Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2015

Tea Party Johnson, Liberal Pocan Debate the Debt

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Well, this could end well.

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic freshman Rep. Marc Pocan are set to square off Thursday in a budget debate on the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Pocan is the openly gay, liberal successor to now-Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., a longtime friend. And Johnson is the tea party conservative who after Baldwin’s election vowed to explain the budget to the newly elected Senator because it was clear to him that neither she, nor the voters who elected her, did.

“Hopefully, I can sit down and lay out for her my best understanding of the federal budget because they’re simply the facts,” Johnson said in November. “Hopefully she’ll agree with what the facts are and work toward common sense solutions.”

“I am concerned about people who don’t fully understand the very ugly math we are facing in this country,” Johnson continued.

The panel, scheduled for 6:30 CDT, will be on Pocan’s home turf of Madison and is billed as a conversation on “Federal Debt, Deficits and Bipartisan Solutions for a Prosperous Future.”

Johnson had an icy relationship in the Senate with Baldwin’s predecessor, Democrat Herb Kohl. But there have been signs that the new, working relationship between Wisconsin’s senators is improved. In April, the two senators announced an agreement on the Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission. The nominating issue had been at the heart of the rift between Johnson and Kohl.

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