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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement in response to the newly released Inspector General (IG) report on its investigation into the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) forfeiture practices, particularly its use of cash forfeitures. 

The investigation brought to light several weaknesses in the federal asset forfeiture program. The report’s key findings include:

• The DOJ does not aggregate data in order to meaningfully study the extent seizures aid criminal investigations or risk civil liberty violations.

• Only 29 of 85 cash interdiction seizures reviewed by the DOJ were part of an investigation or led to further investigation, arrest, or prosecution. Simply put, in approximately two-thirds of cases where cash was seized, there was no attempt to confirm that the money was related to criminal activity.

• The DOJ has insufficient training of federal law enforcement, as well as state and local law enforcement, of who are effectively deputized to enforce federal law.

Earlier today, Congressman Sensenbrenner reintroduced legislation aimed at reforming federal asset forfeiture laws. 

The DUE PROCESS Act, which was first introduced in the 114th Congress, builds upon changes made in the 2000 Civil Action Forfeiture Reform Act by increasing transparency in the civil asset forfeiture process, adding protections for innocent property owners, and implementing additional protections to ensure property owners have the opportunity to contest seizures. The legislation also improves the notice that the government must give property owners and makes it easier for them to be heard by a judge.

Additionally, the DUE PROCESS Act entitles property owners to an initial hearing, where they can retrieve confiscated property immediately if it was not seized according to the law. It increases the availability of attorney fees for innocent owners, places a higher burden of proof on the government, and allows for owners of confiscated animals to retrieve their pets faster.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: 
“The release of the Inspector General’s report highlights a serious problem that must be addressed. Civil asset forfeiture is an essential tool in the overall effort to fix our broken criminal justice system, but reform is necessary to strengthen faith in law enforcement, tamper abuse, and protect citizens’ Constitutional rights. It’s imperative to our justice system and the health of our nation to enact serious reform, which is why I’ve introduced the DUE PROCESS Act. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and move forward toward solutions that work for the people, not the government.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner delivered the following remarks during the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee hearing on “Restoring Enforcement of Our Nation’s Immigration Laws.”
 

Watch Congressman Sensenbrenner’s remarks here.
See full transcript below:

It is fitting that today’s hearing is called “Restoring Enforcement of Our Nation’s Immigration Laws.” The past eight years witnessed the Obama administration’s deliberate undermining of our immigration laws, the growth of anti-immigration enforcement policies at every level of government, and the vilification of federal, state and local law enforcement officers who attempt to enforce our nation’s duly enacted immigration laws.

Our immigration laws are an expression of our nation’s sovereignty. They are not suggestions. Yet, for the past eight years, they were largely ignored. And the example was set from the top. The Obama administration abandoned the rule of law under the guise of prosecutorial discretion has had devastating consequences: the cold-blooded murder of Kate Steinle, the death by DUI of Sarah Root, terrorist attacks ranging from the World Trade Center to the massacre in San Bernardino, the brutal sexual assault against as Rockville teenager. The time is long overdue to ensure that our immigration laws are enforced and that the rule of law is truly restored.

The Obama administration’s policies of “catch and release” and of rubberstamping credible fear claims at the border, and its outright prohibition on ICE officers and prosecutors from carrying out ICE’s critical mission, have left this nation increasingly at risk. As sky-high credible fear and asylum grant rates encouraged aliens to make the dangerous illicit journey to the United States, aliens overran our border and credible fear and asylum claims increased ten-fold.  Simultaneously, ICE removals from the interior dropped from 238,000 in 2009 to only 65,000 in 2016.

The Trump administration inherited a shell of immigration enforcement that it must now rebuild. I’m pleased we will hear today from witnesses who can fully explain the benefits of federal, state and local cooperation and the detrimental effects of obstruction. These sanctuary communities have decided to make a political statement out of lawlessness.

The Declined Detainer Outcome Report that ICE will now regularly issue will prove itself a useful tool in continually identifying these jurisdictions and the criminals they let out onto our streets. The government must discourage, not encourage, sanctuary policies and practices.

Under DHS’s November 2014 departmental guidance, ICE was given stringent parameters regarding those removable aliens it was permitted to apprehend and seek to remove. Additional guidance ending the successful Secure Communities program further constricted these parameters. This was sold to the American people as prioritizing ICE’s limited resources to go after only “the worst of the worst” – yet the number of criminal aliens removed from the interior fell from almost 87,000 in fiscal year 2014 to approximately 63,500 the following two fiscal years.

Under President Obama, it was widely understood that asylum officers should get to “yes” on credible fear determinations and requests for asylum -- by any means necessary. Asylum laws were written to offer refuge to the truly persecuted, and policies like this did nothing to advance those goals. Instead, those Obama administration policies worked to encourage many aliens to seek asylum with fraudulent boilerplate stories. The new administration is taking steps to correct this, and already, the flow of illegal aliens across the border has significantly slowed. This problem is endemic and I look forward to hearing today from our witnesses on best practices to address asylum fraud.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) sent the following letter to the Government Accountability Office, asking it to evaluate the status, effectiveness and benefits of current federal public access policies. This letter builds upon previous legislative efforts between these Members to ensure taxpayers, who are footing the bill for federal research, have adequate access to the published results free of charge.

Representative Johnson: “I want to thank Mr. Sensenbrenner for his continued leadership on this issue.  I am pleased to join him in this GAO request to evaluate the status, effectiveness, benefits, and challenges associated with current federal public access policies on our federal public access policies. Public access is an important topic across the scientific enterprise. Increased access and increased use of technology to enable and promote discovery across the body of scientific literature will advance the frontiers of science, medicine, and innovation across all sectors of our economy. I look forward to seeing GAO’s findings and to continuing to work with Mr. Sensenbrenner and with all interested parties as we move forward on this important issue.”      

Representative Sensenbrenner: “Understanding how federal agencies create and implement their guidelines for covered works of publicly funded research is essential to improving and modernizing our public access policies. We made progress with the previous administration, and I look forward to working with our federal agencies, as well as Representative Johnson and our fellow congressional colleagues to continue moving forward on this effort.”


Dear Mr. Dodaro: 

Scientific research supported by the Federal Government catalyzes scientific and technological breakthroughs that drive our economy, strengthen our national security, and improve the overall health and wellbeing of our society. Access to the results of federally funded scientific research helps to maximize the impact and accountability of the federal research investment. While the current model for providing access to peer-review scientific publications – through subscriptions held by institutional libraries – has generally met the needs of researchers at traditional research institutions and national laboratories, it has been limited in its ability to serve nontraditional researchers, including entrepreneurs not associated with a research institution. Further, in an increasingly interdisciplinary research environment, the current model does little to promote interoperability across archives and scientific disciplines. As a result, Congress and the Administration have taken steps to increase access to the results of federally funded research and to ensure greater integration and interoperability across disciplines.

In Sec. 103 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358), Congress required the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to convene an interagency working group to coordinate federal science agency research and policies related to the dissemination and long-term stewardship of the results of federally funded research, including peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from such research. In February 2013, the Director of OSTP issued a memorandum  to all agencies with over $100 million in annual research and development obligations to develop plans to support increased public access to federally funded research results. The memorandum specified several requirements for agencies’ plans, such as including a strategy for leveraging existing archives, where appropriate, and encouraging public-private collaboration, as well as specific requirements for public access to scientific publications and data in digital formats, respectively. For example, the OSTP memo called for agencies to use a twelve-month post-publication embargo period as a guideline for making federally funded research papers publicly available. 

In January 2017, the OSTP updated Congress on the Executive branch’s progress to create and implement public access plans for federally funded research. According to the report, all departments and agencies subject to the 2013 memorandum have completed their public access plans and those plans are available online. Seventeen agencies now require public access to publications resulting from all newly funded research, and three additional agencies have begun phasing-in these requirements.  

Last Congress, the two of us collaborated on introducing H.R. 1426, the Public Access to Public Science Act. H.R. 1426 was largely intended to codify the OSTP guidelines issued in 2013. In addition, our congressional colleagues have sponsored similar proposals to accelerate federal public access policies. 

In light of the OSTP memorandum and various legislative proposals, we request that the GAO undertake a study to evaluate the status, effectiveness, benefits, and challenges associated with current federal public access policies. Specifically, we ask that you consider the following questions:

1. What is the status of implementation of federal public access policies? What challenges, if any, are agencies facing in fully implementing their policies? What is the overall effectiveness of the agency policies in providing the public with free online access to federally funded research results?

2. To what extent is there consistency and/or variation across agencies in the nature of the policies (e.g. flexibility in the embargo period), and in the mechanisms used to implement their policies (e.g. central versus distributed repositories)? To what extent are agency archival solutions enabling integration and interoperability with other federal public access archival solutions and with related archives maintained by publishers and universities?

3. What challenges, if any, is the stakeholder community facing in complying with agency policies? To what extent does any variation across agencies affect ease or rate of compliance by federally funded researchers? How well are agencies working with researchers, publishers, and other stakeholders to streamline compliance?

4. How are agencies choosing to pay for their plans? Are they identifying adequate resources to fully implement their plans? To what extent are agencies leveraging private sector resources to implement their plans?

5. To what extent do the terms of use applicable to research results made available through federal public access policies enable productive reuse of the research and computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies?


If you have questions or to discuss this request further, please contact Dahlia Sokolov on the Science Committee staff at 202-225-6375 or Jacob Peterson in Representative Sensenbrenner’s office at 202-225-5101.


Sincerely,

Eddie Bernice Johnson
Ranking Member
Science, Space and Technology Committee

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the American Health Care Act:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I’m disappointed Congress didn’t act to repeal and replace Obamacare today. President Trump and Speaker Ryan showed true leadership in fighting for a bill that would have reduced the deficit and lowered health care premiums. This is was our first opportunity to repeal Obamacare but I’ll work to make sure it isn’t our last. I remain committed to improving health care for all Americans.” 
Through phone calls, emails, and at town hall meetings, constituents have contacted me about America’s health care system. I have heard stories that run the gambit between complete repeal and replace of Obamacare, saving it in its entirety, and everything in between.

While I appreciate all the feedback I receive from constituents, I have always been transparent about my desire to repeal and replace Obamacare – a law that was pushed through Congress without a single Republican vote, in the dead of night – legislation that was not fully written before it became law. 

The fact is that Obamacare is collapsing. It has robbed the American people of their ability to choose the health care plans that work for them. It has caused insurance prices to skyrocket, leaving the middle class with high premiums, high deductibles, and fewer options. It also created thousands of new federal regulations that have stifled American businesses while forcing citizens to purchase a product that many did not want. The Obamacare mandate is un-American to its core.

The Republican alternative introduced earlier this month is a positive first step toward a free-market solution that works for the people, not government. It was written through a long, deliberative process that included input from Members of Congress, health care specialists, and industry leaders who have seen first-hand the damaging repercussions of Obamacare. It also takes into account the views of the people – including the provisions most Americans expressly want to retain, such as not allowing insurance companies to refuse coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, repeal of lifetime coverage caps, and allowing children 26 years of age and younger to remain on their parents’ health care plans. Most importantly, it increases access to health care for all Americans without a government mandate. 

Further, the Republican plan cuts spending by $1.22 trillion and eliminates a number of new taxes amounting to $883 billion through 2026. It reduces the national deficit by $337 billion and amounts to the most significant government reform effort in decades.

This legislation is not perfect, but no legislation ever will be. Too many times, Congress lets the perfect be the enemy of the good, which often results in congressional inaction and the continuation of wasteful, ineffective government programs. The health and well-being of the American people now, and for generations to come, is too important for Congress to do nothing. 

That is why I support the American Health Care Act and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of H.R. 1188, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017, legislation reintroduced by Congressman Sensenbrenner earlier this year.


Watch the statement here.
Read the full transcript below:


The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, enacted in 2006, is landmark legislation intended to keep our communities, and most importantly our children, safe from sex offenders and other dangerous predators.

This bipartisan bill strengthened sex offender registry requirements and enforcement, extended federal registry requirements to Indian tribes, and authorized funding for several programs intended to address and deter child exploitation.

The centerpiece of the Adam Walsh Act is the national Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA [SORE-NA].  SORNA’s goal is to create a seamless national sex offender registry to assist law enforcement’s efforts to detect and track offenders.  SORNA provides minimum standards for state sex offender registries, and created the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Website, which allows law enforcement officials and the general public to search for sex offenders nationwide from just one website.

H.R. 1188, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017, reauthorizes two key programs from the original Adam Walsh Act – grants to the states and other jurisdictions to implement the Adam Walsh Act’s sex offender registry requirements, and funding for the U.S. Marshals’ to locate and apprehend sex offenders who violate registration requirements.  Specifically, the bill authorizes not less than $60 million annually through fiscal year 2021, which is consistent with recent appropriations. These programs are crucial to efforts to complete, and enforce, the national network of sex offender registries, particularly in light of the already-passed deadline for the states to come into compliance with SORNA.  

Based on feedback from the states, H.R. 1188 makes targeted changes to the SORNA sex offender registry requirements.  The bill changes the period of time after which juveniles adjudicated delinquent can petition to be removed from the sex offender registry for a clean record from 25 years to 15 years, and provides that juveniles do not need to be included on publicly-viewed sex offender registries.  Instead, it is sufficient for juveniles to be included on registries that are only viewed by law enforcement entities.  I believe these provisions strike an appropriate balance between being tough on juveniles who commit serious sex crimes and understanding that there can be differences between adult and juvenile offenders.   

The bill also recognizes the unique challenges that tribes face in implementing SORNA.  H.R. 1188 provides technical assistance to tribes so they can access, and enter information into, the federal criminal information databases. Finally, H.R. 1188 amends the statute of limitations to allow individuals who were victims of exploitation or trafficking as juveniles to have 10 years after becoming an adult to file suit for a civil remedy.   It is my hope that with these common sense changes, more states will come into compliance.

The Adam Walsh Act has already been a public safety success.  To date, the Justice Department has deemed 128 jurisdictions substantially compliant with the SORNA requirements, including 108 tribes and 3 territories. This legislation is critical because despite ongoing prevention efforts, the fight against child exploitation is not over.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill and I yield back the balance of my time.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), along with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), reintroduced the bipartisan Private Property Rights Protection Act, which would provide American citizens with the means to protect their private property from inappropriate claims of eminent domain. 

Under this legislation, if a state or political subdivision of a state uses its eminent domain power to transfer private property to other private parties for the purpose of economic development, the state would be ineligible for federal economic funds for two fiscal years following a judicial determination that the law has been violated. 

Additionally, the federal government would be prohibited from using eminent domain for economic development purposes.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The freedom to own and protect one’s private property is foundational to our country. Congress must fight to protect the private property rights of Americans and reform the use and abuse of eminent domain. Under our newly unified government, I’m hopeful this legislation will pass and restore the government’s power of eminent domain to its limited, proper role."

Congresswoman Waters: “Few policies have done more to destroy community and opportunity for minorities than eminent domain.  Some 3 to 4 million Americans, most of them ethnic minorities, have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of urban renewal takings since World War II. It is my hope that together we can protect the rights of vulnerable people by curbing eminent domain abuses through this legislation.”
Earlier this month, my colleague Eric Harris, who serves as communications director for Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), published a perspective in The Washington Post on the volume of phone calls being made to Congress in recent weeks.

In his piece, Harris thanks “furious callers who continue to bombard” their office because “their sentiments come from a genuine place of sincerity and alarm” about the current administration. He also labels these calls as a “spontaneous grass-roots uprising.”

From where I’m sitting, “spontaneous grass-roots uprising” is a gross mischaracterization of what actually is occurring on Capitol Hill and in district offices throughout the nation, and specifically here in Wisconsin.

As communications director for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), I’ve also spent a fair amount of time answering phone calls. Since the start of 2017, on average we have received 10 times more calls than in the previous year. The majority of calls are from individuals reading identical scripts, many of whom are not constituents of Sensenbrenner.

The terms “spontaneous” and “scripted” are in direct opposition to each other. Since it’s clear this “uprising” is scripted, I’m not sure how anyone could argue spontaneity.

I do share Harris’s sentiment that constituent calls and communications are always welcome in Sensenbrenner’s office. In fact, Sensenbrenner has made it a point to be highly accessible and responsive to his constituents, no matter their ideology, which is why he holds more in-person town hall meetings than any member of Congress — more than 100 annually.

However, much like the scripted calls we receive each day, Sensenbrenner’s town hall meetings have been inundated with planned opposition — individuals who come to meetings with scripted questions and a predetermined plan to disrupt proceedings.

This is, unfortunately, the new normal in today’s political climate. But it wasn’t always this way.

As recently as last fall, town hall meetings were still legitimate forums for constituents to discuss ideas and concerns with their representatives. In Sensenbrenner’s district, small groups of constituents would come to his town halls and speak with him directly. They often held opposing views, but they were earnest and honest. They respected the congressman’s position, and, although they disagreed, they allowed their fellow constituents to speak without interruption. People could leave knowing their voices were heard. There was no heckling, no coarse or abusive language and no personal attacks on the congressman’s character.

Now, due to the recent uprising of the national protest group, Indivisible, the days of productive, meaningful town hall meetings are obsolete. In our district and across the country, civil discourse has given way to planned protests, frequent disruptions and stunts performed to capture embarrassing footage of Republican representatives; footage the media will publicize no matter how banal.

Indivisible’s local group leaders mobilize their members to attend meetings, often recruiting the same people to follow a representative to multiple meetings. They provide prewritten questions to group members and have them ask them repeatedly at every meeting. They rehearse asking questions and follow-ups prior to meetings, and they strategize over how to best agitate representatives in the hopes they can catch something on film that can be misconstrued or taken out of context.

Additionally, local Indivisible chapters hold weekly protests at district offices nationwide, even when they know the member of Congress is not there.

Every American has the right to free speech and assembly; however, what do these tactics actually accomplish? This brand of disruptive behavior and adverse commentary further infects an already inauspicious political climate. This type of political exhibition divides families, friends and neighbors. But, most significantly, it robs others of their opportunity to have an equal say in the political process.

Thanks to Newton’s Third Law, we know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the reaction to outlandish behavior by protest groups is constituents losing their opportunity to speak to their representatives. It is individuals being forced to wait longer to have their issues with the federal government resolved because protesters are monopolizing the time and attention of district case workers. It is an environment that separates, disparages and demeans people with diverse opinions and beliefs.

Sensenbrenner likes to say that we can disagree without being disagreeable. For many years, this was true and I believe it can be true again. Differences of opinion and spirited debate can exist without blatant disrespect, cheap personal attacks and media fanfare. As Americans, I know we can get back to that place with a little self-reflection, honesty and understanding. And with a little luck, maybe it will start before our next town hall meeting.

Nicole Tieman is communications director for U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). Sign up for our newsletter, Real Time Opinion, for a weekly roundup of the best commentary in Wisconsin, right, center and left.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that would establish an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs within the U.S. Department of State. 

The Arctic is an area of geo-economic interest to the United States and surrounding nations, and the growing importance of the Arctic region cannot be understated. In the coming years, the region will provide new possibilities for trade, travel, and energy development. The constant evolution of the region is creating new areas of innovation in mining and minerals, as well as ongoing opportunities for research.

However, U.S. Arctic policy does not have a clear direction because more than 20 agencies conduct work in the Arctic.  The Government Accountability Office has found that these agencies face numerous challenges due to the lack of direction and specific resources for their work. Creating the position of Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs would allow the U.S. to better coordinate policy in this region.

Congressman Sensenbrenner pressed the Obama Administration to create this position to coincide with the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from May 2015 to May 2017.  However, the previous administration was shortsighted and failed to recognize that U.S. Arctic policy needs to be streamlined and requires someone with a direct line to the President. 

This legislation would amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to establish an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs within the State Department, in order to strengthen the U.S. relationship with the Arctic region and allow the U.S. to better coordinate Arctic policy among government agencies. 

The United States currently sits on the Arctic Council, where six of the eight member nations have already established an Ambassador for Arctic Affairs. Creating this position would allow the U.S. to work closer with the Council in furthering its important work.   

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
 “The time for an unclear and indecisive Arctic policy is over. America must recognize that other countries, including China and Russia, have very serious, and possibly adversarial, Arctic ambitions. Establishing an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs would allow us to decisively address issues that face the region and consequently, the rest of the world. I encourage my colleagues to support this endeavor and the work our nation does on the Arctic Council. Lastly, I wish the Finnish Government great success as they assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Finland is a great friend and important ally of the U.S., and I look forward to working with them on these issues.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner and Gwen Moore sent a letter to Office of the United States Trade Representative Chairman William L. Busis urging him to remove certain motorcycles from the tariffs being proposed on the European Union, which would have detrimental impacts on small-and-medium sized U.S. businesses that sell such motorcycles: 

Dear Mr. Busis:

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is currently seeking comments in connection with a request from representatives of the U.S. beef industry to reinstate certain retaliatory actions against the European Union (EU) pursuant to Section 306(c) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.  Included in the list of products under consideration for the imposition of increased duties are motorcycles, including mopeds, over 50 cubic centimeters of engine displacement, but not over 500 cubic centimeters from the EU (HTS 87112000 and 87113000). We write today to share our concerns that imposing retaliatory duties against these types of motorcycles would harm the U.S. domestic motorcycle industry, as well as small- and medium-business dealers across the United States and in our state of Wisconsin.  

We are aware that three of the largest U.S. motorcycle manufacturers – including the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, which is headquartered and manufactures in Wisconsin – have voiced their concerns with such tariffs.  We are similarly concerned that motorcycles should not be used as leverage in a trade dispute over agricultural issues, given such an action is unlikely to be effective in resolving the underlying issue.  Furthermore, we are concerned that levying retaliatory tariffs against European motorcycles in this dispute could increase the chance of retaliatory actions against Harley-Davidson motorcycles in any future trade dispute, including disputes completely unrelated to motorcycles.

Finally, we are very concerned with the impact such tariffs could have on small- and medium-sized businesses that carry these motorcycles, including dealers located in Wisconsin, as well motorcycle consumer and enthusiast communities across the United States.  We understand such an action would threaten well over 4,000 jobs at dealerships across the United States.

While USTR has the authority and duty to impose retaliatory tariffs against countries that fail to abide by their World Trade Organization obligations, we ask that your agency give heavy weight to the views of U.S. domestic industry and affected small businesses and decline to impose increased duties on motorcycles and mopeds from Europe.

Sincerely, 

Gwen Moore
Member of Congress

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress