U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said it's likely that House Democrats will vote yet this year on whether to impeach President Donald Trump.
"While we have no magic timeline in place, I do think they're trying to move expeditiously," Pocan said Monday. "If I had to give it a percent, I'd give it a 75-80% chance of likelihood that we'll see a vote this year."
In a meeting with reporters in Madison, Pocan, D-Black Earth, discussed impeachment and if it will have political ramifications in 2020, ongoing discussion regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and his remaining questions regarding plans to base F-35 jets at Madison's Truax Field.
Pocan said he believes Trump will face multiple articles of impeachment for his alleged pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s son Hunter, as well as obstruction of justice during the impeachment inquiry.
"I think that would fall in the category of high crimes and misdemeanors," he said.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who has publicly defended Trump’s conduct on Ukraine in the past, last month described the impeachment inquiry as a “continuation of a concerted, and possibly coordinated, effort to sabotage” the president.
Pocan also downplayed arguments by some, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who is running for the state's southeastern 5th Congressional District, that that the push by Democratic lawmakers to impeach Trump will invigorate GOP voters in the 2020 election.
“If we do nothing, we have set the precedent for every future president that you can do whatever you want and you won’t be accountable, so we have to do this," he said. "Whether it has electoral pluses or minuses has to be a secondary thought."
Pocan said one of the biggest holdups among Democratic lawmakers on the USMCA — the Trump administration’s update to the North American Free Trade Agreement — pertains to environmental and labor protections not included in the trade agreement language.
Pocan said both sides have agreed on the language but argued the provisions would not be enforceable unless included in the trade agreement.
"We would like to see it get done," he said, cautioning that the agreement would not fix all the pressures being felt by farmers facing some of the toughest economic conditions in decades, made worse by ongoing trade disputes with China and other countries.
"There's a lot of other issues out there so it's not like this is a magic silver bullet for the agricultural community, but it's certainly part of something that has to happen," Pocan said.
Pocan said he still has a few questions for the U.S. Air Force regarding plans to base a squadron of F-35 jets at Truax, primarily regarding the noise and impact on nearby residents.
The Air Force in October denied Pocan's request for a demonstration of the noise difference between the F-16 jets already present at Truax Field and the louder F-35 jets.
In a letter to Pocan, acting Air Force Secretary Matthew Donovan said such a demonstration would “only present a momentary experience of that aircraft’s noise, which would serve no evaluative purpose” and would “inject subjectivity that would undermine the deliberative environmental analysis.”
Pocan also said he wants more clarity on what funding would be available for noise abatement of the approximately 1,000 households expected to be impacted by the increased sound.
"We have to know that no one is hurt by what happened," he said. "They're not getting any final thumbs up or thumbs down until I can get some resolution to the varied concerns I have put up a few times."
A final decision on the proposal to add F-35 jets at Truax is expected in February, 30 days after the final environmental impact study is released.
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