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By: Cristiano Lima of Politico

Republicans are split over a new Democrat-led antitrust investigation of the tech industry, highlighting tensions between the GOP's growing criticism of companies like Google and Facebook and the party's traditional aversion to regulating business.

The House Judiciary Committee launched the probe Monday to look at whether Silicon Valley's tech titans have engaged in anti-competitive conduct — and some Republican lawmakers were quick to cheer their Democratic colleagues on.

“I'm all for it,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said of the House probe, while fellow Senate Judiciary member John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) told reporters that it's about time for Congress to examine how the online industry's growing power affects consumers.

“Look I’m very proud of the large social media companies," Kennedy told reporters. "They’re all American companies. They’ve been extraordinarily successful. That’s why they’re so big. But they’re not companies anymore — they’re countries.”

Other congressional Republicans tempered their enthusiasm, however. And others responded with distinct caution to the idea of Congress taking on an antitrust role that's normally in the hands of the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission — both of which have lately taken an interest in tech giants such as Google and Amazon.

“Antitrust is a highly technical inquiry, not something that lends itself to easy generalizations or blanket condemnations,” said a statement from Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who chairs the Senate Judiciary antitrust panel that would be in a prime position to oversee a probe. “This is why such investigations are best left to the antitrust agencies rather than Congress.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a leading critic of the tech industry, agreed that federal regulators would be “more effective” than Congress in policing the issue. He suggested that lawmakers should instead focus on issues like protecting consumers' data privacy.

The reactions underscore the dueling impulses of Republicans when it comes to tech in the Trump era. Many have railed against internet giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter, particularly over what they see as an anti-conservative bias in the way the companies manage content. Some have dangled the prospect of taking away the industry's longtime liability protections. But most Republicans also hew to the party's instinctive distaste for anything that smacks of regulation — let alone trust-busting.

The GOP's more hawkish tech critics include Graham, who has complained about the unregulated “wild wild West” of social media companies and said he's "certainly willing to look into their business model" as well. Another is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has accused digital platforms of suppressing conservative speech.

“I was glad to see the House launch that investigation and I’d love to see Senate Judiciary Committee do the same,” Cruz said.

House Democrats have yet to lay out the full scope of the probe. But Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee that is spearheading the congressional investigation, specifically named Google, Facebook and Amazon as a “significant part” of it during his announcement Monday. He said he's prepared to issue subpoenas and compel witnesses to testify if needed.

House Judiciary's top Republican, Doug Collins of Georgia, and Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the top Republican on its antitrust panel, initially praised the Democrats' probe, with Collins calling the effort a "bipartisan" opportunity to explore whether the tech industry remains competitive and “if necessary, to take action.”

But a GOP committee aide later sought to draw some boundaries around that support, suggesting the two Republican lawmakers are leery of some of the more aggressive tactics Cicilline mentioned.

Collins and Sensenbrenner have agreed to “less formal oversight activity to look into big tech," said the aide, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak on the record. The aide added that "there has not been bipartisan agreement to scrutinize, subpoena, compel testimony from or start a critical investigation” into specific companies.

That reluctance contrasts with some of the fiery rhetoric Republicans have brandished as they take aim at perceived bias on the part of Google, Facebook and Twitter, which deny any political favoritism in the way they manage their platforms.

Several GOP lawmakers, including Cruz and Hawley, have even floated the idea of revisiting a 1996 law that gives websites immunity from lawsuits over content their users have posted. It's a critical provision for the internet industry, shielding companies from expensive litigation if something libelous pops up in a search result, YouTube video or Facebook post, for example.

The tech antitrust issue isn't likely to dissipate for Republicans anytime soon, with the topic taking center stage in the Democratic presidential field. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has called for a breakup of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is backing calls to split up Facebook.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has opened the door to its own possible antitrust investigation of Google, although it has yet to say whether it will launch such a probe. People familiar with DOJ's activities confirmed to POLITICO and other news organizations last week that the department has taken jurisdiction over any potential Google probe as part of a recent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The Justice Department has also claimed jurisdiction over any antitrust claims involving Apple, while the FTC would handle any investigations of Facebook and Amazon, according to news reports and sources familiar with the cases. The two agencies periodically get together to divide up companies in industry groups and determine which agency will handle an investigation, should there be infractions that would warrant investigation, an FTC official has told POLITICO.

Whether any of these procedural moves will blossom into full-blown investigations, or result in fines or other penalties, is still unclear. But all four companies have faced complaints in both the U.S. and Europe from rivals who accuse them of abusing their dominant roles.

By: Valerie Richardson of The Washington Times

When lawmakers as ideologically divided as Republican Sen. Josh Hawley and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren agree that your industry has become too powerful, you could be in trouble, and that’s the problem facing Big Tech.

The House Judiciary Committee is drawing support from both sides of the aisle after announcing Monday that it planned to investigate “the market power held by giant tech platforms,” which coincided with reports that the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission would pursue their own probes.

The growing chorus of concerns about the muscle of the top tech companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — extends to Silicon Valley, said Mitch Stoltz, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“I’m here in San Francisco. There’s nary a person who doesn’t think there are problems, and that they are at least in part problems of monopoly,” Mr. Stoltz said. “Not entirely — this is not the cause of nor the solution to all of the problems with the internet today — but it’s a factor. Everyone here recognizes that, including some Google, Facebook, Amazon employees.”

Tech stocks rebounded after a drop Monday following the House Judiciary Committee’s announcement. The big four companies were quiet on the antitrust investigations with the exception of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who denied his company was a monopoly.

“If you look at any kind of measure about is Apple a monopoly or not, I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple is a monopoly,” Mr. Cook told CBS News.

The moves to examine the tech companies for suspected antitrust violations come as a pivot from four decades of relative calm on the antitrust front. The last company to be broken up by the federal government was Bell telephone in 1982.

In Europe, however, Google has been slapped with billions of dollars in fines, most recently a $1.7 billion fine in March for antitrust violations stemming from its online advertising practices, which the company has appealed.

Similar concerns are growing in Congress, where alarms about privacy, ideological bias and anti-competitive practices are being sounded on the right and left and peeling off some of the tech industry’s political allies.

President Trump has raised antitrust concerns about the U.S. tech industry. So has one of his biggest critics, Ms. Warren, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nod.

She posted a billboard Monday in New York City that said, “Break Up Big Tech.” Mr. Hawley, Missouri Republican, said a Justice Department investigation was “big news, and overdue.”

“You’re not seeing a divide between conservatives and liberals,” said Maurice Stucke, professor at the University of Tennessee School of Law. “I think what you’re seeing on both sides is a distrust of the concentration of power.”

Rep. David N. Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat, said the investigation would be led by the antitrust subcommittee, which he chairs, and that it was not focused on a particular company but “on the marketplace.”

“It’s really to look at the behavior of these very big technology companies,” Mr. Cicilline said on CNN. “Are they engaged in anti-competitive behavior? Are they respecting the privacy of users? Are they discouraging innovation and entrepreneurship?”

Could a breakup be looming? Mr. Cicilline said such speculation was “much too early” and that “Congress doesn’t actually have the ability to break up a company, obviously.”

At the same time, he said, “Nothing’s off the table in terms of the final resolution.”

The Justice Department and FTC investigations could take years. The DOJ’s antitrust arm would investigate Google and Apple, while the FTC would have jurisdiction over Facebook and Amazon, according to multiple media outlets.

Sounding a note of caution was Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, who sits on the antitrust subcommittee and warned about jumping to conclusions.

“As the world becomes more dependent on a digital marketplace, we must discuss how the regulatory framework is built to ensure fairness and competition,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said in a statement. “I believe these hearings can be informative, but it is important for us to avoid any predetermined conclusions.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, whose constituency includes Apple, Google and Facebook, said she was pleased to see the hearings on issues such as privacy, criminal activity and hate speech but warned against targeting a handful of firms.

“It’s important, however, that the focus be broader than just a few companies,” she said. “We should examine industrywide practices and enforcement improvements that benefit the American public as a whole. I look forward to that process moving forward.”

The digital communications industry spent a record $77.9 million on lobbying in 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Others, including Sen. Mark R. Warner, Virginia Democrat, have raised questions about whether breaking up U.S. tech companies would empower Chinese digital giants such as Alibaba.

“I have some concern, as somebody who is very concerned about the rise of China, that if we were to kind of chop off the legs of Facebook and Google, that they might be replaced by Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent — companies that are totally enmeshed with the Chinese government in their global economic plan, ” Mr. Warner told CNBC in April.

By: Vivian Ho of The Guardian

Congress is launching a bipartisan investigation into digital markets and the tech industry, looking into giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon for “competition problems” and “anti-competitive conduct”.

“The open internet has delivered enormous benefits to Americans, including a surge of economic opportunity, massive investment, and new pathways for education online,” House judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement. “But there is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications.”

In addition to “documenting competition problems” and looking into “anti-competitive conduct,” the committee will assess “whether existing antitrust laws, competition policies and current enforcement levels are adequate to address these issues,” lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“Technology has become a crucial part of Americans’ everyday lives,” said Jim Sensenbrenner, antitrust subcommittee ranking member, in a statement. “As the world becomes more dependent on a digital marketplace, we must discuss how the regulatory framework is built to ensure fairness and competition.”

The announcement comes as US regulators, too, are moving to tighten scrutiny over the tech giants.

Earlier on Monday, US tech stocks dropped after reports that US antitrust officials were preparing to investigate companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet.

Under an agreement with the US justice department, officials from the Federal Trade Commission are reportedly preparing to investigate any practices at Facebook that may harm competition in the digital market.

Separately, Reuters reported that the justice department had taken jurisdiction for a potential investigation of Apple, as part of a broader review of whether technology giants use their size to act in an anti-competitive manner.

And last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the department of justice was looking into opening an anti-trust investigation into practices at Google.

The power and control over the market that these tech companies hold has become a hot-button issue , with presidential hopefuls weighing in on the question of whether it’s time to break up these companies in the way that the US government once broke up the railroad, oil and steel monopolies.

Democratic senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has long argued the tech companies should face more scrutiny. “Today’s big tech companies have too much power – too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy,” Warren said in a blogpost. “They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.”

“I want a government that makes sure everybody – even the biggest and most powerful companies in America – plays by the rules,” she added.

Senator Kamala Harris, a 2020 hopeful from California, where the tech industry has boomed, has expressed that she thinks “we have to seriously take a look” at whether Facebook should be broken up.

I think that Facebook has experienced massive growth and has prioritised its growth over the best interests of its consumers,” Harris said, “especially on the issue of privacy. There is no question in my mind that there needs to be serious regulation, and that that has not been happening.”

Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, issued a more tempered statement advocating for “strong antitrust enforcement” that won’t hinder the promotion of “innovation and growth”.

“The House judiciary committee should hold tech accountable to strong antitrust enforcement,” he said. “But any investigation needs to be fact-based and lead to well-crafted regulatory outcomes. We should prevent anticompetitive platform privilege while promoting innovation and growth.”

By: Rebecca Kanable of the Milton Courier

Following press conferences in Racine and Janesville, Bryan Steil announced the introduction of his first bill. H.R. 2149, the Exposing the Financing of Human Trafficking Act. H.R. 2149 has 17 bipartisan co-sponsors.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to human trafficking. My bill is a commonsense solution to hold countries accountable. Understanding where this money comes from and where it’s going gives countries the ability to crack down on these crimes. Addressing this gap in current law will have a major impact on global efforts to fight human trafficking,” said Steil.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is the Democratic co-sponsor of Steil’s bipartisan bill. Cosponsors of H.R. 2149 include Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04), Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), Congressman Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Congressman Sean Duffy (WI-07), and Congressman Mike Gallagher (WI-08).

At Tuesday's press conferences, Rock County Sheriff Troy Knudson, Walworth County Sheriff Kurt Picknell, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, and Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling gave remarks in support of Steil’s bill. 

Background on H.R. 2149:

Human trafficking is a horrendous crime that presents a real threat to people all over the world. This crime has become increasingly perpetrated by organized, sophisticated, criminal enterprises and profits from trafficking contribute to the expansion of organized crime and terrorism in the United States and worldwide.

Unfortunately, human trafficking is common because it is profitable. The International Labor Organization estimates that more than $150 billion in illegal profit is made from forced labor each year, making human trafficking the third most valuable criminal operation in the world.

The U.S. currently uses the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report issued by the Department of State to engage foreign governments to combat human trafficking. The TIP report places countries into one of three tiers based on the extent of their government’s efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” A country’s tier designation is then used to condition aid. The TIP report looks at several criteria, but it does not currently cover efforts to disrupt illicit finance.

This bill requires the existing Trafficking in Persons Report to evaluate foreign countries’ efforts to investigate, prevent, and prosecute financial criminal activities associated with the facilitation of human trafficking.

By: Door County Pulse

Governor Tony Evers

Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee on Tuesday approved two of the five scientist positions Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed to restore science in environmental policy, but they cut millions of dollars from plans to reduce pollution from farms and industry.

Under questioning by Democratic committee members, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said the Republican majority had cut about $43 million from Evers’ Year of Clean Drinking Water programs aimed at reducing pollution that fouls state lakes, streams and drinking water.

“This is ignoring manure coming out of people’s taps,” said Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison). “They cannot drink the water. What would you do if you could not drink the water in your homes?”

Committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said water quality is better than it was in the 1970s, a time “when you couldn’t see the bottom of the lake.”

“Some of the biggest manure production comes in this building,” Nygren said.

But Taylor pointed to fiscal bureau statistics showing that Department of Natural Resources regulators have been overwhelmed by the growth of the dairy feedlot industry and that a record 101 manure spills were reported in 2018, bringing the total to more than 10 million gallons spilled in the last 12 years.

Committee Republicans postponed a vote on Evers’ proposal to increase fees on large animal feedlots to help pay for five more DNR regulators to enforce water pollution laws.

Source: wiscnews.com

Congressman Mike Gallagher

Three Republican congressmen who served in the military are relaunching a PAC to help recruit more GOP veterans like themselves to run for Congress. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (Texas), Mike Gallagherand Michael Waltz (Florida) announced they are forming the War Veterans Fund PAC this cycle, which aims to recruit Republican veterans of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to run in their home districts and assist them with funding.

Veterans are “natural leaders, problem solvers and patriots,” Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, said at a joint press conference for the PAC.

Source: rollcall.com

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Sen. Baldwin demanded answers from President Trump after media reports revealed that more than $62.4 million in U.S. taxpayer-funded aid meant for American farmers was given to a meat-packing company owned by two Brazilian billionaires who are currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The payment is for pork.

Wisconsin has lost 1,480 dairy farms since President Trump took office. In April alone, Wisconsin lost 90 dairy farms.

“Allowing taxpayer funds to support foreign agricultural companies, particularly corrupt foreign companies, at a time when farmers in Wisconsin and across the country are suffering from pain caused by your trade wars is outrageous, and I’m calling on you to explain how you allowed this to happen,” Baldwin wrote in her letter.

News reports recently revealed that more than $62 million of U.S. trade-war aid that was intended to support American farmers has been awarded to JBS, a Brazilian-based multinational meat-packing company owned by two brothers who have admitted to bribing officials in Brazil. JBS USA, the U.S. branch of the firm, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for violating its federal discharge permit by dumping slaughterhouse waste for years at its plant. The company was fined $50,000 last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating livestock sales laws by failing to give U.S. pork farmers a full accounting of transactions.

Source: Baldwin release

Senator Ron Johnson

Sen. Johnson was joined by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) in introducing the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act: legislation to give law enforcement enhanced tools to combat the opioid epidemic and close a loophole in current law that makes it difficult to prosecute crimes involving some synthetic opioids.

“Communities across Wisconsin and America have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid overdoses,” Johnson said. “The SOFA Act will close a loophole in current law that is being exploited by illegal drug manufacturers. The bill will also give law enforcement the tools to quickly schedule fentanyl analogues as they are identified, preventing these drugs from sneaking around the law.”

“Way too many Wisconsin families have been forever changed by a surge in overdose deaths stemming from fentanyl and its analogues,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the companion legislation in the House. “Congress must act as the opioid epidemic continues to grow. The SOFA Act will give law enforcement the necessary tools to fight back against the proliferation of fentanyl analogues in our communities, permanently closing loopholes in the law. I thank Sen. Johnson, Lauri Badura and Dr. Timothy Westlake for working tirelessly with me on this issue.”

Source: Johnson release

President Donald Trump

President Trump and his team on Wednesday sought to downplay the significance of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first public comments about his investigation and the reason he did not draw a conclusion on whether Trump committed a crime.

In a remarkable statement, Mueller made clear he would have exonerated Trump if he was confident the president did not commit a crime while also noting that the Constitution offers another avenue – impeachment – to accuse a sitting president of a crime.

“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed!” Trump tweeted. “Thank you.”

The responses from the president and his team ignored Mueller’s most damning comments from a lectern at the Justice Department, where he made clear that he did not charge Trump with a crime in large part because the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel guidelines prevented him from doing so.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) reintroduced companion versions of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. This legislation would help to curb the opioid epidemic by outlawing new fentanyl variants—known as analogues—as they are discovered.

Rep. Sensenbrenner“Way too many Wisconsin families have been forever changed by a surge in overdose deaths stemming from fentanyl and its analogues. Congress must act as the opioid epidemic continues to grow. The SOFA Act will give law enforcement the necessary tools to fight back against the proliferation of fentanyl analogues in our communities, permanently closing loopholes in the law. I thank Senator Johnson, Lauri Badura, and Dr. Timothy Westlake for working tirelessly with me on this issue.” 

Senator Johnson“Communities across Wisconsin and America have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid overdoses. The SOFA Act will close a loophole in current law that is being exploited by illegal drug manufacturers. The bill will also give law enforcement the tools to quickly schedule fentanyl analogues as they are identified, preventing these drugs from sneaking around the law.” 

Background on the SOFA Act:
Fentanyl is currently classified as a Schedule II controlled substance used to treat cancer patients. However, it is dangerous and can be lethal outside of the careful supervision of a doctor. Fentanyl abuse is one of the leading contributors to the opioid epidemic.

A new chemical compound, known as an analogue, is created by modifying one small piece of the chemical structure of fentanyl. These compounds fall into a legal loophole and contribute to the alarming rate of opioid-related deaths in the U.S. The DEA has temporary scheduling authority that will expire in February 2020 absent congressional action.

Analogue producers will continue developing new variations, and law enforcement agencies must have the tools to adapt to these changes. Under current law, DEA scheduling practices are reactive in nature. Typically, fentanyl analogues are only scheduled after they have resulted in deaths across multiple states.

The SOFA Act permanently closes the legal loophole by adding nineteen known fentanyl analogues to the Schedule I list. It also gives the DEA the authority to immediately schedule new fentanyl analogues as they are discovered, making enforcement and scheduling procedures more proactive.

The bill shares the acronym of an organization started by Oconomowoc, WI resident Lauri Badura, who lost her son Archie to an overdose in 2014. Shortly after, she founded the faith-based non-profit Saving Others for Archie, Inc. to raise awareness and fight the opioid epidemic.
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) reintroduced companion versions of the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. This legislation would help to curb the opioid epidemic by outlawing new fentanyl variants—known as analogues—as they are discovered.

Rep. Sensenbrenner“Way too many Wisconsin families have been forever changed by a surge in overdose deaths stemming from fentanyl and its analogues. Congress must act as the opioid epidemic continues to grow. The SOFA Act will give law enforcement the necessary tools to fight back against the proliferation of fentanyl analogues in our communities, permanently closing loopholes in the law. I thank Senator Johnson, Lauri Badura, and Dr. Timothy Westlake for working tirelessly with me on this issue.” 

Senator Johnson“Communities across Wisconsin and America have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid overdoses. The SOFA Act will close a loophole in current law that is being exploited by illegal drug manufacturers. The bill will also give law enforcement the tools to quickly schedule fentanyl analogues as they are identified, preventing these drugs from sneaking around the law.” 

Background on the SOFA Act:
Fentanyl is currently classified as a Schedule II controlled substance used to treat cancer patients. However, it is dangerous and can be lethal outside of the careful supervision of a doctor. Fentanyl abuse is one of the leading contributors to the opioid epidemic.

A new chemical compound, known as an analogue, is created by modifying one small piece of the chemical structure of fentanyl. These compounds fall into a legal loophole and contribute to the alarming rate of opioid-related deaths in the U.S. The DEA has temporary scheduling authority that will expire in February 2020 absent congressional action.

Analogue producers will continue developing new variations, and law enforcement agencies must have the tools to adapt to these changes. Under current law, DEA scheduling practices are reactive in nature. Typically, fentanyl analogues are only scheduled after they have resulted in deaths across multiple states.

The SOFA Act permanently closes the legal loophole by adding nineteen known fentanyl analogues to the Schedule I list. It also gives the DEA the authority to immediately schedule new fentanyl analogues as they are discovered, making enforcement and scheduling procedures more proactive.

The bill shares the acronym of an organization started by Oconomowoc, WI resident Lauri Badura, who lost her son Archie to an overdose in 2014. Shortly after, she founded the faith-based non-profit Saving Others for Archie, Inc. to raise awareness and fight the opioid epidemic.
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement after voting against H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act:

“The CREATES Act is good, bipartisan policy that will lower prescription drug prices for Americans—which is why I am the lead Republican sponsor of the bill. Unfortunately, in a blatant partisan play, the Democratic leadership has attached CREATES to the so-called ‘Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act.’ This move showcases the main problem in Washington—scoring political points instead of helping the American people. 

H.R. 987 would bail out a failing Obamacare system, but it stands no chance of becoming law. It’s incredibly disappointing that Democratic leadership chose to play politics rather than legislate.  Lowering prescription drug prices is one of my top priorities this year.  We could accomplish that with the CREATES Act.  Instead, we saw a clear political stunt today and are no closer to helping the American people.” 

Background on H.R. 987: 
H.R.987 combines three bipartisan drug pricing bills with four partisan Obamacare bailout bills. They are: H.R. 965, the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act; .R. 1499, the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act; H.R. 938, the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act; H.R. 1385, the State Allowance for a Variety of Exchanges (SAVE) Act; H.R. 1386, the Expand Navigators' Resources for Outreach, Learning, and Longevity (ENROLL) Act; H.R. 1010, To provide that the rule entitled "Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance" shall have no force or effect; and H.R. 987, the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower Health Education Act.

Congressman Sensenbrenner voted for Amendment #2, which would have stripped the provisions aimed at bailing out Obamacare and retained the prescription drug price language. The amendment’s failure led to Sensenbrenner ultimately voting no on H.R. 987.

Background the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act: 
In order for a generic or biosimilar prescription to have FDA approval, the generic manufacturer must be able to compare its product to the brand-name product. Simply put, if the product is as safe and effective as the label, then the FDA can approve the generic.

Some generic manufacturers, however, have difficulty obtaining samples of medication from the brand-name company. This is because brand-name companies have an incentive to make it difficult for generic producers to obtain their brand-name products.

The CREATES Act gives generic manufacturers the ability to bring actions in federal court against brand-name companies that refuse to provide samples of their products for purchase and use in the generic approval process. In so doing, the CREATES Act helps to increase the likelihood of a generic product coming to the market so consumers have more affordable options.

The CREATES Act also gives the FDA more discretion for approving alternative safety protocols that meet the statutory standards already in place. This helps the FDA more efficiently process generic applications. In the end, this helps consumers, who will have greater choice when selecting their medications.

According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, the CREATES Act will save the federal government $3.9 billion on prescription spending.

More than 90 organizations representing consumers, physicians, pharmacists, hospitals, insurers, antitrust exports, and others support the CREATES Act. Supporters include AARP, Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, Consumer Reports, Public Citizen, American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Patients for Affordable Drugs, and the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs.

By; Charles Benson of NBC26

The word "tariffs" may not come up in your dinner table conversation, but it's a big issue now at the White House.

TODAY'S TMJ4's Charles Benson asked President Trump adviser Peter Navarro about the escalating trade war with China and what it means for consumers and Wisconsin companies.

Navarro is not a household name, but he's helping Trump's team negotiate a better trade deal with China.

"My mission at the White House is to help create good-paying jobs for the men and women who work with their hands," said Navarro.

Dr. Navarro toured the Waukesha County Technical College campus with U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy and talked with students learning new trade skills.

Navarro is considered a China hawk. He favors getting tough on trade with China.

Benson: "Take me inside a middle class family, they're a lot of about trade wars and escalating tariffs: Why should they care and how can the U.S. win?"

Navarro: "China engages in seven different forms of economic aggression. Every American needs to understand the scope of this.

"That scope — from hacking computers to steal business secrets to dumping products below cost.

"To help level the playing field, Congressmen Duffy and Jim Sensenbrenner are backing a bill called the Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act.

"It says if one nation charges a higher tariff — meaning a tax on our goods going into their country — then the U.S. will charge the same tariffs on their exported products.

"My mission at the White House is to help create good-paying jobs for the men and women who work with their hands." — Trump adviser Peter Navarro

"What President Trump is trying to do is defend your jobs, your health your safety, national security by taking China on."

Wisconsin Democrats don't agree with the president's efforts so far.

"Wisconsin needs better trade deals, not trade wars," said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

"President Trump's haphazard approach on tariffs has led to these retaliatory tariffs from China that will hurt Wisconsin manufacturers and will also hurt our farmers during an already extremely challenging time for our agriculture economy.

"I have pressed the Trump administration to provide support for farmers, but so far the president hasn't delivered results and our farmers can't afford to wait."

By: Todd Ruger of Roll Call

The House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress over access to the full special counsel report, escalating a broadening clash between the legislative and executive branches over congressional oversight.

The resolution, approved on a 24-16 roll call vote along party lines, came after days of negotiations with the Justice Department in public and private that came down to how many lawmakers and staffers could see and discuss the report from Robert S. Mueller III, and how much material they would see because of court orders protecting it.

At the outset of a meeting that spanned more than six hours, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., suggested the resolution addressed broader concerns over the separation of powers.

But House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., suggested the resolution addressed broader concerns over the separation of powers. 

“Our fight is not just about the Mueller report, although we must have access to the Mueller report," Nadler said. "Our fight is about defending the rights of Congress as an independent branch to hold the president, any president, accountable."

The Justice Department late Tuesday said Barr would be compelled to request that President Donald Trump invoke executive privilege over the material covered by the congressional subpoena.

Ahead of the vote, Justice Department officials informed Nadler in a letter that they asserted executive privilege over all the Mueller report materials subpoenaed by the panel.

“This is not a step we take lightly,” Nadler said.

Nadler said the Justice Department’s legal arguments “are without credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis” and moved forward with the vote.

“The Department’s decision reflects President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties,” Nadler said. “In the coming days, Congress will have no choice but to confront the behavior of this lawless administration.”

During a heated partisan discussion, Democrats accused Barr and the Trump administration of having contempt for congressional oversight, while Republicans called the move premature and unneeded.

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, called the committee’s recent actions “disgraceful,” while Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, said he was “really here in mourning, for a once great Judiciary Committee.”

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said that the committee moved from request to contempt vote in only 43 days, compared to the 250 days the House Oversight Committee waited in 2012 before voting to hold then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt. 

“Why this rush?” Collins said.

Collins called the move “without any valid legislative or administrative reason” and “a cynical, mean-spirited, counterproductive and irresponsible step.” 

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the attorney general would have to commit a crime of violating grand jury secrecy to fully comply with a subpoena for the unredacted version of the Mueller report.

“What we’re doing here is forcing the attorney general to break the law, to place in jeopardy innocent people who were not involved in any of the things Mr. Mueller ended up investigating, and shaming ourselves in the process,” Sensenbrenner said.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, paused before speaking at the hearing because she said this is a “moment in history.” 

She said Barr and Trump broadened executive privilege and it was a “purposeful collapse” of negotiations.

“The president now seeks to take a wrecking ball to the constitution of the United States over America,” Lee said.

The resolution now goes to the full House, where it has the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. But even if the House approves it, federal prosecutors in the Trump administration are unlikely to pursue a criminal contempt case against the nation’s top law enforcement official. “Reality: All players know this is mostly theater,” Ross Garber, who teaches political investigations and impeachments at Tulane Law School, tweeted Tuesday night. 

“There will be a contempt vote. There will not be a criminal prosecution. Committee will file civil case," Garber added. "There will be more negotiations and probably some additional info provided by DOJ. Case will last until after 2020 elections.”

After the 2012 Holder contempt vote, no criminal charges were filed against Holder, and the lawsuit over the records lawmakers saw stretched for years.

Marty Lederman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, tweeted that if the negotiations come down to how many members can view redacted material from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, and how many staff members each can bring, that “this would be an *absurd* hill on which *either* side should plant its flag in litigation. Surely a compromise is possible.”

Pelosi said Wednesday, when asked at a Washington Post live event whether House Democrats would consider impeaching Barr, that: “Nothing is ever off the table.”

And the Barr contempt vote comes amid increasing tension between the Democratic-led House and the Trump administration over subpoenas from various committees.

White House Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders blasted Nadler's efforts as a "blatant abuse of power" intended to distract from the president's agenda. 

Nadler said the Judiciary Committee will hold former White House counsel Donald McGahn in contempt of Congress if he does not comply with a subpoena to appear before the committee on May 21.

McGahn, who missed a first deadline in a subpoena to turn over the documents because the White House asserts it has legal custody of them, faces a second deadline two weeks from now, when the Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed him to testify about the alleged obstruction of justice.