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By: Evan Frank of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CITY OF OCONOMOWOC - In the four years since his death, Archie Badura's family and friends have made it their mission to bring awareness to opioid addiction.

From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 19, the fourth annual Jump for Archie, Jump for Prevention Day will take place at the Oconomowoc City Beach. Lauri Badura, Archie's mother and the founder of Saving Others for Archie, will host the event. Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow will also be in attendance for National Prevention Day in the Park.

This year, several jumps will be featured. The Recovery Jump is scheduled for noon followed by the Jump for Archie & Others at 12:30; Elected Officials & Federal, State, County Leaders Jump at 1 and the Prevention Jump at 1:30. At 1:45, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will give the closing remarks.

The public is invited to bring a towel and change of clothes to capture their own jumps, to hear inspiring stories, and receive free naloxone (Narcan) training to learn how to administrate the opiate reversal agent. Participants in naloxone trainings will receive a free dose of the drug. Participants in the jumps will receive a free T-shirt and SOFA wristbands while supplies last.

In February, Sensenbrenner introduced the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act to help save lives by fighting the spread of fentanyl analogues. Sen. Ron Johnson introduced a similar SOFA Act in the Senate in July 2017.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) participated in a House Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Challenges and Solutions in the Opioid Abuse Crisis.” Among the expert panelists that testified before the committee were acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Robert Patterson, and Dr. Timothy Westlake of Hartland, WI.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “In addition to treating addiction, empowering law enforcement agents to stop the proliferation of dangerous opioids and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and its analogues, is an important step to ending the opioid epidemic. This hearing gave members of the committee an opportunity to hear directly from subject matter experts about the next steps Congress should take to combat this public health crisis, including my Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act.

I’m grateful to all of the witnesses, especially Dr. Timothy Westlake, who has been instrumental in my work on this issue. His expertise and passion have proven invaluable as we try to end the scourge of the opioid epidemic.”

Dr. Timothy Westlake is an emergency medicine physician at a practice based in Oconomowoc, WI. He serves on Wisconsin’s Medical Examining Board and Controlled Substances Board and has nearly 20 years of practice in southeastern Wisconsin.

Dr. Westlake provided the following opening statement during the hearing:

“In my role on the Wisconsin Medical Examining and Controlled Substance Boards, I became the physician architect of the state’s prescription opioid reform strategy and an expert on opioid scheduling. 

As an emergency physician on the front lines of the opioid battlefield for the past 20 years, I’ve witnessed more tragedy than I care to recall. Like you, I am laser focused on what can be done to stop the senseless loss of life. It’s why I am grateful for this opportunity to talk with you today and to share a legislative solution that’s actually working in Wisconsin right now.

But first, a brief story about a young man named Archie Badura. Every Sunday, we sat next to Archie and his family in church, where he was an altar server alongside my daughters. Archie got hooked on marijuana first, then prescription opioid pills, heroin followed shortly, and eventually fentanyl – a tragically all too familiar slide. The last time I saw Archie alive, he was my patient in the ER. I had to resuscitate him with Narcan after he overdosed on fentanyl. Before discharging him, we pulled out a body bag, unzipped it, and pretended to fit him for it. It was a wake-up call. Archie became serious about getting clean and started following recovery principles. He told his family he was going to beat the odds and not end up in a body bag. He stayed drug-free for six months after this. Sadly, he eventually relapsed on fentanyl and died at age 19. His mom, my friend Lauri, vividly remembers Archie being zipped into a body bag – identical to the one she had seen me showing him months earlier. In his honor, Lauri founded SOFA – Saving Others For Archie – and now helps others who are desperately trying to help their loved ones.

It is incontrovertible that the increased availability of prescription opioids has fueled the epidemic. As a medical regulator, I have spent countless hours working to identify and implement best practices. For starters, we need more judicious prescribing practices. We are doing this in Wisconsin – not with top-down mandates, but through education and partnerships within the medical community. In my written testimony, I provide more detail about the kind of cutting-edge Prescription Drug Monitoring Program reforms and educational reforms that we have put into place. 

The fact is that the lion’s share of medical regulation does and should occur at the state, medical licensing board, and health system levels. Where Congress can and has – and can continue to be helpful – is in law enforcement and in providing flexible funding to the states themselves to invest in communities where the dollars are most needed. When government intervenes too much, for example, with the development of the pain scale and pain as the fifth vital sign, there is too much room for unintended consequences.

By far, the deadliest front in the opioid war is the danger posed by the creation of fentanyl-related substances. These deaths now surpass heroin deaths. The lethal dose of fentanyl is 2mg, which means that there could be enough fentanyl in this 4 lb box to kill more than 900,000 people – which would be more than the entire population of D.C. In fact, fentanyl variants and related substances are so deadly, they can be used – and are classified – as chemical weapons. These are not just drugs, they are actually considered weapons of mass destruction.

The “bad” guys use loopholes in the existing scheduling laws to create new legal fentanyl variants. These untested chemicals are then produced – mostly in China – and introduced into the opioid supply. As our prescription opioid reforms take effect and the medical community returns to more judicious prescribing practices, the market for counterfeit pills will continue to explode. Most illicit opioid users have no idea what they’re consuming. With the advent of counterfeit pill production, they believe they’re ingesting a “safe” trade-name manufactured pill when actually it’s a fentanyl-related counterfeit substance. These pills can be alarmingly more strong than what they are purported to be, up to hundreds of times stronger. The singer Prince died from a counterfeit Vicodin pill ingestion that was actually fentanyl.

During 2016, in one weekend, there were 12 deaths in Milwaukee from counterfeit pills that contained cyclopropyl fentanyl, which at the time was not controlled and could be bought legally on the Internet.

We saw this coming in Wisconsin years ago. We worked closely with the DEA to get ahead of it. We created and enacted novel scheduling language now being modeled nationally. “Act 60” – or the SOFA Act (Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogs in homage to Saving Others For Archie). It controls, by structure, all likely and possible bioactive chemical fentanyl modifications. This novel, catch-all legislative language allows us to schedule proactively and not wait for loved ones to die before we can schedule each newly modified fentanyl variant. So instead of playing whack-a-mole with the variants as people die as we discover them, it unplugs the entire fentanyl machine. 

The week after Wisconsin enacted SOFA, the DEA published the identical scheduling language in the Federal Register as the method of federal temporary scheduling. Chemists around the world, and in China, must be paying attention because since that announcement six months ago, there have been no new fentanyl variants found. In the prior two years, there had found and scheduled 17 new fentanyls, representing hundreds of deaths. 

But the language needs to be written into the U.S. code, as the DEA Administrator said, for the best permanent scheduling solutions. Many thanks to Mr. Sensenbrenner and Senator Ron Johnson, who have the federal SOFA Act. Thank you for their leadership on that.

When asked how often I see fentanyl overdoses, the answer is tragically far too often. The last shift I worked was two days ago – on Sunday. As I was preparing my testimony, I was interrupted to go resuscitate a fentanyl overdose.

It’s for this reason, I urge you to pass legislation and make it so. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to answering any questions.”

You can view Congressman Sensenbrenner’s question to acting Administrator Patterson here.

You can read the full text of the SOFA Act here.

By: Wisconsin State Journal editorial board

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, is again Wisconsin’s most cooperative member of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, also scored well for bipartisanship during 2017, according to the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

Congratulations to both public servants.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, was the most improved of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation at working across the partisan divide last year, though she’s still pretty average for collaboration in the Senate.

Even U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, has improved a little in the last year, after finishing nearly dead last for cooperation in the House of Representatives in 2016.

Yet overall, Wisconsin’s members of Congress should be doing much better at working with others to propose sensible legislation that’s good for our state and nation.

The Lugar Center, founded by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Georgetown researchers released their latest assessment last week of how often members of Congress sponsored legislation with bipartisan support. The annual and scientific assessment accounts for variations based on which political party is in power, and compares performance to a 20-year baseline of data.

The Lugar Center and McCourt School of Public Policy began calculating their Bipartisan Index in 2015 to encourage more pragmatism and cooperation toward solving America’s problems.

Kind ranked as the 21st most bipartisan lawmaker in the 435-member House during 2017. That’s down a bit from past years but still excellent.

Sensenbrenner ranked 79th best in 2017, while U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, placed 185th. U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, improved to 216th, though he’s still pretty average when it comes to partnering with members of the opposite party in the often gridlocked Congress.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth, fell to 333rd, which is disappointing. Yet he is better at cooperating across party lines than U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, who ranked 359th.

Wisconsin’s least bipartisan member is Grothman, who was 410th, though that was better than the previous two years when he ranked nearly last among all his congressional colleagues.

In the Senate, Baldwin improved to 54th among 100 senators, which is below average but much better than previous years. Her Senate colleague from Wisconsin, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, finished 51st.

(U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, wasn’t rated because he is the House speaker, so his job is inherently partisan, according to the researchers.)

Wisconsin’s representatives in Washington must do better. The only way America’s many challenges will be met is by working together for the common good.

By: Wisconsin Ag Connection

Dozens of Congressmen, including three from Wisconsin, are calling on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to work toward negotiating an end to Canada's Class VII dairy pricing program during upcoming NAFTA negotiations. In a letter to the trade ambassador, the lawmakers claim America's dairy farmers and those whose jobs are tied to the dairy product manufacturing sector are experiencing limited markets and deeply depressed farm income levels under the current arrangement.

"The new Class VII pricing system within the Canadian National Ingredient Strategy introduced in February 2017 has negatively impacted dairy farmers in Wisconsin by favoring Canadian milk products," said Rep. Ron Kind. "Under the National Ingredient Strategy, Canadian milk product ingredients are priced at or below internationally competitive levels, undercutting Wisconsin dairy farmers not only in Canada but allowing dumped Canadian product to threaten market access for Wisconsin farmers globally."

Reps. Sean Duffy and Jim Sensenbrenner also signed the memo. They stated that its 'critical' that the Administration achieves its established goals of eliminating Canada's newer milk program and dairy tariff walls.

"The industry is counting on the USTR to deliver in these key areas, which would spur U.S. exports and therefore help contribute to favorable gains in the U.S. trade balance in the NAFTA markets," the letter read. "This Administration, with strong support from Congress, has rightfully condemned Canada's actions on dairy trade over the past year. While Canada is one of our strongest allies and trading partners, its approach to dairy policy has been on that for too long has used various policy tools to impact trade in ways that directly harm our dairy industry."

Several dairy groups also commented on the lawmakers' request on Wednesday, stating that it's 'imperative that we do note lose this opportunity to tackle these problems.'

The International Dairy Foods Association says Canada has imposed stiff tariffs of 200 to 300 percent on U.S. dairy exports for many years, causing dairy farmers to face dire economic conditions in recent years.

Washington, D.C.—Yesterday, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) was recognized for his work on the Second Chance Act at a celebration marking ten years of success for the groundbreaking criminal justice reform legislation.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “In a time when our political climate is divided, criminal justice reform continues to gain wide-bipartisan support. I’m proud of my work on the original Second Chance Act, which has empowered hundreds of thousands of individuals to reenter society successfully. I’m grateful to accept this award and look forward to seeing this important legislation reauthorized this year.”

The event took place during the Trump Administration’s Second Chance Month as Congress prepares to reauthorize the Second Chance Act. It was hosted by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Association of State Correctional Administrators, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Counties, Prison Fellowship, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Background on the Second Chance Act and Second Chance Reauthorization Act:

Congress passed the Second Chance Act with strong bipartisan support and President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2008. This legislation provides non-profit faith and community-based organizations with mentoring grants to develop support programs such as drug treatment, housing, job training, medical care, and education.

Reentry services have been improved, which resulted in a reduction in recidivism and helped ensure a successful return to society for prisoners who have completed their sentence. More than 100,000 men, women, and youths returning home from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities have benefited from Second Chance grants providing career training, mentoring, family-based substance abuse treatment, and other evidence-based reentry programs. 

This investment has also paid public safety dividends. A report from the National Reentry Resource Center highlights how numerous states have experienced drastic reductions in statewide recidivism rates as a result of robust reentry services made possible in part through Second Chance.

Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and Danny Davis (D-IL-07) introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act to build upon the success of the original legislation. The bill authorizes funding for both public and private entities to evaluate and improve academic and vocational education for offenders in prison, jails, and juvenile facilities.

By: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner
April 17, 2018

Great news for Wisconsinites: Today is Tax Day 2018, and it marks the last day that you’ll be burdened by an outdated and cumbersome tax code. Filing your taxes under the pro-family, pro-growth Tax Cuts & Jobs Act will be fairer and simpler than ever before.

Since the tax code’s last overhaul in 1986, our code has exploded into more than 70,000 pages of loopholes and carve-outs, making it time-consuming and frustrating for families and small businesses to complete their taxes. Reform was long overdue.

Fortunately, after today’s tax filing deadline, those frustrations will be history.

Under our new system, every American can take advantage of the doubled standard deduction. Additionally, families can utilize an increased child tax credit. And no one will be forced to pay a penalty tax for deciding to forgo purchasing health insurance.

Immediately after President Trump signed the tax bill into law, Americans across the country began reaping the benefits of tax reform.

In February, the IRS issued new tax withholding instructions to businesses, allowing 90 percent of American employees to take home bigger paychecks.

Not only are most Americans keeping more of their hard-earned money, but many of them have also received additional perks from their employers, often coming in the form cash bonuses, retirement investments, and increased benefits.

For example, as a direct result of the tax cuts, full-time employees at the Pewaukee-based Trico Corporation will receive $650 bonuses and increased contributions into their 401(k) accounts. The company will also hire more full-time workers to fill new positions. Town Bank, which has more than a dozen locations across southeastern Wisconsin, is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. And earlier this year, Sussex-based Quad/Graphics announced that it would invest $22 million into its employees’ retirement accounts.

These are just a few of the many tax reform success stories that are occurring across our state and across the nation. As of early April, 4 million
workers at more than 400 businesses nationwide have received one of these benefits.

New tax savings are being passed along to Wisconsinites in other ways too. The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin projects that utility companies
will save more than $275 million under the new code — a cost savings that will ultimately be realized by consumers.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats bemoaned thousand-dollar bonuses as “crumbs.” But, this thinking is flawed. Most American families don’t think $1,000 is small change — but rather an investment in their children’s college fund, a much-needed vacation, or a way to pay down debt.

Ms. Pelosi also warned the tax cuts would bring “Armageddon,” yet after eight years of failed policies and economic stagnation, these reforms have led to steady economic growth. There are signs of renewed economic optimism all around Wisconsin, not the least of which is our record low unemployment of 2.9 percent.

Most significantly, the average family of four in Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District can expect to save an additional $2,564 this year. These are real, tangible results that even the most cynical among us cannot deny.

This year, Tax Day is a day to celebrate, not only because the successes of tax reform are overwhelming, but also because they are just the beginning. We promised more jobs and bigger paychecks, and so far we’ve delivered just that for folks in Wisconsin and across America.

You can read the piece online here.

*Note this piece has been updated to reflect the benefits Quad/Graphics provided to its employees as a result of tax reform.

By: Sam Varghese of IT Wire

Both Democrats and Republicans from the US House of Representatives have characterised as "highly questionable" the FBI's claim that it could not gain access to 7800 mobile devices last year.

Their reaction came in a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray about the agency's actions in the 2016 stoush with Apple, over gaining access to an iPhone 5C belonging to a terrorist who had killed Americans in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015.

They cited a recent report from the Justice Department inspector-general that "undermines statements that the FBI made during the San Bernardino litigation and consistently since then, that only the device manufacturer (Apple) could provide a solution" to unlock the iPhone in question.

The inspector-general's report had said the FBI was not interested in unlocking tools developed by third parties and was looking to force Apple to provide a means of access to iPhones.

The House members added that recent reports that companies such as Cellebrite and GrayShift had developed tools to cheaply unlock nearly every phone on the market, including the latest version of iOS, raised even more concerns that the FBI had not been forthcoming about the extent of the problem of "going dark".

The FBI's stoush with Apple kicked off in February 2016, when the agency obtained a court order, asking the company to supply a new version of its mobile operating system, iOS, which did not have certain locking functions, so that the agency could attempt to guess the passcode on the iPhone 5C by using a brute force method.

When Apple resisted, the FBI came back with an order compelling the company to fall in line.

The matter was supposed to be heard in Court on 22 March 2016, but a day before this the FBI suddenly asked for a continuance until 5 April 2016 in order that a method proposed by an outside agency for breaking into the phone could be tested.

This method has apparently been a success. At the time it was reported that the outside party was the Israeli firm Cellebrite which was said to have been paid more than US$15,000 for the job.

Later in March, the FBI ended the stoush, saying it had gained access to the iPhone in question.

The US lawmakers, in their letter to Wray, asked the FBI to answer a number of questions regarding the "going dark" problem as soon as possible:

  • Whether the bureau had consulted third parties to understand what tools were available to help access device content;
  • Whether the FBI agreed that there were solutions on the market to decrypt nearly every device available and, if not, why these solutions were not sufficient;
  • Why the FBI could not unlock the 7800 devices it had mentioned and whether it had attempted to use third-party tools to unlock them;
  • Of the total locked phones, how many were equipped with biometrics, and how many had data available through a cloud service, as the latter would mean there was an additional means to access data or unlock phones; and
  • what was the rationale behind every instance of not using a third-party tool to unlock a device that was encrypted.

The letter was signed by Republicans Matt Gaetz (Florida), Darrell Issa (California), Jim Jordan (Ohio), James Sensenbrenner Jr (Wisconsin), and Ted Poe (Texas); and Democrats Suzan DelBene (Washington), Ted Lieu and Zoe Lofgren (both California), Jerrold Nadler (New York), and Jared Polis (Colorado).

By: Richard Chirgwin of The Register

Ten members of the US Congress have asked the FBI to explain its battles with Apple, after doubts were raised over the extent to which criminals use encryption to "go dark" and evade law enforcement authorities.

Criminals using encryption to evade law enforcement – "going dark" – is the foundation of the FBI's calls for a special legislative mathematics and not-backdoors that means good guys can access bad guys' messages, without compromising everyone else.

But a recent Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General report cast doubt on just how often crims "go dark". The report, by the Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG), included statements that “appear to indicate that the FBI was more interested in forcing Apple to comply than getting into the device”.

Now 10 members of Congress have written (PDF) to FBI director Christopher Wray asking for answers.

In their letter posted Friday, April 13, the group said they are "troubled" by the report, which was penned in the wake of the November 2015 attack by San Bernadino shooter Syed Farook. During its investigation into the incident, the FBI conducted a very public battle with Cupertino over access to Farook's encrypted iPhone. The FBI took Apple to court demanding a special iOS buildto crack the iPhone 5c, something Apple defended on the basis that it would set a bad legal precedent.

In March 2016, the Feds said they'd cracked the phone and withdrew the lawsuit, and later, then-FBI director James Comey said a third party banked more than a million dollars to crack the phone (which in the end didn't really help the case).

The OIG report suggested the FBI's Remote Operations Unit (ROU) might have access to a third-party vendor's crack for the iPhone, but investigators in the San Bernardino case didn't ask, and the ten Congressman would like to know why.

They're also concerned at hints that there's a degree of turf-warring within the FBI, between the ROU and the Cryptographic and Electronic Analysis Unit (CEAU), which was frustrated that the ROU's vendor contact jinxed its lawsuit: “The CEAU Chief told the OIG that … he became frustrated that the case against Apple could no longer go forward, and he vented his frustration to the ROU Chief.”

The letter says the timeline detailed in the OIG report “undermines statements that the FBI made … that only the device manufacturer could provide a solution”, and raises the possibility that “the FBI has not been forthcoming about the extent of the 'Going Dark' problem”.

They also highlight that rather than the more-than-a-million Comey discussed in 2016, Cellbrite claims it can unlock an iPhone for about US$1,500.

The group add that the FBI's claim that it was unable to crack 7,800 devices last year seems “highly questionable”, now the existence of third-party unlocking tools is common knowledge.

The letter asks the following questions of Wray:

  • Have you consulted with relevant third-party vendors to understand what tools are available to help the FBI access device content?
  • Do you agree that there are solutions available to help unlock or decrypt nearly every device on the market? If not, why are these solutions, particularly [Cellbrite and GrayShift], insufficient?
  • Why can't the FBI unlock the 7,800 devices? Have you attempted to use tools developed by third-parties to unlock these devices?
  • Of these locked phones, how many are equipped with biometrics or how many have data available through a cloud service, which would provide additional means to access data or unlock phones?
  • For each device that you have not used a third-party tool to unlock, what is the rationale for not doing so?

The signatories to the letter are Democrats Zoe Lofgren, Jerrold Nadler, Ted Leiu, Jared Polis and Suzan DelBene; and Republicans Darrell Issa, Jim Sensenbrenner, Ted Poe, Matt Gaetz, and Jim Jordan.

By: Morgan Chalfant of The Hill

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pressing FBI Director Christopher Wray on the bureau’s efforts to unlock encrypted devices after a critical watchdog report.

In a letter sent Friday, the lawmakers called into question recent statements made by Wray and others that the bureau is unable to access scores of devices for ongoing criminal investigations because of encryption — often referred to as the “going dark” problem. 

According to a report released last month, the Justice Department inspector general found that the FBI did not exhaust all avenues to unlock the iPhone of one of suspects in the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack before seeking a court order to force Apple to unlock the device. 

One FBI official also voiced concerns that agents weren’t exhausting all technical avenues to unlock the device because they wanted the suit against Apple to go forward. 

In the letter sent Friday, several House lawmakers labeled the inspector general report “troubling,” arguing that it undermines statements made by FBI officials that only device manufacturers could provide a solution to unlock encrypted devices.

The lawmakers also cited news reports that private companies like Cellebrite and Greyshift have developed capabilities to unlock encrypted phones. 

Taken together, they argued, the revelations cast doubt on Wray’s recent assertion that the FBI was unable to access 7,800 devices last fiscal year despite having relevant court orders. 

“According to your testimony and public statements, the FBI encountered 7,800 devices last year that it could not access due to encryption,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, in light of the availability of unlocking tools developed by third-parties and the OIG report’s findings that the Bureau was uninterested in seeking available third-party options, these statistics appear highly questionable.” 

The lawmakers are asking Wray to respond to several questions, including whether he has consulted with third-party vendors to understand tools that could be used to break encryption, and whether the bureau has attempted to use tools developed by third parties to access the 7,800 devices. 

The letter is signed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Jared Polis (D-Col.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Suzan DelBene(D-Wash.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Wray and other Justice Department officials have stepped up talk about the challenge posed by encryption in recent months. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is said to be mounting a push for a legal mandate that would require tech companies to build tools into devices that would allow law enforcement access. 

There are also early efforts on Capitol Hill to explore potential encryption legislation.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) voted to establish a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The resolution failed to meet the two-thirds threshold necessary for passage.

Congressman Sensenbrenner offered the following remarks during floor debate:

“Mr. Speaker the reason we have a big deficit is not due to a lack of tax revenue. It’s due to the fact that Congress spends too much money. Now let me repeat that. The deficit and the debt are not caused by a lack of tax revenue. It’s because there is too much money that is authorized and spent right here in the Congress of the United States. This proposed constitutional amendment will give us the discipline that we have not had as we’ve sat and watched the deficit go up and up and up and away.

It’s the responsibility of presidents of both political parties that this has happened. Maybe it is time for us to tell colleagues now and in the future and presidents now and in the future that the time to put things on the cuff is at an end.

I would say that doing what we have done, which means spending money on ourselves and sending the bill plus interest to the next generations is bad economics, but it’s also immoral. Now I have a grandson who is a little bit more than a year old, and unless Congress stops doing this, he’s going to end up having a debt that will boggle the mind that he and his contemporaries are going to have difficulty meeting.

So what do we need to do? Number one: We need to stop passing bloated omnibus bills, I voted no proudly on the omnibus bill, which busted the budget and added to the debt. We need to start getting honest about the fact that entitlement programs are spiraling out of control. That doesn’t mean cutting entitlement programs for existing people. It means slowing down their growth rate. But that’s something that nice people aren’t supposed to talk about, particularly here in Congress, but it’s something that is necessary if those entitlement programs are going to be worth anything for future generations when they may need them, rather than dealing with the present generation.

Now I know we can all count up our votes, and people vote now, and we are not going to be running in the future but the time has come to think about the future. That is why this constitutional amendment ought to be passed. Congress can’t discipline itself. The only thing that can discipline us is saying what Congress can’t do in the United States Constitution just like the first and second amendments. I yield back.”