Two Senators, One Budget: Baldwin Delivers Investments, Johnson Attacks Healthcare Reform

Wisconsin's U.S. senators Ron Johnson, a Republican, and Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat.



By Keya Vakil

March 15, 2022

Sen. Tammy Baldwin secured $187 billion in federal investments for communities across Wisconsin last week. Sen. Ron Johnson voted “no,” and vowed again to repeal the Affordable Care Act—200,000 Wisconsinites could lose coverage.

Safe drinking water in Sheboygan. Better dental services in Oshkosh. A new fire station in Platteville. 

These are just a handful of the dozens of projects that will receive funding in Wisconsin, announced Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who secured more than $187 billion in federal investments for public and nonprofit organizations in the state last week.

Baldwin, a Democrat, voted to pass bipartisan funding legislation that will deliver critical support for a variety of projects in the state. 

“I worked to include this federal funding because it delivers support from Washington to Wisconsin,” said Senator Baldwin. “This federal funding will support a wide variety of improvements in our state. I’m proud to have worked in a bipartisan way to fund these projects and deliver results for communities across Wisconsin.”

The $1.5 trillion spending bill—which President Joe Biden is expected to sign this week—also increases federal funding for schools and child care programs and reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act—a law that provides resources to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. 

The package also includes nearly $14 billion in critical economic, humanitarian, and defense assistance that will be sent to Ukraine amid the brutal Russian invasion of the country. 

While Baldwin voted to pass the bill, Wisconsin’s other Senator, Republican Ron Johnson voted against the domestic spending and the emergency support to a nation under attack. 

“Once again Congress is voting on a massive bill – 2,700 pages – that no one has had time to read, spends $1.5 trillion, and further mortgages our children’s future,” Johnson said in a statement. “Even though this bill funds many important priorities, I simply cannot support such a dysfunctional and harmful process.”

Similar deficit concerns from Johnson—a multimillionaire who voted for the 2017 tax cuts that added as much as $2 trillion to the national debt—were noticeably absent three years ago. Beyond the overall spending bills, Johnson has repeatedly spoken out against individual pandemic relief efforts, even single-handedly blocking a second round of $1,200 checks for a time.

A full list of projects funded can be found here, but these are some of the other priorities Johnson voted against:

  • $7 million for a new fire station in Platteville
  • $5 million for student housing development at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College
  • $5 million for public transit in Racine
  • $4 million for a new hospital in Lafayette County
  • $2.5 million to help build a Mental Health Emergency Center in Milwaukee County
  • $2 million to deliver safe drinking water to Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls and Kohler
  • $1.6 million to protect against PFAS in water in the city of Rhinelander
  • $1 million for a Day Center to help people experiencing homelessness in Couleecap
  • $600,000 to expand the Oshkosh Dental Facility
  • $500,000 for terminal expansion at Appleton International Airport 

Johnson’s ‘no’ vote drew criticism from his prospective opponents this November. 

“This is the absolute worst time to play petty political games,” said State Treasurer and Democratic Senate candidate Sarah Godlewski. “Federal funding for our state, aid for our allies in Ukraine, and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act shouldn’t be used as a pawn in Ron Johnson’s games. His priorities are out of line with Wisconsin, and that is why I am running.”

“Billionaire son-in-law Ron Johnson is running out of ways to be out-of-touch,” said candidate and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. “Whether it’s supporting the regressive Rick Scott scot-free plan to raise taxes on 50 percent of Americans while allowing corporations and Wall Street to avoid paying their fair share, or another zombie attempt to kill Obamacare, he’s showing a dangerous and total lack of human empathy.”

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, meanwhile, suggested that Johnson’s no vote reflected his priorities and character. 

Johnson’s priorities, apparently, continue to include ripping healthcare away from more than 200,000 Wisconsinites. 

In an interview with Breitbart News Radio, Johnson said last week that if Republicans win back control of the federal government in 2024, he wants them to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Doing so would not only take healthcare away from Wisconsinites who get their insurance via the marketplace, but it would also once again allow insurance companies to discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions.


  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.



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