Iron County Progressive

 ICYMI: Up North News Wisconsin: Against It Before They Were For It: Some Wisconsin Politicians Are Busy Promoting American Rescue Plan Funds

“Wisconsin GOP lawmakers seem grateful for the aid that has helped hometown businesses and provided stimulus checks”

MADISON, Wis. — Yesterday, Up North News Wisconsin blasted the Wisconsin GOP for promoting the American Rescue Plan, despite the fact that the Republican Party voted against the critical federal relief. 

Republicans in Congress stood in unified partisan opposition to the American Rescue Plan, and Wisconsin Republicans in the state legislature went as far as attempting to slow down relief distribution across the state. Now, those same Republicans who all parroted criticisms of the bill — like failed candidate Derrick Van Orden, Representative ​​Glenn Grothman, and Representative Tom Tiffany — are all too eager to credit for the federal funds.

Read the full column below:

Up North News: Against It Before They Were For It: Some Wisconsin Politicians Are Busy Promoting American Rescue Plan Funds

“This is very good news for my district,” state Rep. Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer) said this week about a new round of grants that will help telecommunications providers increase internet service across his western Wisconsin district.

As chair of the Assembly committee overseeing technology issues, Summerfield has had good reason to cheer the latest round of 83 grants awarded by the state Public Service Commission across 43 counties.

At the opposite end of the state, Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem Lakes) and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) were equally effusive about grants benefiting Kenosha County. “Residents and business owners in these communities can now move forward knowing that reliable broadband internet is on the horizon,” Kerkman said.

What they and other Republicans aren’t saying as loudly is that the increased amount of money available for these state grants is actually federal funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act, the major pandemic stimulus proposed by President Joe Biden which passed Congress in March without a single vote from Republicans, who claimed the plan was too costly.

US Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) was one of those 212 votes against the Rescue Plan. Two weeks after it became law, Grothman’s Twitter account trumpeted the availability of direct cash relief for Wisconsin families struggling through the coronavirus outbreak. “The IRS has begun delivering the third round of stimulus checks,” he posted. “For information about the status of your check or questions about eligibility, visit the COVID19 page on my website.”

Weeks later, Grothman was tweeting about one of the provisions that has assisted small businesses across the state. “The Restaurant Revitalization Fund will provide relief to food and drink businesses in-need following COVID19 lockdowns and capacity limitations,” he posted in promoting the availability of applications for aid. 

Other Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation have been critical of the Rescue Plan even as it brought significant help to hometowns in their districts. 

Rep. Bryan Steil said of the plan in March, “The spending bill bails out reckless spending cities like Chicago and shortchanges hardworking hometowns like Janesville.” Earlier this month, the Janesville city council began allocating the nearly $12 million in aid. A staff memo outlined uses that could include replacing lead in the water infrastructure and developing affordable “working class” housing for families.

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) hosted a roundtable on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, bringing attention to the business benefit but also criticizing the additional aid to unemployed Wisconsin workers. Prior to passage, Tiffany wrote a letter to Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson asking them to vote against the Biden plan. 

Tiffany, Johnson, and the other Republicans voted against the American Rescue Plan’s numerous forms of relief brought to Wisconsin which include: 

  • Nearly $7 billion in direct stimulus aid to Wisconsin families in 2.7 million households.
  • Nearly $4 billion to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • $1.6 billion in relief to Wisconsin K-12 school districts.
  • 1.1 million children were impacted by an expanded child tax credit that included monthly payments from the IRS to qualifying families. Another 321,000 childless workers received up to $1,000 from the earned income tax credit.
  • Lower health insurance premiums in the Affordable Care Act marketplace for families who lost healthcare coverage because of pandemic-related layoffs.
  • $2.1 billion for Wisconsin municipalities that have used the aid for everything from backfilling strained budgets for local services and repairing water and sewer infrastructure to campaigns encouraging COVID vaccinations and reducing housing evictions. 
  • $2.7 billion for the state government aid that Gov. Tony Evers has distributed in areas that include small business grants, pandemic response efforts, and infrastructure funding such as the broadband internet projects Republican legislators are touting.

“Wisconsin families have had enough of Republicans’ obstructionism and hypocrisy,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Ben Wikler in a release about GOP legislators’ reaction to the Rescue Plan funds. “Make no mistake: every single Democrat in Congress voted for President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and Governor Evers has implemented it—while every single Republican voted against it.”

 Shot/Chaser: Democrats Deliver Where Republican Obstruction Failed

Madison, Wis. — President Biden, Democrats in Congress, and Gov. Evers have continued to work hand-in-hand to build back better. Their partnership, which has resulted in billions in federal relief to Wisconsin, comes in sharp contrast to the failed Walker-Kleefisch administration, which rejected critical federal aid for partisan reasons.

Shot: Former GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Radical Rebecca Kleefisch refused to accept millions of federal funds for Wisconsinites, all because they didn’t believe bipartisanship would benefit them politically. Their partisan political games deeply hurt Wisconsinites, and set back progress in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin State Journal: Feds to take Wisconsin’s high-speed rail money, give it to other states

  • “The Obama administration is taking back the $810 million awarded to Wisconsin for train projects after Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker made it clear he will not waver in his opposition to the project.”

Associated Press: GOP governors who turned down Medicaid money have hands out

  • “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker notably turned down more than $500 million for his state.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State giving back stimulus funds intended for broadband expansion

Chaser: Thanks to a strong partnership with President Biden, Gov. Evers has highlighted the importance of working with federal partners to deliver for Wisconsin. He has secured billions of dollars and delivered for Wisconsin where Republicans had failed. 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: ‘Help is on the way’: Wisconsin will issue $420 million in relief funds to small businesses, Gov. Evers says

  • “According to a news release, the funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act can potentially benefit 84,000 small businesses that generate between $10,000 and $7 million in annual revenue.”

The Capital Times: Evers announces $50 million in assistance for Wisconsin farmers

  • “The funds will be administered through the latest round of the governor’s Wisconsin Farm Support Program, launched last year. In total, Evers has directed more than $100 million in federal funds to support Wisconsin’s agricultural producers, his office said.”

WKOW: Evers announces $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds for tourism industry

  • “As Wisconsin’s tourism industry looks to rebuild, Governor Tony Evers announced a fresh influx of funds Tuesday to help push revitalization.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin rural broadband getting $100 million boost from federal program

WPR: Evers allocating $45M in federal funds to violence prevention, crime victim programs

 ICYMI: Wisconsin Mayors Endorse Biden’s “Transformational” Build Back Better Agenda

Madison, Wis. — Yesterday, mayors from the cities of Racine, Madison, Wausau, and Sheboygan endorsed President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, citing how the Build Back Better Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver millions of dollars in critical investments for their cities. 

Read about the mayors’ virtual roundtable below:

ABC Madison: Wisconsin mayors discuss how President Biden’s agenda could help local cities

  • The mayors of Madison, Wausau, Racine, and Sheboygan said federal investment in certain sectors could take the burden off local budgets.
  • Madison’s mayor, Satya Rhodes-Conway, says that after the devastating flooding that Madison experienced in 2018, the city embarked on a major project to upgrade the storm water system. 
  • Rhodes-Conway says they’re only halfway done, but the price tag is still more than the city can bear.

[…]

  • “Municipalities here in Wisconsin have very few options left to us from the legislature for funding the work that’s needed,” she said. “Without outside help, these projects are not going to get done.”

WPR: Mayors from 4 Wisconsin cities urge Congress to pass Biden social safety net plan, emphasizing child care

  • More affordable child care is part of what the Biden administration has dubbed the Build Back Better Plan, but the bill is opposed by all Republicans in the U.S. Senate, who take issue with the price tag and the social spending it includes. The plan would cap child care expenses based on family income, extend the Child Tax Credit and provide universal free pre-school. It’s just one of many elements in the bill, which also addresses infrastructure and climate change. 

[…]

  • In a virtual event Thursday, mayors from the cities of Racine, Madison, Wausau and Sheboygan pushed for federal lawmakers to come to an agreement on a plan they called “transformational” and what Racine Mayor Corey Mason described as “a once in a generation chance” to provide “real opportunities to get into the middle class and thrive.”

[…]

  • The mayors who spoke Thursday in support of more spending on climate change, infrastructure and child care disagree, saying the pandemic exposed areas in which those who are lower income experience more hardship because these issues affect them more.

[…]

  • “Thinking about child care alone, in Marathon County, we lost 55 percent of our child care providers during the last recession. That was 10 years ago,” said Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg.

  


Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair 

.Dear fellow Wisconsin Democrats,

 The Freedom to Vote Act—a tremendous and urgently-needed bill—went up for a vote in the Senate this week. Every Democrat supported it. But Republicans, including Ron Johnson, filibustered it. Until and unless filibuster rules are changed, the bill’s progress has halted. Meanwhile, even though Wisconsin’s Legislative Reference Bureau completed its report and found, once again, that 2020’s election was “safe and secure,” the GOP’s sham investigations—which in fact are naked attempts to justify voting restrictions—continue.  

So what now? We go local.  

Voter protection—the process of working with individual voters and election administrators to ensure that everyone has the full opportunity to exercise their freedom to vote—used to be a “final stretch of the election” type priority. Today, it’s a year-round fight. We’ve got volunteers phone banking to recruit poll workers. We’ve got staff and volunteers overseeing our year-round voter protection hotline (608-DEM-3232.) We’ve got a whole team on our staff focused on ensuring that voters have the help they need to overcome roadblocks put in their path by Republicans.  

And the Democratic Party of Wisconsin isn’t alone—an array of independent organizations are fighting day in and day out to protect the rights of voters and the future of our democracy.  

We can and will continue to advocate for legislation like the Freedom to Vote Act. And we can and will duke it out for voting rights in the courts. But through it all, we’re going to organize, organize, and organize—and then organize some more. 

For the GOP, attacking democracy is both a strategy for winning power, and a goal once power is won. For us, saving democracy is both key to victory and why victories are worth winning. The battle lines are clear, and the stakes are high.  

This is why the work that all of us do is so essential. And it’s a great reason to be proud to be a Democrat.  

No matter where you live or the color of your skin, your right to vote is sacred. That’s a uniting principle for Democrats, and it should be the bedrock of our nation’s system of governance. We won’t stop working until that vision is realized—and American government serves us all, not just the few.  

In solidarity,

Ben 

FIGHT 

Ron Johnson Votes Against Protecting Wisconsinites' Voting Rights

On Wednesday, Ron Johnson voted against the Freedom to Vote Act, which would protect Wisconsinites’ voting rights and prevent dark money interests from dumping unlimited and unaccountable donations into elections. 

By protecting the dark money influence in our elections, Ron Johnson is once again serving only himself and special-interest allies at the expense of regular Wisconsinites. No amount of dark money will be able to hide that Johnson has completely failed his duties as a United States Senator. 

The legislation includes the DISCLOSE Act, the Honest Ads Act, and the Spotlight Act, which would prevent wealthy donors, foreign actors, and certain organizations from operating in the shadows and would shine a light on who is actually financing elections. 

Johnson also voted against removing barriers to vote by making election day a federal holiday, automatically registering voters at the DMV, allowing for online voter registration, guaranteeing same day voter registration, and mandating a minimum of a 15 day early voting period.The Freedom to Vote Act would enshrine Wisconsinites' right to vote, better equip poll workers, prohibit states from banning voters from receiving food or drinks while waiting to cast their ballot, as well as help prevent harassment or intimidation at the polls.

Governor Evers Dedicates $45M To Violence Prevention and Victim Support

This past week, Governor Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul announced their allocation of $45 million for violence prevention and support for crime victims. The funding, expected to hit Wisconsin communities in the upcoming weeks, comes from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act. 

Milwaukee, which has seen a historic uptick in violence, will be directly receiving $8 million to the city’s Office of Violence Prevention, aiming to stop violence before it starts through public health. Gov. Evers and A.G. Kaul will be allocating $25 million to violence prevention, $20 million to victim support services, with $6.6 million of the violence prevention funds going towards the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Violence Prevention Project.  

Governor Evers: Much like the pandemic, this is another public health crisis that deserves our attention and our action. And much like any public health issue, it starts with prevention. Violence and its impact on kids, families and communities is not inevitable. We have to focus on the root causes and invest in interventions and community-based solutions, and we have to make sure the trusted folks and organizations who are already doing this work are tat the center of this process. 

Reggie Moore, Director of Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement for the Comprehensive Injury Center: The American Rescue Plan has provided an unprecedented opportunity for local and state leaders to invest in comprehensive approaches to violence prevention that are rooted in public health and smart on public safety. I am pleased to see state leaders and city leaders prioritizing investment in addressing this very serious public health crisis.”   

Ron Johnson Blocks Nomination Of U.S. Attorney To Prosecute January 6th Insurrectionists

In more Ron Johnson news, Business Insider reports that Johnson is the sole senator blocking the nomination of the Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney who is nominated to prosecute the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on January 6th.  

Johnson continues to downplay the attack, describing it as a “peaceful attack” and claiming he never felt concerned or threatened. In a radio interview, he said that if a Black Lives Matter group had stormed the Capitol instead of the Trump supporters, he would have felt more threatened.  

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Grave’s nomination in late September as part of a slate of US attorney picks. Of the seven nominees voted out of committee without objection, Graves is the only one who has yet to win confirmation

Up North News Exposes Wisconsin Republicans Claiming Credit For Relief They Voted Against 

Wisconsin is building back better thanks to Governor Evers quickly distributing American Rescue Plan funds for broadband expansion, small business relief, the tourism industry, and rural health services. This critical pandemic relief was passed by President Biden and Democrats in Congress - and was unanimously opposed by GOP lawmakers. Despite voting against the federal relief and attempting to slow down relief distribution in the state legislature, ARP passed and now Wisconsin Republicans eagerly are taking credit for the funds.  

Republicans such as failed Congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden and Representative Tom Tiffany had originally had strong words about the ARPA bill, calling it a “disaster”, “wasteful”, “a trainwreck”, and even as a “bribery bill”.  

In spite of their opposition, both Republicans hosted a round table touting the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was able to provide much needed relief funds to businesses that were impacted most by the pandemic. Said relief was funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, the very bill both Republicans voted against. 

This pattern of hypocrisy is not just a one off. Other Wisconsin Republicans, such as Representatives Glenn Grothmann, Samantha Kerkman, and Senator Van Wanggaard all have highlighted how crucial grants to their County have been. These grants, of course, were provided from the ARPA.  

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler: Wisconsin families have had enough of Republicans’ obstructionism and hypocrisy. Make no mistake: every single Democrat in Congress voted for President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and Governor Evers has implemented it -- while every single Republican voted against it. Come 2022, Wisconsinites will hold Republicans accountable at the ballot box.

Attorney General Kaul Fights Back Against GOP’s Sham Election “Investigation” 

As the GOP continues their 2020 election ‘investigation’, Attorney General John Kaul continues to fight back on the improper procedures. On Thursday, A.G. Kaul filed a motion with a Dane County judge to block the subpoenas Michael Gabelman issued and declare them unenforceable.  

A.G. Kaul argued that the subpoenas are unenforceable as Gableman wants to interview Wisconsin Elections Commission administration Meagan Wolfe in private, rather than publicly in front of a legislative committee.  

Kaul also points out that the subpoenas should be thrown out since they were issued in the name of the Assembly Elections Committee; the chairwoman of said committee, Janel Brandtjen, said that Gableman has not consulted with her on this review of the election. Kaul also brings up the fact that the subpoenas are too vague and broad to be properly enforced.  

A judge set a Monday hearing on the motion. Meanwhile, Gableman continues to push back the expected length of said “investigation”, while using taxpayer dollars the funding.