Iron County Progressive

 September 21, 2021

ICYMI: Secretary of Education in the Badger State

MADISON, Wis. — This week, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited several schools in Wisconsin as he affirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to building back better in the Badger state. This latest visit by a Biden-Harris administration official comes just a week after First Lady Jill Biden spoke with parents and educators at an elementary school in Milwaukee last week.

On Monday, Secretary Cardona visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus and Locust Lane Elementary School in Eau Claire. The secretary spoke with students about their return to school and discussed the importance of bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read more about the secretary’s trip here:

Wisconsin State Journal: U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits UW-Madison

“The return to school this year is more special than ever, after many of our nation’s students have been disconnected from their peers, educators, classrooms, school communities and learning routines for over a year,” Cardona said in a statement.


School of Education Dean Diana Hess, who joined the students, Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Gov. Tony Evers and Cardona on the terrace, said the program helps small school districts who struggle to hire special education teachers and must turn to untrained individuals with emergency teaching licenses.

“One of the things we set out to do in the Biden administration is really lift up the profession,” Cardona said.

Spectrum News: U.S. Secretary of Education begins ‘Return to School Road Trip’ in Wisconsin 

Students, parents, and teachers will join the secretary as he spends this week on the road to get a first-hand look at how students are returning to school, whether that’s an elementary classroom or a college campus.

During a visit to the UW-Madison campus, Secretary Cardona asked students in the special education teaching program for advice he could take back to Washington, D.C., and consider when crafting policy.


 September 24, 2021

SHOT/CHASER: GOP Fails On COVID While President Biden, Democrats Show Pandemic Leadership

SHOT: Over the course of the pandemic, Wisconsin Republicans have relentlessly undermined the advice of public health and medical professionals by spreading dangerous misinformation, flouting necessary safety protocols, and attempting to block leaders like Gov. Evers from protecting Wisconsinites. 

The Washington Post: Republicans maneuver to block vaccine mandates, undercutting a policy widely seen as an effective tool to end pandemic

  • Beyond mandates, Republican lawmakers have also stayed largely silent in the face of rampant vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories… Other high-profile Republicans have been harbingers of vaccine misinformation themselves, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

CBS Milwaukee: Wisconsin doctors ask Sen. Johnson to stop push for Ivermectin as COVID-19 cure

  • “It shames me to see our senator pushing false cures and conspiracy theories when we know how to prevent this disease,” said Dr. Rebecca Beach, a family medicine physician in Richland Center. “Physicians in Wisconsin and across the country have been working overtime for the past year and a half to treat COVID and to try to figure out how to best deal with it when someone does fall ill, including using ventilators when they are needed to save lives — when they sometimes are the only thing that can save a life. Sen. Johnson, who is not a doctor, is trying to undermine this work, and I find that frustrating beyond belief.”

CHASER: In sharp contrast, even as they’ve been met with a chorus of unhinged conspiracy theories and blatant disregard for science, President Biden and Gov. Evers are carrying out a strategic and informed pandemic response — and voters are supportive of and thankful for their leadership.

Monmouth University Polling Institute: Majority Back Vaccine, Mask Mandates

  • A majority of Americans support the vaccine mandates announced by President Joe Biden last week amid rising concerns about the chance of catching Covid. According to the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll, the public also supports instituting guidelines for masking and social distancing in their state as well as requiring people to show proof of vaccination for certain activities, such as boarding an airplane or going to the office. 

Morning Consult: White House’s COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates Have the Support of About 3 in 5 Americans

  • The poll shows that while 58 percent of U.S. adults are in favor of vaccination mandates or weekly testing for employees at businesses with at least 100 workers — a key tenet of the new plan — there’s a massive partisan gap, with 80 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of Republicans supporting such a requirement. 
  • Most Americans also back other major pieces of the new plan: 62 percent are in favor of encouraging states to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all school employees; 60 percent support a vaccination mandate for most health care workers without the ability to opt out through regular testing; and 56 percent support the same rule for most federal workers and contractors.

Fox News: Fox News Poll: Majorities favor mask and vaccine mandates as pandemic worries increase

  • Majorities support mask and vaccine mandates advocated by the Biden administration, as the coronavirus pandemic remains a top concern, according to the latest Fox News poll.
  • Sizable majorities believe face masks (69%) and vaccines (65%) are effective and favor a range of mandates and requirements.


Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair





Leadership—good leadership—starts with listening.


Governor Evers listens. President Biden listens. Donald Trump? Ron Johnson? They never listen.


Leadership informs vision. Vision shapes action. Action changes the world. 


This week, a tremendous leader visited our state: Stacey Abrams, who spent a decade building a blue tide in Georgia; ran for governor of Georgia in 2018; and then launched Fair Fight Action, which played an absolutely essential role in protecting the vote in Wisconsin and nationwide in 2020. Without her visionary leadership, Trump could very well have won the presidential election—certainly in Georgia, and also in states like Wisconsin, where she helped us launch a world-class voter protection operation that protected the voting freedoms of tens of thousands of Wisconsinites. 


First Vice Chair Felesia Martin, DNC Representative Martha Love, I, and many other Democratic Party leaders had the opportunity to attend. The story of her life’s work is the story of someone who has listened, developed a vision, and taken action, in ever-larger ways. And in listening to her, we inform our own vision, and in turn our own plans of action. 


This weekend, we’ll be listening to voters everywhere across the state. Our September Weekend of Action is this Saturday and Sunday -- and we’ll be listening to people about what matters most to them. We’re going to knock on doors, make calls, and reach out to infrequent voters whose decisions could determine the outcomes of the 2022 elections. Through listening, we’re going to connect, build relationships, and inspire these voters to get involved and take action. 


We know this is how we make change -- by forming a real connection with voters. And it’s how we build our collective vision for the future of Wisconsin. It’s the essence of democracy.


We’d love to have you join us! Sign up here.


In solidarity,







Health Care Professionals Blast Ron Johnson and WI GOP For Prolonging Pandemic


This week, State Representative Sara Rodriguez, Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Rachel Hughes, and OB/GYN Dr. Kristin Lyerly blasted Ron Johnson for prolonging the pandemic with his dangerous rhetoric discouraging Wisconsinites from getting vaccinated and pushing alternative and unproven treatments.




State Representative Sara Rodriguez: “As a state Representative, registered nurse, and former Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the CDC, I know about science and using science to make data-based decisions to keep our community safe through common-sense legislation. It is an absolute disgrace that Senator Ron Johnson and the Wisconsin GOP continue to place politics before people’s lives and livelihoods by undermining medical professionals, like we have on this panel today. Senator Ron Johnson owes every Wisconsin family an apology. It is his partisan opposition to Democrats’ recovery efforts that have prolonged this pandemic. We’ve lost too many Wisconsinites and lost too much time to this virus.”


Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Rachel Hughes: “There are people in hospitals across the state because they listened to Senator Johnson. I have had patients diagnosed with COVID who very much regret not getting vaccinated because they listened to his statements and other people like him; at that point it’s too late for them and it’s too late for their families. Sometimes it’s not because of COVID but because of some of the dangerous unproven treatments like Ivermectin that Ron Johnson pushes to take instead of the vaccine. He is wasting people’s lives by being a public health risk.”


OB/GYN Dr. Kristin Lyerly: “All the efforts that my fellow health care providers and I are taking to keep our communities safe are being undermined by people like Ron Johnson, who from the start of this pandemic, has only used his platform to prolong the COVID pandemic by spreading disinformation and fear. Nearly every day he is taking to radio, TV, and social media -- wherever he can speak -- to discourage people from getting vaccinated and to discourage people from protecting themselves and the people they love. Senator Johnson insists on playing malicious self-serving political games that are quite literally costing lives. It’s clear Senator Johnson doesn’t care about us and that his rhetoric is killing people.”


Wisconsin Redistricting Action


This week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the conservative group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty’s petition for original action to hear its redistricting case. This means the state Supreme Court might well determine Wisconsin’s legislative maps in the very likely scenario that Republicans propose unfair maps that Governor Tony Evers is forced to veto. By agreeing to draw the maps, the Wisconsin Supreme Court made a decision to dive headfirst into partisan politics -- something the conservative justices had advised against previously. Meanwhile, also this week, a federal court asked the parties involved in a federal lawsuit about the maps to lay out a proposed timeline to finalize maps before March 1, 2022. It remains to be seen what different roles the Republican-dominated state Supreme Court and the federal courts will play, but one thing is certain: there will be more twists and turns as this process continues.

Also, Republicans in the legislature introduced a joint resolution that is an attempt to retain their already rigged maps and make it harder for Wisconsin voters to elect leaders who share their values. People should choose their elected officials, not the other way around. The process of drawing legislative maps should be fair, transparent, and nonpartisan -- but as we’ve seen, Republicans will stop at nothing to hold onto power. We will continue to fight them every step of the way.




Events Unfolding at U.S. Southern Border


Our country’s greatest strengths have been built on the promise of welcoming immigrants and celebrating diverse communities. Unfortunately, the treatment of Haitian migrants at the U.S. southern border go against that very promise. The violence and inhumane abuse we’re seeing is horrifying and unacceptable, and echoes a long anti-Black history of brutal actions against Haitian people. While the federal government investigates the incidents that generated the gut-wrenching images seen across the country in recent days, we must remain committed to advocating just treatment for all who seek asylum and refuge in America. Every single person, from every race and nationality, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity — and the WisDems community will continue to champion that fundamental value.




 NEW: Senate Democratic Leader Makes the Case for President Biden’s Infrastructure Deal

MADISON –– Thanks to the leadership of President Joe Biden in partnership with Governor Evers and congressional Democrats, America is on the move again and is projected to reach the highest levels of growth in nearly four decades. That’s why, in an interview with WDIO News (ABC Superior), Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Leader Janet Bewley endorsed President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal, sharing that rural Wisconsin communities would benefit immensely from Biden’s historic legislation.

Senator Bewley noted that rural Wisconsin still requires additional federal support to fully access reliable broadband. The bipartisan infrastructure deal will deliver high-speed internet to every neighborhood across the state, including in rural Wisconsin. President Biden’s legislation builds on Governor Evers’ record investment in broadband in the most recent state budget and the $129 million in federal funds Gov. Evers directed to expand access for even more Wisconsinites. 


Here’s a look at what the Biden-Harris administration’s Build Back Better agenda is delivering for Wisconsin:

Where We’re At: The American Rescue Plan continues to build back better in communities across the state. Here’s how:

  • Middle-class tax cuts for working families slash child poverty rates, reduce food insecurity, and drive economic growth
  • The U.S. economy added nearly 750,000 jobs each month over the last three months and the unemployment rate continues to drop, reaching 5.2% in August — the lowest it has been in eighteen months

Where We’re Going: The bipartisan infrastructure deal will build on this progress by: 

  • Creating more than 880,000 more jobs by 2030, while increasing per-capita income, consumer spending, and the national GDP
  • Protecting critical labor standards on construction projects as workers rebuild roads and bridges, improve drinking water infrastructure, upgrade broadband connectivity, and transform our transportation infrastructure
  • Buying American to ensure all taxpayer-funded projects are built with American iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials
  • Permanently expanding the child tax credit to reduce child poverty to less than 10% in most states, including Wisconsin

In totality, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, bipartisan infrastructure deal, and rest of the Build Back Better agenda will provide relief for working families, deliver one of the biggest middle-class tax cuts ever, and generate sustainable economic growth over the long term — all while creating upwards of two million jobs per year over the next decade. 

 Why Did Wisconsin Republicans Vote Against President Biden’s Expanded Child Tax Cut? 

MADISON, Wis. — Today, as the third round of payments from President Biden’s middle-class tax cuts hit bank accounts, Wisconsin parents are breathing a little bit easier as the expanded Child Tax Credit helps pay for food, child care, and the cost of raising children. Across the country, Biden’s middle-class tax cuts are an essential lifeline for families – in fact, in an August study, just one payment reduced financial anxiety for 56% of families surveyed. 

As families across the state celebrate these expanded benefits, made possible by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, many are left wondering why every single Wisconsin Republican voted against this critical relief. 

“Wisconsin Republicans proved once again that their allegiance to their party overlords and wealthy donors knows no bounds,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Rapid Response Director Julia Hamelburg. “Childhood poverty is not a partisan issue but the Wisconsin GOP has somehow come out against alleviating starvation for children. The American Rescue Plan is delivering millions in relief to Wisconsin families and helping parents put food on the table. Voting against this plan to help Wisconsin’s working families is not only morally wrong, it’s politically disastrous.”

Here’s how making the Child Tax Credit permanent would help Wisconsin:

  • Increases the existing tax benefit from $2,000 up to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under age 6)
  • Provides payments to the parents of 1,158,000 children in Wisconsin – including low-income families who previously did not receive the full benefits. 
  • Reduces the childhood poverty rate in the state to less than 4% and helps raise 46,000 Wisconsin children out of poverty. 
  • Returns half of families’ spending on child care for children under the age of 13 through a tax credit – they can receive up to $4,000 in credit for one child or $8,000 for two or more children

Here’s how the expanded Child Tax Credit is already helping parents across the country:

CNBC: Expanding the child tax credit would reduce child poverty to less than 10% in most states, study finds

Forbes: How Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments Are Impacting Americans’ Finances

  • “The new monthly child tax credit payments have made a significant impact on millions of families. According to the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, compared to the prior period before the disbursement of the first child tax credit payments, the number of families with kids earning $50,000 or less who didn’t have enough to eat declined by more than seven percentage points.”
  • “Natalie Foster, the co-chair of the Economic Security Project, says the new child tax credit is making a difference and reducing poverty for families. Foster says families use the payments to pay bills, buy groceries and get kids ready for school. ‘Across the board, it is a lifeline for families struggling during the pandemic and crucial to the efforts to rebuild,’ says Foster.”


Johnson Brags About Changing 2017 Tax Bill To Benefit Himself and His Biggest Donors, Tax Cut He Opposed for Wisconsin Families Continues to Have Positive Impact

Madison, Wis. — As Wisconsin families continue to feel the positive impact of the historic middle class tax cuts passed by President Biden and Congressional Democrats, Ron Johnson, who voted against tax cuts that will help roughly 1,000,000 Wisconsin children, stating it would be “social or economic engineering,” instead continues to brag about the tax break he spearheaded in the 2017 GOP tax scam bill that benefited himself and his two biggest donors.

“But I still thought, well, the successful, the larger pass-throughs, also need to be treated fairly. So kind of held out, in the end we got some measure of accommodation, but it wasn’t permanent.” — Ron Johnson on WTMJ’s Money Talks, 9/11/21

Johnson has been facing harsh criticism following reports revealing that the provision in 2017 GOP tax scam he continues to tout not only benefited the company he owned at the time, it also gave his two of his biggest campaign donors more than $200 million in tax breaks

“Ron Johnson tried to kill tax cuts for hard working Wisconsin families after working overtime to change the 2017 GOP tax scam bill that gave himself and his wealthiest donors hundreds of millions of dollars in massive tax handouts; we know exactly where his loyalties are,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Senate Communications Advisor Philip Shulman said. “Wisconsinites know they can’t trust Ron Johnson to stand up for them and will hold him accountable next November.”


Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair






Democracy is under attack—and you are among the front-line fighters defending it.


Here in Wisconsin, Republican legislators led by Robin Vos are using taxpayer funds to pour money into a sham “investigation,” overseen by conspiracy theorists, intended to give credence to false beliefs about 2020—and, in turn, to build GOP support for suppressing votes or stealing the election in 2022. It’s just one of four different conspiracy-theory-driven “investigations.”


The truth, as has been obvious for months and months, is that Wisconsin’s 2020 election was legitimate, overseen by thousands of local election administrators and volunteers across the state. But that truth is inconvenient for Trump and the Republican operatives dedicated to the Big Lie, so they’re trying to undermine it. 


Fortunately, democracy has great allies in Wisconsin.


We’ve got a governor who has vowed to veto any bill making it harder for people to vote—and has already made good on that promise, repeatedly. We’ve simply got to re-elect Governor Evers in 2022.


We’ve got enough great Democrats in the state legislature to sustain Governor Evers’s vetoes—thanks to the success of the Save The Veto campaign last year, and the work done by dozens of Democratic candidates, win or lose, in 2020. We’ve got to add to their ranks in the 2022 elections, which will be the first conducted under new, likely much fairer maps. 


We’ve got a terrific voter protection team at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. We’ve never operated such a department year-round before, but the threats to democracy make it a necessity. Our team launched in early 2020 in partnership with Stacey Abrams and her great group Fair Fight, and has earned its reputation as a national model. 


(By the way—Stacey Abrams will be speaking in Milwaukee next Wednesday as part of her national tour, and we can offer a 50% discount on tickets to WisDems members! See below for more information.) 


And most critically, we have you. As Wisconsin Democrats, we’ve known tremendous ups and perilous downs. We’ve had to find the strength to keep fighting when all seemed lost. And we’ve never given up. Your determination to ensure that government of the people, by the people, and for the people never perishes is the fuel for everything our party achieves.


Thanks for all you do. Let’s keep fighting. 






Dr. Biden In Wisconsin To Celebrate Public Education


Wednesday, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited Milwaukee! During her visit to a local elementary school, Dr. Biden discussed the importance of childrens’ safe return to schools. As a teacher for nearly 30 years, Dr. Biden deeply understands the value of in-person learning and recognizes the work that President Biden, Gov. Evers, and Democrats in Congress have done to keep students and teachers safe as they return to the classroom.


During the event, Dr. Biden also discussed how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan continues to deliver for Wisconsin’s parents, children, teachers, and schools, highlighting the third round of payments from President Biden’s expanded Child Tax Credit hitting parents’ bank accounts this week.

You can read about the First Lady’s visit and discussion with Milwaukee parents and teachers here.




Third Payments of President Biden’s Expanded Child Tax Credit


This week, parents across the state saw the third round of President Biden’s expanded Child Tax Credits. This middle-class tax cut is helping parents breathe a little bit easier at the end of each month and is further proof that President Biden and Democrats in Congress are delivering for working families. After just one round of the credits, 56% of US families felt reduced financial anxiety and 3.3 million more kids nationwide had enough to eat.


This is great news, and it’s just the first step in creating a better future for Wisconsin’s children. It is crucial that the U.S. Senate and Congress pass President Biden’s overwhelmingly popular Build Back Better plan, which would make this expanded credit permanent. To learn more about the importance of making the Child Tax Credit permanent, read Chair Wikler’s opinion piece from last month.


Holding #RadicalRebecca Kleefisch Accountable


We are holding Scott Walker’s former lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch accountable for her radical agenda as she campaigns for governor. This week, we held a press conference where Wisconsin teachers spoke out against Kleefisch’s record of defunding public education.

While Gov Evers has held up his promise to be the Education Governor, Kleefisch’s proposals would wreck years of work investing in our schools. Watch the full event here.


Wisconsinites will only find out the truth about #RadicalRebecca if all of us help spread the word. Find resources explaining why #RadicalRebecca is wrong for Wisconsin in our social media toolkit, found here!






Celebrating Citizenship Day & Lifting Up Grassroots Leaders: An Interview with Alex Tran


In celebration of Constitution and Citizenship Day on September 17, Alex Tran spoke with MJ Wong Engel, AAPI Coalitions Manager, about her experience teaching citizenship classes with Migration Advocacy of Brown County WI, a coalition of concerned citizens working to provide needed advocacy assistance for immigrants and refugees. Alex is a community advocate and leader in Green Bay. She is a board member of the AAPI Caucus and the first woman of color to be elected to the Brown County Board of Supervisors. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.





MJ: You are an activist who wears a lot of different hats! Can you take a moment to share a little bit about your path as a progressive advocate?


AT: I’m a refugee and came here in 1983 with my dad. Growing up I wasn’t really involved politically, [but] I always knew that I loved politics. My high school social studies teacher submitted my name to this program called the National Young Leadership Conference in DC. We got to pretend we were elected officials, and I loved it. I loved the political process.


Growing up in Green Bay, everyone around me was conservative. Then I went to Madison and it totally changed my mindset about everything I thought that I knew. I became more progressive and open-minded. That was my transition from conservative to progressive. 


I decided to run for office in 2018 because there were some issues in the community that I wanted to address, but I didn’t have the proper connections and didn’t know how to go about it, so I decided to run for office. I know what’s important to me: helping my community and making a difference. 


Having been a refugee myself, I understand how difficult the process can be, coming to a foreign country and not knowing the language at all. When we first came, things were a lot more difficult and there weren’t a lot of resources available. We learned the process the hard way and I didn’t want anyone else to go through that either. I want to make it easier for them.


I got involved with Migration Advocacy through my friend, H, one of the co-founders of the organization. He said, “You know what it’s like, want to get involved?” A group of us run classes for students twice a week. The majority of our students are from Somalia and many of them are learning the English language for the first time. I had one student who didn’t know how to read or write in her native language, but she was adamant on passing the citizenship test so she learned to read and write English. She wanted to become a part of this community. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ran for office someday. I’m really proud of her!


MJ: What drives your passion for the work you do with citizenship classes and advocacy?


AT: [The] majority of us are immigrants in this country. We are all trying to make a life for our families. These people came from war zones. I myself was a child of the war. [Refugees in Wisconsin are] making an effort to make a new life for themselves and their children, future generations. 


Having been a refugee I know what it’s like to be in a foreign land. It’s a difficult process and I’m here to help make it a lot easier for them in whatever way I can. To see them pass the test and to see how excited they are feels like Christmas, like getting presents. Many of our students  work in the meatpacking factory, doing really hard labor and long hours; yet, they make this effort to become American citizens, which is really admirable to see!


I remember the day we became citizens. You feel legitimate in some way. You’re officially an American, your freedom is not to be taken for granted, it’s guaranteed. It makes you want to make sure it stays that way for future generations.


Want to get involved? Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families has a great guide to ways to assist refugees, including a link to a PDF listing DCF’s partner agencies all over the state. A few of them include Lutheran Social Services of WI & Upper WI, Jewish Social Services, International Institute of Wisconsin, and World Relief



The Rural Power Up Initiative is being developed by the Rural Caucus and supported by WisDems staff. The goal of this initiative is to enhance collaboration between rural communities and strengthen the organizing power of our rural counties ahead of the 2022 election.

Rural Caucus Chair Nate Timm is working to schedule trainings around the state on the three components of the Rural Power Up Strategy: the formation of multi-county collaboratives, the development of values-based messaging, and the solidification of a rural community contact network. These strategies and tactics have been based on the feedback and insight of rural leaders, members of our Rural Advisory Council, and local experts.






Paid for by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Ben Wikler, Chair


Our mailing address is:

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