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By: Jim Sensenbrenner

We have a long-standing tradition of embracing outdoor recreation in Wisconsin. Our four seasons provide picturesque opportunities for hiking, boating, ice fishing and hunting. In fact, hunting is a hobby embraced by families across our great state that bonds together people from all walks of life.
 
The joy of hunting is just one of the many ways law-abiding Wisconsinites exercise their constitutionally protected right to bear arms — a right I have long defended.
 
In light of the many tragic shootings in our nation, much has been debated about firearm availability and safety. We can all agree that it’s essential to deny the sale of firearms to convicted felons, drug users, illegal aliens, those convicted of domestic violence and anyone deemed by a judge to be mentally ill. I have consistently supported this principle throughout my career in Congress, including in 1993, when I worked with members on both sides of the aisle to pass the Brady Handgun Prevention Act. 
 
The law bears the namesake of my friend, Jim Brady, press secretary to President Ronald Reagan. Brady was critically injured during an assassination attempt on President Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. — a man whose record included both recent arrests and mental illness.
 
As members drafted the “Brady Bill,” I insisted on the inclusion of a timely background check system to prevent similar tragedies. This effort led to the 1998 launch of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System under the control of the FBI, now commonly known as NICS.
 
Under the system, firearm dealers cross-reference the information of prospective buyers with NICS data, to ensure that the purchaser is not on the list of convicted felons, drug users, illegal aliens, or those convicted of domestic violence.
 
But as I have stated many times, NICS is only as strong as the information entered into it. If federal agencies or other law enforcement bodies fail to provide NICS with the necessary information, dangerous individuals will slip through the cracks and purchase firearms.
 
To combat this, I recently supported passage of bipartisan legislation that protects the rights of all Wisconsinites and strengthens the enforcement of laws already on the books. The bill passed the House by a 231-198 vote.
 
The legislation puts measures in place to compel federal agencies to comply with existing NICS statutes. The bill also provides additional funding to assist state and local governments in providing all relevant information to NICS. Ensuring that the existing system functions properly will help us avoid future tragedies, like those in recent events.
 
On a Sunday morning this past October, a disturbed individual burst into a Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooting and killing 26 churchgoers and injuring 20 others. The shooter, who received a bad conduct discharge from the military and had a documented history of domestic abuse, unfortunately, had no trouble purchasing his weapons. Had the Department of Defense properly reported his history to the FBI, he would have been flagged in NICS, and the dealer would have been legally obligated to deny the sale. Furthermore, local enforcement would have been notified about the attempted purchase.
 
I don’t live under the illusion that bad people will stop doing evil things but I know that there are meaningful actions that we as a society can take to make it much more difficult for evil-doers to do harm.
 
I’m encouraged to see both Republicans and Democrats in the House come together to take action on these issues, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to move quickly to pass this legislation. I remain committed to the oath that I took to uphold the Constitution and will continue to seek bipartisan solutions to keep our nation safe.

Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, represents Wisconsin's 5th District and is a member of the Judiciary Committee.

You can read this piece online here.

Augusta Free Press

Overwhelming bipartisan majorities support proposed legislation that calls for extending the period that former government officials must wait before they can lobby the government and prohibiting former executive branch officials from ever lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.

Similarly large majorities favor ending the support the government currently provides for former U.S. presidents.

The survey of 2,482 registered voter was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland, and released Tuesday by the non-partisan organization, Voice of the People. To ensure that respondents understood the issue, they were given a short briefing on the proposal and asked to evaluate arguments for and against.

The content was reviewed by congressional proponents and opponents of the legislation to ensure that the briefing was accurate and balanced and that the arguments presented were the strongest ones being made.

Currently, former Members of Congress are prohibited from lobbying Congress for two years after leaving office. Proposed legislation H.R. 383 by Rep. Posey [R-FL-8], H.R. 796 by Rep. DeSantis [R-FL-6], H.R. 1951 by Rep. O’Halleran [D-AZ-1] and H.R. 346 by Rep. Trott [R-MI-11] calls for extending this period to five years.  In the survey, 77 percent approved of such an extension, including 80% of Republicans and 73% of Democrats.

Extending the waiting period for senior congressional staffers from the current one year to two years—as called for in H.R. 383 by Rep. Posey [R-FL-8]—was approved by 77%, including 79% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats.

Currently, senior executive branch officials are prohibited from lobbying their former agency for 1-2 years depending on how senior they were. H.R. 1934 proposed by Rep. Gallagher [R-WI-8], S.522 by Sen. Tester [D-MT], H.R. 796 by Rep. De Santis [R-FL-6] and H.R. 484 by Rep. De Fazio [D-OR-4] call for extending this period to five years for all such officials.  This proposal was supported by 75%, including 77% of Republicans and 71% of Democrats.

“The American public seems to be eager to drain the swamp in Washington,” commented Steven Kull, director of PPC.

However, support did not go so far as to call for a lifetime ban on former members of Congress lobbying as called for by S.1189 by Sen. Bennet [D-CO] and H.R 4187 by Rep. Hollingsworth [R-IN-9]. Only 29% of respondents supported it, including 33% of Republicans and 24% of Democrats.

Currently, Americans can act as lobbyists for foreign governments, provided they register and report their activities to the U.S. government.  Senior executive branch officials are only limited by the 1-2 year restriction for lobbying their former agency.  Proposed bills H.R. 796 by Rep.DeSantis [R-FL-6] and H.R. 484 by Rep. De Fazio [D-OR-4] prohibit former senior executive branch officials from any lobbying on behalf of a foreign government for the rest of their life.

This proposal was favored by 75%, including 81% of Republicans and 70% of Democrats.

The Trump administration has required political appointees in its administration to pledge to not lobby their former agency for five years and to never lobby the US government for a foreign government after they leave office.

The sample is large enough to enable analysis of attitudes in very Republican and very Democratic districts (based on Cook PVI ratings of the district the respondents live in).  In all cases, red districts were just slightly more supportive of the proposed restrictions.

Another set of questions presented a proposal to end the financial support for former U.S. presidents, as called for in H.R. 2298 sponsored by Rep. Sensenbrenner [R-WI-5].  Currently, former U.S. presidents get financial support to cover the ongoing costs associated with the activities of being a former president, including office space, staffing and travel.  In 2017, the government will spend approximately $4 million in support for the four former U.S. presidents.

Seventy-two percent favored the proposal, including 85% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats.  In very red districts 77% favored the proposal and in very blue districts 61% favored it.

The survey was conducted online from September 7- October 3, 2017 with a national probability-based sample of 2,482 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from Nielsen Scarborough’s sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/- 2.0%.

Washington, D.C.—During today’s House Judiciary Committee mark up, Crime Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered his support for H.R.1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017. Sensenbrenner is a cosponsor of the bill.

 

His remarks as reflected in the record can be found here:

“The Internet has been one of the greatest innovations in history. It has brought tremendous economic and social benefits to humankind. We can now accomplish nearly any transactions with just a few clicks of a mouse from the comfort of our own homes. It is undeniable, that, for all of us, it has made life easier.

Unfortunately, the Internet has also made life easier for criminals, who can use the anonymity of the Web to mask their illicit activities and avoid detection by law enforcement. This is especially true in the realm of sex trafficking – one of the most horrific, insidious crimes you could imagine. Thanks to a group of committed, passionate professionals and brave victims, the problem of sex trafficking on the Internet is now receiving the attention it merits.

We are all now well aware of the reprehensible and blatantly criminal conduct of the executives at Backpage.com. Because young victims have come forward to share their stories, we are aware of the harm caused by these types of websites, which are not only a venue for sex traffickers to sell young women, but also materially contribute to this illicit conduct.

Backpage.com’s conduct also shed light on websites that are using the Communications Decency Act to shield themselves from liability for their illegal activities, which is something Congress never intended.

For these reasons, I am pleased to be an cosponsor of H.R. 1865, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, also known as FOSTA.  As amended, this legislation will provide law enforcement additional tools to combat websites like Backpage. The bill creates a new federal statute criminalizing the use or operation of an interstate facility with the intent to promote or facilitate prostitution or sex trafficking. 

The bill specifically amends Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make sure that state and local prosecutors can enforce any state law if the conduct underlying the charge constitutes a violation of the new crime. In addition, the bill amends Section 230 to make clear that state and local prosecutors can enforce state sex trafficking laws insofar as those charges would also constitute a violation of federal sex trafficking law.  Finally, FOSTA will provide new mechanisms for financially compensating victims.  Receiving compensation can serve as an acknowledgement of victimhood and help victims on their road to recovery.

I commend Ms. Wagner and Committee staff for their thoughtful approach to this issue.  This legislation is the culmination of months of hard work and shows that we can take measures to prevent online sex trafficking without undermining the foundations of internet freedom.  I urge my colleagues to support it.”

 

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By: Peter Roper of The Pueblo Chieftain

Disabled activists were outside U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton's office Monday -- not to picket but to thank the 3rd District Republican for co-sponsoring legislation that would help guarantee their access to home-care services.

Tipton is one of 70 Republican and Democratic House members who are supporting the Disability Integration Act that is being offered by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

Kristen Castor, a Pueblo advocate for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, said disabled activists spent a long summer pushing back against Republican efforts to distribute federal Medicaid funding to the states through block grants.

They feared a block-grant approach could lead to states requiring the disabled to be in nursing homes to get any benefits.

"The Disability Integration Act says that home-care services are also mandated by the Medicaid program," Castor said. "This is as close as we've ever come to getting home care on an equal footing with nursing home care. That's why we want to thank Mr. Tipton for supporting us."

Disabled people use more than 25 percent of all Medicaid funding and the federal program initial required the disabled to be in nursing homes to receive the money. Activists fought that policy in the courts in the 1980s and won the right to have Medicaid pay for home care as well.

Those services can include everything from motorized wheelchairs to oxygen and other essentials.

The Sensenbrenner bill would require that Medicaid give equal weight to home-care services as institutional care.

Tipton joins Colorado Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis in co-sponsoring the legislation.

by: Shari Dingle Costantini of the Daily Younder

Three Ways the Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act Will Impact Patients in Rural Communities

Nurses are few and far between in rural communities. The Journal of Nursing Regulation reported that by 2020 over 70,000 nurses will be retiring. This decline in staff could affect healthcare facilities in rural areas first, since they already struggle with longer patient wait times, longer shift hours for their nurses and are more at risk for closure than healthcare facilities in metropolitan areas.

In response to the nurse shortage, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI) introduced H.R.3351 Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act 2017, which allocates up to 8,000 immigrant visas annually for nurses and physicians who are in critical need and in short supply.

Since 2010, 82 U.S. rural health facilities have shut down due to declining Medicaid reimbursements, cuts in funding, and the high cost to upgrade facilities. The healthcare professional shortage also plays a factor in rural hospital closures. Recruiting international nurses and physicians for rural hospitals can help facilities and reduce the risk of closures by keeping beds staffed. The Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act aims to improve patient care in three crucial areas: access to care, quality of care and patient engagement.

Improving patient access to health care

In rural North Carolina, a 48-year-old woman died from cardiac arrest after waiting 90 minutes for a medical helicopter to arrive, according to the Associated Press. Healthcare professionals assessed that the patient could have been revived if the local hospital had not closed (only six days earlier). Since this incident in 2015, more than 673 rural hospitals are at risk of closing,, according to the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). Hospital closures as a result of inadequate staffing are a life-threatening reality that 11.7 million Americans could face.

International healthcare professionals, such as physicians and nurses, could be recruited and placed in rural hospitals to help prevent closure.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an additional 4,000 nurses are needed to meet current rural health needs. The Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act can help supply nurses to meet these demands.

Reducing medical errors

According to Patient safety and quality: an evidence-based handbook for nurses, nurse fatigue and stress are the main causes of medication errors. Due to the shortage, nurses often need to work longer hours under very stressful conditions, which can result in fatigue that may increase medical errors.

Increasing nurse staffing levels is one major way to reduce nurse fatigue and prevent medical errors. This bill ensures that international healthcare professionals are available to assist in facilities with the strongest needs.

Improving patient engagement

Research shows that patients who acquire regular primary care comply with their prescribed treatments and have lower rates of illness and premature death. This is because an effective primary care system has a full staff to provide a team approach to patient care, according to the report Health Status and Health Care Access of Farm and Rural Populations.

Proper staffing levels allow nurses the time needed to properly care for and discharge patients.

The Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act aims to protect rural hospitals from closure and helps them provide quality care for their patients. Access to a supply of international healthcare professionals is a must in this nurse shortage.

Shari Dingle Costantini is the CEO of Avant Healthcare Professionals, a Florida-based professional staffing agency for registered nurses. 

 

by Jonathan Miller of CQ

In the early months of 2017, a good deal of attention was paid to members of Congress who seemed to be skipping out on town halls for fear of mobs of angry constituents.

Story Photo

 

Around that time, the Town Hall Project was born. It evolved from a Google spreadsheet to a searchable online database that allows anyone to find a town hall near them. Some paid staffers and up to 120 volunteers keep it up to date.

Now, the founders of the effort are awarding two members of Congress with an MVP for constituent interface: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, and Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat. Both well outpaced their colleagues in meeting with the people. Wyden held 80 town halls, Sensenbrenner a whopping 115. Nathan Williams, the co-founder of the Town Hall Project, notes that Wyden makes a point to schedule town halls off his natural turf. “He holds them in all counties in the state, even in ones that aren’t especially Democratic,” he says. Wyden was presented his award at a town hall on Dec. 2.

As for Sensenbrenner, Williams says he is trying to arrange a time to present the award but hasn’t heard back from staff yet. “There’s a lot going on in Congress right now, so we’re not taking it personally that he hasn’t gotten back to us,” he says. The Top 5 town hallers for both the Senate and House can be found in the chart.

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) offered the following statement after the Department of Justice confirmed its ongoing investigation into the alleged sale of human fetal tissue by a major abortion provider in America:

“It is heartbreaking and disgusting that anyone would profit from sale of innocent unborn human body parts. The Department of Justice is right to open this investigation at the referral of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.”

In February, Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced the Safe RESEARCH Act (H.R. 1203) to prohibit the sale of fetal tissue acquired by abortion. Specifically, the Safe RESEARCH Act amends Section 498A of the Public Health Act to only permit human fetal tissue research to be conducted with tissue obtained as a result of a stillbirth or ectopic pregnancy.

The text of the Safe RESEARCH Act is available here.

By: Susan Jones of CNS News

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that he was the one who insisted on putting the instant check system in the Brady bill, which President Bill Clinton passed and signed in 1993.

Sensenbrenner said the National Instant Check System (NICS) works, but there are lessons to be learned from its terrible failure in Sutherland Springs:

"At the time the legislation was drafted, I made the point that the National Instant Check System would only be as good as the data that was put into it," Sensenbrenner said.

"And it took about five years to appropriately automate and input records, not only for felony convictions, (but also for) mental incompetency adjudications as well as domestic violence legal action. And, you know, we found that one state kept all of these records in boxes of 3 by 5 cards located in every country courthouse. That took a while to finally automate that."

Sensenbrenner said the law is not to blame for the system's failure to disqualify the church shooter from buying four guns over four years.

"I don't think we can blame the system which we set up almost 25 years ago, because the system has worked in hundreds of thousands of cases. I think we have to blame the Air Force for not doing what was necessary to let the system be able to identify this gentlemen when he came and purchased the firearms that he ended up using in a truly horrific killing..."

"So I think we have to identify, you know, why this failure was.  "And it's not just the Air Force. It could be any clerk of court anywhere in the country that could have done that, and I think this has got to be a lesson, that when you've got something that is disqualifying that has been adjudicated by a court, get it into the system and get it into the system right away."

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he shares the concerns about the effectiveness of the national instant background check system for gun buyers, and "therefore we'll look into a briefing on that subject" as soon as possible, he told the committee on Tuesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told a news conference on Tuesday that the Sutherland Springs shooter “should not have gotten a gun” because he was a domestic abuser.

“That’s why we’ve got all these questions for the Air Force right now, which is, how did this slip through the cracks?”

Ryan said it’s important to find out what more needs to be done to enforce the laws that are actually on the books.

You can view this article online here.

Wisconsin Ag Connection

Three federal lawmakers from Wisconsin are asking House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway to reform the Dairy Margin Protection Program, which provides producers with payments when dairy margins fall below the margin coverage levels. In a letter sent by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Mike Gallagher and Sean Duffy, the congressmen said a top priority in the 2018 Farm Bill should be to reform the MPP because it gave participants 'very little return' on their investment in recent years, despite the fact that farmers paid millions of dollars into the program.

"The dairy industry in Wisconsin and nationwide has faced significant struggles in recent years," the memo stated. "Our current trade challenges with Canada are particularly acute in 'America's Dairyland,' a major manufacturer of ultrafiltered milk, and our producers continue to struggle with labor costs and challenges. Moreover, milk prices deteriorated significantly last year, causing dairy farmers added pain during an already challenging climate."

Sensenbrenner added that American producers play a vital role in supplying the nation with fresh milk and other important agricultural products. He says programs like the MPP need to be re-evalulated in order to become more responsive to the needs of Wisconsin dairy farmers.

"As a longtime supporter of the agricultural industry, I remain committed to working with my colleagues to see these issues addressed in the final legislation," Sensenbrenner said.

Earlier this year, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue utilized his authority to provide dairy producers the ability to opt out of the Margin Protection Program for 2018.

The voluntary program established by the 2014 Farm Bill, MPP provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin--the difference between the price of milk and feed costs--falls below the coverage level selected by the producer. The program was meant to give producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation.

Meanwhile, enrollment for the next round of coverage ends on December 15 for coverage in calendar year 2018. Participating farmers will remain in the program through December 31, 2018, and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee for 2018 coverage.

You can view this article online here.

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05), along with Congressmen Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08) and Sean Duffy (R-WI-07), sent a letter detailing 2018 Farm Bill policy priorities to House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway. Specifically, the letter calls for reforms to the Dairy Margin Protection Program, which provides producers with payments when dairy margins are below the margin coverage levels.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Americans across the heartland play a vital role in supplying our nation with fresh milk and other important agricultural products. As we begin crafting the upcoming Farm Bill, I will push to ensure programs, like the MPP-Dairy, are updated to become more responsive to the needs of Wisconsin dairy farmers.  As a longtime supporter of the agricultural industry, I remain committed to working with my colleagues to see these issues addressed in the final legislation.”

Congressman Gallagher: “For too long hardworking farmers in Northeast Wisconsin and across the country have been paying into a program that does not give them the results they need. As Congress begins to debate the upcoming Farm Bill, I will work with my colleagues to improve the MPP-Dairy program so that it is effective in meeting the challenges farmers face in an increasingly volatile market.”

The full text is available below:

Dear Chairman Conaway:

            As members who represent Wisconsin’s vast dairy industry, we thank you for your early start to the 2018 Farm Bill process and we are grateful for your efforts to complete the bill on time.  We appreciate your steadfast advocacy for rural America and your commitment to reforming dairy policy in the new Farm Bill.

            As you know, Wisconsin is the second largest milk-producing state and is home to more dairy farms than any other in the nation.  Wisconsin’s roughly 9,500 family-owned dairy farms, totaling well over 1 million cows, produce roughly 14 percent of the U.S. milk supply each year.  These farmers are 

the lifeblood of our communities and the fresh milk they produce supports many jobs in the agricultural and food manufacturing sectors of our state.

            The dairy industry in Wisconsin and nationwide has faced significant struggles in recent years.  Our current trade challenges with Canada are particularly acute in ‘America’s Dairyland’, a major manufacturer of ultrafiltered milk, and our producers continue to struggle with labor costs and challenges.  Moreover, milk prices deteriorated significantly last year, causing dairy farmers added pain during an already challenging climate.

            With this in mind, a top priority for us in the Farm Bill is reforming the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).  While the program is fairly new, it has not performed to the expectations of our dairy farmers.  In 2015 and 2016, the first two years of the program, dairy producers paid millions of dollars into the program but received very little return on this investment, even though last year was a very difficult year for our dairy farmers by all accounts.

            Therefore, we look forward to working with you to improve MPP-Dairy to make it more responsive to farmers.  We understand that the program's current feed cost formula does not fully reflect producer costs, so we are interested in improving the program to better reflect the margins producers face to provide them a viable safety net in the difficult years.  We are also urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to classify milk as a commodity under the federal crop insurance program, to provide producers with additional risk management options.

            We recognize that there will be budgetary limitations in the Farm Bill process and we stand ready to work with you to craft a Farm Bill that supports all of rural America.  We appreciate your consideration and we are eager to work with you.

Sincerely,

Mike Gallagher
Member of Congress

Sean Duffy
Member of Congress

F. James Sensenbrenner
Member of Congress

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