legislature. By allowing hundreds of thousands of tainted votes to be cast and counted, these officials unfortunately diluted the value of the legal ballots cast by the great majority of Wisconsin voters. Contrary to what you may have heard, the objections considered by lawmakers were not an effort to nullify or undermine our democracy – quite the contrary. The objection process is rooted in the constitution and recent precedent. In fact, it is the same process used by Democrat lawmakers after the 2000 and 2004 elections who sought to, in the words of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “speak up for their aggrieved constituents.” You can read my statement on the matter here.
Dems approve “martial law” rules package to stifle debate, boost debt
We have heard much about the need for unity and cooperation as Congress prepares to reconvene for legislative business in the New Year. Unfortunately, however, the 117th Congress was kicked off by Speaker Pelosi making sweeping changes to the rules that will govern how debate is conducted in the coming year. In addition to puzzling changes that scrubbed “gendered” terms we all use each day like father, mother, son, daughter and brother from the rules, Speaker Pelosi also effectively revoked the ability of minority members of what is often the only opportunity we have to try and amend legislation that reaches the floor. This mechanism, known as the “motion to recommit,” has been a pillar of our democracy, one that has been in place since the very first congress, and has helped to ensure that all Members of Congress have a chance to highlight important issues and force a discussion on difficult topics on behalf of the American people. The package also relaxed what are known as “PAYGO” rules, making it easier for the majority to pass legislation that dramatically increases spending and debt. Despite these unfair changes, I will work hard this year to make sure that people in Washington hear the concerns of our communities and continue to fight for fiscal sanity in our Nation’s Capital.
Making Washington live within its means
As one of my first acts in the 117th Congress, I plan to cosponsor legislation to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. constitution. As we saw last month with passage of the outrageous $2.3 trillion omnibus spending bill after almost no debate, the budgeting process in Washington is broken and Congress must take bold steps to impose new controls. This constitutional amendment would require Congress to live within its means and make the same kind of tough choices that state legislatures, families and small businesses make every single day. You can read the text of the proposed amendment here.
New opportunities in Superior
As Telegram readers may recall, the House approved an amendment I offered last summer to the annual defense spending bill that would authorize shipyards like Fraser in Superior to conduct vital maintenance and repairs to U.S. Navy vessels. I wrote a column about it earlier this year that you can read here. Supporting the northern Wisconsin economy has been one of my top priorities since my first day in Congress, that’s why I was excited to see Fraser receive “HUBZone” certification from the Small Business Administration just before Christmas. This designation will give Fraser new opportunities to secure Navy, Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers work, which means a better shot at new jobs in the Twin Ports region. You can read more about the news, and the work Fraser does here.
Concealed carry reciprocity
The right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment is one of Americans’ most cherished freedoms. That’s why this week I signed on to legislation calling for concealed carry reciprocity across the country. This bill would ensure that valid concealed carry permits issued in one state are valid for carrying concealed handguns in other states that recognize their own resident’s right to concealed carry. I am committed to protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves, their families and their property against any effort by Big City politicians to water down our God-given liberties. You can read the text of the legislation here.
Following a downward shift in positive COVID-19 case numbers for multiple weeks, we began to see a slight shift upwards in our positive case numbers. We want to remind individuals who are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms to take the proper precautions and stay home. In the 7th Congressional District, Marathon County still leads our positive case numbers with just over 400 new cases in the past week. Our hospitals and ICU bed capacity both remain at a stable level, with the North Central Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition (HERC) region experiencing 80 percent of beds filled on average, and the Northwest HERC hospitals experiencing 69 percent of beds filled on average.
Wisconsin is currently in Phase 1A of distribution, which includes frontline healthcare workers along with long-term care facility residents and staff. Individuals in Phase 1B will include persons age 75 and older, and all other essential workers not included in a healthcare setting. Phase 1C will then follow with persons age 65 and older, and all individuals age 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions. Wisconsin has chosen to distribute the vaccines through a hub-and-spoke model that utilizes each of the seven HERC facilities to allocate vaccine numbers for smaller healthcare facilities. We encourage you to speak with your employer and/or healthcare provider if you have concerns about when the vaccine may be available to you. I would also direct you to the DHS website, which has ample information on Wisconsin’s distribution strategy.
In addition to my Wausau and Washington, DC offices, you can reach my staff located in various parts of the district by phone in the location most convenient to you (Note: These lines have 202 area codes as they are connected directly through the US House of Representatives system in Washington, DC):
Hayward: (202) 510-2790
P.O. Box 586
Hayward, WI 54843
Hudson: (202) 510-8993
Tomahawk: (202) 738-6508
Mobile Office Hours: New Richmond, WI
Monday, January 11, 2021 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Café Next Door
206 S Knowles Ave
New Richmond, WI 54017
Mobile Office Hours: Amery, WI
Monday, January 18, 2021 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Amery Family Restaurant
418 Keller Ave S
Amery, WI 54001
Coronavirus Response Resources
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.
If a friend forwarded you this newsletter, and you would like to receive it in the future, you can sign up here, and don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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.
Member of Congress