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CAP TIMES TALK

Rep. Mark Pocan

Rep. Mark Pocan doesn’t think finding a fix to DACA or passing a budget should be this hard.

The reason it’s not working, he said on an episode of “Capital City Sunday” on WKOW/TV, is that Paul Ryan is subject to the whims of the Tea Party.

“As long as the Tea Party’s still got the car keys, which unfortunately they were given when Paul became speaker … we can’t just do something as logical and simple as put (a DACA bill) on the floor, have a vote, get it done and move on,” Pocan said.

Pocan said there are “over 30-some House Republicans” that support a DACA fix, which he said was enough support to pass. But “leadership,” including Paul Ryan, Pocan said, won’t move it to the floor. Pocan also said that Ryan won’t negotiate with Democrats on the budget “because of his agreements with the Tea Party.”

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created by President Barack Obama through an executive action. President Donald Trump ended the program last year, and Pocan said that because DACA “wasn’t a problem prior to the president breaking it,” Trump shouldn't be able to use DACA as a bargaining chip to build a southern border wall. In late December, Trump tweeted there would be no DACA deal that didn't include funding for such a wall.

Host John Beard pointed out that this is a good opportunity for Republicans to negotiate for a wall, especially considering that Trump made the wall a major campaign promise. Pocan argued against what he called holding “800,000 people in the country hostage.”

“(The wall is) illogical, it makes no sense, it's extremely expensive, there’s a million reasons why the wall is a bad idea,” he said.

Only after DACA has been fixed should Congress talk about comprehensive immigration reform, Pocan said, and “put it all on the table,” including a wall.

Earlier this year, Pocan was criticized for his choice of guest for the State of the Union address. He brought Paul Ryan challenger Randy Bryce, and Republicans said Pocan was “creating a spectacle.”

On “Capital City Sunday,” Pocan repeated his earlier defense: Republicans who weren’t offended by some of Trump’s past remarks shouldn’t claim Pocan is "breaking decorum."

“Where was decorum when the president called other countries ‘s-holes?’ Where was decorum when he said there were very fine people in the Neo-Nazis?” Pocan said. “Where were members of Congress speaking out against that?”

Pocan said he brought Bryce because he is probably “the highest profile working-class person in the country right now.” Too often, Washington takes care of the richest, Republican donors and corporations, so he brought Bryce to highlight the working people in Wisconsin that Washington ignores "on a pretty regular basis.”

During the State of the Union address, Trump emphasized the health of the economy. Pocan said that while there’s been good news on economic growth, wages haven’t increased as they should. He said there should be “much more focus making sure the average person in Wisconsin is seeing their paychecks increase in a substantive and continued way.”

But what stood out to him the most in the State of the Union, Pocan said, was Trump’s references to immigration, which Pocan characterized as “fearmongering.” Trump talked about the crimes of a gang known as MS-13, which Trump said “took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

“He spent so much time on MS-13 gang members as if there’s one around every corner, and yet we spent 45 or 50 seconds on opioids … It just hurts a lot of people along the way,” Pocan said.