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Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement on the The House Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Majority Staff Report on Big Tech.

"The House Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Majority Staff Report on Big Tech is a thorough documentation of the current state of the marketplace.  However, as I’ve said at recent hearings on this topic, I disagree with the view that there needs to be a wholesale rewrite of our country’s antitrust laws.

Congressional review of our antitrust laws in the age of Big Tech was absolutely warranted.  Oversight of the existing legal and regulatory framework is one of the key functions of the committee system, and I applaud Chairman Cicilline on his undertaking of this project in a bipartisan manner.  

There actually is a lot that we agree on, including the lack of sufficient scrutiny on past activity by these companies.  For example, the report highlights that Facebook only had one acquisition extensively reviewed by the FTC out of nearly 100.  That lack of enforcement raises significant questions. What becomes clear is that better resources and funding for the enforcement agencies are key to having an effective antitrust framework.

Ultimately, I am concerned with several of the recommendations made by the committee.  A ‘Glass-Steagall’ like approach to tech regulation does not benefit consumers and will lead to too much government regulation of a very innovative industry.  Likewise, mandating data interoperability could hamper future innovation by preventing the development of new and better systems.

I am also opposed to several of the proposed changes to merger activity.  A presumptive ban on future acquisitions, especially now with economic uncertainty plaguing the world, could hinder potentially fruitful, beneficial business decisions. Also, shifting the burden of proof in merger cases misplaces the obligation upon companies to prove their innocence rather than the government proving their guilt.  

I hope that as this report is examined and the recommendations are debated, we do not lose sight of the importance of facilitating a world where cost, choice, and innovation benefit the American consumer.”

Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) sent the following letter to Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride offering assistance to immediately address the deteriorating security and policing situation in Tosa. In light of the escalating protests and the recent violence at the home of Officer Joseph Mensah, Congressman Sensenbrenner seeks to work with Mayor McBride and other city leaders to restore law and order.

August 11, 2020

The Honorable Dennis McBride
Mayor of the City of Wauwatosa
7725 W. North Ave.
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Dear Mayor McBride:

I write to you today concerning the deteriorating security and policing in Wauwatosa. The protests, which may have started peacefully, have been growing ever more violent, and the events Saturday night outside the residence of Officer Joseph Mensah require immediate leadership and strong action from you and the elected leaders of Wauwatosa.

First, allow me to be clear that I am, and always will be, supportive of an American citizen’s First Amendment rights. Having said that, ever since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the protests the incident sparked, there has been a push by community leaders throughout the country to weaken, defund and abolish police departments in several cities. Locally, Officer Mensah has become the poster child for this movement due to his three officer-involved-shooting incidents. Officer Mensah has dedicated his life to protecting our community and been cleared by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office of two of the three shootings in which he has been involved. The third incident is still under review. Despite the decisions by the Milwaukee County DA, your Common Council passed a resolution calling for the termination of Officer Mensah’s employment with the Wauwatosa Police Department (WPD).

While I understand the Common Council wants to bring reforms to the WPD, the consequences of their actions are having serious repercussions for the residents of your community. Citizens of Wauwatosa are being harassed by these protesters, who have now laid siege to a residence in your community, where a gun was fired at a home with women and children inside. Actions like this, and the breakdown of law and order, will spread fear and force the citizens of Wauwatosa to reconsider their choice to reside there. The mass emigration from your city would be devastating to the very fabric of the community, in addition to the detrimental effect it would have on your tax base, schools and city finances.

As I believe we are teetering on a crisis, I am offering my assistance. I stand ready to contact federal law enforcement agencies and bring them to Wauwatosa in order to bring peace and tranquility back to the community.

I look forward to hearing from you. While we have reached a critical tipping point in Wauwatosa, I am confident that if we work together, we can restore the rule of law. It is crucial that we strive to preserve the excellent quality of life that has drawn so many to work and raise their families in Wauwatosa.

Sincerely,


F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) sent the following letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett regarding the number of police available for the upcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC) being held in Milwaukee in August.

July 31, 2020

The Honorable Thomas Barrett

Mayor of the City of Milwaukee

City Hall, 200 E. Wells Street, Room 201 Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

Dear Mayor Barrett:

I write to you today concerning the security situation for the upcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC) being held in Milwaukee in August. Recently, the situation regarding the number of police officers that will be available for securing the convention has taken a dire turn.

As you know, your Fire and Police Commission gave Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales a directive on July 20, 2020 to “discontinue the use of chemicals” in their standard operating procedures when dealing with civil disturbances. While I am open to scrutinizing a police department’s use of force in any given community, this directive comes at a concerning time for the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD).

Ever since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the protests the incident sparked, there has been a shift from peaceful demonstrations to violent riots across the country. Milwaukee has not been immune to that shift. The MPD has attempted to balance the right of peaceful protests with the protection of public and private property.

While I understand the Commission wants to bring reforms to MPD, the consequences of their directives are having repercussions for the security of the DNC. As of July 28th, there have been over 100 police agencies reneging on their commitments to send police officers to Milwaukee for the convention. These agencies have stated that their decision to not send these officers was, in part, the Commission’s directive ordering police in the city to stop using tear gas to control crowds. The decision by these outside police agencies has led to Milwaukee being understaffed and, I fear, unable to provide adequate protection for the attendees of the DNC and Milwaukee as a whole.

In light of this, I am requesting that you take aggressive action in order to bolster your police force and ensure that your officers have the necessary tools to keep the convention and your city secure from future civil unrest.

I wish you the best of luck at putting on a safe and successful convention for the city of Milwaukee.

Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.

Member of Congress

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement on the State Department appointment of Jim DeHart as the U.S. Coordinator for the Arctic Region.

“I am pleased to see the State Department appoint a U.S. Coordinator for the Arctic Region. I have pushed for a representative to be established within the department for some time. The purpose of this role is essential in coordinating the Department’s policy-making and diplomatic engagement on Arctic-related issues to advance U.S. interests in the region. We must focus on safety and security, sustainable economic growth, and cooperation among Arctic States to support and strengthen the rules-based order in the region. As China and Russia are aggressively moving into the Arctic region, I applaud Secretary Pompeo for making this vital appointment.”

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) issued the following statement after learning of the passing of Congressman John Lewis (D-GA):

“John was an amazing man – a civil rights icon, my colleague, and my friend. His achievements as a leader and a legislator will be felt by generations to come. He truly made a difference. Some of my proudest accomplishments in Congress are those when I partnered with John to strengthen the Voting Rights Act to ensure all Americans have access to vote. We made strange bedfellows – a conservative lawyer from Wisconsin and a liberal preacher from Georgia, but I learned a lot from John Lewis and I admire his remarkable life. May he rest in peace."
Cheryl Warren Sensenbrenner, the beloved wife of Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., passed away this morning in Alexandria, VA.

Cheryl will best be remembered for her tenacity and larger than life spirit that helped her overcome all obstacles and inspired her to help others. She was devoted to her family and was a tireless advocate to ensure all Americans with disabilities were protected from discrimination.

She was born in Minnesota on September 24, 1950 to former Wisconsin Attorney General and U.S. District Court Judge Robert Warren and Laverne Voagen Warren. She graduated from Green Bay East High School and Lawrence College in Appleton, WI. On March 26, 1977, she married Jim Sensenbrenner.

It is evident by all those that knew Cheryl that she proved to be the perfect balance to Rep. Sensenbrenner. Throughout their 43 years of marriage, she was able to find humor and grace in the role of a Congressman’s wife.

In addition to Rep. Sensenbrenner, she is survived by her two sons, Frank (Margaret) and Bob (Diana), and her three-year-old grandson, Kevin. Arrangements are being made for a private service in Wisconsin. Rep. Sensenbrenner and his family appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this time.

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement after voting against a $3 trillion COVID-19 Democrat spending package:

“Nancy Pelosi has decided to present a grab bag of Democrat priorities in this latest piece of coronavirus relief funding. I view this as Democrats unabashedly and carelessly spending taxpayer money. While I have supported the previous relief packages that have assisted our businesses and families during this pandemic, this $3 trillion package is not a responsible way to provide assistance. 

It is now time lawmakers focus on opening up our economy while keeping citizens safe.  Programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have helped get businesses and workers through this unprecedented time; however, the bill before us today is just throwing money at the pet projects liberals have always wanted.  I will not be a part of it. I want to ensure Congress addresses the needs of our current economic crisis and provides commonsense help so we can move forward.”

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement after voting against H.Res. 965 – Remote Voting by Proxy in the House of Representatives:

“The House Democrat proposal to allow for a system of proxy voting on the floor of the House of Representatives is not one I can support. This is the most consequential change to House rules in decades. These changes are advertised as short term and limited to the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likely, they would create a rules precedent that will be followed in the future. A precedent that can easily be construed as unconstitutional and subject to legal challenges.

By allowing each member to represent up to 10 proxies, Democrats could unilaterally pass legislation with only 22 of their members present. Just like the balance needed between the health of our citizenry and the health of our economy, balance is needed in the function of the House of Representatives. We are in unprecedented times that require unprecedented action from Congress. Appropriate steps must be taken to ensure the safety of members and staff. But we must not abandon the rules of the House. Members of Congress must still debate and vote in person.

Necessary precautions are needed to ensure congressional hearings are run securely & efficiently. Extending the length of time votes are held open and allowing members to vote in staggered blocks are just some of the steps the House has taken to deal with the current crisis. The subtle nature of bi-partisan policy making cannot be replicated remotely.

The House of Representatives has withstood the events of the Civil War, the Spanish Flu, World War II, and 9/11 just name a few. Through all these monumental events, the House met in person, debated, and passed important legislation to get this nation back on track. While the House should adhere to the guidelines of social distancing, we must also conduct our essential duty.”

Washington, D.C.— Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) sent a letter to United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles P. Rettig, asking him to address the numerous barriers the residents of Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District are encountering in determining the status of their economic impact payments and tax refunds.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I have been made aware of several concerns as it relates to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ability to meet the needs of my constituents during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every day, people from Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District contact me searching for help regarding their economic impact payments or tax refunds. With the economic uncertainty plaguing the nation, I expect the IRS to do everything it can to assist and serve the American people.”

The full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Commissioner Rettig:

I have been made aware of several concerns as it relates to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ability to meet the needs of my constituents during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every day, people from Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District contact me searching for help regarding their economic impact payments or tax refunds. With the economic uncertainty plaguing the nation, I expect the IRS to do everything it can to assist and serve the American people.

I appreciate the need to maintain the health and safety of the IRS workforce. But with no immediate end to the pandemic in sight, it is vital that the IRS adapt to meet the demands and needs of taxpaying Americans. For instance, I am troubled by the current lack of phone assistance available to taxpayers and tax professionals.[1] Not having live people answering questions exacerbates the confusion and frustration with the IRS. Additionally, the loss of Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC) has limited American’s ability to get answers to their tax questions.[2]

For most tax questions, the IRS has directed individuals to use the tools available at IRS.gov. This includes searching for answers like “Where’s My Refund” and “Get My [Economic Impact] Payment.” However, my constituents have encountered problems with this system as well. 

A specific problem in using the website seems to be due to certain postal addressing practices that are unique to Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. Many areas of my district use an alphanumeric address (e.g. N6W23001 Bluemound Rd).[3] In order to access the tools at IRS.gov, a taxpayer is required to first verify their identity by entering several pieces of information, including their address. Because of the numerous possible combinations for inputting an alphanumeric address, many taxpayers are being locked out from the website after only three failed attempts. This leaves them unable to check their payment status and to provide their direct deposit information in order to most quickly receive their Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic impact payments. 

The lack of clear guidance from IRS on how to input these addresses, as well as the unavailability of any telephone assistance, has added to the confusion and frustration faced by citizens in desperate need of the money provided by Congress.

While only part of Congress’s overall approach to addressing the damage caused by the Coronavirus, the economic impact payments are a very visible piece of our response.  Millions of Americans, upon hearing the news that these checks were included in the CARES Act, have been eagerly awaiting their payments to ease the burden caused by the pandemic.

I encourage you to resolve any outstanding issues related to serving the American people during this trying time.  There cannot be any undue delays in getting the economic impact payments and refunds out the door.  But just as important, taxpayers need to be able to access accurate information and have their tax questions answered. It is up to you to ensure the IRS is adequately meeting the needs of the American people.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR

Member of Congress



[1] https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-operations-during-covid-19-mission-critical-functions-continue (accessed 5.12.2020)

[2] Id.

[3] https://pe.usps.com/text/pub28/28apd_004.htm

Washington, D.C.— Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01) are leading more than 120 members of both parties in providing for access to funding for local news publishers and broadcasters in the next COVID-19 relief package.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “The nation is at war with COVID-19 and America’s local media has not been immune to the effects of the virus on local communities. Local newspapers, radio stations, and television broadcasts play a pivotal role in connecting communities with vital information. I am proud to lead a group of more than 120 House members in bipartisan support of local news publishers and broadcasters in the next COVID-19 relief package. Local news employs thousands of workers in addition to reporters and photographers. Newsroom support staff, technical support operators, and printer publishers are just a few of the examples of hardworking Americans that keep local journalism in motion. Now, more than ever, local news provides essential information regarding public health and safety, local events, and democracy. Accurate, reliable, and trustworthy sources of information are vital in this time of need.”

The full text of the my letter to House leadership and a list of signers is embedded below. A PDF copy of the letter, as delivered, can be downloaded by clicking here.




Dear Madam Speaker and Minority Leader McCarthy:


We write to ask that any future stimulus package to address the coronavirus pandemic include immediate improvements to existing lending programs to protect local news publishers and broadcasters.

Reliable local information and reporting in our communities is more important than ever—newspapers and broadcasters are working “around the clock, often in dangerous conditions, to consistently get critical and timely information to the public.”1 Local news publishers and broadcasters employ thousands of journalists—including reporters, photographers, newsroom staff, and others—to provide timely and accurate news to keep people informed about their communities.2 Under ordinary circumstances, this work is essential to public health and safety, local businesses, and our democracy. But it is more important than ever as our country responds to and recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.

In recent years, local news sources have been in an economic freefall. From 2006 to 2017, advertising revenue has fallen from $49 billion to $15.6 billion, combined with a changing online landscape, resulting in mass layoffs or news sources folding altogether.3 In the past several years alone, thousands of journalists that work in our communities have lost their jobs. For example, last year, the Cleveland Plain Dealer announced another round of layoffs due to advertising losses, reducing its staff by 80% from employment levels just seven years ago.4 Just last week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer announced that it has reduced its staff to fourteen employees, who were notified that “most will no longer be covering news in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County or for the state of Ohio.”5

This economic crisis has accelerated in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a coalition of news organizations—including the News Media Alliance, National Newspaper Association, National Association of Broadcasters, and America’s Newspapers—there has been a steep decline in advertising revenue from local businesses shuttering such as retail, restaurants, and more.6 Broadcasting alone estimates a minimum loss of at least $3 billion in advertising thus far.

The small business provisions enacted as part of the recent stimulus bill provided some relief for select news publishers and broadcasters and many small stations or newspapers have been able to apply for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, but many have not because the eligibility requirements were not inclusive enough to capture them. Hundreds of individual broadcasters and news publishers were not eligible for loan relief because they were affiliated with larger groups whose total employee count was more than 500 spread across various stations or newspapers.

We therefore urge you to protect local journalism by clarifying that local news publishers and broadcasters that meet the SBA’s size standards and primarily serve a single community or metropolitan area qualify for the newly established Paycheck Protection Program regardless of their affiliation. Congress established the Paycheck Protection Program—or the appropriate small business spending program in an upcoming stimulus package—to provide small businesses with a direct incentive to keep their workers on the payroll during this crisis. Many local news publishers and broadcasters, however, may sometimes consist of a small team of local journalists, personalities or sales staff that are part of larger ownership groups. Nevertheless, these publishers and broadcasters operate almost entirely locally. In light of this, it is essential that Congress clarifies that loans that are provided under the Paycheck Protection Program are determined on a local and individual basis for news publishers and broadcasters.
Importantly, these funds should support local newsgathering—there should be clear guardrails and oversight to ensure they are spent locally.

Accurate, reliable, and trustworthy sources of information are vital in this time of need. Congress must do everything possible to protect local news sources during this crisis to safeguard our democracy and keep our communities informed as our nation responds to the crisis. We respectfully urge you to address this issue as part of the appropriate stimulus package.


Sincerely,

David N. Cicilline
Chairman
House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law

James Sensenbrenner
Ranking Member
House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law