New Effort Launches to Hold Wisconsin Reps. Steil, Van Orden Accountable on Vote to Cut Funding for Veterans, Health Care, and Food

Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., speaks at a campaign rally before President Donald Trump arrived Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Janesville, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

By Keya Vakil

May 2, 2023

Opportunity Wisconsin plans to elevate the voices of people in Steil and Van Orden’s districts in an effort to highlight the human impact of the Republicans’ actions, including their recent votes for a bill that would make massive cuts to food assistance, health care, and veterans benefits.

Elected officials should fight for Wisconsin workers and their families, not the wealthy and big corporations—that’s the message of a new campaign aiming to hold Wisconsin Reps. Bryan Steil and Derrick Van Orden accountable for their votes and policies in Congress. 

Opportunity Wisconsin, an issue advocacy organization, announced the launch of their grassroots campaign on Tuesday. Starting this week, the group plans to hold events in both Wisconsin’s first congressional district in southeastern Wisconsin, represented by Steil, and the state’s third district in western and southwestern Wisconsin, represented by Van Orden.

The group, which previously worked to hold former President Donald Trump and Sen. Ron Johnson accountable for their economic policies, plans to elevate the voices of people in Steil and Van Orden’s districts to highlight the human impact of the Republicans’ actions. 

The organization will also run a seven-figure paid media campaign across the districts as part of their efforts to hold the lawmakers accountable. 

“We’re essentially asking the question of: Are they fighting for everyday working people they represent or are they going to continue to prioritize corporations and the wealthy elite?” Opportunity Wisconsin Program Director Meghan Roh said in an interview. “Our work is going to make sure that we elevate the voices of folks across the state and make sure they know that they need to represent us and not play politics with Wisconsin workers and families.”

The campaign launch comes less than a week after both Steil and Van Orden voted for a bill that would make massive cuts to food assistance, health care, and veterans benefits, and much more. Estimates from the federal government suggest that under the bill:

  • 189,000 Wisconsinites would lose access to food assistance
  • 4,500 kids in the state would lose preschool and child care slots.
  • 7,000 Wisconsin families would lose access to rental assistance, including older adults, those with disabilities, and families with children.
  • As many as 123,000 kids with disabilities in Wisconsin would face reduced support.
  • Wisconsin veterans would lose 116,000 outpatient doctors visits, including for issues like mental health and substance disorder treatment and suicide prevention.
  • Thousands of Wisconsin seniors would lose access to Meals on Wheels.

Roh and other critics of the bill have taken to calling the bill the “Default on America Act,” because Republicans have said they will refuse to raise the nation’s debt ceiling in the coming months—a move that would push the country to default on its debt—unless Democrats agree to major spending cuts. 

If they don’t, Republicans have effectively threatened to drive the country into a financial collapse that could eliminate more than 7 million jobs and $10 trillion in American household wealth according to a report from Moody’s Analytics.

Last week’s votes aren’t the only ones Opportunity Wisconsin plans to highlight. 

Roh pointed to Steil’s 2022 vote against the Inflation Reduction Act, a law that has lowered drug and healthcare costs and provided funding for the IRS to pursue wealthy tax cheats, as an example of the lawmaker’s errant priorities. 

She also cited both Steil and Van Orden’s votes earlier this year to repeal that same IRS funding, a move that would allow tax-dodgers to avoid paying what they owe in taxes and subsequently cause the deficit to skyrocket by more than $100 billion.

“It speaks to them choosing the wealthy and big corporations over what’s best for Wisconsin families,” Roh said of the lawmakers’ actions. 

Roh urged anyone who wanted to get involved in the grassroots campaign to visit

“Wisconsinites expect better from the representatives and they’re ready to make their voices heard,” she said. “We’re really excited to get started this year in this work, and I really hope that Congressman Van Orden and Congressman Steil will listen to the voices of the people they represent and stop putting politics over the people of Wisconsin.”


  • 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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