Skip to content
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sent the following letter to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the USDA’s ongoing role in preventing fraud and abuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Among other important programs under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to deliver much-needed assistance to Americans at a precarious point in their lives.

SNAP relies on cooperation from private retailers or grocers who accept government payments through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and distribute eligible food items to SNAP beneficiaries. In previous years, the EBT card’s function was filled by physical food stamps. 

Recently, a federal grand jury indicted multiple individuals in Baltimore, Maryland in connection with a practice known as “food stamp trafficking,” through which FNS-approved retailers and grocers exchange EBT funds for cash without delivering food to hungry Americans, or after greatly inflating food costs. Some reports indicate that SNAP was defrauded to the tune of $16 million in taxpayer funds in connection with these Maryland fraudsters. 

According to a 2012 press release, USDA has actively and successfully combated food stamp trafficking. The possibility for fraud exists when government distributes money, and it is always incumbent on government to safeguard the public’s trust by good administration. I commend USDA for the work it has already done to increase efficiency and reduce fraud in SNAP, and I am interested in seeing USDA reach greater successes in combating fraud.

I understand the importance of SNAP benefits for Americans. SNAP funds are dedicated to ensuring we stamp out hunger, and we must take strong action to keep the system clear of criminal activity. In the interest of guaranteeing SNAP funds go to feeding hungry people, I am asking about USDA’s activities to keep known fraudsters from repeatedly committing the same offenses. 

Does USDA:

1. maintain a comprehensive list of locations or addresses at which fraudulent activities have occurred?
2. maintain a comprehensive list of retail store owners and operators who have committed fraudulent activities?
3. cross-reference applications to become FNS-approved retailers with any existing list of retailers who may have committed SNAP fraud, or with any existing list of locations at which systematic fraud has occurred?
4. have processes and procedures in place to suspend or scrutinize retailers who may be discovered to have connections with previous cases of fraud?

I am pleased to see USDA taking action to shore up the public’s trust in its administration of taxpayer funds. I look forward to reviewing your response to these questions, and expect to receive your response by October 29, 2016. It is my hope that our cooperation results in a reduced burden for the American taxpayer.

Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sent a letter to United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy asking her why the Agency has failed to produce reports on the environmental impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“The EPA has a statutory requirement to produce these reports. It is vital that Members of Congress have access to the Agency’s findings while evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of our national biofuels mandate in order to take sound actions on behalf of the American consumer.” 

Full text provided below:

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

In November 2013, the House Science Committee held a hearing entitled Strengthening Transparency and Accountability within the Environmental Protection Agency, at which you testified. During the hearing, you and I discussed the merits of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15), and its effects on engines. During this colloquy on E15 fuel – which traces its roots back to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – you stated that “additional research that’s done credibly and transparent is always welcome.” I appreciate those comments, as I too believe there is value in further research into a host of areas under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) jurisdiction, including the RFS. Your desire for additional research apparently is not shared by everyone at EPA, however. 

According to statute, your agency is required every three years to update Congress on the environmental and conservation impacts of the RFS. As noted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), EPA hasn’t completed a triannual congressional impact report since 2011 and never issued a backsliding study to determine if the RFS and our national biofuels mandate adversely affects air quality.

Although EPA says some of the required reports were not produced due to scare resources and other priorities, the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) stated that in regards to lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the state of the science (since 2010)  has not changed enough to necessitate an updated study on the impacts of the renewable fuels program. 

Additional and updated research and analysis allows lawmakers to better gauge the strengths and weaknesses of policy we enact, and science-based decision making is vital when evaluating our biofuel mandate. With this in mind, please answer the following questions by October 8, 2016:

• Considering missed deadlines in the past, how confident is the agency that it can produce a triennial report on biofuels to Congress during the first quarter of 2018?
o What specifically is EPA doing to ensure this deadline is met?

• Would it be beneficial for EPA to complete an anti-backsliding air study on the RFS before proposing new biofuel volume requirements in the future?
o If yes, why?
o If no, why not?

• Does your statement: “additional research that’s done credibly and transparent is always welcome” only apply to E15? Does this statement also apply to the RFS?
o If the statement does apply to the RFS, do you support OAR’s decision to forego an additional report on the lifecycle GHG emissions associated with the RFS?
? Why or why not?
o If the statement doesn’t apply to the RFS, why doesn’t it?

Thank you for your attention to these questions.

Sincerely,


F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR.
Chairman Emeritus
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Increase Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) Ceiling Act, legislation that would amend the Internal Revenue (IRS) Code of 1986 in order to help make the cost of childcare more affordable for families and businesses. 

Each year, up to $5,000 in funding is available for childcare services to employees with children 13 years and younger who are unable to care for themselves. Currently, if an individual does not use the full allotment within a year, the funds cannot be rolled-over for later use. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner’s legislation not only increases the amount available from $5,000 to $7,500, but also allows participants in the program to roll-over unused funds. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The cost of reliable, quality childcare has risen dramatically over the years. Changes to the Dependent Care Assistance Program are necessary to give our hardworking families a hand up and ensure our businesses have a focused, productive workforce.”

Background:

• The Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) is a flexible spending account which can be used to pay for eligible dependent care expenses, such as childcare.
• Expenses must be incurred from the care of dependents under the age of 13, or older dependents incapable of caring for themselves, and must be needed to allow employees to work.
• The money set aside is pretax, which has the effect of lowering an individual’s taxable income. Under current law, each household may set aside up to $5,000 annually. This limit has been in effect since 1986, despite the fact that the cost of care has significantly increased.
 
Brookfield, WI – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner is accepting applications for a nomination to the United States Air Force, Military, Naval, or Merchant Marine Academy for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “It is my distinct honor and privilege to nominate young men and women from the Fifth Congressional District for appointment to our nation’s United States Service Academies. Applicants who receive a nomination and appointment will receive a world-class education from any one of the academies, and will graduate as a commissioned officer in our Armed Forces. I encourage the best and brightest students in my district to apply for a nomination.”

Applications will be accepted from those who are US citizens living in Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District, and are at least 17 years old, but not past their 23rd birthday on July 1, 2017, and must have reached their senior year of high school.

The application form and instructions are located on Congressman Sensenbrenner’s website at www.sensenbrenner.house.gov, or call his Brookfield office to request this information at (262) 784-1111.  

Be advised that completed applications are due in Congressman Sensenbrenner’s district office by close of business on Friday, October 14, 2016.  Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.
 
When you pay for something, you expect to receive it. Whether a physical good or a service, there is the rightful expectation that you will receive something in exchange for your money. The same should be true for scientific research. Americans, however, are being forced to pay double for access.

Technology and information sharing have put us on the brink of a new era of scientific breakthroughs. Citizen scientists can use unfettered access to federally-funded research to innovate and create new ideas that grow our economy and improve the lives of Americans. All citizens benefit when their tax dollars are used to craft life-changing ideas rather than scientific articles that go unseen behind pay walls and restricted access.

Currently, scholarly journals count on taxpayers to foot the bill for research on the frontend and for access to the results on the backend. While the federal government spends more than $100 billion annually on research and development, it denies adequate access to the taxpayers who fund it. Enhanced public access will prevent this “double charge” and will lead to less frivolous taxpayer spending on duplicative research, foster innovation, and increase scientific advances that keep America on the cutting edge of science and technology.

The idea of everyday citizens making scientific breakthroughs is not abstract. When he was a high school student, Jack Andraka was affected by the loss of a friend to pancreatic cancer. In the wake of that loss, he wanted to research the disease. By utilizing research articles based on federally-funded research, Jack created a new, accurate and inexpensive diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer.

The Internet is a useful tool in scientific endeavors. We’ve seen the value in linking the world community through a free and open Internet, allowing imaginative ideas to incubate and develop, eventually transforming into the type of innovative technologies that have come to define the Information Age. The tech industry has made it clear that we must avoid putting undue restrictions on the Internet. Instead, we should find ways to free the Internet from government restraints. It is imperative that this principle apply to scientific research as well.

In 2011, Aaron Swartz, a computer programmer and research fellow at Harvard University, downloaded academic journal articles through MIT’s computer network. He was arrested and later indicted on federal charges of wire and computer fraud, and unlawfully obtaining information from and damaging a protected computer. Nine additional felony charges were later added. Before he began his prison sentence, he committed suicide.

Following his death, several members of the House Judiciary Committee questioned the government’s handling of the case, and introduced Aaron’s Law. This bill excludes terms of service violations from the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and from the wire fraud statute.

While Aaron’s Law addressed the how, the Public Access to Public Science (PAPS) Act addresses the why. Why did Aaron hack into computers at MIT? He was passionate about open access.

The PAPS Act is a pro-taxpayer, pro-science, pro-information sharing bill–a bipartisan bill to ensure public access to published materials concerning scientific research and development activities funded by federal science agencies.

Partisan gridlock often defines Washington, but the PAPS Act is a collaborative effort that strikes a balance between enabling for-profit publishers and scientific societies to continue to host high-quality publications and allowing the public to access work funded by federal tax dollars.

It is past time we embrace a public access policy for scientific research and give the public what it pays for. The PAPS Act provides Americans access to the results of their investment, helping to spur curiosity, ingenuity and innovation in science and technology industries.

View this piece online here.
Brookfield, WI – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the 2016 results of his annual district survey, which are based on 3714 respondents throughout the Fifth Congressional District. 

Each year, Congressman Sensenbrenner hosts more than 100 town hall meetings and office hours in communities across the district, as well as responds to thousands of constituent letters on various legislative issues. The annual district survey is another tool Congressman Sensenbrenner uses to ensure he is best serving those he represents. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “My legislative priorities are determined by the needs of those I represent, and the annual survey is just one of the ways I’m able to learn their thoughts and concerns about the direction of our communities and our nation. It’s a great honor to serve my constituents in Congress, and I appreciate the time and effort each respondent took to participate in this year’s survey.”

Key Findings:

• 72% believe the country is headed in the wrong direction
• Only 17% rate the economy as “good,” while 80% rate it fair or poor
• 67% believe the Obama administration has violated the balance of powers

The questions, answer options, and results in full are below:

1) Do you believe the country is headed in the right direction?
A. Yes- 16%
B. No- 72%
C. Other- 11%

2) Rate the condition of the economy.

A. Excellent- 1%
B. Good- 17%
C. Fair- 49%
D. Poor- 31%
E. Other- 2%  

3) What is the greatest economic challenge facing your family? (Choose one)
A. Stagnant wages- 21%
B. Rising price of consumer goods- 45%
C. Debt- 6%
D. Lack of employment or underemployment- 9%
E. Other- 20%

4) What is your biggest concern/ complaint with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?
A. Its effect on small business- 16%
B. Cost/ Rising premiums- 45%
C. Losing your health coverage- 8%
D. Losing your doctor- 5%
E. I have no concerns or complaints- 26%

5) Do you believe that law enforcement agencies should be allowed access to encrypted information in certain circumstances in order to prevent and/or stop terrorism, and to solve cases of terrorism against the United States?

A. Yes- 69%
B. No 15%
C. Undecided- 16%

6) Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S., eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms. There were over 47,000 overdose deaths in 2014; 61% of which involved either a prescription opioid or heroin. Do you believe the government must take steps to fight heroin and opioid addiction in America?
A. Yes- 74%
B. No- 14%
C. Undecided- 12%

7) Do you believe the Obama administration has violated the balance of powers and abused the use of executive orders?
A. Yes- 67%
B. No- 28% 
C. Undecided- 5%

8) Do you believe there must be increased transparency from our federal government?

A. Yes- 83% 
B. No- 7%
C. Undecided- 11%

9) From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people. About $70 billion is spent on corrections annually. Do you believe reforms are needed to curtail the high rates and costs of incarceration? 
A. Yes- 73%
B. No- 15%
C. Undecided- 12%

10) What do you believe is the best method for prisoner rehabilitation?
A. Education and workforce opportunities within prison- 21%
B. Personalized sentencing over mandatory minimums- 7%
C. Longer prison sentences- 9%
D. Both A and B- 53%
E. Other- 10%

11) Do you believe the United States should allow more Syrian refugees to settle here?

A. Yes- 13%
B. Yes, but only after heavy screening- 36%
C. No- 43%
D. Undecided- 8%

12) Do you support building a wall on our southern border to prohibit illegal immigrants from coming into the country illegally? 

A. Yes- 51%
B. No- 38%
C. Undecided- 12%

13) The 2015 Social Security Trustees Report indicated that in the year 2035, the trust fund will be unable to pay the full cost of benefits for retirees. How should Congress reform the Social Security system to ensure the trust fund remains viable for future generations?
A. Raise taxes on Social Security benefits and on payroll taxes- 21%
B. Decrease the amount beneficiaries receive- 7%
C. Privatize the Social Security System- 26%
D. No changes- 9%
E. Other- 

14) What do you think is the biggest threat to our national security?

A. ISIS and other terrorist organizations- 34%
B. Cyber warfare- 22%
C. North Korea’s nuclear ambitions- 7%
D. The national debt- 28%
E. Other- 8%
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the recent outbreak of violence and the weakening relationship between police and impacted communities, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) is advocating for increased cooperation on Congressional criminal justice reform efforts.

For the last 3 years, Rep. Sensenbrenner has led bipartisan efforts in Congress for broad-based reforms to improve the federal sentencing and corrections system, from front-end sentencing reform to back-end release policies.  

The Judiciary Committee’s bill addresses the federal supervision system – recognizing that probation often does a better job stopping the revolving door at federal prisons. The legislation, which is inspired by the successes of states across the country, will reduce recidivism, concentrate prison space on violent and career criminals, increase the use of evidence-based alternatives to incarceration, curtail over-criminalization, reduce crime, and save taxpayer dollars. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “For too long, our communities have been devastated by heightened criminal activity, rampant recidivism, and a fractured criminal justice system. Over the past three years, Congress has worked on a bipartisan basis to create real change by proposing evidence-based solutions, which have been proven effective in the states. Additions to our police force, as well as sentencing reforms and rehabilitation programs for incarcerated individuals are the first steps toward rebuilding our broken neighborhoods, but the problems we face today in our criminal justice system will not be solved unless Congress can work cohesively with the next Administration.”
 
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, along with Representatives Mark Pocan, Reid Ribble, Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, Sean Duffy, and Glenn Grothman, sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Serves Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt requesting increased patient access to oropharyngeal strengthening therapy. 

This type of therapy would benefit individuals with various conditions and diseases, improving quality of life, providing efficient patient care, and offering cost savings to the American healthcare system. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “When gaps in care or methods of increasing quality care are discovered, it’s our responsibility to pursue efficient and cost effective solutions that will benefit individuals and improve our overall healthcare system. Patient access to oropharyngeal strengthening therapy is one such solution, and I look forward to hearing from Administrator Slavitt on how to move forward.”

Full text provided below:

Dear Administrator Slavitt:

We are writing to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure access to oropharyngeal strengthening therapy for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, head and neck cancers, those who have suffered a stroke, and others who have swallowing disorders.  

The act of swallowing is complex. Approximately 40 oral and pharyngeal (mouth and throat) muscles and multiple cranial nerves work together to accomplish two critical, life sustaining actions: breathing and swallowing. Weak oropharyngeal muscles can prevent effective and efficient transport of food, liquids and medication causing them to flow into an unprotected airway, also known as aspiration. Swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia, are highly prevalent in stroke patients and are associated with increased mortality and morbidity, dehydration, pulmonary complications, and reduced rehabilitation potential. Therefore, it is critical to ensure Medicare patients have access to safe, effective therapies to improve their swallowing function, prevent further complications and continue to advance their rehabilitation. 

Several peer-reviewed clinical studies report that systematic strengthening of oropharyngeal muscles is an effective and well-accepted therapy for treating dysphagia. Outcomes from these studies included reduced aspiration, progression to a regular diet, ending use of a feeding tubes, and cost savings to the healthcare system.

It has been brought to our attention that there is a pending application for separate, unique Healthcare Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes for swallow rehabilitation systems and their accessories. We understand that without these distinct HCPCS codes, patients cannot be assured access to the medical devices that provide this rehabilitation therapy in their homes. 

Therefore, we ask that CMS continue to work with all stakeholders to address this national healthcare policy imperative and give full and fair consideration of the swallowing rehabilitation therapies’ applications for new HCPCS codes. 

We look forward to your response.


Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R- Wis.), along with Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Gene Green (D-TX), Dave Trott (R-MI), and Jared Polis (D-CO) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch regarding the Department of Justice’s efforts to enforce antitrust laws, including a multi-year review of the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees, which allow for a competitive and successful music market. 

The letter, which comes after a recent announcement upholding the aforementioned decrees, commends Attorney General Lynch and the Justice Department’s work on guaranteeing fair and efficient music licensing.  

Full text provided below:

Dear Attorney General Lynch:
 
We write regarding the Department of Justice’s thorough multi-year review of the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees.  Assessing potential harm to competition arising from coordinated behavior of competitors – as would most certainly arise were the decrees modified to permit fractional licensing – is the responsibility of the Antitrust Division and we commend you for your diligence in this thorough review. 
 
Last week’s announcement upholding the decrees with no modification is appropriate at this time. Further, we support the Department’s clarification that under the decrees, ASCAP and BMI must use “100% licensing,” and that this obligation has always been inherent in the consent decrees.
 
We commend the Department’s efforts to guarantee the fair and efficient licensing of public performance rights for musical works.  Preserving the decrees as currently written will protect licensees acting in good faith, ensure that music is performed legally, and see that creators are compensated for their work.  
 
Moreover, we commend your staff for reaffirming that the consent decrees require ASCAP and BMI to license all of the works in their repertory.  So-called “fractional licensing” would hamstring the music marketplace.  It is our understanding that the current blanket licenses allow for the “100% licensing” of a work by any one partial owner of the work.  Were the Department to propose modifying the consent decrees to allow fractional licensing, it would paralyze the market for licensed music.
 
We thank you for your efforts to enforce our antitrust laws, which will make way for a competitive and successful music market.
 
Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress
 
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 in the House of Representatives. 

In their never ending quest for new revenues, states are increasingly looking for ways to shift tax and regulatory burdens to people from other states—to whom elected officials are unaccountable. The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 prohibits states from regulating beyond their borders by imposing sales tax collection requirements on individuals with no physical presence in the taxing state and no vote in the representation that would implement the tax.

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“States should not have the ability to tax non-citizens, plain and simple. This legislation would help reduce burdensome overregulation, keep government overreaches in check, and ensure that only residents of a state are subjected to tax obligations.”

The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 section by section is available here.