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Washington, D.C. – Today, Speaker Paul D. Ryan signed S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act at a bipartisan, bicameral ceremony. This comes after the recent approval of a conference committee report, which passed the House of Representatives last week. This legislation now heads to President Obama to be signed into law. 

The final legislative package signed today is a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic that is devastating millions of American lives. It includes provisions from eighteen bills passed by the House of Representatives in May, and addresses all facets of the epidemic. It permits the government to make grants for purposes of prevention, treatment, recovery, and overdose reversal through the use of FDA-approved and appropriately labeled drugs and devices, and law enforcement and investigative purposes.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has been a vocal leader throughout this process, and authored the flagship bill, H.R. 5046, which passed the House in May by a resounding 413-5 vote. H.R. 5046 creates a comprehensive Justice Department grant program to help states fight opioid addiction and authorizes $103 million annually over five years for the grant program. It directs taxpayer dollars responsibly by leveraging and streamlining existing programs and fully offsetting the legislation in compliance with the House’s cut-go protocol.  

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I’m extremely proud to have been part of this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will help millions of Americans overcome their struggles with addiction. The work accomplished here proves that compromise is possible and that Congress can come together to provide solutions to America’s most urgent problems. It’s my hope that the initiatives outlined in this bill will give addicted individuals the support they need to change their lives and once again become healthy, happy, and successful members of their families and communities.”
 
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the conference report for a comprehensive legislative package to combat the national opioid epidemic, which is ravaging individuals, families, and communities throughout the country. 

Among the eighteen bills passed and considered in the conference committee on the opioid epidemic prior to today’s approval was H.R. 5046, the flagship legislation considered on this issue, which was sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). 

H.R. 5046, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act (COARA), creates a comprehensive opioid abuse reduction program at the Department of Justice, which would, among other things, provide vital training and resources for first responders and law enforcement, aid in criminal investigations for the unlawful distribution of opioids, expand drug courts, and promote residential substance abuse.

Additionally, the comprehensive grant program created by H.R. 5046 is fully offset, meaning it successfully directs funds to address the opioid epidemic by taking advantage of existing funding. The result is no net increase in spending authorizations and no additional burden on the American taxpayer, which is a responsible, good-government approach to the epidemic.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Opioid and heroin abuse is an issue that doesn’t discriminate – it hurts individuals, families, and communities in every corner of this country. Today’s House approval of the conference report is a testimony to the seriousness of legislators to work together, compromise, and find real solutions. It is an important landmark that offers renewed hope for everyone impacted by this devastating epidemic.”

Addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, and other prescription pain medicines, has a devastating hold on this country. Between 435,000 and 1.5 million people in the United States currently use heroin, and an alarming number of them are younger than 25 years old. 

Deaths from prescription opioids and heroin set a record in 2014, climbing to 28,647. Beyond health care costs, other significant economic burdens are associated with opioid abuse, such as costs related to criminal justice and lost workplace productivity. In total, opioid abuse imposes an estimated $55 billion in societal costs annually.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Rapid DNA Act, introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and is on its way to a full vote on the House floor. 

The Rapid DNA Act would establish a system for the integration of Rapid DNA instruments for use by law enforcement to help reduce DNA backlog. Unlike traditional DNA analysis, which can take weeks, Rapid DNA analysis permits processing of DNA samples in approximately 90 minutes or less. 

This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way in which arrested individuals are enrolled in the criminal justice system, shorten the time required for their DNA to be linked to unsolved crimes, and expedite the exoneration of innocent suspects by giving law enforcement officials a new system that meets FBI quality assurance standards to compare DNA samples collected at the time of an arrest to profiles in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS.) 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Today’s passage of the Rapid DNA Act out of the House Judiciary Committee is a promising development that brings us one step closer to safer communities throughout the nation. Rapid DNA technology is an effective tool for law enforcement that will help quickly identify arrestees and offenders and reduce the overwhelming backlog in forensic DNA analysis. It will also make crime fighting efforts more efficient and help prevent future crimes from occurring, which saves time and taxpayer dollars. I look forward to this smart legislation moving forward to a vote on the House floor soon.”
 
Residents interested in getting a sense of how national politics and government work can learn more about it from someone who confronts the issue on a daily basis.

House of Representatives member Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, will be in West Bend on Sunday, hosting a town hall beginning 7 p.m. at City Hall. Constituents can attend and listen to the congressman’s views on issues he and his colleagues face regularly.

“Getting back to the community regularly not only helps us understand what constituents need and what their problems are, but it also gives him the opportunity to see if they have issues with the federal government that his office can help them with,” said Nicole Tieman, Sensenbrenner’s communications director.

Tieman said Sensenbrenner visits areas throughout his district. typically on a quarterly cycle. During the events, he speaks with voters to get their opinions on a variety of subjects, from national security to fiscal and budget topics. Afterward he speaks with constituents individually to concerns regarding services received from federal agencies or any other problems they may have.

She touted his legislative initiatives regarding crime and healthcare, saying Sensenbrenner believes in advancing common sense solutions related to crime.

“He wants to make sure we are not throwing people in jail and forgetting about them," Tieman said. “Especially low-level, non-violent criminals. A lot of that can come down to dealing with programs that help them when they can back into their communities, reduce their recidivism rates, making sure they are not just going in and out of the system.”

Kathleen Kiernan, 5th Congressional District chairwoman of the Washington County Republican Party, said she believes jobs and the economy tend to be at the forefront of people’s minds when they attend the town halls, but immigration and terrorism are also significant issues.

“One of the important issues is the open-door immigration policy of the president where we don’t know who is entering the country,” Kiernan said. “We know terrorism exists and it exists in this country.”

One resident who attended numerous town halls is Frank Klein of the town of Wayne. He said he generally agrees with Sensenbrenner’s views and likes the job he has done thus far.

“He is consistently trying to hold down spending,” Klein said. “I know he votes every time he can for balanced budgets. I know he opposes wasteful spending. I know he favors lower taxes.”

Others disagree with is philosophy.

“When I went to a Sensenbrenner meeting, the first thing I said was that I want my taxes raised,” said town of West Bend resident Ken Johnson. “This is about 10 years ago and he was surprised when I said that. When I have a good investment year, I want you to tax 100 percent of my social security.”

For Johnson, Sensenbrenner represents corporate interests and wants to provide tax breaks for the wealthy and not the middle class.

“Sensenbrenner needs to work with his colleagues for sensible gun control reform,” said Waring Fincke of the Washington County Democratic Party. “He should stop trying to repeal Obamacare, and expand social security benefits by eliminating the cap on incomes subject to social security tax.”
 
Our Founding Fathers had a vision – one nation comprised of individuals with different ideas, perspectives, and beliefs; fiercely independent but committed to the common goal of independence from government oppression. For nearly two hundred and fifty years, that basic principle has made America the greatest country in the world. 

In recent years the ideals that define us have been under attack by progressive thought that threatens the foundation our country was built on. Political correctness has made us a nation of victims. Tolerance now means acceptance, and fairness only applies to those who share a liberal mindset. These developments are leading America down a dangerous path that, if not stopped, will strip citizens of their fundamental rights under the Constitution. When that happens, our country as we know it will cease to exist.

One flagrant offense against the Constitution has been the onslaught of the First Amendment by progressives who believe freedom of speech only applies to them. This is particularly true in academia, where diversity of ideas has been exchanged for political correctness. 

Liberal activist students have become perpetually offended by any concept that runs counter to their own, and it has resulted in the end of debate and free flowing ideas. There have already been numerous examples this year, including a petition by students at Yale University to abolish curriculum requiring English majors to study eight noteworthy poets in English literature and the suggestion of segregated ‘safe spaces,’ an idea that has spread to other campuses like New York University and the University of Arizona. 

Further, in the past decade, there have been dozens of examples of conservative thought leaders being disinvited from, or protested off of, college campuses. Among those who withdrew in the face of opposition from progressive students include: President George W. Bush, Former First Lady Laura Bush, Henry Kissinger, and Condoleezza Rice.

Unfortunately, freedom of speech is not the only target of progressive ideology. The expansion of the federal government’s enumerated powers – like the Commerce Clause – coupled with the evisceration of the Tenth Amendment have led to a massive expansion of federal power at the expense of the states.

The great American experiment in self-governance rests on the idea of “for the people, by the people.” States’ Rights are vital to curtailing federal government overreaches and the infringement of such rights, but time and again anonymous Washington bureaucrats collude with liberal political leaders to enact policies that over-regulate the lives of Americans, abate individual liberty, and weaken state sovereignty. An egregious example is the recent mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for states to comply with onerous and arbitrary climate change regulations. 

The Clean Power Plan (CPP), initiated by President Obama and being implemented by the EPA, requires states to become compliant with newly issued emissions standards. Although the EPA allows states to restructure their current environmental plans as they choose, the timeline allotted is so brief that it will be nearly impossible for them to do so. States that don’t meet EPA standards by the deadline will be forced to adopt the Agency’s plan, resulting in increased federal government interference in state affairs. This overreach is devastating to citizens, businesses, and state industries and economies.

The attack on the Constitution has not stopped with the Bill of Rights. While the deterioration of freedom of speech and states’ rights would dramatically change the fabric of the United States, progressive thought is also making this nation increasingly vulnerable to attack. There’s no clearer example than the Iran Nuclear Deal brokered by President Obama. 

The Constitution clearly states in Article II, Section 2 that the President has the authority to negotiate treaties “with the advice and consent of the Senate.” President Obama knew that his negotiated deal with Iran would never gain the approval of the United States Senate due to the glaring flaws in the deal, such as a lack of oversight of Iran’s previous weapon’s development, the quick windfall in money and sanction relief, and the fact that Iran would be able to begin processing nuclear fuel without any limitations in only 10 years.

In order to get this illegal treaty approved, the President decided to pass this off as a United Nations (UN) negotiated deal. By negotiating under the auspices of the UN, the President circumvented Congress’ authority completely. In addition to avoiding congressional oversight, the deal illegally removed sanctions that Congress itself voted for. I fought this deal from day one, and voted against its approval.

Our Founders made Article II shorter than Article I for a very specific reason. They believed that the power of Congress should be greater than one person. 

Our Founding Fathers had a vision for America that centered on the idea of freedom and self-governance. These basic principles are under attack. We cannot allow the interests of a few to fundamentally change the ideas this country was built upon. 

This Independence Day, I urge my fellow citizens to remember where we came from and the reasons our forefathers were willing to lay down their lives to ensure a future of freedom for all. They believed in a greater idea – the American Dream – and we must fight to protect it. We must preserve America’s promise for ourselves and for generations of Americans to come.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the dubious meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Lynch described her highly unorthodox meeting with Bill Clinton as ‘primarily social.’  As someone with a long history investigating Bill Clinton, I know that almost everything he does is “primarily social,” but with Clinton, you always have to wonder, ‘what were his ulterior motives?’  

“Bill Clinton should not be soliciting a conversation with the Attorney General while her Department is investigating his wife.  And the Attorney General should not be engaging him in conversation.  What did they talk about?  We’ll likely never know for sure, but this is precisely why prosecutors must avoid even an appearance of impropriety.  This is a case of, at best, extremely poor judgment and it absolutely taints the Department’s investigation of Hillary Clinton.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) becoming law:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The signing of PROMESA into law is the first step on the path toward fiscal solvency and a brighter future for Puerto Rico and its citizens. It is a common sense solution that will protect taxpayers and be the vehicle for real, substantive change in the lives of millions of Americans.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the 2016 OASDI Trustees Report, officially named the Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, was released, revealing the precarious future of America’s Social Security program.

According to the report, Social Security’s combined trust fund asset reserves will become depleted by the year 2034 and the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund will be depleted by the year 2028. 

In an effort to curtail these devastating findings, the Trustees recommend a 21 percent increase in payroll taxes or a 16 percent cut in benefits for all current and future beneficiaries. Either option would significantly hurt hard working American citizens. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The facts revealed in the annual OASDI Trustees Report are troubling, but certainly not surprising, and they show that we cannot kick the can down the road any longer. Every day that goes by, the situation grows worse and will require more drastic changes to the Social Security and Medicare programs. The time to act is now. The health and security of all Americans depend on it.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement regarding the Great Lakes governors’ unanimous approval of the Lake Michigan water diversion to Waukesha:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “For more than a decade, Waukesha officials and dedicated members of the Wisconsin DNR have conducted studies, evaluated alternative water supply options, and presented their findings to various environmental authorities, both in the state and throughout the Great Lakes region. The city met every environmental requirement, resulting in today’s unanimous approval granting Waukesha access to Lake Michigan water. It is a great victory for Waukesha and its citizens, and will prove to have a net positive effect for the community and the environment.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement regarding the adoption of House Concurrent Resolution 89, which expressed that a proposed carbon tax would increase costs for middle class families, contribute to job losses, and put further strain on the United States economy:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Under President Obama, the American economic outlook is precarious at best. Rather than find solutions to the real problems citizens face each day, the President and his EPA want to create a carbon tax that would increase energy prices, force hardworking families to pay more for necessities, such as food, gasoline, and electricity, and lead to additional job losses. Today, the House of Representatives made the right decision to put American families first and consider the best interests of the country over those of the President’s legacy.”