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Washington, D.C.—Today, the House passed the Family Farmer Relief Act unanimously. Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and Antonio Delgado (NY-19) sponsored this legislation, which would update the bankruptcy code to account for modern challenges in the agricultural industry. Congressman Sensenbrenner delivered the following remarks on the House floor:

"The “Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019” brings urgently needed help to a critical link in America’s economy and a vital part of American community life – the family farmer. 

In 2005, Congress permanently enacted chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 12 is specially designed to help family farmers reorganize their debts in time of need and keep their farms going. In the years since, chapter 12 and its streamlined procedures have worked well. 

There has, however, been one problem. As time has passed, and the costs of running a family farm have rapidly increased, the ceiling in chapter 12 on how much debt a family farm can reorganize has lagged behind. Especially with the advent of modern, high-tech farming equipment, the chapter-12 ceiling is no longer high enough to let many farms with typical amounts of debt into chapter 12. 

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 fixes this problem. It raises the ceiling from the old, roughly four-and-one-half million dollar limit to a more reasonable $10 million. This means that more family farmers will be able successfully to reorganize when they need to—to the benefit of the economy and local communities across this land. 

I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the bill. I encourage all my colleagues to support the bill and reserve the balance of my time."

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), Doug Collins (GA-09), and Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL) introduced the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act). This legislation would require that Congress has the opportunity to take an up or down vote on any executive branch agency rule that would have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more.

“It is time for Congress to reclaim its Article I authority by restoring the constitutional balance of power. The American people deserve a more direct say in regulations that could impact their everyday lives. The REINS Act would place a desperately needed check on unelected bureaucrats, saving taxpayers money,” said Sensenbrenner. “We’ve made great strides in growing the economy and increasing people’s take-home pay through historic tax cuts and regulatory reform. Now, Congress must take action to rein in the growth of bureaucratic red tape permanently. I’m proud to sponsor this important bill and thank Congressmen Collins and Armstrong for lending their support to this effort.”

“Article I of the Constitution, in its very first words, gives Congress the federal government’s legislative power, yet federal agencies routinely try to impose burdensome financial consequences without congressional input. That’s not right,” said Collins. “The REINS Act targets substantial regulatory abuses by the executive branch, and it would prevent agencies from enacting rules that have a major economic impact without congressional and presidential approval. I appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Armstrong in introducing this critical legislation, and I encourage Chairman Nadler to take up this commonsense bill.” 

“This bill reasserts Congress’s role in writing laws and increases accountability to the American people by requiring congressional approval of regulations that would cost the economy over $100 million, drastically increase costs for consumers, or otherwise harm the economy,” said Armstrong. “Reining in the unelected bureaucracy will save taxpayer dollars and keep the economy growing.”

You can read a copy of the bill here.

By: Day After Magazine

US President Donald Trump has said that Republicans have had “a very good day” with the appearance of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller before Congress to testify on the Russia probe, adding that the hearings proved to be a “disaster” for Democrats.

“We had a very good day today,” Efe news quoted Trump as saying to reporters at the White House, lambasting yet again Mueller’s independent two-year investigation into Russian election meddling and calling it a “witch hunt.”

“There was no defence to this ridiculous hoax,” Trump said, adding “So this was a very big day for our country. This was a very big day for the Republican Party. And you could say it was a great day for me.”

He called Mueller’s performance before two House committees “horrible,” although the former special counsel – who before that was head of the FBI – in his seven hours of nationally-televised congressional testimony strongly denied the president’s repeated claim that the in-depth investigation was a “witch hunt” pushed by anti-Trump Democrats.

“He had a lot of problems,” Trump said of Mueller’s testimony. “But what he showed more than anything else is that this whole thing has been three years of embarrassment and waste of time for our country.”

“This has been a disaster for the Democrats,” he stated.

The former special counsel who investigated alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible coordination between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign reiterated during his testimony before lawmakers on Wednesday that he did not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.

Mueller also said Trump could face charges after leaving office.

In much-anticipated televised hearings under oath before the Judiciary and Intelligence committees of the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives, Mueller responded with a brief “no” when asked by the chairman of the Judiciary panel, Democrat Jerrold Nadler, whether his investigation had exonerated Trump of any crime.

“The president was not exculpated for the acts he allegedly committed,” Mueller said. He also responded “yes” when asked by a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee if Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving the White House.

Those remarks contradict Trump’s repeated contention in recent months that Mueller and his team had completely cleared him of both collusion and obstruction.

The 74-year-old Mueller, who began his investigation in May 2017 after being appointed special counsel by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, delivered a final report on his findings to the US Justice Department in March of this year. The Justice Department subsequently released a redacted version to the public a month later and prior to his testimony on Wednesday advised Mueller not to divulge redacted portions of the report.

Mueller concluded that the Kremlin had meddled in the election to help Trump defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton but found insufficient evidence that Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the election process.

Mueller also stated in the report that he did not make a determination on whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice, noting that US Justice Department policy prevents a sitting president from being charged with a federal crime.

The report, however, stated that if Mueller and his team had conclusively concluded that Trump had not committed obstruction of justice they would have said so.

Wednesday’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee marked the first time Mueller had taken questions from lawmakers about the Russia investigation.

In his remarks, however, he refused to stray from the contents of his report; in fact, a tally by US television network CNN found that he declined to answer questions from lawmakers on 110 occasions and referred them to his report 39 times.

“It is unusual for a prosecutor to testify about a criminal investigation and given my role as a prosecutor there are reasons why my testimony will be limited,” Mueller said in his opening remarks to the House Judiciary panel.

In that regard, the former FBI director refused to answer questions about the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into alleged Trump-Russia collusion, an investigation it opened in July 2016.

Mueller, who inherited that investigation, in particular told the committee that he could not answer questions about matters relating to the controversial “Steele dossier.”

That report was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, who had been hired by Trump’s political enemies to look into the then-Republican presidential candidate’s ties to Russia and help derail his bid for the White House.

Mueller’s report described as “unverified” the allegations contained in the dossier, which said the Trump campaign may have conspired with Moscow and that Russian intelligence had footage of Trump taking part in lewd acts in a Moscow hotel room and could blackmail him.

Republicans in Congress published a memo early last year alleging that the FBI and the Justice Department engaged in improper surveillance in the Russia-Trump investigation, including using the Steele dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) probable cause order authorizing electronic surveillance of Carter Page, a US citizen who served as a volunteer adviser to the Trump campaign.

Steele’s research was partially funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, the memo noted.

Yet the memo said that neither the initial application for the FISA warrant in October 2016 (shortly before the US presidential election) nor any of its subsequent renewals “disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.”

The memo also said that Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”

Democrats later released a counter-memo that said the Republican memo was filled with incomplete information and misleading.

During one of the most tense moments of Mueller’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, he was asked by Republican lawmaker Jim Sensenbrenner why he did not refer any of his findings to the House for possible impeachment.

Mueller responded that a determination on whether Trump should be impeached was not part of his mandate and that that decision would have to be made by House lawmakers.

While Republicans unsuccessfully sought answers to questions about the origins of the Russia probe, Democrats fulfilled their objective of having Mueller reiterate the conclusions of his report to a national audience.

Their hope is that Mueller’s testimony can influence public opinion ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

While Mueller was testifying, Trump took to Twitter and cited the commentary of journalists from conservative television network Fox News.

In one tweet, Trump cited Fox News’ Chris Wallace as saying, “This has been a disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller.”

Hours before the hearings began, Trump questioned Mueller’s objectivity on Twitter and said that a day before being named special counsel he had been interviewed for the position of FBI director and been turned down.

During his testimony, Mueller said he had attended a meeting at the White House about the FBI in May 2017 in the wake of the firing of that agency’s director, James Comey. But he said did not attend the meeting as a candidate.

Mueller’s investigation led to 34 indictments (including of 26 Russian nationals), among them Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen; and his first White House national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

By: Brendan Cullerton of CBS 58

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin only had one member of Congress actually involved in Wednesday's testimony from Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls.

Sensenbrenner, on the House Judiciary Committee, asked Mueller what the point of his role was without delivering a decisive verdict on potential charges for President Donald Trump.

"Since you decided under the OLC opinion that you couldn't prosecute a sitting, meaning President Trump, why do we have all of this investigation of President Trump?" Sensenbrenner asked during his 5 minute questioning.

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, agreed with Sensenbrenner, tweeting out a list of resources used by the special counsel.

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, live tweeted the entire process, and posted a video where she said Mueller essentially gave Congress the information they needed to impeach President Trump.

"He actually came this close to saying, well it's our responsibility to impeach him."

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, sent a statement: “Special Counsel Mueller confirmed today that Russia attacked our democracy and interfered in our 2016 election to help elect President Trump. Mueller also made it clear there is a pattern of abusing presidential authority and obstruction of justice by President Trump, who has not been exonerated of wrongdoing. The American people deserve to know the full truth because no one is above the law, including the president.”

Marquette Professor Paul Nolette says the response is so similar to that of the Mueller report because that's all Mueller would talk about.

"Mueller has stuck to the script he said he was going to," Nolette said. "Which is that, I'm not going to say things that are outside of my report."

Nolette suggested people try to look past politics if they're trying to take something away from the hearings, and said one important thing Mueller reiterated is that whether the president was involved or not, Russia attempted to sway a U.S. election, which Nolette called a "breach of international protocol."

"Russia tried to influence the election," Nolette said. "I mean that needs to be a really important point that gets hammered away, ideally by both parties."

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (Wi-05) offered the following statement after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee:

“The presumption of innocence is at the bedrock of our American justice system. Every citizen — even the President — enjoys that right. Therefore, it was not Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s job to exonerate the President, but rather to determine whether there was or was not sufficient evidence to show the President committed a crime. Ultimately, he concluded in his report that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the President or his staff engaged in criminal conspiracy with the Russian government to influence our presidential election. 

Further, while Special Counsel Mueller decided to follow the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion regarding charging a sitting president with a crime, he was not prevented by statute from suggesting that President Trump’s conduct rose to the level of an impeachable offense. He did not. 

The Special Counsel’s thorough investigation lasted nearly two years, cost taxpayers more than $25 million, and resulted in more than 2800 subpoenas and nearly 500 executed search warrants, yet Democrats refuse to accept the report's conclusion. 

Instead, Democrats called today’s hearing, which was designed to be a public spectacle and serve as one final, desperate attempt to build support for impeachment and appease a radical leftist base. Should Democrats continue this obscene charade, they will choose ‘the Resistance’ over the American people. I urge them to move on. This case is closed.”

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement after voting against a bill that would impose a federal minimum wage hike:

“This one-size-fits-all government mandate would be devastating for many low-wage workers, small businesses, and consumers. It fails to consider the vast differences in cost of living between Berkeley, California and Dodge County, Wisconsin. According to CBO estimates, this legislation could cause the loss of as many as 3.7 millions jobs, and reduce family incomes by $9 billion. Republicans have fought to make the economy strong and the job market great for workers. In fact, we’re in our 15th consecutive month where there are more job openings than job seekers, and real wage growth is increasing. Rather, Democrats are pushing this misguided policy, which would undo all of these successes.”

You can read the CBO report on effects of a $15 minimum wage here.

By; Cristiano Lima and John Hendel of Politico

President Donald Trump threatened to open a probe into whether Google is committing “treason.” Sen. Bernie Sanders said he would push to break up Facebook, Google and Amazon. Sen. Ted Cruz took aim at Google in his campaign against alleged censorship of conservatives. And Democrats accused the internet giants of squelching competitors and slammed Facebook’s plans to offer a digital currency.

And that was just Tuesday.

But for all the flak Silicon Valley was taking from across Washington, the tech companies maintain a major advantage: Despite their shared suspicion and growing distrust of the tech industry, Democrats and Republicans appear to hold little common ground on what the problem is and how to fix it. And that could mean the odds of legislative punishment in the near term remain low.

The attacks Tuesday dealt with a hodgepodge of issues and sometimes-incompatible complaints, though often in withering terms, in particular at the morning Senate hearing where Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown called it “delusional” for Facebook to expect people to trust the company with their wallets.

“Their motto has been 'move fast and break things.' And they certainly have," Brown said at a hearing on Facebook's planned digital currency, Libra. "They moved fast and broke our political discourse, they broke journalism, they helped incite a genocide and they’re undermining our democracy."

At Cruz’s censorship hearing later in the day, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), compared Google to children who repeatedly sneak into the cookie jar despite their parents’ warnings: “I feel like you all push the boundaries until your hand gets slapped.”

She also scoffed at the $5 billion fine that the Federal Trade Commission has proposed imposing on Facebook for its violations of users’ privacy — a complaint that puts the conservative Tennessean in much the same camp as liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. "It should have been $50 billion," Blackburn said.

But amid the back-and-forth at a slew of congressional hearings, clear divisions were evident between Democrats and Republicans and even sometimes within the parties themselves, highlighting the lack of consensus on just what to do about tech companies that dominate so many aspects of Americans' lives.

Cruz (R-Texas) demanded that Google fork over data about how its algorithms work, to answer Republican questions about whether its main search engine and its YouTube video service discriminate against conservative viewpoints. Cruz again raised the prospect that Congress may pare back the online industry’s 23-year-old legal immunity for lawsuits over user-posted content, a running theme lately among tech critics in both parties.

But Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, the top Democrat on Cruz’s Judiciary subcommittee, hammered Republicans for even having Tuesday’s tech bias hearing — saying they are "browbeating the tech industry for a problem that does not exist."

In the House, Judiciary committee Democrats led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) drilled representatives of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple over whether they've engaged in anti-competitive conduct, to the detriment of small retailers and the newspaper industry.

But the top Republican on the antitrust panel, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), warned against calls for sweeping antitrust action, saying that “just because a business is big doesn’t mean that it is bad.”

Earlier in the day, Republicans appeared split over Facebook's Libra digital currency. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) called it "wildly premature" to pass judgment on the project. But Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) appeared to share Brown’s skepticism, quipping: "I have great respect for Facebook but Facebook now wants to control the money supply. What could possibly go wrong?"

Trump had kicked off the day by entertaining a gravely serious accusation about Google: He said his administration would look into a charge by tech investor and Facebook board member Peter Thiel — and, Trump tweeted, "a great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone!” — that Google may be committing “treason” through its work in China. That suggested that he may urge the Justice Department to launch an investigation into the matter. The DOJ did not respond to a request for comment on Trump's statement.

The president later told reporters at the White House that he "would like to recommend to the various agencies, including perhaps our attorney general ... to maybe take a look" at what he called a "very strong charge" by Thiel.\

At the Cruz-led hearing Tuesday, Google public policy chief Karan Bhatia firmly pushed back against Thiel and Trump's assertions.

Addressing questions from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bhatia said Google has "absolutely not" found evidence of Chinese government infiltration of the company or its data; allowed considerations involving work in China to influence any decisions on U.S. government contracts; or turned a blind eye to any leaks of Google software or data to Chinese intelligence.

"Fundamentally in China we actually do very little today," Bhatia said.

Tech companies have deployed a range of strategies to deal with the increasing scrutiny in Washington.

They've generally kept a low-profile in the face of Trump's attacks, denying that politics influences their content decisions, while arguing more vocally against Democratic calls from Warren and others to break them up. Executives including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg have argued their companies' scale allows them to invest money in developing new technologies and compete with Chinese rivals.

On the privacy front, many of the companies say they support federal privacy regulations in lieu of state-level rules, though Democrats warn against any national standard that could that gut strict privacy regulations in states like California.

Despite the long Washington list of tech grievances, agreement on any one particular issue remains elusive. Democrats continue to be the most vocal about their unhappiness with the tech companies on data privacy and competition, while Republicans keep pressing their argument that conservatives are the victims of the industry’s online censorship — something the tech companies emphatically deny.

As POLITICO reported last week, Congress is running out of time to reach an agreement on one area where both Republicans and Democrats have seemed to be largely aligned — enacting federal privacy legislation to restrain how companies like Facebook can profit off of people’s personal data. Last week’s news about the FTC’s proposed $5 billion fine for Facebook largely drew a yawn from Wall Street, and the company saw its stock price rise to its highest level in more than a year.

And tech firms also continue to benefit from Trump’s policies despite his escalating rhetoric against Silicon Valley. Just last week, his trade advisers went to bat against France’s plans for a new “digital services” tax that would hit companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon, while Apple continues to escape the brunt of Trump’s trade sanctions on China.

On Monday, Trump even defended the billions of dollars in economic incentives that New York City had offered to Amazon for its proposed second headquarters, calling it “terrible” that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and fellow activists had helped block the deal. That was even though Trump frequently criticizes Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, for everything from its effect on brick-and-mortar retailers to Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post.

By: Marie C. Baca and Cat Zakrzewski of the Washington Post

House lawmakers grilled executives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google in a hearing Tuesday as part of their wide-ranging investigation into big tech companies and the threats they may pose to competition.

The hearing, held by the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee that deals with antitrust, allowed for a bipartisan showing by lawmakers as they quizzed executives on the size and scope of their businesses and put on public display the increasing frustration in the nation’s capital with Silicon Valley.

The internet has become “increasingly concentrated, less open, and growingly hostile to innovation and entrepreneurship,” adding to a perceived “kill zone” related to the tech giants that prevents new companies from competing, said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law.

Tech executives rebutted those ideas in their written testimony and in answers to lawmakers’ inquiries, arguing that their organizations face robust competition from a variety of entities and that their products and platforms allow other businesses to be successful.

The antitrust hearing comes more than a month after federal regulators divided up oversight of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple in a move that suggests possible formal probes in the future. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Witnesses included Adam Cohen, director of economic policy at Google; Matt Perault, head of global policy development at Facebook; Nate Sutton, associate general counsel of competition at Amazon and Kyle Andeer, vice president of corporate law at Apple.

House lawmakers said they were launching an antitrust investigation focusing on Silicon Valley in June, a rare bipartisan effort targeting the "dominant, unregulated platforms have extraordinary power over commerce, communication and information online.” The effort aims to review the government’s own tools and agencies — as well as the tech giants — in an effort to determine whether the industry has entered monopoly territory.

The House investigation adds to widening woes for Silicon Valley, as both Democrats and Republicans seem to find agreement in their problems with big tech. President Trump has been a frequent critic, last week suggesting the U.S. government “should be suing Google and Facebook,” potentially on antitrust grounds. A number of candidates for the Democratic nomination for president have echoed concerns about the power the industry wields. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), for example, has called repeatedly for breaking up major tech companies and pledged she would apply a tougher hand to the industry if she’s elected president.

At Tuesday’s hearing, that bipartisan agreement was apparent. Lawmakers asked about a range of topics from digital piracy to the disappearance of Facebook competitor MySpace to Amazon’s competition with sellers that do business on its website -- all with the aim of uncovering how the big tech companies have become so dominant.

Cicilline in his opening remarks criticized federal agencies for not scrutinizing the tech sector's power enough, warning the absence of regulatory action has created “defacto immunity” for online platforms. He slammed the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice for not bringing forward antitrust complaints in the technology sector since the landmark Microsoft case nearly two decades ago, and he criticized federal enforcers for not more closely scrutinizing hundreds of the acquisitions that the tech giants have made in recent years.

“This trend is not the inevitable consequence of technological progress,” Cicilline said. “It is the result of policy choices we are making as a country.”

Setting the tone for the hearing, Cicilline also read aloud from testimony submitted by one of the tech giants’ top critics, Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who has said Facebook should be broken up. Wu warned lawmakers that the current concentration of power in the tech industry poses a risk to U.S. innovation.

“We are becoming a country of giant concerns, admirable in their way, but where incremental improvement is the norm, where bureaucracy rules, and stagnation may be inevitable,” Wu wrote in testimony submitted to the committee. “We will become a country where inventors and entrepreneurs dream of being bought, not of building something of their own.”

Legislators targeted Facebook and Amazon with the most questions, while Google and Apple faced fewer inquiries. Lawmakers asked targeted questions, including how often the companies change their terms of service -- something that might prove difficult for users to track how their data is used or what they’re agreeing to. They also probed whether the companies are targeting potential competitors with their acquisition strategies.

In one of the most pointed inquiries, Joseph Neguse (D-Colo.) mentioned that Facebook owns four of the top six social networks by active users. "Is Facebook, in your view, a monopoly?” he asked.

Facebook’s Perault denied it’s a monopoly. He also defended the social media giant, saying it faces fierce competition for advertising revenues, bringing in less than a quarter of total U.S. online ad spending.

Addressing similar concerns, Amazon’s Sutton said the online retail giant’s share of the retail space as comparatively tiny —still just 4% total in the U.S. and smaller globally — and touted the positive effects it has had for the third-party businesses that sold $160 billion worth of products on its site last year.

Lawmakers also asked the tech executives to agree to certain conduct standards during the House’s investigation. Cicilline told the organizations not to engage in opposition research activities; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) asked that the companies not retaliate against organizations or individuals involved in the review. In both cases, each executive gave their word that their respective company would comply.

Still, while bipartisan support for greater antitrust scrutiny of the tech industry has been mounting in Washington — the panel’s top Republican called lawmakers to take a “fair and balanced” approach in their investigation. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.) warned against “misguided” calls to break up tech companies like Facebook, which have become increasingly common among Democrats.

“Just because a business is big doesn’t mean it is bad,” Sensenbrenner said. “Antitrust laws focus on the conduct of companies and whether that conduct is bad. They do not exist to punish companies just because they’re big.”

The criticism of tech’s power at the antitrust hearing reflected a broader skepticism of Silicon Valley companies on the Hill at a trio of key hearings on Tuesday. Facebook executive David Marcus faced a beating from lawmakers as he testified about the social network’s plans to launch a digital currency, known as Project Libra. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, launched his opening remarks at the hearing by calling Facebook “dangerous.”

“Now Facebook may not intend to be dangerous, but surely they don’t respect the power of the technologies they’re playing with," Brown said. "Like a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches, Facebook has burned down the house over and over and called every arson a learning experience.”

Meanwhile Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president for public policy, was in the hot seat at the Senate Judiciary Committee, as Republican senators slammed the company for allegedly censoring conservative voices online. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a freshman senator who has emerged as one of the tech industry’s top critics in Congress, dug into the company on a host of issues—including how the company protects children from pedophiles on YouTube and the company’s business plans in China.

“Clearly trust and patience in your company and the behavior of your monopoly has run out,” Hawley said. “It has certainly run out with me, and I think it’s time for some accountability.”

As in Politico's Morning Tech Newsletter

GREETINGS TECHLINGS AND WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. It’s Tuesday, the second leg of Amazon Prime Day, and we’re also now officially halfway through July. How? How?

Got a news tip? Write me at or @Ali_Lev. An event for our calendar? Send details to Anything else? Full team info below. And don’t forget: add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.


TECH’S SUMMER GRILLING — Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple execs testify at a House antitrust hearing today, the first time all four companies face a congressional panel together about competition in the tech sector. The session will also feature a slew of staunch tech critics, including Columbia law professor Tim Wu, who’s called for Facebook to be broken up, and Institute for Local Self-Reliance co-founder Stacy Mitchell, who has lauded Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) campaign proposal to split up all four companies.

— What to expect: Wu will call for government officials to make more use of “retroactive review of mergers that have led to anticompetitive consequences,” according to a written copy of his testimony shared with MT. That argument is likely to resonate with Democrats on the panel, including antitrust subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who has said Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram should have faced “more review” and urged the Federal Trade Commission to launch new investigations of those acquisitions.

— But Republicans may strike a more cautious tone. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the panel’s top Republican, said in a statement that while the committee “has a responsibly to scrutinize the business practices of this industry,” panel lawmakers “must do so with a fair and balanced approach.” (Read more on how the House antitrust probe is splitting conservatives here.)

LIBRA BACKLASH THREATENS ITS 2020 LAUNCH — “Facebook is botching its dream of becoming a new powerhouse in finance, failing to win over lawmakers and regulators who say they are far from ready to allow the social media giant’s ambitious cryptocurrency plans to move forward,” POLITICO’s Zachary Warmbrodt reports ahead of the back-to-back Senate and House hearings on the topic that are set to kick off this morning. “The rollout of the Libra project is the latest evidence that Facebook is still struggling to wield influence in both Washington and in the European Union after being dogged by controversies about its data privacy practices and role in facilitating election interference.” Read the full story here.

— P.R. disaster? “When you have Steve Mnuchin and the president and Maxine Waters all being critical, it does not bode well for you in terms of how Washington views what you do,” said Richard Levick, the chief executive of public relations firm LEVICK. The real problem, he said, is that Facebook is “out of trust” in D.C. Facebook’s splashy announcement of Libra likely compounded the scrutiny from lawmakers, one fintech lobbyist told POLITICO. “They’re talking about services that are the most highly regulated things in the economy and they’re treating it in a cavalier way,” the lobbyist said. “No other companies have approached this this way, and I think that’s why this has turned into such a disaster.”

PLUS, CRUZ TAKES AIM AT GOOGLE — Sen. Ted Cruz today holds his long-promised hearing on allegations that Google stifles conservative speech, a Republican talking point that got a high-profile airing at Trump’s “social media summit” at the White House last week. Along with Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president for government affairs and public policy, Cruz’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution will hear from a representative of PragerU, a right-wing advocacy group that filed a lawsuit against Google and YouTube over claims of censorship; Andy Parker, who has fought Google after video of the fatal shooting of his daughter proliferated online; and others. Google, as well as Twitter and Facebook, have denied political bias in the way they handle content.

— Democrats are none too thrilled with the session: “This is a hearing in search of a problem,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), the ranking member on Cruz’s subcommittee. “There isn’t a liberal conspiracy to remove conservative content on these platforms.”

— What comes next: A Cruz aide told MT the Texas Republican is exploring legislation to address allegations of bias in tech, including potentially altering the legal protections afforded to online companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. And the Cruz-led subcommittee may look to hold additional hearings to inform any such measure, the aide said. We’ll be tracking to see how Cruz’s push fits in with the recently unveiled Senate Judiciary tech task force, led by fellow panel member Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

By: Scott Anderson of the Patch

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence saw the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions that detained migrant adults faced at a U.S. detention center in McAllen, Texas.

His tour came in advance of ICE raids in select U.S. cities and amid a growing humanitarian crisis at the southern U.S. Border.

In comments following his tour, Pence called upon Congress to take action to begin alleviating the buildup of detained adults and families along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The McAllen station, where our cells are overflowing … ought to be a very clear message to every American that the time for action is now and the time for Congress to act to end the flow of families that are coming north from Central America to our border is now," Pence told CNN in an interview following his tour.

Wisconsin has eight members in the U.S. House of Representatives and two in the U.S. Senate who could potentially vote in favor or against reforms in the coming session.

Wisconsin Patch reached out to each Wisconsin representative to gauge their opinion on the current state of affairs. We requested opinions from each legislator at the same time on Monday, stating that our intent was to give each the space to share their view and allow readers to see where the commonalities and differences are in each response.

Here's what they said:

Senator Ron Johnson, Republican

"Since 2014 ... 1,086,000 people have come in as an unaccompanied child or, primarily, as a family unit and have been apprehended. 1,086,000 people – about half of those have come in the last nine months alone. So it's overwhelming our system, and the goal of our policy should be to reduce that flow. Turn it into a legal process. There's a number of things we can do. One of the things we have to do is raise that initial bar in terms of claiming asylum. Hopefully, set up centers in Guatemala, in Central America, so people can claim refugee status. But this is completely out of control.

"There was a survey done by the Association of Research and Social Studies in Guatemala that said that a third of Guatemalans intended to migrate to the United States — that's almost 6 million people. A Gallup poll showed 158 million people worldwide, 42 million people in Latin America, want to migrate to the United States. We can't take all comers. We have to have a legal system, primarily designed toward working with our economy to get people in here to work so we can continue to grow our economy. This is completely out of control.

"I'm working with Democrat colleagues on a pilot program called Operation Safe Return where we can rapidly and more accurately determine those families that clearly don't have a valid asylum claim, and the majority of them don't have a valid asylum claim, and safely return them to Central America. That will require some U.S. funding as well. There are also humanitarian organizations who are willing to facilitate that, but we have to have that consequence."

Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat

"The inhumane treatment of migrant children by the Trump administration is a disgrace. I joined my colleagues to introduce the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act because it's clear we must act to do more to promote the health and safety of migrant children seeking refuge in our country."

This week, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin helped introduce the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act to put an end to the Trump administration's cruel and neglectful treatment of children at the U.S.-Mexico border and reform how children fleeing persecution are treated between the moment at which they arrive at our borders to claim asylum and the ultimate resolution of their asylum case.

1st District Congress Bryan Steil, Republican

"There is a humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Law enforcement and our judicial system are overwhelmed by the sheer number of migrants attempting to come into our country. That is why I supported bipartisan legislation to provide $4.6 billion in humanitarian aid for the border.

"This funding will be used for housing, medical, and transportation needs at the border, as well as ensuring the government can process immigration cases and investigate human traffickers. We must now work to secure the border, support law enforcement, and address the root causes our broken immigration system. We must work together to prevent this from occurring in the future."

2nd District Congress, Mark Pocan, Democrat

No response submitted.

3rd District Congress, Ron Kind, Democrat

"Once again, the president fails to adhere to what they teach us in the bible and what serves as my moral compass: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The president needs to apologize and stop this behavior."

4th District Congress, Gwen Moore, Democrat

"The humanitarian crisis happening at our border is a byproduct of Trump's inhumane immigration policies. He created this crisis, but is driving a dangerous narrative that asylum seekers pose a threat to our nation. I visited the border over the weekend, and what I witnessed couldn't be further from the truth.

"What I found were men, women, and children packed into cages whose only crimes were seeking a better life. One of the facilities I visited was experiencing a meningitis outbreak, a disease that can be instantly deadly without proper medical care or vaccination. There is no doubt that the Trump Administration is using cruel and unusual policies to deter people from seeking the legal right to asylum."

5th District Congress. James Sensenbrenner, Republican

"Congress should have solved these problems 13 years ago by passing my immigration reform and border security bill. However, opponents in the Senate stalled the effort, and the festering issues at our southern border are now out of control.

"Record numbers of individuals are flooding into our country, caused in part by the Obama administration's failure to enforce our immigration laws as well as it's disastrous 'catch-and-release' policy. Make no mistake, these decisions sent a clear message: at the expense of those following the rules, we'll let you cut the line and come into America without any consequences.

"Now, rather than working with Republicans, Democrats refuse to take meaningful action addressing the root cause of the problem: a broken system and a porous border. We are a nation of laws, and the only pathway forward is for Congress is to enact reforms where needed, such as securing our southern border and increasing the number of judges to clear out the asylum backlog."

6th District Congress, Glenn Grothman, Republican

No response submitted.

7th District Congress, Sean Duffy, Republican

Congressman Duffy responded to Wisconsin Patch by referring us to a number of Tweets published on his official Twitter handle following our query. Below is the text of those tweets:

"The immigrants I know, including my mother-in-law, are the people most disgusted by Rep. Ilhan Omar's ingratitude to the nation who rescued her family from an African refugee camp and gave her the equivalent of a lottery ticket to come to the USA.

"Unbelievably, her public speeches are littered with statements like, 'I am ashamed of America's hypocrisy,' despite the fact that her story is proof of America's generosity, goodness and unparalleled opportunity.

"It is also a testament to the prosperity created by American capitalism — something Omar and others wish to destroy.

"Those we invite to our country are not learning much about our greatness once they get here. That's our fault. We must do a better job as a country and as parents of teaching civics and patriotism to our children.

"Our schools and universities are far too obsessed with America's shortcomings and are failing miserably at teaching our remarkable history of freedom, honoring our founding fathers, and passing on a love and respect for our exceptional country. That is sad and unsustainable."

8th District Congress, Mike Gallagher, Republican

No response submitted.