November 22, 2014

Walker criticizes Obama on immigration reform at RGA

Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Governor Scott Walker is in Florida for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. He says immigration reform has always been a “political tool” for President Obama.

“If he was serious about it … he would have dealt with it when he had the House and the Senate. This has been a political tool for this president all along. He brings it out when it comes up the time to get him elected or someone else elected when he thinks it serves him well.”

Obama is expected to sidestep Congress and sign an executive order to protect from deportation millions immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Republicans say it’s unconstitutional and amounts to amnesty.

Walker explains how the president enacted ObamaCare without overwhelming support, and could have done the same thing with immigration reform if he was serious about it.

“I think it is a cynical ploy to try drawing attention away from the huge successes Republicans had connecting with the American people one state at a time and looks what’s happening. Instead of talking about the huge things we have on the agenda, we’re talking about immigration.”

Walker says immigration reform is important, but the vast majority of Americans would much rather hear about the economy, taxes, energy, education, welfare, and securing the border.

The panel, with four other Republican governors, also discussed Common Core academic standards and Medicaid health care programs for the poor.

Study claims metals in drinking water linked to We Energies coal ash

An environmental group claims to have documented a link between coal ash and metals in drinking water in southeastern Wisconsin. Tyson Cook is the chief scientist for Clean Wisconsin. The group said it’s found a correlation between elevated levels of molybdenum in drinking water and sites where coal ash from We Energies was used for construction projects.

“When we mapped it all out we found that the contamination was widespread and significant,” Cook said. “In almost half of the wells with molybdenum data, the concentrations were above the Wisconsin enforcement standard, and in more than one in five, the concentrations were higher than the health advisory limit.”

A DNR official says there are “gaps” in the environmental group’s report. Ann Coakley is the DNR’s director of the Bureau of Waste and Materials Management. “There’s a lot of coal ash usage, but they don’t distinguish in their report between the three different types, and the only type that’s used as fill on the landscape is a type that we have a lot of testing on, and that we know doesn’t contain a high level of metals.”

Clean Wisconsin makes several recommendations based on its findings. Coakley says most of those would require changes to state or even federal regulations and thus can’t be acted on quickly.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan named chair of House Ways and Means Committee

U.S Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

U.S Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

The House Republican Steering Committee has picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) to serve as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee next session.

Ryan, a 16-year veteran of the chamber, was picked over U.S. Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX). In a statement, he thanked his colleagues for the opportunity to chair the powerful committee and pledged to make sure the panel is “at the forefront of reform.”

Ryan said he will focus on fixing the US tax code, holding the IRS accountable, strengthening Medicare and Social Security, repairing the safety net, promoting job-creating trade agreements, and determining “how best to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered solutions.”

Ryan has been a member of Ways and Means since 2000. Some pundits have said his pursuit of the chairmanship is a sign that he will not run for president in 2016, partly because House rules require members to give up their chairs if they run for higher office, unless granted a waiver.

The full House Republican Conference is expected to approve all committee chairs today for the next two-year session. That vote is normally a formality.

Wisconsin Senators split the vote on Keystone pipeline

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

Wisconsin’s two US Senators cast a split vote Tuesday night, as the chamber narrowly failed to approve the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The vote was 59 to 41 in favor, one vote short of the 60 needed to send the House-approved bill to President Obama’s desk. Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson voted in favor of the project, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas. Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted no.

Johnson said it would create construction jobs for Americans. By rejecting the project, he argued the US “needlessly irritated” Canada, while failing to help American consumers reduce their energy costs.

Baldwin said Congress has no business approving individual pipelines.

Other opponents said the line would cause oil spills and contaminate groundwater. President Obama has opposed the Keystone project, but did not say whether he would have vetoed the latest bill.

Green Bay mayor optimistic Pope will visit his city next year

Pope Francis (PHOTO: Vatican)

Pope Francis (PHOTO: Vatican)

A prominent leader in the campaign to encourage Pope Francis to visit Green Bay remains optimistic a visit will happen next year.

The pontiff confirmed Monday that he will visit Philadelphia next September. But no other stops in the U.S. have been set. Mayor Jim Schmitt says, “why not Green Bay?” He says, “Pope Francis really would like to get to, I believe, the real people, the salt of the earth people, which we are here in Green Bay.”

Schmitt is using the nearby our Lady of Good Help as a selling point. It’s the only Marian apparition site approved by the Catholic Church in the United States. And how about Mass before thousands at Lambeau Field?

“Green Bay Packers said they will do anything they can to make this happen,” Schmitt says, “I mean, what a commitment.”

Earlier this year, an effort was launched to bring the pope to Green Bay. An online petition has received more than 4,000 signatures.

(Robert Kennedy, WTAQ)