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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Sixteen years ago, radical terrorists attacked our nation and killed thousands of our fellow Americans. The devastating repercussions of September 11, 2001 are still felt, but from tragedy rose strength, compassion for our fellow man, and a bond that washed away our differences and united us all as American citizens. Today, we continue to mourn the lives lost and pray for their families and friends who are struggling, and support our service men and women who answered the call of duty in defense of our nation. We unite in remembrance and move forward together because that is the American way.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) released its 7th annual “No-Brainers” list, which highlights common sense, bipartisan legislation that solves real problems facing the American taxpayer. Among the 10 bills highlighted is H.R.2887, the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017.

Introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner earlier this year, the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 would codify the principle that businesses must be physically present in a state before it is lawful to tax or regulate them.

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. My bill helps alleviate these burdens by reducing overregulation and keeping government overreaches in check. I want to thank the National Taxpayers Union for highlighting this legislation, which would be a strong ally of small businesses and the American taxpayer.”

In addition to the National Taxpayers Union, the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 is supported by: 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.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement regarding the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The Obama administration overstepped its authority when it enacted the DACA program. I believe the proper way to address our nation’s immigration policy is through the legislative process. It is important that we get our immigration laws right.

“The complex challenges faced by DACA beneficiaries will not be solved overnight, and they certainly won’t be solved by executive order. When the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi was unable to solve the immigration problem unilaterally. This led to the Obama administration’s DACA program, which Obama himself said was temporary.

“The President has given Congress six months to act, and I believe that we must not only take serious action to address the complicated issues surrounding the DACA program, but also border security and enforcement of our laws. Nothing will be done without compromise from both sides of the immigration debate.

“Moving forward, I will continue to work with my congressional colleagues to enact long-term immigration reform through the legislative process, which does not give amnesty to illegal immigrants.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement in support of Speaker Paul Ryan’s efforts in Wisconsin and nationwide:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “During a town hall meeting in Racine, Speaker Ryan reiterated to his constituents last night – and the entire nation – his commitment to finding solutions for America’s most pressing issues, as well as his dedication to working cohesively across Congress in order to make our nation better for all Americans.

“From his first day in office to his rise to the Speakership, Paul has remained earnest, hard-working, and driven to help people. His determination to enact serious legislation, such as reforming our broken tax and health care systems, as well as protect our national security and advocate on behalf of our nation’s most vulnerable, is inspiring and serves as a constant reminder of why Members of Congress are sent to Washington in the first place – to serve the people.

“I’m eager to continue working with the Speaker to help the people of Wisconsin and our country, and move forward on smart, common sense legislation that will help keep America strong and prosperous for generations to come.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner issued the following statement upon the signing of the Rapid DNA Act of 2017 into law:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The passage of the Rapid DNA Act will help law enforcement carry out their duties more quickly, efficiently, and accurately. This revolutionary technology will help identify arrestees and offenders, reduce the overwhelming backlog in forensic DNA analysis, and streamline crime fighting efforts while helping to prevent future crimes from occurring, saving time and taxpayer dollars in the process. I’m thankful to President Trump, as well as my colleagues in the House and Senate, for moving forward on this common sense legislation, which will help millions of Americans nationwide.”

The Rapid DNA Act would establish a system for the integration of Rapid DNA instruments for use by law enforcement to help reduce the DNA backlog. Unlike traditional DNA analysis, which can take weeks, Rapid DNA analysis permits processing of DNA samples in approximately 90 minutes or less.

This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way in which arrested individuals are enrolled in the criminal justice system, shorten the time required for their DNA to be linked to unsolved crimes, and expedite the exoneration of innocent suspects by giving law enforcement officials a new system that meets FBI quality assurance standards to compare DNA samples collected at the time of an arrest to profiles in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement regarding the horrific acts of violence perpetrated in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: "What happened in Charlottesville goes against the principles of this nation and everything I've worked for during my time in Congress. The freedoms given in this country should never be abused to incite violence or spread hate and prejudice. It's my hope that as Americans, we can all come together to denounce bigotry in all its forms."

Since 2010, Republicans have seen the writing on the wall about Obamacare. We knew the dangers it posed to the public. We understood how it would lead to skyrocketing premiums, decrease the quality of care, and leave millions of Americans with fewer, less-desirable healthcare options. That's why for the past seven years, we've fought against this disastrous law.

We made promises to our constituents that we would repeal and replace Obamacare. We assured them that relief was on the way.

That's why it seems unfathomable that when the moment came to save millions of Americans from the burdens placed upon them by the failures of Obamacare, a small minority of my Republican colleagues caved under outside pressure and broke their promises.

Obamacare is failing. Despite the fact that Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., wisely rejected weaving the Obamacare exchanges into the fabric of the state's health insurance market, Wisconsin is still feeling the pain of this terrible law. Earlier this year, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced it would pull out of the exchanges. Just last week, Molina Healthcare also announced its departure, making it the sixth health insurer to leave Wisconsinites with fewer options since Obamacare's implementation.

Thousands of Wisconsinites will now be left without their preferred health insurance plans by the end of 2017 and will struggle to find affordable, quality coverage for themselves and their families.

Wisconsin is not alone.

Several counties in Arizona have seen the steepest health insurance premiums in the country. Major health insurers, including UnitedHealthCare and Humana pulled out of the state, and others have significantly decreased their coverage. Last year, drastic premium increases left one Arizona county without any health insurance options, and only two insurance companies offering individual plans through the Obamacare exchanges in the state have committed to continue selling plans in 2018.

In Alaska – one of the most expensive states in the country – individual health insurance premiums increased to nearly 40 percent after Obamacare went into effect. The incredible costs led to all but one health insurance company to leave the market. It has also caused enrollment in the exchanges to drop significantly, from approximately 23,000 last year to just more than 19,000 this year according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

On the other side of the country in Maine, health insurance premiums may increase up to an astounding 40 percent on average by next year. All three of the state's providers have detailed steep hikes that would impact more than 100,000 people on the individual exchanges.

These are just a few examples of the overwhelming deterioration of a law that was fated to collapse the healthcare system from its outset.

The House of Representatives moved forward this year with the American Health Care Act, legislation born from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's Better Way agenda, which would have provided people with more choices at lower costs. The plan expanded Health Savings Accounts and created new tax credits to help people buy insurance at affordable prices. It protected access for individuals with pre-existing conditions, allowed those aged 26 and younger to remain on their parents' plans, and reformed and strengthened Medicaid to help those who needed it most.

Ryan and House Republicans kept their promises. They passed the AHCA -- smart legislation that would put Americans, not government, in control of their healthcare.

Unfortunately, the Senate could not do the same.

Despite ongoing reports of the breakdown of Obamacare in their states and states throughout the country, a small group of Republican Senators refused to stand up and vote for the best interests of their constituents and Americans nationwide. Rather than fulfilling the promises they made and honoring the commitments they guaranteed, they succumbed to the political pressures of Washington and failed their constituents.

However, it's not too late to change course.

The Senate can still move forward with repeal and replace measures that will give people the hand up they desperately need and put our health insurance system back on track.

Obamacare is failing and Americans are paying the price. With the future of our nation's health at stake, members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate, must remember why they were sent to Washington in the first place.

View this piece online here.

By: Clark Packard and Peter O'Rourke, contributors to the Washington Examiner

Nearly 230 years after the Constitution's ratification, we are still debating the limits of power granted to the states to tax and regulate.

Should California have the power to prohibit the sale of pork from out-of-state producers if the pigs were born to sows housed in gestation stalls? Should Massachusetts have the authority to prohibit the sale of out-of-state eggs if the hens were housed in battery cages? Should Colorado have the ability to mandate that at least 20 percent of the electricity imported into the state from out-of-state producers comes from renewable sources?

Curbing potentially inhumane farming practices and promoting clean energy may be worthwhile policy goals, but under our Constitution, the states lack the power to regulate business practices beyond their borders. Congress has power over interstate commerce, making it the appropriate venue for achieving these goals.

That's not to say states lack authority to set appropriate farming practices or target climate change. Colorado, for instance, could require that all electricity producers in the Centennial State use at least 20 percent renewable sources, but it cannot condition the ability of out-of-state producers to sell electricity in the state on those renewable targets.

Perhaps the most contentious question raised in this area of law in recent years is whether states have the authority to collect tax from out-of-state businesses that have no physical presence in the state. With the rise of the internet and online commerce, states continue to try to compel out-of-state companies to report and submit sales taxes owed by residents, despite Supreme Court precedent prohibiting such requirements. The ability to compel tax collection necessarily implies the ability to audit out-of-state companies. Do we really want to empower tax auditors in one state to comb through the books of companies located in other states?

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law pondered that question in a July 25 hearing on H.R. 2887, the No Regulation Without Representation Act. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the bill would codify in statute that states can only tax or regulate entities engaged in interstate commerce that have a genuine physical presence within their borders. Unfortunately, this measure is needed because states continue to violate the guidelines set out by the Constitution's Commerce Clause.

The Constitution's basic construction is clear: States are free to regulate the rules of the road for wholly intrastate business practices and tax wholly intrastate transactions. Where commerce flows beyond state borders, Congress, not state legislatures or regulatory authorities, is given exclusive authority to regulate.

This framework isn't an accident. A primary weakness of the Articles of Confederation was that the federal government lacked the power to pre-empt state authority. This proved unworkable. By contrast, one of the geniuses of the constitutional framework is that the founders essentially established a free-trade zone among the states, with Congress as the ultimate arbiter of the rules of commerce between states.

Not only does this framework make practical sense—prohibiting a balkanized taxing and regulatory regime from overly burdening business practices—but it is consistent with democratic norms. In short, overzealous states may not threaten out-of-state parties who have no say in the process by which the rules are written. That's why Congress is the proper venue to resolve disputes about state efforts to tax online sales, set regulatory standards for sow pens and chicken cages, or the sale of electricity across state lines. Every adult in America can participate in the democratic process and congressional deliberations.

Sensenbrenner's bill would make a number of sensible changes that would properly balance the Constitution's respect for federalism and the Commerce Clause's demands. The bill would essentially mandate that a state can tax or regulate a person's activity when the person is physically present in a state and spells out reasonable parameters for how to define that physical presence.

If Congress fails to pass the No Regulation Without Representation Act or similar legislation, states will continue to push to tax and regulate beyond their borders. This will inevitably result in costly litigation and a confusing patchwork of rules and levies that must be sorted out in the courts. Congress can and should act to protect our existing constitutional framework.

Clark Packard is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an outreach manager and policy analyst for the R Street Institute. Peter O'Rourke is a summer intern with the R Street Institute.

View this piece online here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) sent the following letter to United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to express concerns and objections to his proposal to expand the Department of Justice’s civil asset forfeiture program. The letter also urges AG Sessions to reconsider his newly-announced policies.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Expanding the federal civil asset forfeiture program is a step in the wrong direction and I urge Attorney General Sessions and his Department of Justice to reconsider. I am a supporter of criminal asset forfeiture – the seizure of property after the conviction of crime—but with civil asset forfeiture, law enforcement has a direct economic incentive to take people’s property without ever even charging them with a crime. We need to add more due process to forfeiture proceedings. Expanding forfeiture without increasing protections is, in my view, unconstitutional and wrong.”

Congressman Conyers: “I am deeply disappointed by the Justice Department’s recent move to reverse its ban on adoptive seizures.  The prior policy, which was instituted in January of 2015, greatly curtailed this practice, which provides financial incentives for law enforcement to seize the property – including the homes – of individuals who may not even be guilty of a crime.  I call on Senator Sessions to withdraw the new policy, which is contrary to the growing bipartisan effort to reform our civil forfeiture laws and practices.  Indeed, the time has come for Congress to enact the DUE PROCESS Act, a bipartisan bill to significantly alter these laws and increase protections for innocent property owners.” 

Full text provided below:

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

We write to express strong objections to your decision to reverse the Department of Justice’s policies curtailing adoptive seizures.  Under this process, state and local law enforcement can receive up to 80 percent of forfeiture proceeds for simply transferring seized property to federal authorities to pursue forfeiture under federal law. 

This practice has been criticized as a “bounty” system because it perversely incentivizes state and local law enforcement to seize the property of individuals who may not even be guilty of a crime. Furthermore, in states that restrict civil forfeiture, the policy raises serious federalism concerns by allowing state law enforcement to pursue forfeiture in circumvention of protections provided by state law. 

The prior policy issued in January 2015 substantially curtailed adoptive forfeitures.  In announcing your decision to reverse these reforms, you claimed to implement “safeguards.” None of these steps, however, will provide any meaningful degree of protection against abuse.

The first two steps outlined in the Policy Directive issued by the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, concerning review of seizures and probable cause determinations, are merely internal assessments that make us no more comfortable with adoptive seizures than we were prior to their curtailment three years ago. 

Curiously, the third step would provide additional limitations on certain adoptions, but only for cases of less than or equal to $10,000 – reflecting your decision that higher-dollar cases are somehow less deserving of protections against abuse.  In any event, even this degree of protection for the lower dollar cases is largely illusory as the Policy Directive provides that a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office may simply waive the additional procedures in individual cases. 

Lastly, the Policy Directive admonishes that the Department should “proceed with particular caution” in seeking the forfeiture of people’s homes if they were “not implicated in criminal conduct.”  We cannot emphasize enough how stunningly inappropriate and brazen it is for the Department to engage in such a practice.  That officials charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights of our citizens would contemplate taking personal residences of innocent homeowners underscores our lack of faith in the discretion to be exercised by Department officials in the prior three “safeguards.”   

Civil forfeiture, at the federal level and also through adoptive seizures, requires significant reform if is to continue at all.  It has become increasingly apparent that the procedures in federal law governing civil forfeiture are fundamentally inadequate.  Forfeiture reform has long been a bipartisan issue, raising serious concerns about fairness and due process on both sides of the aisle.

Congress last enacted reform to these laws in 2000, under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, sponsored by the late Representative Henry Hyde.  We have learned much since passage of that law and have introduced bipartisan legislation, entitled the DUE PROCESS Act, to responsibly increase procedural protection for innocent owners.

We should be reforming civil forfeiture, not expanding it.  Therefore, while we pursue legislation on this issue, we ask that you withdraw the newly-announced changes to the Department’s adoptive seizure policies. 

Although we believe this new policy should be rescinded, we would like additional information concerning the rationale for some of its provisions and your plans to implement them.

  1. As discussed above, the Department’s Policy Directive admonishes that the Department should “proceed with particular caution” in the forfeiture of people’s homes if the owners’ were “not implicated in criminal conduct.”
    1. What additional oversight does the Department propose to protect innocent homeowners from seizure of their homes?
    2. In what circumstances would the Department consider it appropriate to seize a person’s home when that person is not implicated in any criminal conduct? 
    3.  Does the Department advise any particular caution for seizure of a person’s home based on relatively minor criminal conduct?
  2. The Department’s policy would appear to allow federal adoptions in violation of state law.
    1. If law enforcement is operating in a state that has banned forfeiture, does the Department consider it appropriate for law enforcement to rely on federal law in circumvention of the laws of their state?\
    2. . Would the Department consider federal adoption of a state forfeiture appropriate if the forfeiture were based on simple possession of marijuana in a state that has legalized the drug?
  3. Why did the Department propose safeguards exclusively on adoptions valued at less than $10,000?  Are higher value forfeitures worthy of less protection?  Does this incentivize law enforcement to seize higher value property?
     

Please reply with written answers to these questions by August 15, 2017. 

Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.

Member of Congress

 

John Conyers, Jr.

Member of Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the devastating news that Molina Healthcare will be dropping out of the Obamacare Exchanges:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The announcement that Molina Healthcare will be dropping out of the Obamacare exchanges isn’t a surprise, but it certainly is disastrous for the more than 50,000 of Wisconsinites who may be left with no health care options under Obamacare.

“This is the latest development in a string of devastating health care losses for Wisconsin under Obamacare – an ill-fated law that has been a failure since its passage. It’s imperative for the health of our nation for Congress to find real solutions to the intensifying problems caused by Obamacare. The House of Representatives passed smart, patient-centered repeal and replace legislation – the Senate must do the same for the sake of all Americans. ”