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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today marks the last legislative work day of the 114th Congress. As Congress closes out its current session, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner ranks among the most active and influential Members in the House of Representatives.

Over the course of the 114th Congress, Congressman Sensenbrenner held more than 250 individual town hall meetings and offices hours throughout the communities of Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District. He attended more than 150 community events, personally responded to more than 300,000 constituent letters and emails, and continued his quarterly district newsletters, providing further information about his work in Congress and promoting government transparency. 

Further, Congressman Sensenbrenner kept his promise to constituents to remain vigilant in providing federal agency oversight. During the 114th Congress, he sent 15 oversight letters to various agencies, defending the best interests of the American taxpayers by holding unelected bureaucrats accountable.

Serving as one of the most effective Members in the House of Representatives, Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced an impressive 38 bills this Congress, two of which were signed into law by President Barack Obama, including the Judicial Redress Act of 2015 and the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I’m extremely proud to represent the people of Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District, and of the work I’ve done on their behalf. As the current Congress comes to an end, it’s important to reflect upon successes, as well as examine and improve initiatives for the upcoming Congress. I look forward to the beginning of the next session under a newly unified government, and to continue serving the Fifth District with ardor, integrity, and effective legislating.” 

Complete list of bills introduced in the 114th Congress:
H.R. 21; to provide for a comprehensive assessment of the scientific and technical research on the implications of the use of mid-level ethanol blends, and for other purposes 
H.R. 320; the Rapid DNA Act of 2015
H.R. 390; Moving Obstructed Trains In-between Openings Now (MOTION) Act
H.R. 885; the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015
H.R. 953; the Comprehensive Addition and Recovery Act of 2015
H.R. 1056; Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2015
H.R. 1087; the Wireless Telecommunications Tax and Fee Collection Fairness Act of 2015
H.R. 1329; the ATF Elimination Act 
H.R. 1426; the Public Access to Public Science Act 
H.R. 1428; the Judicial Redress Act of 2015
H.R. 1516; the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2015
H.R. 1593; the United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2015
H.R. 1791; the Grace Period Restoration Act of 2015
H.R. 1861; the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act 
H.R. 2048; the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring (USA FREEDOM) Act of 2015
H.R. 2311; the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2015
H.R. 2679; the Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act of 2015
H.R. 2864; To prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from extending the renewable fuel program past 2022 if the Administrator waives applicable volume requirements in prior years
H.R. 2944; the Sensenbrenner-Scott Over-Criminalization Task Force Safe, Accountable, Fair, Effective Justice Reinvestment Act of 2015
H.R. 3013; the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2015
H.R. 3171; To amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit certain research on the transplantation of human fetal tissue obtained pursuant to an abortion
H.R. 3228; To require that until a comprehensive study is completed, the volume of cellulosic biofuel mandated under the renewable fuel program be limited to what is commercially available, and for other purposes
H.R.3406; the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2015
H.R. 3407; To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to remove the deduction for charitable contributions from the overall limitation on itemized deductions 
H.R. 3511; the National Scenic Trails Parity Act
H.R. 3729; the Safe RESEARCH Act
H.R. 3730; To authorize unused visas numbers made available under section 101(a)(15)E(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to be made available to nationals of Ireland, and for other purposes 
H.R. 4002; the Criminal Code Improvement Act of 2015
H.R. 4259; To prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from establishing, implementing, or enforcing any limit on the aggregate emissions of carbon dioxide from a State or any category or subcategory of sources within a State
H.R. 4357; the Volatility and Losses Undermining Earnings Act of 2016
H.R. 5046; the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act of 2016
H.R. 5283; the Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights of Citizens from Excessive Searches and Seizures (DUE PROCESS) Act of 2016
H.R. 5893; the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016
H.R. 5971; To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the amount excludable from gross income for dependent care assistance and dependent care flexible spending arrangements and to provide for a carryover of unused dependent care benefits in dependent care flexible spending arrangements 
H.R. 6042; To nullify certain proposed regulations relating to restrictions on liquidation of an interest with respect to estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes
H.R. 6133; the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016
H. Res. 218; Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the conditions for the United States becoming a signatory to an international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 
H. Res. 302; Observing the 100th birthday of the late Les Paul, the “Wizard of Waukesha”, and honoring his contributions to the American music industry 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner signed on to the following letter to National Guard Bureau Chief General Joseph L. Lengyel and Air National Guard Director Lieutenant General Leon Scott Rice, urging them to maintain RC-26B aircraft at Truax Field Air National Guard Base located in Madison, Wisconsin:

Dear General Lengyel and Lieutenant General Rice:

We write again to express our strong support for the current posture and location of the RC-26B in each of our communities. As you know, the RC-26B has proven itself a remarkable asset for the Air National Guard (ANG). This versatile aircraft has been utilized to assist law enforcements’ response to natural disasters, counterdrug missions, and special operations missions abroad.

Given the RC-26B’s role as the ANG’s only manned, domestic Incident Awareness and Assessment aircraft, we believe it is vital to maintain its current posture in order to ensure its efficacy domestically. The ability of this aircraft to support a variety of missions throughout the country is in large part a result of its current basing strategy. Keeping the RC-26B located in Alabama, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin ensures the West Coast, South, Midwest, and East Coast will have this asset available to respond quickly to natural disasters, hurricanes, wildfires, missing persons, and terrorist attacks. Currently, the aircraft is engaged in counter-cartel operations on the southern border, a mission likely to be in play long into the future.   

For example, the RC-26B provided critical support in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Several ANG units from the region flew 10-12 hour missions daily on a total of six aircraft. The unique capabilities of the RC-26B mission system were instrumental in the success of search and rescue.  Moreover, after the September 11th attacks, the aircraft’s mission expanded to provide support for a wide array of missions – including presidential support and humanitarian missions. 

While we understand there are discussions underway to consolidate the RC-26B away from the current basing strategy, we believe any consolidation that does not consider our ability to respond quickly to natural disasters and other domestic missions would be detrimental to its efficacy as a first responder to disaster-related events. In light of this, we urge the Air National Guard Bureau to keep the current RC-26B basing strategy. 

Thank you for your continued leadership of the National Guard and Air National Guard, and for your consideration of this matter.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Sensenbrenner released his weekly column regarding intellectual property rights and fairness in music licensing:

Intellectual property rights are critical to our nation’s unsurpassed creativity and cultural development. I’ve long been an advocate for intellectual property rights because individuals deserve to be compensated for their work. However, the process in which artists receive payment has become opaque. This is largely due to performing rights organizations (PROs), which operate in a complex manner. The music licensing system in which artists are compensated must be clear and transparent for the good of artists, consumers, and bar and restaurant owners.

Fairness in music licensing was brought to my attention in the early 1990s, when bar and restaurant owners from the Fifth District contacted me about being harassed in their places of business by representatives from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) — one of the three PROs in the U.S. While seeking payments from the small-business owners, ASCAP representatives were unnecessarily aggressive and combative.

Bar and restaurant owners frequently complained that these organizations exploited bureaucratic complexities to demand increasingly high payments. Worse, small businesses were often unclear about what exactly they were paying for. I became involved to enact meaningful reforms, and as I dove deeper into the complexities of the issue, the extent of the problems became clear. The Copyright Act of 1976 granted copyright owners the exclusive right to perform, or to authorize others to perform their works publicly. When establishments, such as restaurants or bars, turn on a radio or television for the benefit of customers, or feature live music, that constitutes a public performance of copyrighted works under current law. Unless an exemption applies, the copyright owner of a work publicly performed has the right to receive compensation.

To comply with the law, business owners pay licensing fees to PROs. However, each PRO represents different intellectual property, essentially forcing businesses to pay fees to every PRO to ensure compliance.

In response to this problem, I introduced the Fairness in Music Licensing Act. Despite strong opposition from PROs, the legislation was signed into law after having been attached as an amendment to the Copyright Term Extension Act. 

Studies have concluded that the act exempts roughly 70 percent of eating and drinking establishments, making it easier for small-business owners to operate and serve consumers. The Copyright Act of 1976 has helped; yet problems still exist, including the tactics used by PROs and the method in which they determine which spaces within small businesses are determined public or private — an important distinction when considering where music licensing is necessary.

Establishment owners should not be forced to conduct business with every licensing society demanding a fee. There needs to be transparency in how establishments are billed, and we need to ensure that when a business pays a music licensing fee, it knows what it is buying. There can be no fair long-term marketplace outcomes when the playing field is weighted in favor of performance rights groups.

Music, film, literature and all other forms of intellectual property represent the soul of the American people. It’s vital we protect them, but there needs to be balance and fairness in the process. When that balance is lopsided, it’s the duty of Congress to take legislative action to ensure it is restored for the benefit of both the creators and consumers of intellectual property.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 heads to President Obama to be signed into law after passing both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Among other things, the Act will provide a pay raise to active duty service members, funding for military readiness and ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Europe, and encourage advancement of military technology and innovation.

Also included in the bill is a Sensenbrenner provision to encourage the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) to expand the use of electronic quality management systems to help the agency conduct thorough and timely audits. This good government provision will help ensure defense contracts aren’t needlessly delayed, costs are kept in check, and errors are caught and addressed in a timely fashion to produce better results

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Keeping this nation safe is Congress’ number one priority – this bipartisan, bicameral bill does exactly that while simultaneously helping our military service members get the benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”

The NDAA passed the House of Representatives 375-34 and the U.S. Senate 92-7. 
 

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sent the following letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him to meet with the Dalai Lama and continue the United States’ strong relationship with Tibet once in office: 

Dear President-elect Trump: 

As you meet with various world leaders in preparation for assuming your role as President, I would like to take the opportunity to suggest that you meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In 2008, I had the honor of meeting the Dalai lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader and historic head of State. Since his exile from Tibet 57 years ago, the Dalai Lama has been a strong and persistent advocate for a peaceful resolution to the tension between Tibet and China.

In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in furthering the peaceful protest of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. In 2007, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush. These awards are just a small bit of recognition for the unwavering commitment to peaceful Tibetan independence that the Dalai Lama has demonstrated throughout his time as Tibet’s spiritual leader.

Tibetans have the right to preserve their culture, heritage, language, and religion. Over the years, the Tibetan people have undergone a constant struggle to free themselves from the Chinese government and to preserve these basic freedoms. However, the People’s Republic of China continues to refuse to acknowledge the autonomy of the Tibetan people, and have cracked down on protests and demonstrations by Tibetans.

Throughout the course of the last half-century, America has had a strong and stable relationship with the people and government of Tibet. I hope you will continue this strong relationship with Tibet, as well as promote peace between Tibet and the People’s Republic of China.

Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. 
Member of Congress
 
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement congratulating House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on being voted by the House Republican Caucus to continue his service as House Judiciary Chairman:

Congressman Sensenbrenner:“Chairman Goodlatte has been a steady hand guiding the House Judiciary Committee through some of Congress’s most intricate and complex legislation. Under his strong leadership, the Committee has pursued an ambitious agenda, accomplishing significant, bipartisan legislative achievements. I look forward to working with him and the Committee in the new Congress.”
 
The American people have waited nearly a decade to see true, positive change in Washington. Now, we have the tools to deliver that change. The start of a new session presents a fresh opportunity and an obligation to take our country in a better direction. 

Through calls, emails, letters, and social media posts, the American people have made it clear that they want less gridlock, more cooperation, and a government that works for their best interests, not its own. Congress must seize this opportunity to affect real, meaningful changes that will improve the lives of all Americans; changes like simplifying our tax code, repealing and replacing Obamacare to make health insurance more accessible and more affordable, and reducing the amount of onerous and unnecessary government regulations that hurt small businesses and weaken the economy. We must address issues like comprehensive immigration reform to protect the border and enhance national security, and criminal justice reform that will bring increased fairness to the sentencing process, focus on work and rehabilitation programs within the federal prison system, and reduce recidivism for stronger, economically stable families and communities.   

My colleagues and I are moving forward to turn promises made into promises kept. It’s time to turn words into actions and produce results – to think big, reimaging the way our government can and should function, and bring the focus back to where it belongs – on the American people.
If Members of Congress put aside their differences and choose to work together– if we seize this opportunity – it will shake up Washington like never before and lead our nation into a new era of prosperity and promise. 

Together, we will work in tandem with the new president and his administration to change the status quo. There will be challenges and bumps in the road, but with cooperation, real change is possible.

I’m optimistic, hopeful, and excited to tackle the challenges ahead, and accomplish the reforms that will make this country stronger and more prosperous for generations to come.
 
Since our nation’s founding, the idea of no taxation without representation has been a guiding principle. State taxes are collected to pay for essential governmental services, such as infrastructure, education, sanitation and many more. Since these services are for the benefit of citizens, it is entirely within the jurisdiction of state and local governments to collect taxes to pay for them. 

The Commerce Clause of the Constitution ensures residents are taxed only by their own state by vesting the authority to regulate interstate commerce with the federal government. Inherent in this authority is a prohibition on states from interfering with interstate commerce. In other words, no citizen should be subject to taxation without receiving the benefits of their government. That, however, is exactly what some states are attempting to do.

A sales tax is not in fact a tax on businesses, but instead, a tax on consumers for the purchase and use of the goods. For the sake of convenience, brick and mortar businesses are required to collect this tax on the government’s behalf. This point of sale tax poses no constitutional issues because the purchase within a state necessarily involves a sufficient nexus to the state to justify taxation. 

Exclusively online retailers, on the other hand, frequently sell products to people in other states who intend to use those products in their own states. In many cases, imposing a sales tax on an in-state retailer would mean taxing a citizen of another state who has little or no connection with the taxing authority. This is an explicit form of taxation without representation. 

Any state law requiring online retailers to pay state taxes would force consumers to give money to state governments that they have no representation in or receive no benefits or services from. It would also disproportionately favor large states, which could attract more online retailers and then collect taxes nationwide. 

In 1992, the tension over taxation between out-of-state retailers and state governments came to a head in Quill Corp v. North Dakota. The Quill Corporation — a catalogue retailer based in Illinois — received a notice from the state of North Dakota claiming the company owed use tax payments for sales made to North Dakota residents. Because the company had no physical presence or employees in the state, Quill Corp. denied the claim. The case ended up before the United States Supreme Court, which ultimately sided with Quill, ruling that a taxpayer must have a physical presence in a state to owe a sales or use tax.

In Quill, the Supreme Court provided specific requirements to demonstrate a significant nexus thereby justifying the collection of taxes. These requirements, such as owning or leasing real or tangible property or employing workers in a state, set a national standard for future tax collection cases. It has also served as an important taxpayer protection for more than two decades. But as e-commerce continues to grow, states are passing new laws that would widen the nexus standard and increase their revenues. 

In places like South Dakota and Alabama, state governments are increasingly ignoring Quill and passing laws that require online retailers to pay state taxes, based on the dollar amount of annual sales in the state. Tennessee, Colorado and Louisiana are all following suit.

In an effort to uphold the principles established in Quill and to protect online retailers and consumers, I introduced H.R. 5893, the No Taxation Without Representation Act of 2016. If passed, this bill would keep government overreaches in check by limiting the ability of states to impose a use tax or sales tax on remote online sellers and would codify the standard the Supreme Court set in Quill. It would also reduce burdensome government regulations, helping online retailers conduct business more efficiently and cost-effectively, while ensuring that only residents of a state are held responsible for state tax obligations.

The passage of H.R. 5893 is crucial because states should not have the ability to tax non-citizens, plain and simple. Forcing use and sales tax on internet sales is unconstitutional and would slow the growth of the e-commerce industry, one of the few bright spots in our economy over the past decade, as well as needlessly knock American consumers where it hurts the most — their pocketbooks.

No taxation without representation is a mantra that speaks to the founding principles of this nation and is as true today as it was at this country’s conception. This legislation is a step in the right direction and will go a long way toward ensuring fairness in state taxation and upholding the standards set to protect American businesses and consumers.

Read the full piece here.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the passing of former Wisconsin Congressman Melvin Laird: 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Congressman Laird committed his life to public service and his fellow Americans. His accomplished legislative record and distinguished service at the Department of Defense made him well-respected among his colleagues and one of the most effective leaders in Washington. Although today we mourn his passing, we must also celebrate his illustrious life and legacy.” 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement congratulating friend and colleague Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on his unanimous backing by fellow House Republicans for another term as Speaker:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Speaker Ryan is a true conservative leader who exemplifies what it means to serve others. His unfailing optimism inspires his colleagues, and his unique brand of leadership encourages an inclusive, open process that strengthens trust and builds positive, effective relationships. His ambitious plan to give America a better way forward makes it no surprise that he was unanimously selected by his peers to serve another term as Speaker.  I look forward to continuing to work with him as we head into a new Congress.”