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Have Gavel, Will Travel

February 27, 2017

Wisconsin’s Jim Sensenbrenner has held the most town halls this year - See more at: http://www.rollcall.com/news/hoh/town-hall-record-holder-rep-sensenbrenner-knows-how-to-handle-them#sthash.zH26gknI.dpuf
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner reintroduced legislation to prohibit the sale of fetal tissue acquired by performing an abortion. 

The Safe Responsible, Ethical Scientific Endeavors Assuring Research for Compassionate Healthcare (RESEARCH) Act would amend Section 498A of the Public Health Act to state that human fetal tissue may be used for research purposes, but only if it is obtained as a result of a stillbirth or ectopic pregnancy, not from an abortion procedure. 

Not only is harvesting and selling fetal tissue a gruesome and horrific process, advancements in medical technology, such as adult stem cell science, has rendered fetal tissue an unnecessary option for medical researchers. The Safe RESEARCH Act would help end this practice and take another important step forward in protecting the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Due to a poorly drafted section of federal law, Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics throughout the country are legally able to sell fetal tissue to research institutions. This despicable practice is morally bankrupt, victimizes the defenseless, and increases profits for organizations that have no regard for human life. This legislation is an important step forward in the ongoing efforts to protect innocent lives and fight on behalf of the unborn.”

Earlier this month, the Family Research Council announced Congressman Sensenbrenner received a perfect score during the 114th Congress on its annual Vote Scorecard for Members of Congress who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the protection of unborn children.
 
I have held regular in-person town hall meetings since I began serving in the House of Representatives. In fact, I host more than 100 public events each year. I’m extremely proud of this, and it’s something I believe is not only important for the sake of democracy, but it’s invaluable to me as I work to best represent the interests of my district. 

Constituents who attend my town hall meetings hold beliefs that span the ideological spectrum, and I have made it a point to always be easily accessible to them all. Although at times we disagree on issues, I have always shown respect for their opinions and concerns. 

Open and honest discourse between elected officials and the citizens they represent is the only way to find solutions to the problems facing our nation, and as long as I have the privilege to serve Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District, I will continue to provide my constituents with an opportunity and a forum to respectfully express their views and offer their ideas. I encourage my congressional colleagues to do the same. 

Disagreements over legislation, implementation, and fundamental beliefs will never change. Challenging those in power and fighting for what we believe in is the American way – it’s what this nation was founded upon. But despite these disagreements, it is possible to find common ground, because at the heart of every issue is the desire to find solutions that make life better for every American. 

I believe that good policy requires input from both sides of the aisle, and continuing open discussions on the problems we face will enable us as a nation to find real solutions. The process is never easy – sometimes it’s contentious – but if we listen and respect one another, I’m confident that at the end of the day, we will find ourselves in a better place than where we began. 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner reintroduced the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act, which would allow the protections of the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act to continue saving the lives of children throughout the nation. 

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act became law in 2006 and has played a vital role in the prevention of sexual exploitation of America’s children. The comprehensive, bipartisan law strengthened sex offender registry requirements and enforcement across the country, as well as extended registry requirements to Native American tribes, increased penalties for child predators, and authorized funding for various programs to strengthen our defenses against child exploitation.

This legislation is critical because despite ongoing prevention efforts, the fight against child exploitation is not over. The Justice Department reports that only 17 states, three territories, and 36 Native American tribes have substantially implemented the Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Additionally, there are also an estimated 100,000 fugitive sex offenders across the country who are unregistered or in violation of registry requirements.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Childhood sexual abuse is a serious problem facing this nation, and the devastation it causes impacts every societal group, and lasts a lifetime for its victims and their loved ones. Reauthorizing the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act would ensure efforts continue to prevent the ongoing sexual exploitation of our nation’s children.”  

Further details of the proposal include the following:

• The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the two primary programs of the Adam Walsh Act – The Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and SORNA – for five years.
 
o SORNA sets minimum guidelines for state sex offender registries and establishes the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, which is a comprehensive national system for the registration and notification to the public of sex offenders. This registry currently contains information on more than 600,000 convicted sex offenders in the United States.

o The Sex Offender Management Assistance Program provides funding to the states, tribes, and other jurisdictions to offset the costs of implementing and enhancing SORNA, and funding for the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement agencies to assist jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who violate registration requirements.

• The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act makes targeted changes to the SORNA requirements, including giving states more flexibility in classifying sex offenders on their registry, lowering the period that certain juveniles must register to 15 years, and limiting public access to juvenile sex offender information.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2017 in the House of Representatives, which requests that the National Institute of Health (NIH) allocate time and already available resources to the research of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders.

Functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders affect two in five Americans, causing great personal hardship on affected individuals and costing society more than $30 billion annually. 

There are currently no known cures for these disorders, and lack of adequate research provides few treatment options. Further, these disorders are often misdiagnosed and improperly treated, resulting in increased patient suffering and additional financial burdens placed on patients and American taxpayers. 

The Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2017 requests that NIH dedicate time and already available resources to the research of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders in the hope that such research would better equip medical professionals to accurately diagnose and treat these disorders, as well as potentially find lasting cures.

Additionally, this legislation will direct the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases to provide continued funding for the advancement of gastrointestinal and motility research. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “America is the world leader in medical research and technological advances. With time and resources dedicated to finding cures, I’m confident that we can help every American suffering with gastrointestinal and motility disorders and drastically improve their quality of life. This fiscally responsible, bipartisan bill received great support during the 114th Congress, and I look forward to working with my colleagues again this session to see it to the finish line.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted (BUILD WALL) Act of 2017 in the House of Representatives.

As the national conversation on immigration continues to heat up, Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working to find solutions that will protect our border while being conscientious of taxpayers’ money. One such solution is Congressman Sensenbrenner’s BUILD WALL Act of 2017.

This legislation would require the U.S. Attorney General to provide a detailed report on the amount of annual profits brought into the United States by Mexican drug cartels, as well as a study of how the Department of Justice can increase assets seized from such cartels. 

Additionally, the BUILD WALL Act would use money forfeited from drug traffickers to fund increased border security on the U.S./ Mexican border. This defense could include a wall, another type of physical barrier, and/or a technology-supported solution. The use of this funding would ease the financial burdens on taxpayers and help build stronger relations between the United States and Mexico while fighting back against drug trafficking in both countries.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Border security is imperative for a safe, prosperous nation and lawmakers must take a serious approach to solving the issues of illegal immigration and drug trafficking. If we do nothing, we put the people of this nation at risk, as well as allow illegal immigrants to take away jobs, opportunities, and social funding from U.S. citizens – all at the expense of the American taxpayer. The BUILD WALL Act is a creative solution to a complex problem and I encourage my colleagues to support it.”
 
BROOKFIELD,WI – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner held 12 town hall meetings throughout Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District over the past four days, meeting with constituents with views spanning the ideological spectrum.


 Record crowds, consisting mostly of constituents from the Congressman’s district, gathered to express their views and were recognized one by one during the time allotted for public discussion. Constituents experiencing individual problems with federal government agencies were also given time after the public portion of each meeting to speak with Congressman Sensenbrenner about their specific situations.

Safety protocol made it difficult for everyone interested in attending from participating in the meeting, however individuals wishing to express their views have, and will continue to have, various ways of contacting the Congressman, including phone, standard mail, email, and social media, as well as a significant number of additional town hall meetings.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I have always been accessible to my constituents and have shown respect for their opinions and concerns, even when they don’t agree with my positions on issues. Open and honest discourse between elected officials and the citizens they represent is the only way to find solutions to the problems facing our nation, and as long as I have the privilege to serve Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District, I will continue to provide my constituents with an opportunity and a forum to respectfully express their views and offer their ideas.”

Fast Facts:

• Congressman Sensenbrenner has held 30 town hall meetings already in 2017
• Congressman Sensenbrenner holds more in-person meetings than any Member of Congress 
• Congressman Sensenbrenner has held 520 town hall meetings since 2013
• Congressman Sensenbrenner personally signs roughly 300,000 constituent letters annually

While not everyone shared like-minded policy positions and beliefs, a resounding chorus throughout all events was one of thanks to the Congressman for his willingness to regularly host meetings and providing constituents an opportunity to speak to him directly:

He’s listening to people… He’s honest in stating his views [although they] may not agree with many of the people who come.”—Jane Speer, Fifth District constituent 

“[Congressman Sensenbrenner] strikes me as a little more personable; I actually found some common ground here and there.”—Aaron Madison, Fifth District constituent 

“I’ve disagreed with you often over the years and I ran against you in 2014, but I always respected you for the way you have conducted yourself in office, constituent service, and because you maintain your reasonable level of respect for voting rights and civil liberties.” –Chris Rockwood, former Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District
 

Rolling Back Regulations

February 9, 2017

Regulations are important for the protection of Americans’ health, safety, and well-being, but over the last eight years, they have grown beyond those purposes. The Obama administration issued more than 3,000 new regulations at a whopping cost of $875 billion to the American taxpayer.

Rather than helping Americans, overregulation has stifled innovation, stalled economic growth, and cost taxpayers billions of dollars in lost income. 

In fact, in 2015, regulations cost nearly $2 trillion in lost productivity and growth, and unfortunately, the financial burdens are only part of our overregulation problem. Few old regulations are ever lifted and new regulations have been added at an alarming rate under the previous Administration. 

For a successful, functioning economy, we need a regulatory system that works with and on behalf of the people, not the government. It should be collaborative, not combative, and encourage competition rather than picking winners and losers. We need to cut down on needless regulations while making the rules we do need more efficient and effective, particularly for our nation’s small businesses which often shoulder a disproportionate share of the federal regulatory burden.

Common sense solutions to our regulatory problem, such as putting sunsets on federal regulations and requiring agencies to publish the cost of each regulation, are actions that House Republicans are taking in order to help alleviate the pressure on taxpayers and businesses. 

The House of Representatives has already begun the important work of addressing overregulation by passing the REINS Act, which would ensure Congress has an up-or-down vote on any major regulation that would have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more, and the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would increase transparency in the rule-making process and require federal agencies to choose the least costly option unless they can show a costlier option is needed to protect health, safety, or welfare. 

These are significant steps forward, and they’re only the beginning of our regulatory reform efforts. The House Republicans’ plan, a Better Way, outlines our reform efforts and proposes common sense solutions that will not only help lift the heavy regulatory burdens on hardworking taxpayers, but also from our nation’s small businesses that drive our economy and put people to work. 

I look forward to continuing this important work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle throughout the 115th Congress, and encourage my constituents to voice their opinions at any of my upcoming town hall meetings, or by phone, standard mail, and email.  
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Each year, CQ releases a comprehensive vote study featuring the records of each Member of Congress. For the second year in a row, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner obtained a perfect voting record of 100 percent by not missing a single vote. Only 15 out of the 435 Members in the House of Representatives achieved this rating.

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“Serving the citizens of Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District is a responsibility that I have never taken lightly. Each year, I host more than 100 public events, such as town hall meetings and office hours, and respond to thousands of constituent comments submitted by phone, mail, and email. These avenues of open communication make it possible for me to thoughtfully perform my essential duty of voting on the House floor on behalf of my constituents, and I’m extremely proud of my consistent voting record. I’m humbled to serve as Wisconsin’s Fifth District representative, and I will continue working diligently on behalf of my constituents as long as I serve in the United States House of Representatives.”

The complete vote study scores can be found in the February 6, 2017 edition of CQ. 
 
On average, Wisconsin parents pay more than $9,000 each year for child care. That is nearly as much as one year of in-state tuition at the University of Wisconsin — Madison.

As Wisconsin families know, our state ranks among the most expensive for child care. In fact, only nine states have greater child care costs in the United States. We must ease the heavy burden these high costs are placing on the shoulders of hard-working families.

Wisconsin has more licensing requirements and regulations than other states, which drives up costs for care providers. Providers then pass on those increased costs to consumers.

Consider the average annual cost of child care in Wisconsin — nearly $12,000 in a child care center.

The median income for a married couple in Wisconsin is roughly $82,000, meaning child care consumes more than 11% of their annual earnings. The median income for a single mother-led family is roughly $23,000, so child care consumes nearly 39% of her annual earnings. These statistics present a troubling reality for families throughout the state, one in which they must choose between quality child care and daily essentials such as food, housing and transportation.

That is a decision no parent should ever have to make. The government should be encouraging hardworking people to start families, not punishing them.

High dependent care costs not only impact families; they also strain businesses. According to the “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2014 Report,” on average, U.S. businesses lose $3 billion annually due to absenteeism caused by gaps in dependent care coverage. The report also notes that when affordable quality care is available to working parents and caregivers their productivity increases at the workplace and professional absences are significantly reduced.

We must do everything possible to ensure that our nation’s businesses have every advantage to succeed and grow. A focused, present workforce is a critical component of that success, and it is imperative we do what we can to promote work, which includes finding solutions to the growing problem of high dependent care costs.

So what can be done to reduce costs and give Wisconsin families a hand up?

While many aspects of this issue must be addressed on the state level, there are significant actions Congress can and should take to help make dependent care more affordable.

I recently re-introduced the Working Parents Tax Relief Act — legislation that amends the Internal Revenue Service Code in order to help make the cost of dependent care more affordable for Wisconsin families.

Under the employer-sponsored Dependent Care Assistance Program, eligible employees may reduce their taxable income by setting aside money from their paycheck to pay for dependent care expenses, including child care, elder care, and extended care. The money set aside is pretax, which lowers an individual’s taxable income and ultimately saves families money.

This bill will play a small role in lessening the burden on Wisconsin families.

Currently, individuals may only set aside $5,000 per year. This limit has been in effect since 1986, despite the fact the cost of care has increased significantly. Under the current rules, program participants also are unable to rollover unused funds to the next year. My bill increases the amount available under the Dependent Care Assistance Program from $5,000 to $7,500, indexes the benefit amount to inflation, and allows program participants to rollover unused funds into the following year.

The cost of reliable, quality dependent care, especially child care, has risen dramatically over the years, and Wisconsin’s costs are disproportionately higher than the national average. Changes to the DCAP are necessary to help spur economic growth and security while giving our hard-working families a hand up and ensuring our businesses have a focused and productive workforce.

You can view this piece online here.