The Tiffany Telegram: September 25, 2020
America spent much of this week reflecting on the life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who sadly passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Justice Ginsburg’s distinguished legal career spanned more than six decades, following the trail blazed by America’s first woman to serve on the high court, Sandra Day O’Connor. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.
In this edition of The Telegram we want to share some updates about:
- "Made in America” event with Vice President Pence
- Getting tough on Communist China
- Restoring local control over the wolf population
- Who is funding the riots?
- The Dairy PRIDE Act
- Better healthcare for rural Wisconsin
- District COVID-19 update
- Vaccine progress
"Made in America” event with Vice President Mike Pence
American manufacturing production rebounded in August for the fourth straight month, as our economy continues to improve in the wake of pandemic related business closures and lockdowns. In fact, over the last four months we’ve seen nearly 11 million jobs created as America gets back to work. This encouraging news came as I participated in an event with Vice President Pence, who was visiting Wisconsin. You can read Vice President Pence’s remarks during his “Made in America” stop here.
Tom and Ivanka Trump attend Vice President Pence’s Made in America event in Eau Claire, WI.
Getting tough on Communist China
Telegram readers will recall that I introduced legislation earlier this month calling for an end to the so-called “One China Policy,” which has made America and the world less safe and less economically secure. The world has changed since former President Jimmy Carter normalized U.S. ties with Red China in 1979, and Main Street America has been feeling the disastrous, real-life consequences of this failed policy in the four decades since. You can read a column I recently penned on the topic here outlining my case for why it’s long past time for America to change course.
Restoring local control over the wolf population
My effort to remove the gray wolf from the federal list of threatened and endangered species and restore management to state and local policymakers got a boost this week as several lawmakers threw their support behind my bill and added their names as cosponsors. With the Wisconsin wolf population now in excess of 1,000 animals, it’s time for us to get Washington out of the wolf management business, and put these decisions back in the hands of the communities that are most affected. The best place for any wildlife species to be managed is from the state level, and that’s exactly what my bill calls for.
Who is funding the riots?
It is a question a lot of Americans have been asking. That’s why I joined a group of 50 lawmakers in asking Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department to launch a probe into who is funding and organizing the lawlessness and violence that has spread terror in our neighborhoods and caused millions of dollars in property damage in recent months. You can read the text of our letter here.
Tom speaks at Academy Day in Wausau, WI.
The DAIRY PRIDE Act
This week I added my support to the bi-partisan DAIRY PRIDE Act. This bill would require non-dairy products, like those made from nuts, plants, and seeds, to stop labeling their products using words like milk, cheese, and yogurt. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines dairy products as coming from dairy animals. Unfortunately, however, this rule has not always been enforced. The DAIRY PRIDE Act would help fix this by requiring the FDA to issue guidance on enforcing its regulation on mislabeled dairy products. Wisconsin’s dairy farmers work hard to make the great products we all enjoy, so it’s important that only actual dairy products are labelled as such.
Better healthcare for rural Wisconsin
This week I signed on to two bipartisan healthcare letters. The first letter, by Representative Al Lawson (D-Fla.), asks HHS to provide more equitable funding to rural healthcare systems. During the pandemic, HHS has released a little over $11 billion targeted at rural healthcare facilities, however a number of facilities did not receive those funds due to being classified as urban through the CMS system. The letter requests that HHS allow those hospitals who did not receive funding to be allowed to apply for additional grants.
The second letter, led by Representative Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Representative Jason Smith (R-Missouri), helps to clarify standards for End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients on Medicare Advantage plans. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently withdrew the Medicare Advantage “time and distance standards” and minimum provider requirements for outpatient dialysis facilities. Those rules were originally put in place to ensure there is always a Medicare Advantage-covered facility within driving distance for ESRD patients, particularly those receiving treatment in rural areas. The letter requests that those standards be restored before open enrollment for Medicare Advantage begins in 2021.
District COVID update
We continued to see an uptick in the numbers of cases in our district over the last week. However, death rates are significantly reduced from the early stages of the pandemic and only six percent of cases are requiring hospitalization. Additionally, the community testing facility at Iron River Community Center is open this weekend. We encourage you to utilize that center if you are looking for a test in the northern-most part of the state.
We also wanted to highlight some important data as concern grows about the increase in cases. Most sources choose to highlight the percent of positive test results coming back each day, however Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS) has been calculating that number in the form of a ratio. Essentially the numerator is the number of positive cases and the denominator is the number of people who were tested overall. The flaw is that this ratio does not account for the people who are being tested multiple times, a practice that has become more common as our friends and neighbors head back to work and send their kids back to school. On September 15th DHS reported a positive test rate of 11 percent based on comparing 1,352 positives to the 12,266 new people tested. However, more than 20,000 people in the state were tested that day, meaning more than 7,000 people who had been previously tested were not accounted for because it was not their first test. If the correct numbers were utilized the percentage would be closer to 6.7 percent. Additionally, many people who tested positive received multiple tests in a week, which could be inflating the positive case rate by a significant amount.
It is also important to note that other data indicators aside from positive test rate can give us a more complete picture of how the virus is impacting our state. I encourage you to utilize the more specific data on the DHS website analyzing hospital capabilities, activity-level by region and county, and case rates by age bracket.
Progress on a vaccine
We got some good news Wednesday when Johnson & Johnson announced that they were moving into a clinical trial of a new vaccine involving tens of thousands of people on multiple continents. If the outcomes of these trails are positive, we could see authorization for the deployment of the vaccine soon. You can read more about their efforts here.
In case you missed it…
There was a nice story out of Medford this week about “a unique search and rescue team [that] is helping families nationwide” using drone technology. You can read more about this high-tech effort here.
Please join the Marathon County VSO and staff, as they host the Veterans Day Resource Fair.
Veterans Day Resource Fair
Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - 10:00am
Marathon County Historical Society
410 McIndoe Street
Wausau, WI 54403
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
White House Tours
White House tours will resume on Saturday, September 12th. Tours will be hosted on Friday and Saturday, 8:00 am to 11:00 am and tour size will be limited. Visit the website for more information or to schedule a tour.
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.
President Trump announced that the administration is planning to provide an additional $13 billion in additional pandemic assistance for agricultural producers during his visit to Wisconsin earlier this month. The USDA began accepting applications on September 21 for this new phase of coronavirus relief, which will assist farmers and ranchers who have been adversely affected during the pandemic. You can learn more about how this program applies to a variety of agricultural products here.
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 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