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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Rapid DNA Act. This legislation would establish a system to enable law enforcement officials to use Rapid DNA instruments to help reduce DNA backlogs. 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 individuals arrested for crimes are enrolled in the criminal justice system, to shorten the time required for their DNA to be linked to unsolved crimes, and to expedite the exoneration of innocent suspects. The Rapid DNA Act will give 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 FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS.) 

The legislation has strong support from across the law enforcement community, including the National Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major City Chiefs Association, National Association of Police Organizations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and National District Attorneys Association, as well as the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations. In testimony before Congress last year, FBI Director James Comey said the authority in the bill would help law enforcement “change the world in a very, very exciting way” by enabling officials to know “near-instantly” whether a person in custody is connected with other crimes or is innocent of the suspected charge. 

For further details on the bill, click here.

Senator Hatch: “As FBI Director James Comey said last year in testimony before Congress, the Rapid DNA Act will help law enforcement ‘change the world in a very, very exciting way.’ It will enable officers to take advantage of exciting new developments in DNA technology to more quickly solve crimes and exonerate innocent suspects. Under this legislation, rather than having to all send DNA samples to crime labs and wait weeks for results, trained officers will be able to process many samples in less than two hours. This legislation passed the Senate unanimously last Congress and very nearly passed the House. I intend to work closely with my colleagues this Congress to get it across the finish line and to the President’s desk.” 

Senator Feinstein: "When an individual is arrested, it can often take months to process their DNA sample to determine whether their DNA profiles match other crimes. Our bill will address this delay by requiring the FBI to issue guidelines for local jurisdictions to use standardized Rapid DNA technology. This technology will reduce processing time from months to just hours, allowing the police to quickly advance investigations and protect the public.”?

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “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 make crime fighting efforts more efficient and help prevent future crimes from occurring, which saves time and taxpayer dollars. I look forward to working with Senators Hatch and Feinstein, Representative Swalwell and all my colleagues in both the House and Senate to ensure this common-sense legislation is passed.”

Congressman Swalwell: “As an Alameda County prosecutor, I learned all too well that a DNA backlog leaves crimes unsolved, leaves the public unprotected, and leaves victims crying out for justice – none of which are acceptable. DNA can be a powerful law-enforcement tool when samples are tested in a timely fashion, and this legislation will help provide that tool to police agencies across the nation, to all Americans’ benefit.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner reintroduced the ATF Elimination Act, legislation that would dissolve the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and merge its exclusive duties into existing federal agencies. 

Additionally, the Act calls for an immediate hiring freeze at the agency and requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to eliminate and reduce duplicative functions and waste, as well as report to Congress with a detailed plan on how the transition will take place. Further, it would transfer enforcement of firearms, explosives and arson laws to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products would be transferred to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). 

Under this bill, the DEA and FBI would be required to submit to Congress a plan for winding down the affairs of the ATF after no more than 180 days, and field offices, along with other buildings and assets of the ATF, would be transferred to the FBI. It would have one year to report excess property to the General Services Administration (GSA).

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Despite our country being trillions of dollars in debt, government spending continues to rise. Common sense budgeting solutions are necessary, and the ATF Elimination Act is one measure we can take to reduce spending, redundancy, and practice responsible governance. The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges, and a lack of leadership. These facts make it a logical place to begin draining the swamp and acting in the best interest of the American taxpayer.”
 
BROOKFIELD, WI – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner announced that 30 students from Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District have received nominations to the U.S. service academies.  

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The students selected this year as nominees to the United States service academies are upstanding individuals who will make their families, friends, and communities proud in both their academic and professional endeavors. A strong country needs strong leaders, and I have no doubt that these accomplished young men and women will dutifully serve their country and lead this nation into a brighter future.”

Nominees for the United States service academies were chosen from an impressive group of qualified applicants residing throughout Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District. The Congressman’s Academy Selection Committee put forth its recommendations for nomination after reviewing each individual candidate and conducting in-person interviews.  

Of the 30 students, five have been named principal nominees. If the principal nominee meets the academic, physical, and medical standards set by the academy, they are assured an offer of appointment to the academy. If a principal nominee does not qualify or chooses not to attend, the alternates compete for the vacancy. Alternates are also part of a pool of applicants from which the academies will select the incoming class. All but one nominee are listed below, and photos of these participating principal and competing nominees are available upon request. 

Principal Nominees:

Jonathan Lee of Brookfield has been named a principal nominee to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. Jonathan, son of Kenneth and Kate Lee, attends Brookfield Academy.

Noah Jensen of Brookfield has been named a principal nominee to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Noah, son of Joel and Carrie Jensen, attends Brookfield Academy.  

Eric Wunsch of Menomonee Falls has been named a principal nominee to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Eric, son Jon and Nancy Wunsch, attends Menomonee Falls High School.

Emma Hutchinson of Brookfield has been named a principal nominee to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD and an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Emma, daughter of Patrick and Stephanie Hutchinson, attends Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.

Matthew Malone of Pewaukee has been named a principal nominee to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD and an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO and the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. Matthew, son of Daniel and Trudy Malone, attends Marquette University High School.

Competing Alternate Nominees from Jefferson County:

Steven Jonas of Watertown has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Steven, son of Brian and Lyn Jonas, attends Watertown High School. 

Competing Alternate Nominee from Milwaukee County:

Christopher Slosar of West Allis has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Christopher, son of Richard and Sharon Slosar, attends St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy.

Competing Alternate Nominees from Washington County:

Victoria Burns of West Bend has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Victoria, daughter of Thomas and Donna Burns, attends West Bend West High School.

Nickolas Rasimus of Hubertus has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Nickolas, son of Keith and Amy Rasimus, attends Slinger High School.

Competing Alternate Nominees from Waukesha County:

Alexandria Bullen of Brookfield has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. Alexandria, daughter of Ronald and Susan Bullen, attends the US Military Academy Preparatory School. 

Andrew Bullen of Brookfield has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. Andrew, the son of Ronald and Susan Bullen, attends the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School.

Anthony Burzinski of Menomonee Falls has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Anthony, son of Joseph and Karen Burzinski, attends Menomonee Falls High School. 

Alexander Carter of Oconomowoc has been named as an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Alexander, son of Paul and Angelique Carter, attends Oconomowoc High School. 

Maxwell Cavadel of Menomonee Falls has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Maxwell, son of Glenn and Christina Cavadel, attends Hamilton High School.

Parker Ellis of Oconomowoc has been named as an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Parker, son of Kevin and Julie Ellis, attends Oconomowoc High School.

Michael Elwing of Brookfield has been named as an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Michael, son of Michael and Holly Elwing, attends Brookfield Central High School.

Ryan Hayward of Okauchee has been named as an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Ryan, son of Christopher and Meaghan Hayward, attends Lake Country Lutheran High School.

Jacob Hoeg of Waukesha has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Jacob, son of Timothy and Kelly Hoeg, attends Waukesha North High School.

Benjamin Johnson of Lisbon has been named an alternate nominee to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Benjamin, son of Jeffrey and Debra Johnson, attends Lake Country Lutheran High School.

Joseph Neimon of Delafield has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Joseph, son of Michael and Kerry Neimon, attends Kettle Moraine High School.

John Otten of Menomonee Falls has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. John, son of Mark and Janet Otten, attends Marquette University High School.

Michael Puetz of Oconomowoc has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Michael, son of Michael and Dawn Puetz, attends Oconomowoc High School.

Henry Rahmes of New Berlin has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Henry, son of Michael and Sara Rahmes, attends New Berlin West High School.

Mackenzie Robertson of Menomonee Falls has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Mackenzie, daughter of Troy and Dr. Felicia Robertson, attends Menomonee Falls High School.

Jack Schaefer of Hartland has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY, and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Jack, son of Michael Schaefer and Samantha Gillette, attends Arrowhead High School.

Maxwell Schroeder of Brookfield has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Maxwell, son of William and Lisa Schroeder, attends Brookfield Central.

Max Stergiades of Brookfield has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Air Force in Colorado Springs, CO and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Max, son of Nicholas and Peggy Stergiades, attends Brookfield East High School.

Dann Wilson of Pewaukee has been named an alternate nominee to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Dann, son of Dann and Monica Wilson, attends the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Congressman Sensenbrenner is currently accepting nomination applications from Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District for those who would like to enter any United States service academy in the summer of 2018.  Inquiries concerning this process can be made to the Congressman’s district office in Brookfield at (262) 784-1111, or online at Sensenbrenner.house.gov.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Working Parents Tax Relief Act, legislation that would amend the Internal Revenue (IRS) Code of 1986 in order to help make the cost of childcare 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, prior to taxes being taken out, to pay for dependent care expenses, including child care, elder care and extended care. 

Currently, individuals may only set aside $5,000 per year and are unable to roll-over unused funds to the next year.

Sensenbrenner’s Working Parents Tax Relief Act would increase the amount available under DCAP from $5,000 to $7,500, index the benefit amount to inflation, and allow plan participants to roll-over unused funds into the following year. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The cost of reliable, quality dependent care, especially 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) acts as flexible spending account which can be used to pay for eligible dependent care expenses.
• 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.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released his weekly column on the start of the 115th Congress and the legislative priorities that he and House Republicans will move forward in the coming months:

Tuesday marked the official start to the 115th Congress, and House Republicans are wasting no time moving forward to fix the mistakes of the Obama administration and advance new legislation under the Better Way agenda that will create a positive economic atmosphere, peel back years of government over-regulation, and restore Americans’ confidence in our nation and its leaders.

For more than a year, House Republicans have been talking about a more Confident America. The Better Way agenda will take an innovative, responsive, and inclusive approach toward issues of poverty, national security, health care, tax reform, the economy, and the Constitution. 

Under those umbrellas, I will be introducing bills that will work to fix our broken criminal justice system, defend Americans’ property rights, protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including children and the disabled, and reign in burdensome federal regulations that inhibit personal freedom and economic growth.

I encourage your feedback on these matters as I introduce legislation and work to advance it through Congress. I look forward to speaking with you at town hall meetings, office hours, and district events to hear your ideas.

This is an exciting time for our country. I’m optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead and am eager to begin a productive legislative session that will make good on the promises made for a better, more confident America. 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sensenbrenner released the following statement congratulating friend and colleague Paul Ryan on being reelected by the House of Representatives to serve a second term as Speaker: 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Paul Ryan is a conservative leader whose unwavering work ethic, measured legislative instincts, and unfailing optimism make him an effective and capable Speaker of the House. During his first term as Speaker, Paul demonstrated a structured and cohesive approach to legislating that was inclusive, innovative, and inspired. Under his leadership, House Republicans have coalesced under the Better Way agenda and will move forward to enact meaningful reforms on behalf of the American people. As we begin this new Congress, I look forward to continuing to work with Speaker Ryan and my colleagues in the House to give America a better way forward.”
 
The Christmas season is a good time to reflect on the things that really matter; family, friends, charity, and good will. These are the things that guide my work every day. 

When you peel back the layers of Congress – the partisan battles, the constant war of words; the minutia of Washington, D.C., what you’re left with is a group of men and women who want to do what’s best for the people they represent. They want to ensure their families and friends are safe and have every opportunity for a better life. They want to give a hand up to those in need and provide them with the tools necessary to be successful. They want to make a positive impact for everyone in their communities, states, and nationwide during their congressional tenures, and rest assured that on their last days in office, they leave this country a little better than when they began. This has always been my mission and I keep it in mind with every bill I introduce and every vote I take. 

During this time of year, the arguments grow quieter, the partisan divide becomes smaller, and we can all agree that despite our differences, we have one great thing in common – love of country.

I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas. I pray for everyone struggling this season – for those coping with the loss of family members and friends, for those struggling through addiction, illness, homelessness, or unemployment, for the police officers and firefighters keeping our communities safe, and for our service members and their families, who sacrifice so much to give us a safe and Merry Christmas. 

From me and my family to you and yours, Merry Christmas. 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging her and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reform civil asset forfeiture and protect Americans’ private property. The letter also calls into question the DOJ’s guidelines and restrictions on the equitable sharing program:

Dear Attorney General Lynch,

I continue to worry about conflicts of interest with federal forfeiture and the equitable sharing program.  Forfeiture is a valuable law enforcement tool, but you don’t have to be Adam Smith to recognize that allowing law enforcement to profit from seizing goods provides a strong incentive for them to seize private property.  

This incentive, coupled with procedural protections best described as embarrassing for a constitutional democracy, have led to an outright assault on private property rights.  My former colleague Henry Hyde described civil asset forfeiture as an “unrelenting government assault on property rights, fueled by a dangerous and emotional vigilante mentality that sanctions shredding the U.S. Constitution into meaningless confetti.”  I’ll add that the equitable sharing program reads like a thoughtful and earnest attempt to institutionalize corruption.  It is no wonder that the Cato Institute recently found that 84% of Americans are opposed to civil forfeiture. 

I agree that forfeiture, when utilized appropriately, can be a useful tool, and that its proponents are dedicated public servants fighting to protect Americans. I have fought my entire career to defend law enforcement and will continue to do so in the future. My efforts to reform forfeiture are not an attack on law enforcement, but rather an honest effort to square the forfeiture program with constitutionally guaranteed property rights and public expectations. A program opposed by 84% of Americans is not one that can survive long term and failure to reform it jeopardizes the forfeiture tool itself.    

In the Department of Justice’s Guide to Equitable Sharing, the Department expressly forbids the use of equitable sharing funds to pay the salaries of law enforcement personnel. According to the Department, the purpose of the rule is to “protect the integrity of the Asset Forfeiture and Equitable Sharing Programs so that the prospect of receiving equitable sharing funds does not influence, or appear to influence, law enforcement decisions.” 

Clearly, the Department worries that if law enforcement salaries depended upon forfeiture, then the incentive to participate in forfeitures would negatively affect property rights.  But if, as the Department acknowledges, using forfeiture funds to pay salaries would create an actual or apparent conflict of interest, then the fact that money is fungible ensures that it is in fact creating an actual or apparent conflict of interest.  

Worse still, the Department appears to brief state and local law enforcement on ways to avoid the restriction on using forfeiture to pay law enforcement salaries.  The attached PowerPoint presentation first describes the restrictions, but later spells out how to avoid them.  The Department advises:

“Your agency has appropriated funds for fleet maintenance, but wishes to increase your salary payments.  Because increasing salaries is not permitted but fleet maintenance is, you can increase salaries with appropriated funds and the[n] maintain the fleet with sharing funds, so long as your overall budget does not decrease.”

The questions this advice raises are obvious, but I would nonetheless appreciate a response before the end of the year.

1. Does the equitable sharing program create incentives to seize property that risk private property rights?
2. Are the Department’s guidelines and restrictions on the program sufficient to combat these incentives?
3. If using forfeiture funds to pay salaries creates problems, should the Department not only allow, but expressly encourage local and state law enforcement to eschew the restriction?

I appreciate your response by December 29, 2016.  

Sincerely, 

F. James Sensenbrenner
Chairman Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations
House Judiciary Committee
 
Our country has seen unprecedented overregulation under the Obama administration. Since his first day in office, President Obama has approved countless new regulations through federal agencies, which have slowed our economic growth, harmed our small businesses, and weakened our ability to compete overseas. One of the worst offenders is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Under the President’s direction, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and her staff pushed forward oppressive regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), handed to them by liberal lobbyists and activists that prioritized extreme carbon-trading schemes and a war on fossil fuel. 

Among other things, CPP saddled American businesses with onerous regulations on carbon emissions while providing allowances for wind and solar companies. This has led to less production at higher costs, resulting in fewer jobs, and an overall disadvantage in the global marketplace. Pricing carbon could especially be detrimental to a state like Wisconsin, where the manufacturing sector plays an outsized role in the state’s economy. Manufacturers in our state already pay more per kilowatt-hour than many of our Midwestern neighbors. And since the production of goods is often energy-intensive, the industrial sector must always keep its eyes on energy prices.

In other words, through the Clean Power Plan, President Obama and his EPA chose winners and losers rather than acting in the best interest of the nation. However, under a newly unified Republican government, there is a new opportunity to roll back the gross overregulations of the Obama administration.  

In preparation for the new Congress, House Republicans have begun drafting a comprehensive list of more than 200 regulations, and counting, that President-elect Donald Trump can repeal on day one. Many of these include EPA initiatives that, once removed, will provide a hand up to American businesses and manufacturers, help spur economic growth, and ensure the United States is globally competitive and is energy independent.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the CATO Institute and YouGov released a survey that found 84 percent of Americans across the political and societal spectrums oppose the practice of civil asset forfeiture.

Civil asset forfeiture is a tool law enforcement officials and departments use to seize property that they believe has been involved in criminal activity. It isn’t necessary for individuals to be found guilty of a crime before their property is seized. Rather, asset forfeiture proceedings charge the individual’s property, such as a car, home, or money, of criminal involvement. The process to regain seized property is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. 

According to the survey, 86 percent of African Americans, 84 percent of whites, and 80 percent of Hispanics oppose the practice. Further, 87 percent of Independents, 86 percent of Democrats, and 76 percent of Republicans oppose civil asset forfeiture. 

Earlier this year, Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced the DUE PROCESS Act, legislation that builds upon changes made in the 2000 Civil Action Forfeiture Reform Act by increasing transparency in the civil asset forfeiture process, adding protections for innocent property owners, and implementing additional protections to ensure property owners have the opportunity to contest seizures. The legislation would also improve the notice that the government must give property owners and makes it easier for them to be heard by a judge.

Additionally, the DUE PROCESS Act entitles property owners to an initial hearing, where they can retrieve confiscated property immediately if it was not seized according to the law. It increases the availability of attorney fees for innocent owners, and places a higher burden of proof on the government.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Forfeiture is a critical tool in the fight against crime, but it is also vulnerable to abuse. The results found in the CATO Institute/YouGov survey express the broad dissatisfaction with our current system, and highlight the need for meaningful reform. Congress must address civil asset forfeiture in the upcoming session and move forward to enact purposeful and significant changes to curb abuse, restore confidence in law enforcement, and help citizens protect their property rights.”