Looking Back on 2020 2020 was a year unlike any other in my lifetime. We began the year with a booming economy, where we saw more Americans working than ever before, wages rising and unemployment at record lows. In January news stories began to appear about a new coronavirus afflicting the people of Wuhan, China. By March, COVID-19, had spread to the United States and throughout the world. We mourn everyone that we have lost to COVID-19.As we march into 2021, we are in a much better position to deal with this virus, and hopefully we will soon claim victory against this disease and return to normalcy.Here is a look back at some of our accomplishments from 2020.
Looking Back on 2020
2020 was a year unlike any other in my lifetime. We began the year with a booming economy, where we saw more Americans working than ever before, wages rising and unemployment at record lows. In January news stories began to appear about a new coronavirus afflicting the people of Wuhan, China. By March, COVID-19, had spread to the United States and throughout the world. We mourn everyone that we have lost to COVID-19.
As we march into 2021, we are in a much better position to deal with this virus, and hopefully we will soon claim victory against this disease and return to normalcy.
Here is a look back at some of our accomplishments from 2020.
Each January, tens of thousands of people gather in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life to celebrate life and bring awareness to the growing pro-life movement. This year's March for Life was historic, as President Trump became the first sitting U.S. President to speak at the event, where he reaffirmed our shared belief that each newborn child is a sacred gift from God. I took to the floor of the House to speak in support of the sanctity of human life and rights of the unborn. We have a moral and civic duty to protect those who are voiceless and defenseless, namely our unborn children.
On January 10, the Trump Administration marked the 100th mile of border wall had been completed.
On January 29, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed into law. This new trade agreement modernized and improved the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The USMCA is a boon to manufacturing, agriculture, small business and consumers. In Wisconsin, 231,000 jobs and nearly $11 billion rely on trade with Mexico and Canada, so the USMCA is particularly beneficial for Wisconsin workers and will continue to be for years to come.
With my support, the House voted to reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This vital program will enhance water quality, promote habitat restoration and protect the Great Lakes from invasive species. I was pleased to speak about this great bipartisan bill on the House Floor.
In February, I took my fourth trip to our Southern border. It is of paramount importance that we fix our broken immigration system by securing our border and indicating clear points of entry. This will not only improve the way our country keeps track of who comes in, but it will protect the men, women and children who would have otherwise been abused by the drug cartels on their journey to illegally cross our Southern border by providing them a safe way to enter the United States.
I also held my second round of 2020 town hall meetings in Fredonia, Adell.
It was an honor to receive the centennial challenge coin to commemorate the Disabled Veterans of America's 100th anniversary.
I welcomed Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to Wisconsin on February 25. We discussed the resurgence of manufacturing in the Midwest and how we can continue to grow the industry as well as prepare the next generation for these good, high-paying skilled jobs.
Dr. Morna Foy, President of the Wisconsin Technical College System, joined me at a hearing with the House Education and Labor Committee on March 4. Dr. Foy and I agree that Wisconsin is a leader in apprenticeship programs and that we need to expand them not only in our state, but nationwide. You can watch my conversation with Dr. Foy by clicking the video below.
One of the last events I attended before the COVID-19 lockdown was a Special Olympics basketball tournament in Sheboygan. It was great to see these athletes shine!
As COVID-19 began to spread throughout the U.S., I began to search for answers and make sure Wisconsin was taken care of as the crisis escalated by sending three bipartisan letters. The first went to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn urging him to send more supplies for COVID-19 test kits to Wisconsin and take active steps to ensure Wisconsin health care providers have all the necessary testing equipment. The second went to Jovita Carranza, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), to express our support for Governor Evers' request for Economic Injury Disaster Loans for all Wisconsin counties affected by COVID-19. The third was sent to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to request more testing supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for Wisconsin's first responders and health care workers.
By the end of this month, COVID-19 had become a household name and on March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law by President Trump the same day. This legislation included expanded testing capabilities nationwide, increased funding for PPE and authorized the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP allowed businesses affected by government-imposed lockdowns to retain and continue to pay their employees by providing interest-free loans to be used for certain expenses like payroll.
As April began, President Trump approvedWisconsin's disaster declaration retroactive to January 20. Doing so gave Wisconsin additional flexibility to access funds through FEMA to pay for expenses related to COVID-19.
On April 2, we lost a true American hero, Lt. Col. James "Maggie" Megellas, less than a month after his 103rd birthday. Maggie, a Fond du Lac native, served in World War II, where he single-handedly disarmed an enemy tank, risking his own life to save others. For this, I believe he deserves the Medal of Honor. You can read more about Maggie by clicking here.
On April 3, most of Wisconsin's Congressional delegation, including myself, sent a bipartisan letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to use the funds we appropriated to USDA through the CARES Act to help our Wisconsin dairy farmers and processors.
Also in April, my COVID-19 resource website went live. You can access it by clicking here. I hope you find the information useful. However, if there is something I missed or something you think I should include on the web page, please feel free to let me or my staff know!
May 14, 2020 marked the second anniversary of the United States embassy in Israel moving to Jerusalem. This move was supposed to take place after the Jerusalem Embassy Act became law in 1995, but President Clinton never acted, nor did President Bush or President Obama. Luckily, President Trump realized that this move was long overdue and put the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem where it belongs.
This month, the FDA released guidelines for restaurants to safely reopen during COVID-19. The lockdown hurt small businesses in Wisconsin and many closed their doors for good because of it. I believe these guidelines will help keep people safe and are a vastly better course of action than more blanket shutdowns.
I planned on holding more town hall meetings this month in Manitowoc County. Due to COVID-19, however, these in-person town halls were changed to telephone town hall meetings. Thanks to everyone in Manitowoc County who participated in my telephone town hall, where we discussed what Congress had done to ensure states have the PPE and testing capabilities they need as well as ways Congress had been working to safely reopen our economy and get Wisconsinites back to work.
Medical research studies out of Northwestern University and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland were released asserting that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in increasing the severity of symptoms and overall mortality rate in COVID-19 patients. While vitamin D is not a cure for COVID-19, the research illustrates a clear correlation between vitamin D deficiencies and COVID-19 mortality rates. I sent this information to Wisconsin news outlets through a press release and began to call on the CDC to further investigate the relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19.
In June, I announced that I would begin serving as Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security, which plays an important role in making sure the interests of the United States are being represented equitably and ethically.
On June 16, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler visited Sheboygan to announce that Inland Sheboygan and Door County are now meeting higher air quality standards.
Each year, Congress holds the Artistic Discovery competition, which is open to all high school students in the country. The winner from each Congressional District will have his or her artwork displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year in an exhibit that features winners from other congressional districts across the U.S. This year's winner was Michelle McMahon of Lodi High School for her piece titled "Beneath the Surface".
On July 1, 2020, the USMCA went into effect, helping the 231,000 jobs in Wisconsin that depend on trade with Mexico and Canada.
The next day, I joined dozens of my colleagues in sending a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin after receiving disturbing new evidence of human rights violations taking place in China. We learned that the Chinese government is intentionally working to destroy and essentially wipe out Uighur families, culture and religious adherence and is encouraging violence against women. We demand justice for the Uighur people and that the United States should lead the world in condemning this behavior publicly and place sanctions on China if they do not cease these sickening practices.
Earlier this year, I voted to authorize the Paycheck Protection Program. In July, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported that more than 85,000 Wisconsin businesses had been help through this program, meaning that hundreds of thousands of employees benefitted as well!
On July 16, I joined every member of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation in sending a bipartisan letter to Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite asking for one of the new Virginia-class submarines currently under construction to be called the U.S.S. Wisconsin.
We also learned that the FDA-approved drug Fenofibrate, brand name Tricor, may lessen the ill-effects of COVID-19. After this news, I began calling on the CDC to investigate this lead because it could begin saving lives immediately.
In July, we began to see some people, including prominent politicians, call for cities to cut funding to their police departments. I made it clear then and will reaffirm my position now: I will oppose any measure that will take resources away from our police departments. These men and women in uniform are heroes who put their lives on the line every day to protect us and deserve our respect, gratitude and support.
Earlier this year, I held telephone town hall meetings because it is important to be available to you, especially during a pandemic. In August, I was able to once again hold in-person town hall meetings in Newton, Mt. Calvary and Sheboygan Falls. These meetings followed guidelines put forth by the CDC including mask-wearing policies, social distancing rules and sanitizing procedures.
On August 18, I announced that I had "adopted" Pastor A Dao, a Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience, through the Defending Freedoms Project of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Pastor A Dao is a Protestant pastor of the Montagnard Evangelical Church of Christ (MECC) and an advocate for religious freedom who, since 2016, had been held prisoner in communist Vietnam for his religious beliefs. Many Americans do not know the horrors of communism and the human rights abuses that happen daily in communist countries like Vietnam. Pastor Dao’s story is a reminder of the importance of protecting religious freedom in the United States and that nobody should be persecuted, hurt or killed because of their religious beliefs. Read more here.
Pastor A Dao
In 2014, Mishicot native Dillon Mueller was stung by a bee and suffered a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which tragically lead to his passing. Dillon was 18 years old. Since then, his parents, Angel and George Mueller, have been working to educate people about anaphylaxis and train individuals to administer Epinephrine, which can stop allergic reactions like this and could have saved Dillon's life. This year, Angel and George contacted my office and brought a bill to my attention, that I quickly introduced, called the Epi for Dilly Act. A version of this bill has already been signed into law in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana with overwhelming bipartisan support. My version of the bill will essentially make what has been adopted by these states federal law, and make Epinephrine training more widely available, enabling more individuals to prevent tragedies involving anaphylaxis from occurring. Click here to read more about Dillon Mueller and the Epi for Dilly Act.
On August 31, I visited Gundersen Health System at their critical access hospital in Friendship and their clinic in Westfield. Thank you to these providers, and all health care professionals and front line workers who have been working overtime to accommodate COVID-19 patients and keep themselves and other patients safe and healthy.
In September, I took to the House floor to speak about a bill I had recently introduced, the Biosimilar Insulin Access Act. This legislation will help increase competition in the insulin market, expand availability of affordable insulin products and lower costs to patients who depend on insulin. Read more here.
After months of promoting the importance of vitamin D in maintaining a healthy immune system, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, finally joined me in endorsing this important vitamin. After this news, I gave my colleagues an update on the importance of vitamin D from the House floor.
On September 18, one month after I "adopted" Pastor A Dao, we received news that his sentence was commuted and he had been released from prison a few days before, more than a year earlier than expected. Thank you to the United States Council on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for all the work they put in to help Pastor Dao receive justice and stop violations of religious liberty around the world. The best way to stop religious persecution is to shed light on it, which I will continue to do.
Since the U.S. Capitol had not yet reopened to public tours, the Architect of the Capitol sent my office a few links to virtual tours of the building. The Capitol is, unfortunately, still closed to tours, but you can still access the virtual tours here.
On October 7, I held a virtual town hall meeting with Andrew Mangione and members of the Association for Mature American Citizens (AMAC) to discuss issues facing seniors, including how I am working to protect Social Security and Medicare.
Wisconsin's world-class manufacturing industry is highlighted each year when Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Johnson Financial Group team up to find the "Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin". Products from companies all over the state compete head-to-head in a bracket challenge until one is declared the "Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin". For the second time in the contest's five year history, a product from Wisconsin's Sixth District has won! Congratulations to MuL Technologies of Mequon and their Mobile Autonomous Robotic Cart (MARC). You can watch the announcement of this year's winner here. You can also click here to see past winners.
Mobile Autonomous Robotic Cart developed by MuL Technologies in Mequon
Remember when my Wisconsin colleagues and I sent a bipartisan letter to Navy Secretary Braithwaite in July requesting one of the submarines currently under construction be named after the Badger State? In October, he announced that one of the new Columbia-class submarines being manufactured will be named the U.S.S. Wisconsin!
After many years, efforts to restore the Gray Wolf population have been successful and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced in October that they are to be taken off the endangered species list. I have fought for this during my time in the state legislature and in Congress and am glad that it is finally coming to pass.
As October came to a close, we received news of a study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism finding that 80% of COVID-19 patients were vitamin D deficient.
The first week of November, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams joined me at the UW-Oshkosh COVID-19 surge testing site. You can read more about this testing site here and register for a test here.
Those who flew for Air America during the Vietnam war were undercover, but still federal employees. Now they’re being denied retirement benefits. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and I teamed-up to introduce the bipartisan Air America Act, which will ensure these brave Americans receive the federal retirement benefits they deserve. You can read more by clicking here.
Due to COVID-19, many blood drives were canceled and the Red Cross reported a nationwide blood shortage. Donating blood, however, can still be done safely, so I went to Oshkosh to donate. If you would like to donate blood, you can visit redcross.org to find out how.
On December 10, Morocco joined Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates on the list of Arab countries that, just this year, have normalized relations with Israel. One thing that all of these peace agreements have in common is that they were brokered by President Trump. Israel is a sovereign country and a great American ally. However, much of the violence in the Middle-East comes from religious conflicts between Israel and other countries. Now that four countries have recognized Israel and restored their relationship, the door is open for others to follow. I applaud President Trump's leadership. He has made promises and kept them. The Middle-East is on the best pathway toward peace that I can remember in my lifetime and I look forward to seeing how the region will prosper economically and grow safer for the men, women and children who live there.
Also on December 10, I joined House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney and other House Republican leaders on the steps of the Capitol to again call for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to help struggling American workers by bringing a bipartisan extension of PPP to the House floor for a vote before Christmas. The Speaker has full control of which bills make it to the House floor for a vote, so Pelosi has been the barrier to relief for the past several months. Thankfully, PPP enrollment has been reopened and businesses will once again be able to apply for these loans, which are required to go toward office expenses and employee payroll.
Each year, we celebrate National Bible Week during the week of Thanksgiving. Since I was in Wisconsin that week, I joined my friend Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) on the House floor to discuss the importance of the Bible and its role in American history.
In light of the news that a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spy, Christine Fang, had a close relationship with a Democrat Member of Congress, leaders of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, including myself, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting an update for our committee on this and other attempts by the CCP to infiltrate our government. We received a briefing on this situation before Christmas. As Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security, I intend to get to the bottom of this situation and work to prevent other CCP spies from achieving the same success as Christine Fang.
It's no secret that big technology companies, like Twitter and Facebook, have been improperly censoring conservative voices and suppressing news stories that may harm Democrats. That is why I joined my colleagues in calling for an emergency hearing to ask these CEOs why they are censoring some people and not others.
While 2020 wasn't at all what we expected, we are on a path toward defeating COVID-19 and returning to excellence. I look forward to what 2021 has in store and will continue to fight for you in Washington.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to my offices in Fond du Lac and Washington. If you enjoyed this newsletter be sure to forward it to your family and friends so they can stay informed on what I’m doing in Washington and the Sixth District.
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