Your Representatives in the News: March 24, 2017

Congressman Mike Gallagher

In response to the Trump Administration’s preliminary 2018 federal budget proposal, Rep. Gallagher came out in opposition to the elimination of federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The Great Lakes are the largest surface freshwater system on Earth, accounting for 84 percent of North America’s surface fresh water. Wisconsin alone has shorelines on two of the five Great Lakes in the region, with the nation’s longest continental shoreline in Door County along Lake Michigan. In response to the President’s cuts to the Great Lakes, Rep. Gallagher released the following statement: “While I agree with the President’s general efforts to rein in out-of-control spending and reduce the massive national debt and deficit, his specific proposal to cut funding for the Great Lakes is both shortsighted and ill-advised. The economic impact of the Great Lakes is significant; the Great Lakes contribute more than $1.4 billion to Wisconsin’s economy alone and support more than 8,000 jobs. This is to say nothing of the Great Lakes’ vast, immeasurable natural beauty. Lake Michigan is one of Northeast Wisconsin’s most treasured assets and I believe we must protect it and all of the great lakes in the region. The health of these waters – the largest surface freshwater system on earth – cannot be ignored which is why I’m committed to protecting our waters through efforts like Save the Bay. We have a moral obligation to pass on clean water to future generations so that they too can come to know and appreciate these natural treasures.” Gallagher recently signed a bipartisan letter urging the Appropriations Committee to continue providing the $300 million necessary to sustain the GLRI’s efforts.

Source: Gallagher press release

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Sen. Baldwin wrote to Governor Scott Walker about President Trump’s proposed budget and plan to eliminate federal investments for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and instead rely on the State of Wisconsin and local governments to provide this critical funding. “Last year, you wrote to President Trump expressing your view that the role of the federal government should be reduced and states should have more power and control over programs and policies. President Trump’s budget request would do just that with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, transferring the responsibility to fund this vital investment to you and local governments. Wisconsin has received millions in federal investments from this federal program and local governments simply do not have the resources to replace this funding. I am writing to ask: What is your plan to provide the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that President Trump’s budget would eliminate? Given that President Trump’s budget would transfer the responsibility to invest in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to you, the people of Wisconsin deserve to know if you accept this responsibility. It’s also important that the people we work for know how you plan to meet this new challenge of funding a critical program for our region, the health of our communities, and the protection of our clean water resources.” The GLRI has invested $331 million for 416 projects in Wisconsin. It has helped the state combat the growth of invasive species such as Asian carp and zebra mussels, which pose a major threat to the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes by devastating the food chain and causing major damage to our ports, pipes and water infrastructure. It has also helped our state clean up polluted sites and restore water quality in Wisconsin. The GLRI investment is expected to produce nearly $12 billion in benefits from tourism fishing, and recreation basin-wide. As a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Sen. Baldwin sent a bipartisan letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt expressing concern about reports that the Trump Administration’s budget request would include drastic cuts to Great Lakes funding.

Source: Baldwin press release

Senator Ron Johnson

Sen. Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), combat veteran, re-introduced the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act. The bill is named for Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, a whistleblower from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wis., who took his own life after being fired for questioning excessive prescription practices at the facility. Dr. Kirkpatrick’s brother, Sean, testified at a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in September 2015 about the retaliation his brother faced after blowing the whistle about the wrongdoing at the Tomah facility. This bill implements a number of suggestions he made at the hearing to improve whistleblower protections throughout the VA. “Individuals who expose wrongdoing at VA medical facilities should be thanked and listened to, not silenced and subject to mistreatment,” Sen. Johnson said. “I’m pleased to partner with Sen. Ernst to ensure future whistleblowers like Dr. Kirkpatrick receive the support they deserve.”

Source: Johnson press release

President Donald Trump

The staunchly conservative Wall Street Journal issued a blistering editorial on March 21 that accused President Trump of clinging to falsehoods “like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.” The opinion piece claims the President’s falsehoods are eroding public trust at home and abroad. “If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.” The editorial pointed out that the latest Gallup poll puts Trump’s approval rating at 39 percent [actually, it’s 37 percent]. “No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake president.” Read the full editorial at

Source: The Wall Street Journal