Opinion: One year later, Reps. Steil and Van Orden still owe Wisconsinites answers about how they’ll fight for working families

US Capitol Building. Reps. Steil and Van Orden

(Joel Carillet/Getty Images)

By Meghan Roh

May 20, 2024

Their votes indicate values out of the mainstream, despite their pledges.

One year ago Opportunity Wisconsin launched our latest program aimed at holding Congressmen Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) and Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien) accountable for their votes in Washington, DC and asking them to fight for working families here in Wisconsin. Since then, we’ve worked with so many passionate advocates and leaders across Wisconsin to hold events, organize, and highlight the importance of policies that help families and seniors succeed – but there are still questions Wisconsinites deserve answers to.

First, let’s look back at what we’ve accomplished over the past year and how, despite gridlock in Congress and seemingly never-ending threats of a government shutdown, we brought people together around key issues.

Shortly after kicking off our program, Congressmen Steil and Van Orden both voted for the Default on America Act (what they called the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023). We highlighted this vote because it would’ve been devastating for Wisconsin families – cuts to veterans’ benefits, reduced access to Social Security and Medicare, slashing food assistance, and so much more.

We continued to highlight the success stories of the Inflation Reduction Act. From thousands of Wisconsinites who are able to more easily afford prescription drugs thanks to the law’s cap on insulin costs to hundreds of new good-paying jobs created, Wisconsinites are already benefiting from this historic legislation.

We’ve also rallied around protecting programs like Social Security and Medicare that support so many Wisconsinites and built spread awareness of proposals like President Biden’s budget, which would make these programs stronger and protect benefits. And we’ve highlighted dangerous tax plans working their way through Congress that would give even more handouts to the wealthy and big corporations, instead of delivering relief to working families.

But now, as our program enters its second year, we still have questions for Congressmen Steil and Van Orden and Wisconsinites still deserve answers:

Why does Congressman Steil continue to oppose capping insulin costs? We’ve seen the success of this cap and have heard from Wisconsinites who previously were forced to ration their prescriptions. But Steil voted against capping insulin costs repeatedly and hasn’t rejected a proposal by the Republican Study Committee, which he’s a member of, that would repeal the Inflation Reduction Act’s cap on costs.

Why are Congressmen Steil and Van Orden still fighting to extend Trump-era tax breaks for those at the top? Both congressmen have co-sponsored legislation that would make certain parts of the Trump-era tax plan permanent. These pieces would continue to prioritize billionaires and big businesses, giving them even more tax breaks while leaving working families and entrepreneurs behind.

Do they support President Biden’s budget, which lowers taxes for working families and helps strengthen Medicare and Social Security? Earlier this year, President Biden introduced his budget proposal which included tax breaks for working families and a plan to strengthen Social Security and Medicare by forcing the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share. Both congressmen have been silent on this plan.

We think there should be obvious answers to these questions because our members of Congress should be first in line to support programs that strengthen our economy by putting working families first and holding those at the top accountable. But Congressmen Steil and Van Orden both have records in Congress checkered with votes that fail to do that.

Until we have answers, Opportunity Wisconsin will continue organizing, growing our coalition, and speaking out – we hope you’ll add your voice and learn more at opportunitywisconsin.org.


  • Meghan Roh

    Meghan Roh is Program Director for Opportunity Wisconsin, a coalition of advocates, small business owners, and seniors committed to building support for policies that support working families.



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