Congressman Mark Pocan talks about impeachment, the LEARNS act, how the trade war is affecting farmers, as well as the news of the day.
For the Record: Mark Pocan talks impeachment, LEARNS act
>>> a conversation with was congress congressman mark pocan is next on for the record.
Thank you for joining us.
The headline is articles of impeachment.
Beyond that headline, there is the threat of yet another government shutdown and dig deeper and there's yardwork of the healthcare, growing the economy, dealing with climate change.
I welcome to for the record to talk about them the wisconsin second district congressman mark pocan.
It is you.
You for doing this.
>> host, start with the impeachment, the news of the week.
Just help us to understand your thinking about it, congressman.
What are you looking for and balancing?
When you make a decision of how to proceed?
Well, i think one of the unique things that is not universally understood is that when you had the clinton and the nixon impeachment, there was a special prosecutor who gave the case essentially the congress changed since then and there's no such thing so essentially what the intelligence committee has been doing up to this point and why it has been behind the scenes and taking depositions is a have had to build a case first, then we did the vote that we did this past week that would officially sign that we are starting the impeachment inquiry.
So this is a little different.
I think that historically let's face it, it's only happened four times in our country so this is new turf for almost everybody though this is more unique.
>> so is it accurate to say that you simply voted to start and by doing this, this is what the white house has asked for.
This gives the president the ability to get information but also it will help us to get the information.
So you might remember, a lot of the witnesses we were not able to get because the president did not allow them and documents that we could i get, they should open the process up and make things more public as well for the public to see everything.
So what we are looking for is to really get to the bottom of what happened with the call to the ukrainian president.
So we know that the justice department has said based on the mueller import that they will not indict a sitting president for anything, that the only prerogative according to the constitution is the impeachment process which is left the congress.
So that is what we are doing, the only processes that is out there.
So there was a call to the ukrainian president where they asked him to dig up dirt on their political opponents family essentially in exchange for the aid that congress had already approved and the president had held up.
So that's the core question.
Now what we have seen so far from depositions or people who both heard the call or were foreign service officials especially in the ukraine who talked about the problem of the quid pro quo and again, is a violation of the president's oath.
He is not above the law.
That's why we are in the process of that.
>> now, speaker pelosi has been cautious, i guess is the word?
>> she has advocated for caution.
I and you know, even she, i don't think, has absolutely decided that this is the best course of action moving forward.
But in terms of the whole consideration, congressman, for all of these reasons, whether the country is ready for this or it will divert attention from congress, where you set on the precautionary side of things?
>> well, i do think that the important part that we have to remember is that if a president breaks the law and now for most of the information that we have gathered it looks like it is happened, the only recourse of the american people have is the impeachment process, especially with the way that the department of justice has decided that they will enforce any laws, so that is the only recourse of the american people essentially have on what has happened.
So the process is very important to the end.
So i do think that the political considerations will have to be completely ignored.
The law that he has to do something otherwise, you have set the presidents for any candidate with how they behave in office.
So this is a somber moment.
This is not something that we seek out to do it electorally, because you could argue that this is bad electorally.
Right now we are in a good position to defeat him in november but that's not the point.
The point is, what will a future president do when they are in office?
Now the bar has been lowered to the point that they can essentially tell a foreign leader to do something in exchange for getting aid, then we do have a real problem.
Which is why i think that what happens in the coming weeks will be more of the testimony that is made public and it will be more and more clear about exactly what happened with this particular call.
>> so even if we accept, congressman, that this is a necessary response to the potential breaking of a law by a president, it's still raises the question of, of a change in focus for congress, that it now necessarily is on the articles of impeachment and the process, rather than all of the other work that needs to be done?
>> well, first of all, i think that anyone can walk and chew gum.
The problem that has occurred, up to the august break with the past 250 bills, of which these and it only took up 38.
They have only passed 60 bills as of the august break and have passed and of the appropriation bills all 12 in committee for the fiscal year ending on september 30 prior to the last break.
Last week i think the senate did their first vote already after the end of the fiscal year, so we have had a problem with the senate taking up our legislation.
We have had the most sweeping campaign-finance ethics and election campaign bill ever introduced and passed in minimum wage, and address the equity of women making $0.80 to a dollar.
We've done a lot of stuff already.
When we come back in the coming weeks we are passing a major bill around prescription drug pricing, and hopefully, we will have a trade bill around a nafta 2.0 bill coming to congress with the infrastructure bills and other things.
So we are doing it.
We have had a problem with the senate doing very much so far this year though this is not stop the house from doing its job.
We do need to continue to do that.
There are 21 standing committees in congress.
Right now the intelligence committee that is doing this investigation and if they recommend articles of impeachment, that means that you have 19 committees that are still doing a lot of things.
So is not true that were not getting things done.
And fact, i would argue and i would hope that the senate would pick up their pace because we have sent them an awful lot of bills that we would like to see become law.
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And with all the snow we've seen already... you might be looking into snow removal services.
We'll tell you how to find one you can trust -- st >>> i am back with congressman mark pocan.
So, this past week congressman, that's the first time that i've read about the potential, about having been moved ever so slightly forward on impeachment and also, having to deal with that it potential shut down.
So, what is the risk there?
How are you approaching this?
>> with this white house i have found that i try not to predict things.
If i can actually predict them accurately i would probably have a show in vegas.
>> so let's just say that the senate finally this week did a small portion of what they needed to of what the house is already done when it comes to getting rid ready for our annual budget with an extension to right before thanksgiving.
I don't see how can get this done before thanksgiving so there is a conversation of is there an extension until february or march, and what they need to really get the senate to do their job.
Now, i cannot speak for where the senate is at the there's always a chance that the president can say okay, i will not provide another extension on this continuing resolution so therefore we have a shut down.
But i do think everyone agrees it is bad for the economy when you do that and there's a lot of reasons why this is a bad idea.
We did it last year and it wasn't good for anyone.
So i hope that that won't happen but i'm trying not to make predictions.
>> does it feel like you are working in a void, congressman?
In an accountability void, simply by virtue of how many positions are not filled with the constant turnover?
>> well, even though you are an acting director of something, because the president has not officially made an appointment, you just don't have the same ability to get things done.
We have been dealing with this quite honestly since the beginning of his administration.
We did not have a bureau of indian affairs chief, things that we have relied on and had to go to their have not been anybody in the positions with this heavy turmoil is even more problematic.
Is difficult but i would hope that the president would not put us in a shut down situation.
I don't think that they senate leadership wants to but i do wish that they would move faster.
We have done a majority of the heavy lifting on the house side bypassing these bills.
When the senate does there and we get to a final bill that comes to both the house and senate, we should have resolution so i don't know when the second congressional district, are you hearing from constituents on the impeachment issue?
>> yes, i did a town hall in every county last month.
And what came up the most was impeachment.
That was probably the single biggest issue and the second was healthcare, the cost of prescription drugs, and i think for my entire chime in congress as a top issue.
And this year, the rural economy.
People are hurting.
Weather is the heavy flooding and what that has done to people about putting crops in or the squeeze of big agribusiness racing cost with these historically low dairy prices are the tariff issues.
Is not just nafta 2.0 but also the japanese trade agreement that affects dairy quite a bit.
This fight of tariffs through twitter, hurting soybeans and corn quite a bit.
People really are hurting.
Then, you throw and the sort of biodiesel situation.
Do not forget that a lot of corn in the midwest goes towards ethanol to help us to not rely on oil as much of the president has done a lot of things over the people who rely on that area as well.
It is tough right now and this does affect the entire rule economy of wisconsin much less can you tell farmers, congressman?
>> part of it is, we need the president to stop so much i wish we could pass a law saying that he can't use twitter because he has done these tariffs literally via twitter.
That is having the biggest effect.
If we can deal with the tariff ages and other trade issues that would at least give farmers some better footing.
We do have to address a number of other issues that they are fighting right now.
We have lost 1600 family farms, mainly dairy farms in wisconsin since donald trump became president and we are on track of losing 600 firms. i think we are number one in the country of farm bankruptcies we have to keep of the rule economy, in wisconsin.
Right now is not getting done.
>> and the secretary of agriculture is not necessarily reassuring in his visit.
>> yes, his attitude and i do give him credit.
I invited him to come to wisconsin and he's the only one that's ever taken me up on it.
So i appreciate that.
He came to uw and we are trying to get that prioritized, but when he essentially said go big or go home to farmers is not how wisconsin is.
We have family farms want to keep family farms and not just one the big agribusiness.
Now while some places in the country that's a trend that won't stop we are trying not to do that here.
>> so, we are in a window of time again where your office is helping the constituents who are concerned about healthcare and the price of drugs with open enrollment?
>> yes it is through december 15.
People should look at plans.
One thing to give governor evers some credit, he has made it to where they are now an additional 15 countries in wisconsin that have different providers.
So there's more competitive practices, 72 in the state.
Now i do think that this has gone down two percent because of this.
People have more options than others.
If you have a pre-existing condition, you can get coverage.
A number of other things are men.red.
I can tell you that we have so many stories of people in the district that are benefited by having access through the affordable care act.
A woman whose son had a hole in his heart, having surgery days after birth and not long after that another surgery.
If you have a lifetime you don't have that but thanks to the affordable care act.
So people should seek that out between now and december 15 to see if this works for their families.
>> it seems as if the fragility of the affordable care act is not what it want was.
Despite the ongoing rhetoric around it, can you tell people who sign up now that they can be reasonably certain that this coverage will provide for them for the next year?
I mean, we saw in the last session a lot of attempts to take it away with people afraid that they would lose coverage if they had a pre-existing condition and quite honestly, some of the measures they did made it not so affordable but thanks to the efforts when you have differences in governors, we now have more plans that offer more competition.
So i do think that this is a really good time.
You people have looked previously and were not sure they should look at it now.
The rates are good and you have good coverage be.
A lot of times people say i want the coverage that the member of congress has.
Were the only people mandated by lot of the affordable care act.
It is good insurance, i can tell you, so i would encourage people to find out if it works for your family.
>> now the instinct is to talk about this in the realm of the economy though this is misleading because the economy is doing fairly well but as we know so many people are not benefiting from that.
>> talk about the learn act.
>> yes that is a bill that is specifically looking at registered apprenticeship programs. about 30 percent of people will get a four-year higher education degree which means 70 percent do not.
But they all want good paying jobs they can pay their families.
Registered apprenticeships are a good way to not only earn a good paycheck by having a good paying job but to learn as you earn see work and learn the same time.
Now people are mostly using this in building trades with unionized jobs where these are.
>> these are the existing jobs that are open and looking for workers?
>> and people are building right now.
They really are looking for people in the program, and we can do things to make these apprenticeships better and stronger, so that's what were trying to do.
Is going to be a number of measures coming through congress and the bit warren act is a bill that we have a lot of support on it, and we have reintroduced.
>> and coming up we will talk about the d&c coming to milwaukee with congressman ?
>>> i am back with congressman mark pocan.
And we were talking about the affordable care act, congressman.
You mentioned prescription drugs so we did not follow up on that.
There is legislation now that will help with that concern?
>> well there is a bill that is coming in the next couple of weeks, a big bill that will help with the cost of the most expensive drugs out there.
The list of the 250 most expensive drugs.
It is a negotiation model like we have at the va and medicaid to get lowered drug prices.
It would impact everybody in the country.
Right now we pay 10 times for insula which would in canada, and is crazy that we pay more in the united states for things like that so were trying to address that.
We have passed bills to try to get the generic equivalents to market faster per makes an interesting statistic but if you have one generic substituted, you can lower it, and three up to 66 percent.
So there's a lot of things that we need to do, we pass legislation and will have big legislation coming forward.
>> just briefly if you could update us on what your current thinking is on the f 35's.
Because i mean this conversation that your colleagues in congress are looking at, what are you asking for right now?
>> well this is something that will be decided entirely by the air force.
>> but we have been interjecting trying to make sure a few things are looked at as they make a final decision.
As i understand it we might be one of the two finalist, so that's one of the things that they are looking at right now.
Our concerns are one, that they put out an environmental impact statement that is scared a latta people trying to describe noise via words, that's not useful with a line of about a thousand homes being incompatible with residential use, only a government could write terms like that, right?
So were trying to explain this in lay terms and i will keep making the request to fly an f 35 and f-16 each other's we can compare having one come in, then another.
To me that's a logical thing to do.
So i'm going to keep putting that request in.
But it sounds like for the city of madison a lot of the homes are impacted are not eligible for a noise abatement which i think the air force said that air force funds cannot go towards a non-air force purpose but i think if you caused a problem for homeowners, we have to make sure that people are taking care of.
So i've said in public, that we just did with the public comment.
That if the air force cannot commit to helping everyone who would become impacted that it would be hard to support the f 35.
>> of the federal pools of money that could make up for that if the air force is strict in that?
>> there is the faa money though they are offering things like project home, and there's no way that of great nonprofit blood pressure: could help all of those people.
So if the air force is causing a problem they have to live up to that to figure out how to do that so we are trying to have them problems all with us to get it resolved.
>> are you ready to host a party this summer?
>> it is quite a convention, the subject comes up quite a bit with over $100 million worth of activity for wisconsin.
People are staying here and chicago, everywhere and between.
This is a big event and we are looking for to what it does.
And i think that happens after a convention and it does not matter if it is a democrat or republican convention but bringing the focus on the community.
They usually have a big economic boone because people have not had a chance to see the city.
So we will have a great impact after having the convention here.
>> of course there are risks, but i think i can see the path to an economic boon.
I am wondering how much pressure is on you to deliver the economic boon.
>> there's no question that if it was not for this, there has been plenty of pressure.
And the "new york times" article a few weeks back said it all comes down to wisconsin.
So one colleague said what you need?
So, people are very much looking at wisconsin.
What i keep telling people as we look at the agricultural no, when i talk about ag, people say what are you talking about with an egg economy?
[laughter] >> now, it will be very hard for the president given the state of what happens but we will talk with voters from the state and have conversations.
Will be in the blue column in 2020.
>> it does seem significant to me that this weekend, governor everson his team and administration were spread out across the state, knocking on apparently tens of thousands of doors?
>> yes i was with a group as well in madison as a part of having these conversations.
I think that when you look at where people are on these issues there were democrats are.
Whether it's healthcare, education funding, the environment.
We have that.
We just have to make sure that they come out to vote so if they come out to vote we will start the conversations early.
You do not come out at election time and ask for a vote.
>> congressman, thank you very much.
>> yes, thank you.
>> we will come back right after this and wrap up for ?
>>> my things to congressman mark pocan and a reminder for open enrollment over the next couple of weeks.
We hope to see you on for the record next time.
Have agreat week .
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