WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans from Wisconsin have been mostly quiet this week about President Donald Trump’s continued tirade against four Democratic congresswomen.
Trump doubled down on his inflammatory tweets on Monday, saying at the White House that the four Democratic freshmen — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — are “free to leave” the country. He accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of being a racist.
Asked by the Wisconsin Examiner to comment about the president’s tweets on Sunday that the congresswomen “go back” to the countries they came from (although three of the four were born in the United States), only one Republican of the six in Wisconsin’s delegation responded by criticizing Trump’s language.
“This week we will be voting on an intelligence authorization bill and a minimum wage bill on the House floor, but the only questions we will get asked, the only questions that will be debated on TV and social media, will be about tweets we can all agree were wrong,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-8th) told the Examiner in a statement.
“Every day I hear from my constituents in Northeast Wisconsin that they would like both parties to end the partisan bickering and work together to solve the serious problems facing our nation. Instead of mean tweeting, let’s do our job and work to fix the looming budget crisis, a broken healthcare system, and a broken immigration system,” he added.
Most of the Republicans in the delegation — Reps. Bryan Steil (1st), Jim Sensenbrenner (5th), Glenn Grothman (6th), Sean Duffy (7th) and Sen. Ron Johnson — did not respond to requests for comment.
Duffy used Twitter on Monday to amplify Trump’s criticisms of Omar. “The immigrants I know, including my mother-in-law, are the people most disgusted by Rep. Omar’s ingratitude to the nation who rescued her family from an African refugee camp and gave her the equivalent of a lottery ticket to come to the USA,” Duffy wrote.
Omar, who was born in Somalia and fled with her family, wrote on Twitter Monday, “This president would love nothing more than to divide our country based on race, religion, gender, orientation, ability, or immigration status. This is the only way he thinks he can prevent the solidarity of working people.”
The four Democratic congresswomen targeted by Trump held a press conference Monday to respond to the president. Tlaib called his language “a continuation of his racist, xenophobic playbook.”
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Democrats have uniformly denounced Trump’s comments.
“President Trump fails to see his racist and xenophobic attacks for what they are,” wrote Sen. Tammy Baldwin. “His ongoing embrace of division is disrespectful to the office of the Presidency and fails to provide the leadership America needs.”
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-2nd) called Trump’s remarks a “disgrace.” He added, “These attacks are false and they are dangerous. Stop spreading your lies. Stop spreading your hate.”
Rep. Ron Kind (D-3rd) said in a statement, “Once again, the President fails to adhere to what they teach us in the Bible and what serves as my moral compass: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The President needs to apologize and stop this behavior.”
And Rep. Gwen Moore (D-4th) said, “We have a racist in the White House and these vile comments go beyond dog-whistling.”
Pelosi announced an upcoming floor vote in the U.S. House on a resolution to condemn Trump’s language. That measure is certain to put some of Trump’s more moderate GOP allies in a thorny political position.
Pelosi called Trump’s language “disgraceful” and said in a letter to her colleagues, “our Caucus will continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told reporters outside of a hearing Monday, “We’ve gotten so used to the president making these kinds of vulgar, racist statements, and I don’t use that word lightly. The question is, what’s going to stop him? And I don’t think anything’s going to stop him.”
Cummings added, “We want a president that brings us together. So Mr. President, I’m not asking you, I’m begging you to stop this, please.”