Assembly Republicans paused efforts to eliminate Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate after reports surfaced that doing so could cut the state off from more than $49 million in federal food assistance for low-income families this month.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the chamber postponed a vote originally scheduled for Thursday on a Senate-approved joint resolution that would effectively eliminate Evers’ emergency order and accompanying mask mandate. Vos said he still plans to pass the measure, which could reach a vote next week, but first wants to get a clear picture on any financial impact it may have on the state.
“Our job is to guarantee when we pass legislation that we know what the ramifications are,” Vos told reporters shortly before the Assembly convened. “Unfortunately, when our Senate colleagues passed it, they didn’t necessarily do the same level of due diligence. … We do not want to repeat that mistake.”
I read the LFB memo and they seem to think that the state will forgo the federal money without an emergency declaration. I’m not convinced that is correct information. It looks like several states have ended or let lapse their statewide emergency/disaster declarations and I haven’t seen any indication that the spigot from Washington has been cut off. That being said, it’s what the LFB said and Vos is right that they should pump the brakes to make sure the details are worked out.
The swipe at the Senate was uncalled for and indicates the increasing chasm between the leadership of the Senate and the Assembly.
On principle, the Republicans need to get this done. It is very simple. Either you believe in representative government or you don’t. It’s not about the masks. It is about allowing one man to decide whether 6 million Wisconsinites must wear one. And remember that Evers used the same emergency declarations to close businesses and restrict movement. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MASKS. The Republicans have generally done a terrible job messaging this.
The Republicans also bungled the politics. By waiting until after the election instead of contesting the emergency declarations (the second one… they get a pass for not challenging the first one because everyone thought it really was an emergency), the Republicans make this look like a partisan thing. They lost the principled high ground when they weighed politics over those principles from May until January.