I have always placed a high priority on being accessible and accountable to my constituents, which is why I hold approximately 100 in-person town hall meetings annually. My staff in Brookfield and Washington, D.C. field many calls each day, and every constituent who would like an individual response to specific questions submitted by phone, email, or standard mail receives one in a timely manner.

Social media is also an important forum for constituents to speak their minds and let me know how they feel about issues and specific legislative efforts, which is why last month, I wrote a column that specifically addressed the questions I receive through my social media accounts. Due to the positive response I received, I’d like to follow that column up with another to address more questions I frequently receive on Facebook and Twitter.

The conversations that occur on my social media accounts are monitored each day and comments and questions are passed along to me. Although I don’t respond directly on social media, it’s important for my constituents to know that I see their posts.

Thank you to every constituent who takes the time to contact my office and/or speak to me directly at any of my many town hall meetings. I look forward to continued discussions on important legislation and issues that affect the people of our communities and our nation.

“Representative, what do you have against protecting Americans or the animals that are used in products? If one state passes a regulation, it’s for a specific reason – to protect its citizens or animals. Why aren’t you behind protecting your constituents and resources? You want national-only policies… that doesn’t sound like a conservative policy and takes away States rights.”

Posted on Facebook June 13, 2017

I don’t believe residents and businesses of one state should be subject to the taxes and regulations of another – this is a deeply-rooted Constitutional principle. When the actions of one state infringes on the rights of the other 49, the overreach must be curtailed in accordance with the Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce.

I recently introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 which would preserve each state’s authority to regulate and tax its own citizens and businesses, and ensure that only the federal government can dictate national policies. It takes no position on the merits of any individual regulation, but instead targets the manner of their implementation because individual states should not influence national policy.

 

“.@JimPressOffice it’s time to begin impeachment proceedings. Trump is certifiably insane!! #ImpeachTrump #ComeyHearing”

Posted on Twitter June 9, 2017

Earlier this month, former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress and stated three separate times that President Donald Trump was not the subject of any FBI investigation.

There is no proof of wrongdoing on the part of the President, which means discussions of impeachment are premature, imprudent, and counterproductive. In fact, even Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has warned her Democratic colleagues not to push impeachment, saying during a CNN town hall:

“What are the facts that you would make a case on? What are the rules that he may have violated? If you don’t have that case you are just participating in more hearsay.”

 

“When you put America before THE EARTH, you’re damning the future of America.”

Posted on Facebook June 4, 2017

President Obama bypassed the Constitution and entered the United States into a losing agreement when he committed the country to the Paris Climate Accord. Knowing he could not get Senate approval for a treaty, Obama sidelined Congress and called the deal an “executive agreement."

The agreement, which does not hold all nations to the same standards, forces the U.S. to reduce emissions immediately while allowing global polluters, such as China and India, to expand their carbon footprints through the 2020s. This is not only bad for the environment, but it puts the U.S. at a severe economic disadvantage.

Further, it hurts Wisconsin. Coal provides more than half of our state’s net electricity generation, and our manufacturers already pay more for electricity than most of our neighboring states. This means higher electricity costs to Wisconsin’s consumers, a less competitive state, and stunted economic growth. 

I applaud President Trump for putting America first and leaving this unfair climate agreement. We all want cleaner air and water, but we can achieve these goals without handicapping the country and outsourcing jobs to foreign countries

 

“Another day where you refuse to address your vote to strip 24 million Americans of their health coverage.”

Posted on Facebook May 22, 2017

I certainly understand the concerns regarding a recent analysis which indicated that if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) were to be implemented in its current form, 23 million Americans could lose their health insurance coverage.

While I appreciate the in-depth analysis that CBO presents to Congress on a wide range of legislation, I am skeptical of CBO's ability to properly score health care-related legislation. The CBO's track record when it comes to health policy is checkered at best. 

When Obamacare was signed into law, CBO projected that 22 million people would be enrolled in the health care exchanges by the year 2016. However, less than 13 million had enrolled in a state or federal exchange plan by the end of the 2016 open enrollment period.

Additionally, in 2014, CBO estimated that the cost per Medicaid enrollee would be approximately $4,200 in 2015. However, when the Obama administration released the 2015 Medicaid actuarial report, the cost per enrollee was $6,366 on average. That is nearly 50% higher than CBO had anticipated.

And finally, the CBO failed to take into account the 3-step process that Congressional Republicans are taking in order to reform our nation’s health care system to truly address the causes of increasing health care costs.

By implementing all three phases of the reforms, health care costs will finally begin to decrease and insurance premiums will follow suit, thus making health care more affordable for all Americans.

Discrepancies like these make me take pause prior to accepting CBO's analysis as accurate. CBO analyzed the AHCA as if it had already been signed into law, and no further actions were taken.

 

“Really, police officers? What is all that about?”

Posted on Facebook May 22, 2017

My district staff works closely with the United States Capitol Police to determine what measures should be taken to ensure the safety of everyone at my town hall meetings. They advise my staff to work with local law enforcement, and they decide what the appropriate plan is based on multiple factors, such as attendance and location.

My office does not dictate to local law enforcement how they should handle my town hall meetings, meaning that the police response at my meetings varies depending on location.

Prior to the shooting of former Representative Gabby Giffords, a simple “heads up” was often sufficient, but after that terrible incident, and more recently the shooting of Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others at a baseball practice in Virginia, as well as the large increase in attendance and heated political rhetoric, coordination with the Capitol Police has become more detailed.

 

“Every vote you have done is on party lines (except the budget vote.) Where is the bipartisanship you are talking about?”

Posted on Facebook May 22, 2017

I have a long record of working across the aisle and championing bipartisan legislation like criminal justice reform, USA FREEDOM, reforming surveillance laws and increasing privacy protections, and the Voting Rights Act – to ensure every American has the right to vote.

In fact, according to a Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, I rank 65 out of 435 on their list of bipartisan Members of Congress.

I believe that good policy requires input from both sides of the aisle, and continuing open discussions on the problems we face will enable us as a nation to find real solutions. The process is never easy but if we respect one another, I’m confident that we can find ourselves in a better place than where we began.

 

“How about working on healthcare across party lines.”

Posted on Facebook May 21, 2017

I wish my Democratic colleagues would work with me and fellow Republican legislators to pass significant health care reform to truly provide quality, affordable care to all Americans. Republicans have given them every opportunity to provide input and constructive criticism; however Democrats have not wanted to participate.

Despite this, Republicans have listened to their constituents regarding health care, and have included some of the most popular aspects of Obamacare in the new bill, including allowing kids up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance, and ensuring individuals with preexisting conditions are not denied care.

Unfortunately, our nation’s health care situation is too dire to kick the can down the road. Obamacare is failing. Every day, more insurance companies are dropping out of the Obamacare exchanges, leaving many Americans without access to insurance coverage.

The House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act earlier this year, and now it is before the Senate, where a majority of Republicans will also encourage Democratic participation as they review the bill.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released a statement in response to Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to work with Attorney General Sessions and a new U.S. Justice Department program aimed at curbing violent crime, drug trafficking, and gang violence.

Under the new DOJ program, consultants will work with local law enforcement officials to help develop new ways to fight violent crime in 12 cities with exceedingly high crime rates. Although Milwaukee has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, it was not chosen for the program due to its status as a sanctuary city.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Milwaukee has one of the highest crime rates in the country, yet it was overlooked for an opportunity to receive assistance under this new DOJ program because of city leaders who want to put politics before the safety of their citizens. Milwaukee residents deserve better – they deserve leaders who will stand up for them rather than political interests. If Milwaukee rescinds its sanctuary status, it will be eligible for consideration in the next round of cities.”

Cities chosen for the program include: Birmingham, AL; Indianapolis, IN; Toledo, OH; Cincinnati, OH; Houston, TX; Buffalo, NY; Memphis, TN; Baton Rouge, LA; Jackson, TN; Kansas City, MO; Lansing, MI; and Springfield, IL. The program is expected to expand to include additional cities later this year.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the devastating news that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield will be dropping out of the Wisconsin health insurance market:

 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Today’s announcement that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield will be dropping out of the Wisconsin health insurance market is devastating to thousands of families in our state. It’s another unfortunate example of the ongoing failures of the disastrous Obamacare law and further proof that Congress must come together to pass serious health care reform for the sake of all Americans.” 

By: Brittany Seemuth and Erik S. Hanley of Northwest NOW

The shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice during the morning of Wednesday, June 14, has local congressmen responding. 

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, representative for Wisconsin's 5th congressional district, said the shooting that injured Rep. Steve Scalise and two members of Capitol Police won't change his views on security, nor how his activity in the public sphere. 

Despite, the shooting, Sensenbrenner will maintain his town hall schedule through the end of this month; his next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 25, in West Bend.

"Sadly, we live in a time where everyone must practice situational awareness, but the Congressman believes strongly in being available to his constituents and the most

recent shooting won’t change that," said Nicole Tieman, communications director for Sensenbrenner. "While we will always try to take reasonable security precautions, the Congressman intends to practice the ultimate act of defiance against terrorists and evildoers—living his life and representing his constituents as he always has."

Sensenbrenner has held the most town hall meetings out of any other member of Congress with 81; that's nearly twice as many as Sen. Ron Wyden, who comes second to Sensenbrenner on the record list. 

Congressman Glenn Grothman, representative for Wisconsin's 6th congressional district, said he will still have law enforcement at his town halls, but that is "standard practice."

As the third-ranking member of the House of Representatives, Scalise had a security detail while out and about.

“Other members of Congress do not, and I think extensive security is cost prohibitive and would limit the way we interact with our constituents,” Grothman said.

Grothman said he is continuing to think about his friend, Scalise, who is still in the hospital.

“I’m thankful that the Capitol Police officers were there so that this horrific incident wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” Grothman said. “I just pray everyone makes a full recovery.”

View this artilce online here.

Yesterday, multiple people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, were shot during a congressional baseball practice in Virginia. Reports show that prior to this terrible event, the gunman specifically asked whether the practice was for Republican or Democrat players.

This is an extremely disturbing example of just how bad the political atmosphere in America has become, but it’s certainly not the only example. The flames of hate are fanned every single day on social media and in the news, and there’s no denying that the toxicity of this rhetoric feeds into the unspeakable actions of those such as yesterday’s shooter, and countless others over the years.

As Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s (R-Wis.) communications director, I personally monitor his social media accounts every day. That includes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. On average, the Congressman receives dozens of comments per day, sometimes hundreds.

I read every single post and tweet, and I often wish that this disheartening task didn’t fall to me because each day, I’m faced with message s like these:

 

  

 

A profession in politics is not for the faint of heart. You need to have a thick skin and a healthy sense of humor to maintain a positive and optimistic perspective. I, like many communications professionals, am often on the receiving end of similar hate-filled messages. But there must be a line somewhere that separates legitimate criticism and excessive hate mongering.

At what point should politicians say enough is enough? What has to happen before our political leaders can stand together and denounce extreme and dangerous rhetoric? 

Unfortunately, it usually takes a terrible act of violence, such has yesterday’s shooting.

It was uplifting to see Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) come together before the full House of Representatives and share expressions of unity while condemning the cowardly actions of a disturbed and deadly individual.

But their message of optimism and strength is one that shouldn’t be reserved for days of tragedy. Admonishment of hate should resonate from the halls of Congress to the far-reaching corners of this country every single day.

In recent months, we’ve seen too many words and examples of violence against our political leaders promoted in the national news. Whether it’s Snoop Dogg’s video depicting the shooting of a clown resembling President Trump, Kathy Griffin’s photo illustrating a decapitated President Trump, or the most recent Shakespearean play featuring a Trump-like Julius Caesar being violently murdered, these visual representations of violence are not only offensive, but they lower the standard of what is acceptable in the public arena. They also further deteriorate the national political climate and promote threatening societal norms.

The degradation of political civility is not exclusive to supporters or opponents of any one party. I’m confident that any Democratic member of Congress would be able to produce appalling examples of social rhetoric similar to those I’ve highlighted from Mr. Sensenbrenner’s account. This is a wide-ranging symptom of our polarized and explosive political climate that must be addressed for the safety of our people and the continued success of this country.

And while Americans have the right to say what they want under the First Amendment – no matter how vulgar, profane, or inflammatory, as a society, we don’t have to condone it.

If we truly hope to stop these horrific acts of violence and begin to heal our deep political divides, we all need to denounce hate speech and the sharing of false or misleading information, particularly online.

It’s not easy to find a silver lining in tragedy, but if there’s one to garner from yesterday’s events in Virginia it would be this: an opportunity to hit the reset button on a disconcerting political climate and bring some light and optimism back to America.

Tieman is Rep. James Sensenbrenner’s (R-Wis.) communications director.

You can view this piece online here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2017

The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2017 builds on the success of the original Second Chance Act of 2008 and continues to authorize funding for both public and private entities to evaluate and improve academic and vocational education for offenders in prison, jails, and juvenile facilities.

Congress passed the original Second Chance Act with strong bipartisan support and President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2008. This legislation provides non-profit faith and community-based organizations with mentoring grants to develop support programs such as drug treatment, housing, job training, medical care, and education.

Re-entry services have been improved, which has resulted in a reduction in recidivism and helped ensure a successful return to society for prisoners who have completed their sentence. More than 100,000 men, women, and youth returning home from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities have benefited from Second Chance grants providing career training, mentoring, family-based substance abuse treatment, and other evidence-based reentry programs. 

This investment has also paid public safety dividends. A report from the National Reentry Resource Center highlights how numerous states have experienced drastic reductions in statewide recidivism rates as a result of robust reentry services made possible in part through Second Chance.

The outcomes are impressive, but state and local governments as well as non-profit organizations need resources in order to ensure that the millions of individuals returning from prison, jail, and juvenile facilities each year continue to receive coordinated evidence-based reentry services.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The Second Chance Reauthorization Act is an important component of my ongoing efforts to reform and improve our federal criminal justice system, save taxpayer money, and strengthen American families. While prisons are important deterrents in our fight against crime, they remain one part of the solution to a complex problem. Rehabilitation efforts, such as the ones in the Second Chance Act, will help prisoners who have paid their debt to society get back on the right path and become successful, contributing members of their communities.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 in the House of Representatives.

In their never-ending quest for new revenues, states are growing increasingly aggressive in imposing regulatory burdens on out-of-state businesses. The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 will stop such overreaches by states and help out-of-state businesses defend themselves against overly burdensome tax obligations.

This legislation prohibits states from regulating beyond their borders by imposing sales tax collection requirements on businesses with no physical presence in the taxing state, and no vote in the representation that would implement such a tax.

Prohibited activities include:

  • Telling an out-of-state business how to make or dispose of its products
  • Imposing income tax or sales tax collection burdens on out-of-state businesses

The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 does not prohibit states from regulating businesses within their borders. States remain free to insist that products entering their borders comply with national standards.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Over-taxation and regulatory burdens weigh heavy on American businesses. These practices prohibit economic growth, stunt hiring, and make it harder for businesses to expand. The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 helps alleviate these burdens, promotes entrepreneurial endeavors, and is an ally of small business. It reduces overregulation, keeps government overreaches in check, and ensures that only businesses within a state are subjected to state tax obligations.”

The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 is supported by various organizations, including: Council for Citizens Against Government Waste; Net-Choice; National Taxpayers Union; Software Finance and Tax Executives Council; Overstock; Electronic Retailing Association; Americans for Tax Reform; American Catalog Mailers Association.

By: Craig Gilbert: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The most “bipartisan” congressman from Wisconsin, according to one recent study, is moderate Democrat Ron Kind of La Crosse.

Which makes sense politically, since his mostly rural district isn’t dominated by either major party. In fact, it’s the most competitive U.S. House seat in the state.

But the No. 2 Wisconsin lawmaker on the list doesn’t fit this pattern at all.

Republican Jim Sensenbrenner is nowhere near the middle politically (he ranks as one of the most conservative members of Congress). And he represents one of the state’s most politically one-sided districts, which includes the ultra-Republican outer suburbs of Milwaukee.

But Sensenbrenner, who has served longer than all but two U.S. House members, has forged coalitions with Democrats and liberals over the years on issues ranging from voting rights to criminal justice to the Patriot Act.

“It can be done,” says Dan Diller of the Lugar Center, which publishes a “Bipartisan Index” of Congress. The ratings are based on how often lawmakers introduce bills that attract co-sponsors from the opposing party, and how often they co-sponsor bills introduced by colleagues from the other party.

It’s just one of many ways to define bipartisanship, but it’s a concrete, quantifiable measure of the effort members make at the front end of the legislative process to work across party lines. That is a practice this particular nonprofit group is trying to promote, and one that some scholars say makes lawmakers more effective.

In the Lugar Center’s recent index for the 114th Congress (2015-'16), Kind ranked 19th among all House members, tops in the Wisconsin delegation. Sensenbrenner ranked 65th and Republican Reid Ribble (since retired) ranked 90th. Those were the state’s only three House members with positive scores.

Republican Sean Duffy ranked 250th, Democrat Mark Pocan 265th, Democrat Gwen Moore 355th and Republican Glenn Grothman 426th (placing Grothman second to last among the 427 House members who received a rating). The index does not include House speakers, so Republican Paul Ryan was not rated.

In the U.S. Senate, Republican Ron Johnson ranked 52nd and Democrat Tammy Baldwin ranked 75th.

The Lugar Center has published ratings for House members since 2013 and for senators since 1993.

Here are some highlights from the data:

  • Kind (18th) and Sensenbrenner (59th) also ranked highly for bipartisanship in the 113th Congress (2013-'14). Ryan, who had not yet become speaker, ranked a little below average in the House for bipartisanship (244th). And the lowest-ranked members from Wisconsin for this two-year period were Duffy (319th), Moore (376th) and Pocan (390th).
  • The Senate rankings suggest Johnson became much more bipartisan in the final two years of his first term than in his first four years. The Wisconsin Republican ranked 96th out of 98 ranked senators in 2011-'12 and 89th in 2013-'14 before rising to 52nd in 2015-'16. Democrat Baldwin, elected in 2012, ranked 77th in her first two years.
  • Wisconsin has seen some of its most bipartisan lawmakers leave Congress in recent years. Republican Tom Petri ranked among the top 5% of the House for bipartisanship before he retired at the end of 2014. Republican Ribble ranked in the top quarter of the House before he retired at the end of 2016. And Democrat Herb Kohl routinely ranked in the top half of the Senate before he retired at the end of 2012.

Not surprisingly, the long-term trend in the Lugar Center’s data is a decline in bipartisanship, which has coincided with the growing polarization of Congress along party lines.

The lawmakers who receive the highest ratings for bipartisanship tend to be those in the middle of the right-left spectrum. The most bipartisan senator in the latest index is moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine, and the lowest ranked senators are Vermont’s Bernie Sanders on the left and Texan Ted Cruz on the right.

Among Wisconsin lawmakers, Kind is arguably the most centrist politically and ranks by this measure as the most bipartisan.

But bipartisanship and moderation are not the same thing. A legislator can be at the right or left end of the political spectrum and have a bipartisan working style at the same time.

“It’s possible for very conservative and very progressive members to work at this,” says Dillar, of the Lugar Center.

Sensenbrenner was among roughly 70 House members cited by the Lugar Center as scoring well for bipartisanship while representing a very one-sided district politically.

In the center’s latest index, Democrat Pocan and Republican Johnson both ranked fairly close to the middle of their chambers for bipartisanship, even though neither is remotely centrist. Pocan is more liberal than 96% of his House colleagues and Johnson is more conservative than 87% of his Senate colleagues, according to one highly respected rating system of ideology in Congress.

But only Kind and Sensenbrenner, among Wisconsin lawmakers still in office, got a positive rating for bipartisanship in the last Congress.

One is a centrist Democrat whose congressional district has voted for both Donald Trump and Barack Obama in recent years.

The other is a staunch conservative whose district often produces the top Republican turnouts in the country.

“Bipartisanship,” it seems, is practically the only thing they have in common politically.

View this article online here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord:

Congressman Sensenbrenner:  “President Obama bypassed the Constitution and entered the United States into a losing agreement when he committed the country to the Paris Climate Accord. Knowing he could not get Senate approval for a treaty, Obama sidelined Congress and called the deal an “executive agreement.”

“The agreement, which does not hold all nations to the same standards, forces the U.S. to reduce emissions immediately while allowing global polluters, such as China and India, to expand their carbon footprints through the 2020s. This is not only bad for the environment, but it puts the U.S. at a severe economic disadvantage.

“Further, it hurts Wisconsin. Coal provides more than half of our state’s net electricity generation, and our manufacturers already pay more for electricity than most of our neighboring states. This means higher electricity costs to Wisconsin’s consumers, a less competitive state, and stunted economic growth. 

“I applaud President Trump for putting America first and leaving this unfair climate agreement. We all want cleaner air and water, but we can achieve these goals without handicapping the country and outsourcing jobs to foreign countries.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the Deducting Expenses Derived from Use of Care and Treatment (DEDUCT) Act in the House of Representatives.

In the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Congress allowed Americans to deduct medical expenses from their tax returns if the costs exceeded a certain amount of their adjusted gross income. Current law states that no medical expense may be deducted until the costs reach 10 percent of an individual’s gross income.

The DEDUCT Act would eliminate this unnecessary tax threshold in order to help make medical expenses more affordable for Americans.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The costs of medical procedures and prescriptions can be a significant burden on individuals and families. As Congress continues to debate health care and tax reform, now is the ideal time to repeal the arbitrary medical tax deduction threshold for medical expenses and give a hand up to Americans struggling to pay for necessary medical expenditures.”