Pocan Sun Prairie Town Hall

A jam-packed Community Room inside the Sun Prairie Municipal Building greeted Second District Congressional Rep. Mark Pocan during his Oct. 2, 2019 town hall.

In a wide-ranging interview before his Oct. 2 town hall in Sun Prairie, Second District Congressional Rep. Mark Pocan discussed impeachment, vaping and even being in favor of the Green Bay Packers.

The last one has to do with legislation introduced again this session by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin to allow viewers in northern Wisconsin to be able to view the Packers on TV. Sports fans in 13 border counties in Wisconsin, roughly 400,000 Wisconsinites, are assigned to the Minnesota TV market, meaning that Minnesota Vikings games are broadcast instead of Packers games when the teams play at the same time.

The Go Pack Go Act would require cable and satellite providers to provide Wisconsin subscribers with access to programming from broadcast television stations in a Wisconsin media market. A similar act, introduced by Baldwin and supported by her fellow Senator Ron Johnson, was introduced in 2018.

“Yeah, I am pro Packers,” Pocan said when asked if he supports the legislation, “and you can put me on the record for that.”

Pocan is not pro-Trump, based on his comments during the interview and the town hall, which was held inside a packed Community Room at the Sun Prairie Municipal Building in downtown Sun Prairie.

“We’ll have a long conversation about that, I think, once we’re in there,” Pocan said, gesturing to the Community Room. “But you know, the process has begun to have the Intelligence Committee try to find out everything we can around what the president did. Essentially he asked a foreign leader to get political dirt on an opponent’s family member. He’s admitted to that.

“He even gave us some notes from a transcript that say he did that. So we kind of have a motive, we have a crime, we have a confession and we have evidence,” Pocan added. “So it’s kind of jumpstarting the process quite a bit. And now we just got to make sure we get the totality of it, you know, who else might be involved, was there a cover-up, and move from there. But it’s unfortunate that the president thinks he’s above the law. No one’s about the law. And he really puts our national security at risk when he does this.”

Even though he was not a fan of U.S. Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s remarks during World Dairy Expo, Pocan had high praise for the agriculture secretary for one thing.

“First of all, I give him credit. I had asked him to come to the district to see a facility on campus — we’re the number one program in the country for plant breeding. And, he came. So, you know, not many ag secretaries do that under Democratic or Republican presidents,” Pocan said.

Perdue told reporters following an Oct. 1 appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison that it’s getting harder for farmers to get by on milking smaller herds.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or a guaranteed probability of survival.”

Those remarks didn’t sit well with Pocan in a district that relies heavily on agriculture.

“I do disagree with his comments about small farms. I mean, ‘go big or go home’ isn’t really a response in Wisconsin. We’re very proud to have a lot of [small farms]. And that’s the backbone of the rural economy,” Pocan said. “And because of bad trade, you know, and you can’t really do tariffs by tweet. And that’s what we’ve been doing. But there’s other issues too — historically low prices, some other issues. So, we’re hoping to have better policies that work. And, I think some of his comments yesterday probably show, maybe, a disconnect with at least the agricultural community here.”

Improving the trade environment, for farmers and other exporters, is the main reason for the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement. Pocan said he thinks the legislation is a few tweaks away from being passed in the House of Representatives.

“We’re kind of in negotiations with the White House right now. We’ve been pretty clear that we want him [President Donald Trump] to take yes for an answer,” Pocan said. “And the way to take yes is — there’s a couple parts that are the enforcement language around the labor and environmental provisions. It’s language right now outside the trade agreement. We’re saying just take the exact language they agreed to, but put it in the two other trade agreements.

“We’ve had to reopen [negotiations] to do that to make it enforceable. You already agreed on the language, just put it in the right spot,” Pocan said. “That’s one part. The second part is there’s a big wet sloppy kiss to Big Pharma in there — a 10-year protection for biologics that would affect Canada and Mexico that they don’t have right now. They didn’t ask for it. There’s no reason to have that.

“We take care of those things and I think we’re in a pretty good place,” Pocan said. “The problem is it took the White House 45 days to respond to us on that, so I’m not sure how much of a fast track they’re on, but we would still love to get that done this session.”

Something else Pocan thinks could happen this session relates to vaping. As of Sept. 27, at least 800 cases of lung illness relating to vaping have been reported nationwide, with 12 deaths confirmed (none in Wisconsin). Where is legislation in the House relating to vaping right now?

“Yes, there is some legislation. I’m actually on some legislation, one to, I think raise the vaping age also to, I think go after some of the flavors and things they’re doing,” Pocan said. “Also another bill to try to ban advertising — they found a loophole to essentially be advertising on TV again at a time that we don’t allow tobacco products to be advertised, but they’re finding a way. And a lot of the commercials I’ve seen really seem to be appealing to high school type folks. So we’ve got real legislation I’ve signed on to and we have a hearing on it in my, a subcommittee on appropriations coming up in the month of October.”

The town hall dealt with many questions relating to the F-35, impeachment, prescription drugs and more; to watch the entire town hall, log on to ksun.tv and click on Recent Videos after noon on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

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