Skip to content

I vividly remember a road trip I took as a young man with my father to the Deep South. When we stopped at gas stations, I watched out the window of our vehicle as black attendants pumped gas while white station owners collected the money. I saw first-hand the separation of water fountains and restroom facilities and wondered how communities could allow this practice to continue.

Later, as a representative in the Wisconsin Legislature, I again saw racial injustice up close. While attending events and spending time in parts of Milwaukee’s majority black neighborhoods, I listened to constituents as they described unnecessary obstructions that prohibited them from voting. Their personal stories were the inspiration behind my work to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.

Ensuring that every eligible American voter has the ability to cast his or her ballot without intimidation, preclusion and prejudice is a constitutional right. Since my earliest days in Congress, I have fought to protect it.

In 1982, I supported the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I played an instrumental role in the Act’s 2006 reauthorization. However, it was the 2006 reauthorization that was put before the United States Supreme Court for consideration and ultimately struck down.

The court declared that voter discrimination was no longer a problem, and removed language designed to stop discrimination before it mars an election but let stand provisions that allow lawsuits after a discriminatory law takes effect. Unfortunately, there is no way to remedy injustice at the polls after an election, leaving disenfranchised voters with few options.

One of the law’s core protections is its pre-clearance system. Before the enactment of the Voting Rights Act, discrimination at the polls and the federal government’s response was similar to that of a leaking boat. Local and state governments would discriminate against minority voters. Congress would then ban the discriminatory practices, only to have states find and implement new ways to discriminate. Rather than frantically trying to repair individual holes in the process, the Voting Rights Act acted as a lacquer that protected the entire process and secured it from further damage.

Pre-clearance forced states with a documented history of discrimination to allow the federal government to review certain changes to voting laws and practices before they were implemented. In this way, elections could proceed without the fear of discrimination at the polls.

In 2013, in Shelby vs. Holder, the Supreme Court held that, while preclearance is a constitutional response to voter discrimination; it is unconstitutional to apply it to states based on a 1965 formula — which was what the 1982 and 2006 reauthorizations were modeled after. The result is that pre-clearance remains, but almost no jurisdictions are subject to it.

In response to this ruling, I introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act in 2015, and reintroduced it again last week with my Democratic colleague Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. Among other things, the bill modernizes the original 1965 law — which applied preclearance to the same nine states for 48 years — so that the pre-clearance rules apply equally to every state in the country.

As a nation, we have made significant strides in correcting the mistakes of the past and fighting against voter discrimination but it’s imperative that we continue our efforts to ensure that history never again repeats itself.

The Voting Rights Act is not only about ending discrimination at the polls. It also gives faith to the voters who need to know that their vote counts and the election process is fair. Despite previous congressional inaction on this bill, I will continue to pursue it because no American eligible to vote should be silenced or deterred from voting due to the color of his or her skin.

You can view this piece online here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) reintroduced the bipartisan  Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2017 (VRAA), which would fully restore and modernize the original Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 to reflect today’s societal needs and challenges. 

One of the VRA’s core protections is its preclearance system, which previously required states with a documented history of discrimination to allow the federal government to review changes to voting laws and practices before they were implemented. This provision was struck down in 2013 by the Supreme Court in Shelby v. Holder, where the court held that while preclearance is constitutional; it is unconstitutional to apply it to states based on the 1965 formula.

Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Conyers introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2017 in response to this ruling. The VRAA would make all states and jurisdictions eligible for coverage formula based on voting violations in the last 15 years. Key elements of the legislation include:

  • Applies equally to every state in the country and only applies if a state has a documented history of discrimination.
  • States would only be subject to preclearance if they have committed five voting violations in the last 15 years.
  • Provides greater transparency in elections so that voters are made aware of any changes to polling times, dates, locations, and protocols. The additional sunlight will deter discrimination from occurring and protect voters from discrimination.
  • Allows for preliminary relief to be obtained more readily, given that voting rights cannot often be vindicated after an election is already over.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Every American – no matter the color of their skin – needs to know that we understand their right to vote is sacred. That is why reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act is so important. I’m confident that congressional leaders of both parties can come together in support of this modernized legislation and show their unfailing commitment to protecting that right.”

Congressman Conyers: “As a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus who cosponsored the original Voting Rights Act in 1965, I have witnessed firsthand the stain that discrimination has placed on our democracy.   The right to vote is the foundation of all other rights and the Voting Rights Act was critical to ensuring equal access to the ballot box for all Americans. In the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court decision, some states immediately worked to roll back the progress that has been made.  Congress has a long history of protecting and expanding access to the ballot box and it should continue to build on that legacy by fully restoring and enhancing the Voting Rights Act.”

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in August of 1965, and it has been reauthorized four times since.  President George W. Bush signed the most recent reauthorization into law in 2006, after the House voted 390-33 and the Senate 98-0 in favor of the legislation.

By: Chris Barlow of Wauwatosa NOW

With a backdrop of protesters outside the building, a rambunctious, overflow crowd packed the Firefly Room at the Wauwatosa Public Library Thursday, July 6 for a town hall meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner. 

The meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. but began about ten minutes early with Sensenbrenner announcing that he would shut it down if attendees grew noisy or disrespectful.

The proceedings were interrupted by the host at about 7:15 p.m. when the crowd began to grumble, groan and verbally react to Sensenbrenner's answer to a question about possible Russian interference in the U.S. election.

"We need to start being more respectful of opposing views," Sensenbrenner said. "We don't decide things on who yells the loudest."

The congressman went on to say that the current political climate has led to occurrences such as the shooting of several congressmen at a baseball practice June 14 in Washington D.C.

Sensenbrenner said he was keeping a tally of the interruptions to dissuade further outbursts. He then proceeded to say that cable news and the internet were to blame for the current amount of discord he has witnessed at his various meetings around southeastern Wisconsin.

Questions asked 

During the meeting attendees who had submitted their names via a sign-up process were chosen by Sensenbrenner to ask their questions verbally.

The most often-asked question by the attendees was in regard to health care, but questions also covered Russia, voter rights, voter fraud and treatment of veterans.

When an attendee asked a question on what measures Sensenbrenner has or will take in regard to working "across the aisle," the Republican cited his track record as an indication of his willingness to work with Democrats.

President Donald Trump and his current trip to Europe to meet with world leaders including Russian President Putin was brought up in several ways by the attendees.

When a questioner asked about Sensenbrenner's relationship with Trump and his attention to the investigation about Russian interference in last year's election, the congressman was quick to distance himself from the president.

"I have yet to talk to anyone that changed their vote from (Hillary) Clinton to Trump because Putin told them to," Sensenbrenner said. "I've met (Trump) once. I said I would support the party's nominee. I also said I would not vote for Trump in the primary."

Health care debate

When the subject turned to the current health care debate, Sensenbrenner said projections for Medicare will cause the system to go broke in 10 years or sooner.

"It is probably not moral to spend money on ourselves and pass (the debt) on to our grandchildren," Sensenbrenner said.

The congressman said he does not believe the Congressional Budget Office's projections on how many Medicare patients would lose insurance under the proposed bill, saying the number would be lower than predicted.  

When Tosa resident Jeff Wilcox was called on to ask his question, Wilcox questioned Sensenbrenner's adherence to his previous pledge to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act known as "Obamacare."

"(Conservatives) truly oppose government-funded health care and will never stop fighting against it," Wilcox said. "This legislation leaves the root's stumps and most of the branches of Obamacare. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell broke their word. I am calling for new leadership."

Sensenbrenner responded by saying it was clear from the town hall meetings held around the country by members of Congress that the people desire to keep many aspects of the ACA. He said that includes the provision on requiring insurance companies to give coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Effect on schools 

Wauwatosa School Board President Shawn Rolland attended the meeting and said he was concerned about the House and the Senate health care bills because they would cut special education funding for Wauwatosa and all Wisconsin public schools. 

"Medicaid funds are used for audiology services, speech therapy, physical therapy, nursing assistance or other medical equipment or services as outlined in a child's individual education plan," Rolland said. "Medicaid funds also can be used to pay for nurses, psychologists and guidance counselors."

Rolland added that if the bill isn't amended or voted down — and Medicaid funds are capped — funding for Wisconsin public schools will get cut. According to Rolland, the resulting federal funds loss for the district could be as much as $150,000 to $250,000.

"We need to care for children with special needs, legally and morally, so cuts will mean cuts somewhere in our kids' schools," Rolland said. "Sen. Ron Johnson, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Sensenbrenner can protect kids, especially kids with special needs, from funding cuts, but only if they act."

The meeting ended at 8:23 p.m. when Sensenbrenner said the meeting was about to go over the allotted time.

The capacity of the Firefly Room is 125 people. More than that number attended, meaning there were folks who were not able to take part in the meeting. The additional attendees stood in a line hoping to get in if others left.

In addition, a couple dozen protesters stood outside the building before, during and after the meeting.

You can view this article online here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner reintroduced the Moving Obstructed Trains In-between Openings Now (MOTION) Act.

Due to current federal regulations, train operators are required to immediately stop operations when they reach a specified number of hours. This means that even if a train is blocking traffic or has not reached its final destination, it must stop.

The issue is particularly troublesome in Wisconsin, which is one of the nation’s largest exporters of stone, gravel, and sand. The increased traffic on Wisconsin’s railways has caused trains to stall on the tracks for hours, leading to significant disruptions for motorists and communities throughout the state.

The MOTION Act would allow railroad employees to remain on duty and continue working in excess of federal hours of service limits to ensure their trains are not blocking crossings when they have reached their hour allotments.                                                                                                                                                                                          

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Blockages at crossing-grades are both inconvenient and dangerous for communities in Wisconsin, and nationwide.  We must reform the arbitrarily-set federal regulations governing freight operators’ hours of service in order to decrease traffic interruptions and protect public safety.”

Congressman Sensenbrenner first introduced H.R. 390, the Moving Obstructed Trains In-between Openings Now (MOTION) Act, in the House of Representatives in 2015.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will be the new Chairman of the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee. He replaces Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) who was recently named Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Since the beginning of the 115th Congress, Congressman Sensenbrenner has served as Chairman of the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, a position which will be taken over by Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). Sensenbrenner will remain a member of this committee.

Congressman Sensenbrenner previously chaired the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation Subcommittee during the 114th Congress. He is also the former House Judiciary Committee Chairman from 2001-2006.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I’m honored to accept this new role within the House Judiciary Committee and I’m looking forward to bringing my experience and expertise to the table as my colleagues and I work together to find solutions for the many challenges our nation faces in these vital issue areas.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act, which would provide visas to displaced Tibetans.

Thousands of Tibetans have gone into exile due to continuing repression in their homeland. These refugees have worked to preserve their religious and cultural identity in exile communities in India and Nepal, but the influx of Tibetans creates many challenges and places an economic burden on these countries. Because they fled Tibet, current U.S. law may consider the Tibetans “firmly resettled” in a third country and might render them inadmissible to the U.S.

The Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act addresses this problem by providing 3,000 immigrant visas to qualified displaced Tibetans over a three-year period. The bill supports the well-being of the Tibetan exile community as they strive to find a peaceful solution for Tibet; helps the overburdened settlements in India and Nepal; and gives displaced Tibetans the opportunity to flourish as Tibetan-Americans.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The United States has a long record of giving humanitarian assistance to other countries in need, including providing refuge to those persecuted abroad. The religious injustice occurring to the Tibetan people by the Chinese government cannot be tolerated. As a global leader, America must act immediately to help these religiously persecuted individuals.”

Congresswoman Lofgren: “The Tibetan people have suffered decades of persecution at the hands of the Chinese government. After the devastation of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, it is even more necessary for displaced Tibetans to be recognized by the United States for refugee assistance and afforded protection under U.S. Law.”

By: Christian Schneider of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In the past handful of years, it has appeared as if notable Wisconsin Republicans were falling from the sky. In 2011, Reince Priebus became chair of the Republican National Committee; the following year, Gov. Scott Walker fought off a nationally-publicized recall attempt. And Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan became the 2012 Vice Presidential candidate, eventually ascending to Speaker of the House.

With all these flashy new youngsters making news, Wisconsin's decades-long conservative standard bearer watched quietly from the wings. When Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner first took his seat in 1979, Ryan was 9 years old and America still couldn't conceive of the idea of "President Ronald Reagan."

But if Sensenbrenner harbors any envy towards the new crop of state conservatives, he doesn't show it. "I've backed and mentored Paul and Scott and (U.S. Rep.) Sean Duffy right from the time they decided they were going to run," he told me this week. Sensenbrenner says he considers them all close friends and often serves as a "sounding board" when they want to work through issues.

"Some would refer to me as the political 'Godfather,'" he jokes.

And while some view the 74-year old as the state's resident conservative curmudgeon, he delights in trading humorous birthday gifts with Ryan, which he believes demonstrates "the depth of our friendship." Recently, the Speaker gifted Sensenbrenner an empty water cooler bottle, telling him to use it to go out and trap cow flatulence in an attempt to reduce climate change. In return, Sensenbrenner has sent Ryan a talking toilet paper dispenser, a small reindeer that defecated brown jelly beans, and some men's hair coloring gel.

Given that Sensenbrenner won his first election to the state legislature before both Woodstock and Neil Armstrong's moon landing (as a law student in the late 1960s, he roamed the UW-Madison campus with the likes of fellow students Tommy Thompson and Dick Cheney), he has seen the Republican Party undergo numerous identity crises. When I asked him how to keep the party from fracturing in the Era of Trump, he pointed to Wisconsin as an example of how to keep coalitions strong.

"In both 2010 and 2016, we really did a good job of keeping the different elements of the Republican Party that have been very divisive in other states together in Wisconsin," he said. He added that unity within the party requires "different pitches for different groups of people," and that candidates in Wisconsin have been able to bridge that gap in a way missing in other states.

The old-school Sensenbrenner does, however, decry what he calls the cable news "24-second news cycle," which he thinks spawns negativity and political extremism. "I've never had as contentious town hall meetings as I've had this year," he said, accusing "hateful and spiteful" Sanders Democrats of "shouting down anyone who they disagree with." 

Of course, Sensenbrenner's nearly half-century in Congress hasn't been without its low points. At a town hall meeting in 2011, he made a crack about the size of First Lady Michelle Obama's posterior, for which he quickly apologized. On the job, Sensenbrenner thinks the toughest time he's had was in the mid-2000s, when he tried to crack down on illegal immigration well before Donald Trump had publicly considered the issue.

Yet four decades in office certainly haven't dulled Sensenbrenner's partisan edges. When I asked him about the Senate health care bill unveiled on Thursday, he immediately chastised Senate Democrats for opposing the bill so soon after it was made public.  "Good question to ask of Senator (Tammy) Baldwin," he said, taking aim at his Wisconsin colleague who faces re-election in 2018, "whether she read it before she decided to vote against it."

Speaking of 2018, Sensebrenner tells me is definitely going to be on the ballot again. Given that he represents one of the most Republican districts in the nation, generations of young conservative stars have come and gone waiting for him to retire or run for higher office.

When I asked him what he would say to those Republicans patiently waiting to run for his seat when he's done, he answered in his trademark gruff manner.

"Wait longer."

You can view this piece online here.

I have always placed a high priority on being accessible and accountable to my constituents, which is why I hold approximately 100 in-person town hall meetings annually. My staff in Brookfield and Washington, D.C. field many calls each day, and every constituent who would like an individual response to specific questions submitted by phone, email, or standard mail receives one in a timely manner.

Social media is also an important forum for constituents to speak their minds and let me know how they feel about issues and specific legislative efforts, which is why last month, I wrote a column that specifically addressed the questions I receive through my social media accounts. Due to the positive response I received, I’d like to follow that column up with another to address more questions I frequently receive on Facebook and Twitter.

The conversations that occur on my social media accounts are monitored each day and comments and questions are passed along to me. Although I don’t respond directly on social media, it’s important for my constituents to know that I see their posts.

Thank you to every constituent who takes the time to contact my office and/or speak to me directly at any of my many town hall meetings. I look forward to continued discussions on important legislation and issues that affect the people of our communities and our nation.

“Representative, what do you have against protecting Americans or the animals that are used in products? If one state passes a regulation, it’s for a specific reason – to protect its citizens or animals. Why aren’t you behind protecting your constituents and resources? You want national-only policies… that doesn’t sound like a conservative policy and takes away States rights.”

Posted on Facebook June 13, 2017

I don’t believe residents and businesses of one state should be subject to the taxes and regulations of another – this is a deeply-rooted Constitutional principle. When the actions of one state infringes on the rights of the other 49, the overreach must be curtailed in accordance with the Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce.

I recently introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 which would preserve each state’s authority to regulate and tax its own citizens and businesses, and ensure that only the federal government can dictate national policies. It takes no position on the merits of any individual regulation, but instead targets the manner of their implementation because individual states should not influence national policy.

 

“.@JimPressOffice it’s time to begin impeachment proceedings. Trump is certifiably insane!! #ImpeachTrump #ComeyHearing”

Posted on Twitter June 9, 2017

Earlier this month, former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress and stated three separate times that President Donald Trump was not the subject of any FBI investigation.

There is no proof of wrongdoing on the part of the President, which means discussions of impeachment are premature, imprudent, and counterproductive. In fact, even Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has warned her Democratic colleagues not to push impeachment, saying during a CNN town hall:

“What are the facts that you would make a case on? What are the rules that he may have violated? If you don’t have that case you are just participating in more hearsay.”

 

“When you put America before THE EARTH, you’re damning the future of America.”

Posted on Facebook June 4, 2017

President Obama bypassed the Constitution and entered the United States into a losing agreement when he committed the country to the Paris Climate Accord. Knowing he could not get Senate approval for a treaty, Obama sidelined Congress and called the deal an “executive agreement."

The agreement, which does not hold all nations to the same standards, forces the U.S. to reduce emissions immediately while allowing global polluters, such as China and India, to expand their carbon footprints through the 2020s. This is not only bad for the environment, but it puts the U.S. at a severe economic disadvantage.

Further, it hurts Wisconsin. Coal provides more than half of our state’s net electricity generation, and our manufacturers already pay more for electricity than most of our neighboring states. This means higher electricity costs to Wisconsin’s consumers, a less competitive state, and stunted economic growth. 

I applaud President Trump for putting America first and leaving this unfair climate agreement. We all want cleaner air and water, but we can achieve these goals without handicapping the country and outsourcing jobs to foreign countries

 

“Another day where you refuse to address your vote to strip 24 million Americans of their health coverage.”

Posted on Facebook May 22, 2017

I certainly understand the concerns regarding a recent analysis which indicated that if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) were to be implemented in its current form, 23 million Americans could lose their health insurance coverage.

While I appreciate the in-depth analysis that CBO presents to Congress on a wide range of legislation, I am skeptical of CBO's ability to properly score health care-related legislation. The CBO's track record when it comes to health policy is checkered at best. 

When Obamacare was signed into law, CBO projected that 22 million people would be enrolled in the health care exchanges by the year 2016. However, less than 13 million had enrolled in a state or federal exchange plan by the end of the 2016 open enrollment period.

Additionally, in 2014, CBO estimated that the cost per Medicaid enrollee would be approximately $4,200 in 2015. However, when the Obama administration released the 2015 Medicaid actuarial report, the cost per enrollee was $6,366 on average. That is nearly 50% higher than CBO had anticipated.

And finally, the CBO failed to take into account the 3-step process that Congressional Republicans are taking in order to reform our nation’s health care system to truly address the causes of increasing health care costs.

By implementing all three phases of the reforms, health care costs will finally begin to decrease and insurance premiums will follow suit, thus making health care more affordable for all Americans.

Discrepancies like these make me take pause prior to accepting CBO's analysis as accurate. CBO analyzed the AHCA as if it had already been signed into law, and no further actions were taken.

 

“Really, police officers? What is all that about?”

Posted on Facebook May 22, 2017

My district staff works closely with the United States Capitol Police to determine what measures should be taken to ensure the safety of everyone at my town hall meetings. They advise my staff to work with local law enforcement, and they decide what the appropriate plan is based on multiple factors, such as attendance and location.

My office does not dictate to local law enforcement how they should handle my town hall meetings, meaning that the police response at my meetings varies depending on location.

Prior to the shooting of former Representative Gabby Giffords, a simple “heads up” was often sufficient, but after that terrible incident, and more recently the shooting of Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others at a baseball practice in Virginia, as well as the large increase in attendance and heated political rhetoric, coordination with the Capitol Police has become more detailed.

 

“Every vote you have done is on party lines (except the budget vote.) Where is the bipartisanship you are talking about?”

Posted on Facebook May 22, 2017

I have a long record of working across the aisle and championing bipartisan legislation like criminal justice reform, USA FREEDOM, reforming surveillance laws and increasing privacy protections, and the Voting Rights Act – to ensure every American has the right to vote.

In fact, according to a Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, I rank 65 out of 435 on their list of bipartisan Members of Congress.

I believe that good policy requires input from both sides of the aisle, and continuing open discussions on the problems we face will enable us as a nation to find real solutions. The process is never easy but if we respect one another, I’m confident that we can find ourselves in a better place than where we began.

 

“How about working on healthcare across party lines.”

Posted on Facebook May 21, 2017

I wish my Democratic colleagues would work with me and fellow Republican legislators to pass significant health care reform to truly provide quality, affordable care to all Americans. Republicans have given them every opportunity to provide input and constructive criticism; however Democrats have not wanted to participate.

Despite this, Republicans have listened to their constituents regarding health care, and have included some of the most popular aspects of Obamacare in the new bill, including allowing kids up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance, and ensuring individuals with preexisting conditions are not denied care.

Unfortunately, our nation’s health care situation is too dire to kick the can down the road. Obamacare is failing. Every day, more insurance companies are dropping out of the Obamacare exchanges, leaving many Americans without access to insurance coverage.

The House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act earlier this year, and now it is before the Senate, where a majority of Republicans will also encourage Democratic participation as they review the bill.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sent the following letter to United States Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross compelling him to limit the scope of an ongoing investigation of steel products used for national security applications in order to avoid unnecessarily impacting manufacturers producing non-security related steel products:

 

Dear Secretary Ross,

I am writing in regards to the Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce, dated April 20, 2017, which directs an “investigation under section 232(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (the "Act") (19 U.S.C. 1862(b)(1)(A)) to determine the effects on national security of steel imports and the Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce, dated April 27, 2017, which directs an “investigation under section 232(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (the "Act") (19 U.S.C. 1862(b)(1)(A)) to determine the effects on national security of aluminum imports.

I appreciate the President’s commitment to America’s security and his commitment to assuring a level playing field for American manufacturing.  However, I am concerned that the scope of this investigation could include steel and aluminum that has no national security application, such as tinplate steel, rolled can sheet, and the primary aluminum and ingot that is milled into rolled can sheet, food and beverage containers, lids, and closures.  These products are principally produced outside of the United States because the remaining U.S. smelters largely make more profitable aluminum and steel products domestically.  Because of this, companies that use these products largely depend on imports in order to make aluminum cans and bottles. Our dependence on the imports of these products is not recent.  In fact, the U.S. has been in this deficit trade position with these products since the end of World War II.

I am concerned that if these products are included within the scope of the Section 232 investigation, it will result in the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs, both in Wisconsin and in other states around the nation, along with higher prices for the American consumer.

I understand that this consequence would be unintended.  Not all aluminum and steel is the same, and the distinction of tinplate steel, rolled can sheet, and primary and ingot used for food and beverage containers, lids and closures versus other aluminum is very important.  I hope that your investigation under Section 232 will be limited in scope to only products that are used for national security applications and not include the products listed above. 

Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to working with you on this matter.  Should you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Mark O’Neil in my office at Mark.O’Neil@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.

Member of Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner and Senator Ron Johnson sent the following letter to United States Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, urging him to consider the unintended ramifications of a Department investigation into the effects of steel imports on national security, and its potential negative impact on U.S. manufacturing – mainly increased, unnecessary, and burdensome restrictions:

Dear Secretary Ross,

Re: Section 232 National Security Investigation of Imports of Steel

We write to you regarding the Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce, dated April 20, 2017, which directs an “investigation under section 232(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (19 U.S.C. 1862(b)(1)(A)) to determine the effects on national security of steel imports, and its potential negative impact on manufacturing in the United States.

We are greatly concerned that an investigation by the Department of Commerce may not distinguish between the different types of products produced from electrical steel and therefore unnecessarily place restrictions on the importation of electrical steel and components used to manufacture electric distribution transformers.  

Grain Oriented Chemically or Mechanically Etched Domain Refined Electrical Steel is a critical component in producing Wound Core Electrical Transformers. This specific grain oriented electrical steel is sought after in the developed world due to its very high performance in electrical distribution systems. As such, there are no producers that supply this type of electrical steel in North America.  Additionally, this precise grain oriented electrical steel allows power producers to meet and exceed the 2016 Department of Energy efficiency standards placed on electrical distribution transformers.

We believe that a potential quota placed on Grain Oriented Chemically or Mechanically Etched Domain Refined Electrical Steel could have unintended consequences that leave producers without a supply of this vital material, ultimately jeopardizing the domestic production of electrical transformers and potentially impacting hundreds of jobs in the state of Wisconsin.

Therefore, we ask that the Department of Commerce considers the lack of domestic supply of specific Grain Oriented Electrical Steel and request that Grain Oriented Chemically or Mechanically Etched Domain Refined Electrical Steel not be subject to action under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.

Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.

Member of Congress

 

Ron Johnson

United States Senator