The Tiffany Telegram: July 31, 2020

July 31, 2020
Newsletter

Dear Friend,

This week, most Members of Congress reconvened for legislative business – although once again many Democratic lawmakers stayed home, instead allowing other members to cast “proxy votes” on their behalf. 

Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled House spent little time on economic recovery efforts. Instead, they approved legislation that would de-fund the ability of local police departments to obtain surplus protective equipment like bullet-proof vests – which would undermine the ability of law enforcement to maintain public safety and protect Americans from continued rioting, violence and criminal property destruction. Equally alarming, the measure would block continued work on the southern border wall – despite new reports of virus cases spilling across the border, growing concerns about the link between illegal immigration and an uptick of infections in southwestern states, and the seizure of more than 900 shipments of fraudulent medical equipment including phony coronavirus test kits. I voted against this legislation.

This week we also wanted to tell you about:

Supporting Wisconsin dairy farmers
I recently joined the Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus and will continue to work hard to support the dairy industry to address the issues that our state’s agricultural producers face.

In that spirit, our Congressional delegation came together across party lines this week to back the Milk Donation Reimbursement Program in the next coronavirus relief package to help dairy producers who donate their excess products to those in need via programs like food banks and homeless shelters. Not only does this program help our great dairy industry, but it also benefits our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. You can see our letter here

Contributing to an even more “Superior” U.S. Navy
This week I joined with my Minnesota colleague Rep. Pete Stauber to shepherd a provision through the House of Representatives that would authorize shipyards like ours in Superior to conduct vital maintenance and repairs to U.S. Navy vessels in times of high demand. Our amendment will benefit the military by enabling workers in northern Wisconsin to play a greater role in supporting their critical global mission, while also providing new economic opportunities in our region. We’re excited about getting this common-sense measure through the House and look forward to working with our Senators to get it passed into law. You can view my statement on the House floor in support of the amendment below.

 

Protecting our communities and upholding the rule of law
Some of you probably saw the raucous hearing with Attorney General Barr that the House Judiciary Committee held this week.  Unfortunately, there was more political grandstanding during the meeting than thoughtful discussion about how to deal with the rising death toll and surge in violent crime that we see in the wake of the dangerous “Defund the Police” movement that has taken hold in many major urban centers.

You can watch my 5 minute exchange here – and view a shocking video of widespread violence that members of the committee watched at the outset of the hearing below.

Video
 

Expanding access to prescription drugs
I’ve always been a strong supporter of expanding patient choice when it comes to health care.  This week I joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in backing legislation that would allow Wisconsinites to safely and legally import some prescription drugs from Canada, provided those drugs meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards. This plan will not only expand access to life-saving medications, but put more affordable drugs within reach for more families by sparking increased competition in the pharmaceutical market. President Trump also took action to remove barriers to cross-border prescription drug access last week, which is good news for consumers.

Positive developments in the coronavirus fight
In Wisconsin’s 7th district we are seeing very minimal increases in the number of coronavirus cases each day, and a number of counties including Ashland and Rusk counties have been downgraded to a “low activity” status as outlined by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The number of cases we are experiencing is still well within the capabilities of our medical providers. At the time of this newsletter’s writing, our hospitals are currently treating fewer than 30 patients for COVID-related symptoms, and less than 15 percent of available ventilators are currently being used to provide mechanical ventilation. Currently, the district has seven community testing facilities in the North and Northwest regions of Wisconsin, with an eighth facility scheduled to open in Wood County by the end of the week. With the massive increases in testing capacity that we have seen in the past month, we are confident that we can continue with forward momentum to reopen our economy safely.

We also saw some encouraging news from across the Atlantic. In Sweden, which avoided blanket business and school shutdowns (and took a different approach to various restrictions we’ve seen in other countries). There is an interesting report on their efforts and outcomes here.

You may also have heard about steps President Trump is taking to speed up access to therapeutics and the development and deployment of a vaccine, including the “fast track” designation given by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to several vaccine efforts. The White House also secured another 100 million doses from developers contingent on the completion of clinical trials.  The Trump Administration has also accessed a large supply of the drug Remdesivir, which has shown promise in helping sick patients recover, and pharmaceutical innovators are working round-the-clock with the White House to ensure reliable supply chains necessary to guarantee access to vaccines when they are ready.

We also learned this week that the proportion of Americans who die as a result of coronavirus infection is significantly lower than the rate in many other developed countries. Analysts put the share of U.S. residents who test positive and later die from the virus at 3.4%, significantly below the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada.

The dangers of keeping our kids out of school
As we told you last week, Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield told Americans last week that “[i]t is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” issuing guidelines based on a growing body of scientific evidence confirming that schools can and should be safely reopened. 

This week, Dr. Redfield noted the low risk associated with school reopening pointing out that “[T]he risk per 100,000, so far [is]…about 0.1 per 100,000. So another way to say that, it’s one in a million.”  He also warned that that school shutdowns are already having serious consequences, adding “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID."

There are steps Congress can take to help with a speedy and safe reopening, and I am committed to doing my part.  As you know from prior newsletters, I joined my colleague Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana in introducing legislation to ensure that additional federal funds are conditioned on a return to in-person learning and have thrown my support behind common-sense liability protections proposed by Rep. Greg Murphy of North Carolina that would prevent trial lawyers from targeting our community schools with junk lawsuits during the pandemic. 

Governor Evers’ mask mandate
We’ve been hearing from many of you concerned about the recent statewide mask mandate imposed by Governor Evers. This order is creating a lot of confusion and Wisconsinites would be much better served if the governor would work with the legislature rather than continuing to take controversial and unilateral steps.

A copy of the mask mandate guidelines that have been released can be found here

Regional Assistance
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

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.

The USDA also continues to accept applications for assistance under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through August 28, 2020 to assist farmers and ranchers who have been adversely affected by price instability, supply-chain problems and cost spikes. You can learn more about how this program applies to soybeans, dairy, corn, livestock and a variety of other agricultural products here, and a useful fact sheet on the program can be viewed here.

The Paycheck Protection Program resumed accepting applications on July 6. The PPP program provides assistance to employers negatively affected by the public health emergency.

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. 

And once again, remember to make sure that you and your family are counted in the census. Please be sure to visit 2020census.gov to learn more.

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 TwitterFacebook, 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.

Sincerely,


Tom Tiffany
Member of Congress

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