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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the American Health Care Act:

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is why I support the American Health Care Act and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), along with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), reintroduced the bipartisan Private Property Rights Protection Act, which would provide American citizens with the means to protect their private property from inappropriate claims of eminent domain. 

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

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

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

Congresswoman Waters: “Few policies have done more to destroy community and opportunity for minorities than eminent domain.  Some 3 to 4 million Americans, most of them ethnic minorities, have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of urban renewal takings since World War II. It is my hope that together we can protect the rights of vulnerable people by curbing eminent domain abuses through this legislation.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of H.R. 1188, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017, legislation reintroduced by Congressman Sensenbrenner earlier this year.


Watch the statement here.
Read the full transcript below:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I urge my colleagues to support this bill and I yield back the balance of my time.
Earlier this month, my colleague Eric Harris, who serves as communications director for Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), published a perspective in The Washington Post on the volume of phone calls being made to Congress in recent weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Tieman is communications director for U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). Sign up for our newsletter, Real Time Opinion, for a weekly roundup of the best commentary in Wisconsin, right, center and left.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner and Gwen Moore sent a letter to Office of the United States Trade Representative Chairman William L. Busis urging him to remove certain motorcycles from the tariffs being proposed on the European Union, which would have detrimental impacts on small-and-medium sized U.S. businesses that sell such motorcycles: 

Dear Mr. Busis:

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

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

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

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

Sincerely, 

Gwen Moore
Member of Congress

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that would establish an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs within the U.S. Department of State. 

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

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

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

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

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

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
 “The time for an unclear and indecisive Arctic policy is over. America must recognize that other countries, including China and Russia, have very serious, and possibly adversarial, Arctic ambitions. Establishing an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs would allow us to decisively address issues that face the region and consequently, the rest of the world. I encourage my colleagues to support this endeavor and the work our nation does on the Arctic Council. Lastly, I wish the Finnish Government great success as they assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Finland is a great friend and important ally of the U.S., and I look forward to working with them on these issues.”
BROOKFIELD,WI – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner held three town hall meetings throughout Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District this past weekend, meeting with constituents of all political ideology in Germantown, Brookfield, and Hartford. Despite repeated calls for civility, a number of meetings were marred by disruption and antagonistic antics from some participants. 
        

Congressman Sensenbrenner holds more than 100 such events annually. Since the beginning of the year, he has held more than 40 meetings in communities throughout Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District, and although there has been a significant increase in attendance in recent weeks, for the most part, these gatherings have been civil, despite political and policy differences.
 
However, the mutual respect that has helped make these events successful seems to be deteriorating thanks to crowds of agitators, who rather than participating to discuss legitimate concerns, instead used disorderly tactics which brought meetings to a halt on several occasions. There is a recurring pattern of the same attendees showing up at each meeting to ask the same questions they already posed at previous town halls. It’s clear they are well-aware of the Congressman’s position on the issues, and unfortunately their repeated questions rob others in attendance of their opportunity to have their questions answered.
 
Coarse tactics, such as yelling “shut up” at the Congressman while he responded to questions, and exaggerated and needlessly loud yawning during his answers forced repeated pauses during meetings and took time away from other constituents hoping to speak to the Congressman. They transformed the atmosphere of the room into one more akin to a middle school classroom than that of a town hall meeting.
 
These tactics have been seen at other Republican town hall meetings nationwide, but have not been as intense at Congressman Sensenbrenner’s meetings until recently. They come on the heels of weeks of meetings that operated under feelings of general respect, where many constituents with opposing viewpoints took time to thank the Congressman for being accessible, even though they disagreed with him on policy matters.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Over the years, there have been contentious national issues that brought passionate constituents to my meetings, but I have rarely seen the type of blatant disruption that I saw this past weekend. I have always run my meetings on the basis of mutual respect, and everyone who openly broke that did a great disservice to their fellow constituents who came to honestly discuss an issue with me. We can disagree without being disagreeable; this is not how democracy is supposed to work.” 
 
Many of the agitators at the past weekend’s town hall meetings belong to a national protest group, whose core mission is to resist the Republican agenda and disrupt civil discourse at Republican town hall meetings throughout the country.
 
Despite these efforts, Congressman Sensenbrenner has continued to speak directly to his constituents at town hall meetings. He will hold six more town hall meetings this month in the communities of West Bend, West Allis, Richfield, Newburg, Kewaskum, and Addison. For information on these, and other upcoming meetings, you can visit his official website at http://sensenbrenner.house.gov/contact
Since I was elected to Congress, I have been accessible to my constituents through a variety of mediums. I hold more than 100 in-person town hall meetings and office hours annually. My Brookfield and Washington, D.C. staff field many calls each day, and every constituent who would like individual responses to specific questions submitted by phone, email, or standard mail receive one in a timely manner.

Lively conversations also occur on my social media accounts, which are monitored each day. Questions, comments, and opinions are passed along to me and I take them into account as I review and introduce legislation. Although I don’t respond directly on social media, it’s important for my constituents to know that I see their post.

In that spirit, I have compiled a sample of posts from the past few weeks and addressed them below. 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 and office hour events. I look forward to continued discussions on important legislation and issues that affect the people of our communities and our nation.


“@JimPressOffice but you cannot call Sensenbrenner. Constituents cannot reach him.”
Posted on Twitter March 6, 2017 

My Brookfield and Washington, D.C. staffs answer phone calls from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday. Maybe I’m “old school,” but I want constituents to speak to a live person when they reach out to my offices. In fact, we do not utilize a voicemail system for this very reason. I think a two-way dialogue is a much more effective way to communicate. Sometimes all of the incoming lines are busy and a caller might hear a busy signal. When this happens, I encourage you to hang up and try again.

Additionally, I am easily accessible by email and standard mail, as well as my many in-person town hall meetings. Or, you are always welcome to visit my Brookfield office to leave your comments.

“Could you hold the majority of your meetings after working hours so that more people can attend?” 

Posted on Facebook March 3, 2017 

The majority of town hall meetings are held on Saturday and Sundays – often two on Saturdays at 9am and 1pm, and one on Sunday at 1pm. On occasion, such as this upcoming week, I will also host a town hall meeting on a Monday night at 7pm (March 13 in Wauwatosa.)

In addition to town hall meetings, I hold public office hours. These are often on Fridays in smaller communities throughout the district. They provide constituents extra opportunities to speak with me directly if they are unable to make a town hall meeting in their area.

“You need to hold meetings in larger venues. Your constituents can’t get in.”
Posted on Twitter February 27, 2017

My town hall meeting schedule is often set months ahead of time, allowing for the meetings to be publicized and worked around my duties in Washington. We work with the U.S. Capitol Police and local law enforcement to determine the safest venues for all participants. All meetings are held in public buildings, and we defer to law enforcement to advise us about safety. Additionally, larger venues, such as middle schools or high schools, are not easily secured and are typically booked with student activities.

I also don’t believe that tax dollars should be expended to secure venues, so if a facility requires a fee, we will not schedule our meeting there. I’ve been doing these meetings for 38 years and our venues have been more than adequate for the most part. Given the new challenges we are experiencing with larger crowds, I think we are doing a good job of addressing all the factors that go into a location selection.

“I do appreciate you com[ing] out to listen, does it ever make you change your mind on policy matters?”

Posted on Facebook February 22, 2017 

I listen to different viewpoints from constituents and take them into consideration when voting for legislation. One recent and relevant example of this is my support for allowing individuals aged 26 and under to remain on their parents’ health insurance and ensuring individuals with pre-existing conditions are not barred from coverage. Initially, I did not support this provision, but after hearing the personal stories of many of my constituents, I changed my position. 

When it comes to legislation I introduce, I know it is most effective to reach across the aisle and work with a Democratic colleague to ensure all ideas and solutions to problems are considered. The majority of the time, a piece of legislation cannot become law without bipartisan support, and I believe that’s the best way to legislate on behalf of my constituents and the American people.

“Please hold [town halls] more often.”
Posted on Facebook February 12, 2017

I hold more than 100 public meetings annually. In fact, I hold more in-person meetings than any Member of Congress. All my upcoming meetings are posted on my official website, and I encourage anyone who wishes to speak to me directly to attend any of my upcoming events.
 
“What’s the point in posting a statement on FB if you can’t be bothered to respond to comments?”
Posted on Facebook February 5, 2017 

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media avenues are a great way to share information, and quickly and efficiently inform my constituents about the work I’m doing on their behalf. However, I don’t believe it would be an effective use of taxpayer dollars for me to watch social media accounts all day, every day. 

That’s why members of my staff diligently monitor conversations and comments on my social media accounts and pass along productive comments and opinions. I encourage every constituent who wishes to receive a response from me to reach out by phone, email, or standard mail, or attend one of my many in-person town hall meetings and office hours. 

“Whitewater is not on the list [of town hall meetings], even though we are in your district. I guess our voice doesn’t matter.”

Posted on Facebook January 22, 2017 

The views and concerns of all my constituents matter, and I make it a point to visit communities in every part of my district. I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Whitewater in my upcoming round of meetings in April, and I have held various meetings in neighboring communities in order to provide a forum for constituents in that area of my district. 

In addition to my many in-person meetings, I am easily accessible by phone, email, and standard mail.