Baldwin, Collins, Casey, Portman Lead Majority of Senate in Bipartisan Effort to Save Student Loan Program

Baldwin, Collins, Casey, Portman Lead Majority of Senate in Bipartisan Effort to Save Student Loan Program

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Letter from 54 Senators urges Senate leadership to take up and pass bill to reauthorize Perkins Loan Program

Critical lifeline for low-income students expired on September 30

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Robert Casey (D-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have sent a bipartisan letter, cosigned by a majority of the Senate, to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid urging them to take up and pass legislation to reauthorize the Perkins Loan Program. This critical lifeline for many low-income students expired on September 30, despite receiving a unanimous one-year, no-cost extension from the House of Representatives on September 28. Since its expiration, a bipartisan coalition of Senators have twice attempted to reauthorize the program with a “unanimous consent" request, but the Senate has yet to pass the bill. 

READ the letter here.

The Perkins Loan Program, the nation’s oldest federal student loan program, has existed with broad bipartisan support since 1958 and has provided more than $28 billion in loans through almost 26 million awards to students in all 50 states. In the last academic year alone, the program lent $1.1 billion to more than half a million students with financial need across more than 1,500 institutions of higher education. 

“For almost six decades, the Federal Perkins Loan Program has been successfully helping America’s students access affordable higher education. In my home state of Wisconsin, the program provides more than 20,000 low-income students with more than $41 million in aid and it is my top priority to fight to ensure it continues for generations to come. I urge Senate leadership to heed this bipartisan call and immediately reauthorize this critical investment for our nation’s students,” said Senator Baldwin.  

“In Maine, more than 5,000 students received a Perkins Loan last year, providing $9.2 million in aid,” said Senator Collins.“Students at our colleges and universities are depending on us for the assistance that this vital and proven program provides and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take up and pass the one-year extension of this critical program.”

“Higher education is the ticket to the American dream for working families across Pennsylvania and throughout the nation,” said Senator Casey. “We need to ensure that all students, regardless of income and circumstances of birth, have a fair shot to go to college and the chance to reach their full potential. Perkins loans allow students to do just that and that’s why this extension is so critical.”

“We should be making it easier for low-income students in Ohio to graduate from college and go on to succeed,” Senator Portman stated. “Reauthorizing the Perkins loan program for another year is a way we can lift more of these students up at no cost to taxpayers. This is an issue I hear about back home and I agree with my constituents that it’s time for the Senate to act.”

Senators Baldwin, Collins, Casey and Portman were joined in sending the letter by: Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), M. Michael Rounds (R-SD), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Thune (R-SD), Patrick J. Toomey (R-PA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). 

Full text of the letter: 

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Reid:

On October 1, the authorization of the Perkins Loan Program, the nation’s oldest federal student loan program and a critical lifeline for many low-income students, expired.  While our colleagues in the House of Representatives unanimously approved a one-year, no-cost extension of the program through the Higher Education Extension Act (H.R. 3594), the Senate has yet to advance that measure.  As a result, thousands of current and future students face uncertainty and hundreds of institutions are struggling to find another way to help their neediest students afford their education.  We write to express our strong support for the Perkins Loan Program and to request that the Senate take up and pass the Higher Education Extension Act as soon as possible.

The Perkins Loan Program has existed with broad bipartisan support since 1958 and has provided more than $28 billion in loans through almost 26 million awards to students in all 50 states.  In the last academic year alone, the program lent $1.1 billion to more than half a million students with financial need across more than 1,500 institutions of higher education. 

The Perkins Loan Program disburses financial aid to students through a campus-based revolving fund that leverages federal dollars with significant institutional investment. Colleges and universities have continued to participate in this self-sustaining program despite a lapse in federal appropriations for nearly a decade. The required institutional capital contribution gives colleges and universities “skin in the game,” and the loan payments from graduates are used to make new loans to other students. As a campus-based program, Perkins also enables these institutions to provide targeted support to the students they know have the greatest financial need.  That is why it is broadly supported by higher education groups, including the Association of American Universities, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators, the Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations, the American Council on Education and many others, as well as dozens of individual colleges and universities across the country. 

There are many students who will be disadvantaged by the Senate’s inaction and the program’s expiration.  For example, students who have previously received Perkins loans will lose their eligibility if they change institutions or academic programs.  In addition, if the program is not reauthorized soon, students seeking Perkins loans for the upcoming winter and spring semesters in 2016 may be ineligible.  All future students will be ineligible for this vital program, which helps fill the gaps between what is available through the Direct Loan Program and a family’s ability to pay. On average, this is $2,000 in financial aid.  As many as 150,000 current freshmen will lose access to these loans in the next academic year.   

Many Senators have proposals aimed at making our various federal student aid programs work better for students, parents, and institutions.  We look forward to discussing and debating ways to improve these important federal supports for higher education during this congress.  In the meantime, we should immediately take up and pass the House-passed extension to provide certainty to students and ensure that this important source of student financial assistance is not interrupted. 

Immediately taking up the House-passed extension bill is a simple solution that can provide clarity in the near term to students and the colleges and universities that serve them without any cost to the federal government.  The Congressional Budget Office concluded that this one-year extension would incur no new costs to the federal government because it includes limitations on the length of student participation in the program.  The House has already acted unanimously to extend the Perkins Loan Program for one year.  We urge you to take up and pass the Higher Education Extension Act without delay. 

Rep. Zamarripa: Democratic weekly radio address: "A century of civil service"

Rep. Zamarripa: Democratic weekly radio address: "A century of civil service"

Contact: Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, 608.267.7669 

MADISON – Today Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) offered the Democratic Weekly Radio Address. The topic this week is Republicans passing a bill that will gut Wisconsin’s civil service system and further open the door for cronyism and corruption in state government. 

"More than a century ago, Governor Bob La Follette created our civil service system with the motto 'the best shall serve the state.' Now Republicans are saying 'our best friends shall serve the state,'" Rep. Zamarripa said. "Under this latest bill, political connections could trump qualifications when it comes to hiring workers at our state agencies. Our focus needs to be on jobs for all Wisconsin workers, not just those who are politically connected." 

The audio file of this week’s address can be found here and a video version can be viewed here

A written transcript of the address is below: 

This week, Republicans further opened the door for cronyism and corruption in state government by passing a bill to gut Wisconsin’s civil service system. 

This comes just one week after Republicans voted to decimate state campaign finance laws, dismantle Wisconsin’s non-partisan government watchdog and make it harder for political corruption to be investigated or prosecuted. 

Under this latest bill, political connections could trump qualifications when it comes to hiring workers at our state agencies. We have already seen several examples of this kind of cronyism under the Walker Administration. 

We have Brian Deschane, the son of a major lobbyist who was appointed to two top state jobs – including an $81,000-a-year job as an administrator – despite having no college degree and two drunk driving convictions. We have top officials at the governor’s jobs agency who were hired despite having little to no private-sector or economic development experience. We saw the Walker Administration rescind a student’s appointment to the Board of Regents after discovering he had signed the recall petition. 

More than a century ago, Governor Bob La Follette created our civil service system with the motto “the best shall serve the state.” Now Republicans are saying “our best friends shall serve the state.” Our focus needs to be on jobs for all Wisconsin workers, not just those who are politically connected. 

Wisconsin’s civil service system protects taxpayers and workers alike. While there are legitimate discussions we should have about improving our civil service system, there is no reason to dismantle it. 


Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: GOP fright fest: Senator Johnson and the Ryan budget

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: GOP fright fest: Senator Johnson and the Ryan budget

Contact: Sadie Weiner – 202-545-3518  

GOP Fright Fest: Senator Johnson And The Ryan Budget 

Today, Paul Ryan, the architect of the extreme Ryan Budget, is set to be elected Speaker of the House. With Ryan leading the House, it is important to remember that Senator Ron Johnson has supported the Ryan Budget, which would end Medicare as we know it and cut taxes for millionaires while risking raising them on the middle class – a plan that is downright scary for seniors and middle class families. In fact, Ron Johnson has voted for the Ryan budget three times. 

“Senator Johnson has repeatedly voted for the Ryan budget that would have terrifying consequences for seniors and hardworking middle class families, and now that budget’s namesake is Speaker of the House,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC Communications Director. “Ron Johnson has shown that he is perfectly fine dismantling Medicare as we know it leaving seniors hanging in the balance with higher costs, and that’s just not right for Wisconsin.” 



Johnson Voted For The Ryan Budget Three Times. [CQ, 3/21/13; S.Amdt. 433 to S.Con.Res. 8, Vote 46, 3/21/13; CQ, 5/16/12; H.Con.Res. 112, Vote 98, 5/16/12; CQ, 5/25/11; H. Con. Res. 34, Vote 77, 5/25/11

Johnson Said The Ryan Budget Showed “Courage” And Wanted To Go Even Further In Slashing Programs. “In his first news conference in Milwaukee since taking office, Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Friday that Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal shows ‘courage,’ but Johnson would push for what he sees as stronger medicine: He wants to see spending caps and a constitutional limit on government spending. […] While Johnson said he likes many aspects of the budget written by Ryan, a Janesville Republican, and approved by the House on April 15, he declined to endorse it because he doesn't know how the Ryan budget package will be presented in the Senate.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 4/29/11

Johnson Voted For The Ryan Plan And Said Medicare Was Unsustainable Without Structural Changes. “Wisconsin's other Senator, GOP freshman Ron Johnson, voted yes on the Ryan plan. Johnson called Medicare unsustainable without structural changes. As for the New York race, he said he didn't see it as a statement against the Ryan plan, since the Democratic winner got less than 50% of the vote. ‘I think we have a pretty receptive audience for structural reform,’ he said of the politics of changing Medicare.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 5/25/11


Reuters: The Ryan Plan “Calls For An End To The Guaranteed Benefit In Medicare And Replaces It With A System That Would Give Vouchers To Recipients To Pay For Health Insurance,” Which Could Increase Costs For Seniors. “Ryan's plan calls for an end to the guaranteed benefit in Medicare and replaces it with a system that would give vouchers to recipients to pay for health insurance. The risk in such a plan is that if healthcare costs rise faster than the value of the vouchers, seniors would have to pay the difference.” [Reuters, 8/12/12

The Ryan Budget Repeals Provision That Closed Donut Hole in Medicare Prescription Drug Program. “Among other elements, the House GOP budget would repeal: The provisions that closed the ‘doughnut hole’ in Medicare Part D.” [Bipartisan Policy Center, 3/12/13


Center On Budget And Policy Priorities’ Robert Greenstein: The Ryan Budget “Would Likely Produce The Largest Redistribution Of Income From The Bottom To The Top In Modern U.S. History.” “The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history). It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head — that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality.” [Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/21/12

CNN Money: “Millionaires Would Get A Sizable Tax Cut If Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget Proposal Were To Become Law.” “Millionaires would get a sizable tax cut if Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal were to become law. Those with incomes exceeding $1 million would enjoy an average tax cut of more than $200,000, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning group. And it could be even bigger if Congress doesn’t try to limit tax deductions, credits and preferences to offset the costs of the proposed tax cuts. Under the Ryan budget, released Tuesday, income would be taxed at only two rates, 10% and 25%. Currently, there are seven brackets ranging from 10% to 39.6%.” [CNN Money, 3/15/13

Center for American Progress: “Only Two Possible Outcomes With the Ryan Plan: Tax Hike on Middle Class Or Massive Increase In The Debt.” “The current House Republican budget runs the same play again. They’ve promised lower rates, no revenue loss, and no way to make the numbers work. And just like the Romney tax plan, there are only two possible outcomes with the Ryan plan: a tax hike on the middle class or a massive increase in the debt. Either way, the plan offers enormous tax breaks for the rich—and either way, the American people were very clear that this was not the direction in which they wanted to go.” [Center for American Progress, 3/12/13


Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: The Ryan Budget “Proposed Very Deep Cuts, The Bulk Of Which Were In Programs That Serve Low- And Moderate-Income Americans.” “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget cuts $3.3 trillion over ten years (2015-2024) from programs that serve people of limited means. That’s 69 percent of its $4.8 trillion in total non-defense budget cuts. Not much has changed on this front from Chairman Ryan’s budget plan of a year ago, or the year before that. Then, too, Chairman Ryan proposed very deep cuts, the bulk of which were in programs that serve low- and moderate-income Americans.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/8/14]


Pelosi Floor Remarks in Support of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement

Pelosi Floor Remarks in Support of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement

Washington D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the House floor today in support of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his kind words and return the compliment to him.  To the staff of the Budget Committee, the staffs of the other Committees of Jurisdiction on both sides of the aisle who enabled this important agreement to come forward – thank you very much, Mr. Van Hollen.

“Madam Leader, today we’re proud to come to the Floor with legislation that moves America forward, affirming the full faith and credit of the United States of America, as our Constitution says should never be in doubt, and passing a budget agreement that creates jobs, protects seniors, invests in our future.  Today, we cast our votes for a bipartisan budget package representing significant progress for hard-working American families.  Throughout the budget process, I’m proud that Democrats have been united by our values and our determination to win progress for those hard-working American families.  We showed we had the votes and the resolve to sustain the President’s vetoes of funding bills that did not meet the needs of the American people.  Working with our Republican colleagues on a compromise enabled us at long last, to bring to the Floor a bill, a bill with which we have broken the sequester stranglehold on our national defense and our investment in good-paying jobs and the future of America.

“In this agreement before the House, we achieve equal funding.  We honor the principle of parity between defense and domestic priorities.  We achieve equal funding increases for defense and domestic initiatives amounting to $112 billion over the next two years.  We prevent a 20 percent cut in disability benefits for millions of people in 2016 and extend the solvency of the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.  We prevent a drastic increase in Medicare Part B Premiums and deductibles for millions of seniors next year.  We affirm the full faith and credit of the United States and that that full faith and credit is non-negotiable and unbreakable with a clean debt limit suspension.  We push through the gridlock to provide more economic certainty and, according to the Council of Economic Advisors, create an additional 340,000 jobs in 2016 alone.

“Budget and senior groups are lining up – and the groups for Americans with disabilities – are lining up in support of this agreement.  As AARP wrote to Congressional leaders – I’m sure you saw this, Mr. Rogers, and thank you for your courageous support of our legislation, our great Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  AARP wrote, ‘AARP strongly supports the bipartisan agreement you reached to avert deep reductions in Social Security disability insurance benefits in 2016 and to address the imminent spike in Medicare Part B Premiums, which many older Americans would otherwise experience.  Your efforts to reach across the aisle and together find sensible solutions to significant problems are appreciated and commended.’  Together, working together, Democrats and Republicans, we have found a way forward for the American people.

“I thank the Republican Leadership for their partnership in reaching this agreement.  Again, I thank the staffs of the Committees of Jurisdiction: the Budget committee, the Ways and Means Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee and others.  I commend our colleagues for speaking out on this important agreement.

“Let us pass this agreement.  Let’s vote yes today, together.  Let us pass this agreement, move swiftly to keep government open and make progress for the American people.  I urge a ‘yes’ vote and I hope it is a big, strong one.  With that, I yield back the balance of my time.”


Congressional Progressive Caucus Responds to Proposed Budget Deal

Congressional Progressive Caucus Responds to Proposed Budget Deal

Washington – The co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) issued the following statement in response to the proposed bipartisan budget agreement released this week:

“While the proposed budget meets many of the budget principles laid out by the Progressive Caucus, it is not a visionary budget. We need to raise revenue and end sequestration. We need to invest in infrastructure, work force training, medical research, education, and environmental sustainability. We are concerned that this deal could force Social Security Disability Insurance recipients to jump through unnecessary hoops to get the benefits they have earned.

“This deal meets the minimum requirements for the Progressive Caucus. It merely keeps the lights on, and does not fully address the needs of working Americans. In the coming months, Congress needs to uphold this deal by passing a final appropriations bill free of harmful partisan riders that could jeopardize support and force a government shut-down.

“We need to end to austerity budgeting once and for all so we can invest in the American people and build an economy that works for everyone.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus released budget principles which its Members will adhere to in determining their vote decisions. The CPC principles are available here.

With Budget Deal, House Democrats Beat Back Republican Efforts To Cut Seniors’ Earned Benefits

With Budget Deal, House Democrats Beat Back Republican Efforts To Cut Seniors’ Earned Benefits

OCTOBER 28, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA-34) released a statement following the vote on the Bipartisan Budget Act (HR 1314), which passed by 266 to 167:

“House Democrats fought to protect Medicare and Social Security by beating back Republican proposals to cut seniors’ earned benefits.

“It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans passed a budget first proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan that would have devastated both of these important programs this year. Democrats stood firm and acted responsibly.

“While the budget deal is far from perfect, we succeeded in protecting seniors, children’s education and we avoided the economic catastrophe that would have resulted had we failed to pay our nation’s bills.”

WisDems: Sen. Johnson puts politics over pragmatism

WisDems: Sen. Johnson puts politics over pragmatism

Contact:, 608-260-2409

MADISON -- Senator Ron Johnson must be embarrassed after he got called out by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for putting politics ahead of pragmatism when it comes to his 'signature issue,' the debt and deficit...

"...Johnson voted on conservative principle rather than pragmatism." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/24/2015].

It's an acknowledgement of Senator Johnson's failure in the U.S. Senate and an inability to do anything but serve the interests of the billionaires and big corporations who back him.

To remind Wisconsinites of Senator Johnson's real priorities the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is spending the week highlighting the times Senator Johnson put his political views ahead of pragmatic solutions and the people of Wisconsin.

June 2014: Senator Johnson put politics ahead of Wisconsin veterans

In June 2014, Senator Ron Johnson put politics ahead of Wisconsin veterans by voting against a to help veterans receive care outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation received broad bipartisan support on a vote of 93 - 3 and enacted serious reforms to improve health care accessibility for Wisconsin veterans.

Johnson Cited The Cost Of The Legislation In His Explanation For Voting Against A Bill To Help Veterans Get The Care They Need. “The bill passed with the support of 93 senators Wednesday. But Johnson said he couldn’t support it because of its cost -- $35 billion the first two years, and $50 billion per year after that, according to a preliminary estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. ‘This legislation doesn’t fix the systemic problems or ensure our veterans get quality, on-time health care. It does spend more money to expand a broken system,’ he said. ‘Our veterans deserve better than this bill provides.’” [Post Crecent, 6/11/14]

Green Bay Press-Gazette: The Price Of The VA Bill May Have Been Steep, But “Not Steeper Than The Price Many Veterans Paid Serving Their Country With The Promise That We’d Take Care Of Them Afterward.” “Johnson praised veterans in a news release explaining his vote against the Senate bill. The senator said the bill didn’t fix the problem. He cited the cost and deficit spending that would be paid into a system that was broken. ‘Our veterans deserve better than this bill provides. I hope a more careful cost analysis and the Senate/House conference process will produce legislation I can support.’ The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the Senate bill would cost $35 billion the first two years and $50 billion a year after that. That’s a steep price tag. But it’s not steeper than the price many veterans paid serving their country with the promise that we’d take care of them afterward.” [Editorial, Green Bay Press-Gazette, 6/22/14]

Johnson later stumbled when attempting to explain why he voted against Wisconsin veterans:

Johnson Explained His Vote Against The VA Bill, Saying He “Wasn’t Voting Against Vets” But Was “Voting Against Bankrupting Our Country And Mortgaging Our Future. [Wausau Daily Herald, 8/12/14]

U.S. Sen. Baldwin: Applauds USDA investment in Wisconsin energy projects

U.S. Sen. Baldwin: Applauds USDA investment in Wisconsin energy projects

Contact: (202) 224 – 6225

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today applauded a recent announcement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that USDA is awarding nearly $1.5 million in grants that will help more than 25 rural small businesses and agricultural producers in Wisconsin reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. The funding is for energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems.

Through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), USDA is financing more than 1,100 projects in every state. Since REAP was first introduced in 2003, over $19 million in grants have been provided to over 350 projects across Wisconsin.  

“These major investments will help farmers and rural businesses increase their energy efficiency and reduce their energy costs—which leaves them more money to grow their businesses and boost our Made in Wisconsin economy,” said Senator Baldwin. 

“More rural business owners and ag producers are incorporating energy-saving measures into their business plans,” Vilsack said. “These actions improve an operation’s bottom line and help reduce its carbon footprint. This funding will help incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology and reduce energy costs. But beyond the local benefits seen by a company saving energy costs and the global benefits of reducing carbon emissions, this funding will also create American jobs by supporting energy production and efficiency installations that are made in rural America.”

Senator Baldwin has been a champion for REAP during her time in Congress. In 2013, Senator Baldwin sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee to advocate for full $900 million in mandatory funding for USDA energy programs in the 2014 Farm Bill. In March 2015, Senator Baldwin continued her support of these critical investments in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging full funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Additionally, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, Senator Baldwin supported an amendment offered by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) that would have provided full funding to rural renewable energy programs.

Congress created the REAP program in the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill because of its success in supporting the rural economy and innovative rural solutions to energy challenges. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past seven years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.

Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has helped finance 10,753 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that have reduced energy costs for rural businesses nationwide. During this period, USDA has provided almost $360 million in grants and $430 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners. When operational, these projects will generate/save an estimated 8.4 million megawatt hours – enough to power more than 760,000 homes for a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of removing more than 1 million cars from the road. 

Funding of each award announced is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.  

U.S. Rep. Moore: Statement on Export-Import bank

U.S. Rep. Moore: Statement on Export-Import bank

Contact: Eric Harris

In response to the passage of H.R. 597, To Reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) released the following statement:

“Today’s House vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank is a major victory for American workers. This important bipartisan vote signifies that both Republicans and Democrats understand the value this vital federal agency adds to our collective effort to bolster and grow our economy. I’d like to thank my Republican colleagues who broke with the extreme wing of their party and joined us to pass this critical legislation.

“For 70 years, the Bank has supported American exports and kept them competitive abroad. Last year, 90 percent of the Bank’s transactions went to small businesses. Since 2007, this vital financial institution has helped 224 businesses in my home state of Wisconsin – including 135 small businesses – export $5 billion worth of goods and products made in the Badger State.

“I am proud to have helped lead efforts in the House to reauthorize this essential financial institution. Since the Bank lapsed in June, thousands of American jobs have been needlessly lost. I call on my colleagues in the Senate to follow our lead and send this bill to President Obama’s desk for his signature.”


Rep. Young: Spearheads effort to create a state Division of African American Affairs

Rep. Young: Spearheads effort to create a state Division of African American Affairs

Contact: Rep. Young, (608) 266-3786

The initiative will have a State, County and City Outreach

MADISON – State Representative Leon D. Young (D-Milwaukee) has introduced legislation to create a state Division of African American Affairs. The division, which would fall under the auspices of the Department of Administration, would have a myriad of responsibilities: identifying issues relevant to African Americans, recognizing cultural accomplishments, promoting public/private initiatives to assist African Americans, and working to make specific recommendations to the Legislature that advances the greater good for all African American residents. 

According to Rep. Young: 

“It’s no secret that Wisconsin has a very dubious reputation nationally when it comes to the overall treatment of people of color. In fact, our state has the highest rate of Black incarceration in the country. This is not only a disgrace, but has undermined the very fabric of Black life for countless families living here. It’s time to take action to arrest this chronic malaise. Hence this state legislation, coupled with initiatives on the city and county levels led respectively by Alderperson Willie Wade and County Supervisor Kahlif Rainey, highlights the gravity of this particular issue. The racial divide in this state can and must be seriously addressed – and the time is now.” 


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