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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced a bill aimed at encouraging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to temporarily waive requirements to sell reformulated gasoline (RFG) in covered jurisdictions due to excessively high gas prices. Currently, EPA’s temporary RFG waiver authority is tailored to address price spikes when there is a disruption in fuel supply, and does not specifically respond to the disparity in cost between RFG and conventional gasoline.

Since the 1990s, portions of Wisconsin, including large swaths of the Fifth Congressional District, have been required to purchase RFG, which is, and has been, more expensive to purchase than conventional gas.

Under the bill, Governors may seek a renewable six-week waiver from the EPA for the sale of RFG in a portion of their state where its sale is currently mandated. In deciding whether to grant the waiver, the EPA would compare the price of reformulated gasoline to the price of conventional, and evaluate other factors the agency deems appropriate.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “As Wisconsinites are well aware, the price of gasoline is volatile, and the price at the pump can spike for a multitude of reasons, including global demand and geopolitical issues. I have been an advocate for consumer relief from burdensome fuel regulations for many years.  This legislation simply provides temporary relief from the sale of more expensive gasoline based on the economic interests of citizens.” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of H.R. 3989, the USA Liberty Act of 2017.

Watch the statement here.

See the full transcript below:

Congress created Section 702 authority to address an intelligence-collection gap that resulted from changes in technology in the years after FISA became law in 1978. Section 702 permits the government to conduct targeted surveillance of foreign individuals reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. This statute is necessary because a significant share of the world’s communications passes through the United States, even when they begin and end overseas.

Section 702 has been described as one of the most efficient and vital programs to protect our national security. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) similarly found that “the information the program collects has been valuable and effective in protecting the nation’s security and producing useful foreign intelligence. 

This is not to say that reforms aren’t needed. Section 702 surveillance programs incidentally collect information about U.S. persons.   Reforms are needed to better safeguard Americans’ civil liberties and new protections and transparency requirements are needed to ensure that the government’s use of Section 702 aligns with principles of privacy and due process.

I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Uniting and Strengthening American (USA Liberty) Act of 2017. This carefully crafted, bipartisan legislation represents the type of common sense compromise that our country needs and deserves. It balances privacy and security by requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability of the government’s surveillance powers while limiting the incidental collection of Americans’ communications and requiring a court order to query data. It also puts in place a six-year sunset provision, allowing Congress to reexamine the legislation as our society – and everything that threatens it – continues to evolve.

The legislation makes several other key changes: ending so-called “about” collection, creating a presumption that a court-appointed expert will be present in annual recertification hearings before the FISA court, additional whistleblower protections and increased penalties for knowingly mishandling classified information.

While some have advocated for a clean and permanent reauthorization of Section 702, I believe this would amount to dereliction of duty by Congress, and it would hinder its ability to respond to the changing demands of a technological world. By maintaining FISA sunsets, lawmakers are able to review actions taken by government agencies and ensure that citizens’ constitutional rights are being upheld, as well as make any necessary reforms to the law.

The USA Liberty Act will bring much needed reform on how the federal government collects information gathering for foreign intelligence, counterterrorism, and criminal purposes. The legislation builds off of the success of the USA Freedom Act by finding the appropriate balance between privacy and national security.  I thank the Chairman, Ranking Member Conyers and Ranking Subcommittee Chairwoman Jackson Lee for their hard work and I urge my colleagues to support the bill.

By: Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner has been a long-time critic of illegal immigration, but now he says he would like to see an exception made for youth involved in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Sensenbrenner is on a congressional task force looking into a potential compromise over President Donald Trump's plan to end DACA by spring.

There are roughly 800,000 children living in the country who have received DACA benefits.

The suburban Milwaukee Republican told a recent forum that he hopes the young people who have been protected from deportation by DACA are allowed to stay.

"It is my hope that we will do something to allow the DACA kids to stay in the country," he said. "The details on that are subject to debate that is going on."

But Sensenbrenner said in return, DACA supporters need to drop their dislike for more border security, such as a wall.

"If people take that position, I guess they're putting their opposition to the wall ahead of trying to do something for the DACA kids. I want to do something for the DACA kids," Sensenbrenner said.

The congressman said that his stance reflects the current political realities in Washington, D.C.

"We need to get the signature of the president of the United States. Now, what that means is that there is going to have to be compromise by everyone concerned on this. Everyone is going to have to step back a little bit," he said. "If we gridlock on this and nothing is passed, in the middle of March, the 800,000 DACA kids will be deportable. Now, that's not to say they will be rounded up and sent back to where they came from immediately, but they will be deportable."

Told of Sensenbrenner's remarks, Valeria Ruiz Lira, a DACA enrollee from Racine, said the wall would be too costly. 

"They want to have taxpayers like myself and like my parents and others pay for the wall, but yet there are public schools losing art programs, music classes and sports money — all these things that help siblings of DACA recipients cope," Ruiz Lira said. 

Ruiz Lira also said a bigger wall would just allow guides for those crossing the border illegally to charge more money. She calls for a so-called "clean DREAM act" that would make protection from deportation permanent. 

You can view this article online here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the introduction of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Taxpayers in Wisconsin and throughout the nation deserve a fairer tax code that will allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money and keep American businesses here on our shores. That’s exactly what the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will do.

I am proud of the leadership displayed by Chairman Brady and Speaker Ryan on this historic piece of legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress to bring tax relief for all Americans, and finally deliver on our promise to stimulate and grow our national economy.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) wrapped up his 2017 town hall meeting schedule over the weekend, bringing his total number of in-person town hall meetings this year to 115.

 

Congressman Sensenbrenner regularly holds in-person town hall meetings in 49 unique communities throughout his district. He averages three visits per community each year and approximately 100 total meetings annually – more in-person meetings than any other Member of Congress.

 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Holding town hall meetings is not only important for the sake of democracy, but its invaluable to me as I work to best represent the interests of my district. I believe that good policy requires input from both sides of the aisle, and continuing open discussions on the problems we face will enable us as a nation to find real solutions.

 

“Town hall meetings can be difficult; however, they’re vitally important. People deserve to have their voices heard in the halls of Congress, but that can’t happen unless they’re first heard by their representatives. For this reason, I will continue to frequently hold town halls for as long as I have the privilege of serving the people of Wisconsin’s Fifth District as their representative.”

 

Fast Facts

Congressman Sensenbrenner…

  • held 115 in-person town hall meetings in 2017
  • visited 49 unique Wisconsin communities throughout his district
  • averages 3 visits per community each year
  • doesn’t pre-screen town hall meeting questions from constituents
  • has held nearly 700 in-person town hall meetings since 2012

 

What They’re Saying

“The year’s not over, but Ron Wyden and Jim Sensenbrenner are far ahead of the competition (combined 150+ town halls) for 2017 Town Hall MVPs.” – Town Hall Project

 

“Proud of my Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner for his unmatched dedication to district town halls.” – Fifth District Constituent

 

“Thank you for setting an example for your colleagues.” – Town Hall Project

 

“Many were grateful Rep. Sensenbrenner came as other Congressman avoid their citizens. ‘We respect that so much about him,’ – Fifth District Constituent

 

We love Rep. Sensenbrenner’s dedication to traveling all over his district. He held 3 town halls this weekend, and has 7 more this month!” – Town Hall Project

 

“He’s been very helpful, and he does a fantastic job. I’m always amazed at his memory; he knows all these facts and figures. I give him a lot of credit.” – Fifth District Constituent

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Town Hall Headlines of 2017

Sensenbrenner embraces town halls despite protests – The Washington Examiner

“Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., is hosting a series of town hall meetings at a break-neck pace, even as many of his Republican colleagues are avoiding in-person, open forum meetings because of a unified, anti-President Trump push from the left."

 

Wyden, Sensenbrenner lead February town halls – The Hill

“Two longtime members of Congress spent the month of February answering questions from their constituents, even as loud protests over the Affordable Care Act led other members to cancel their own in-person events.”

 

Jim Sensenbrenner holds feisty town hall – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Some politicians are wary of holding contentious town hall meetings. But not U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the dean of the Wisconsin delegation.

 

Have Gavel, Will Travel – Roll Call

“Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who has held the most town halls this year, said he’s heard anger from constituents throughout his nearly four decades in the House. And his approach to dealing with it has been consistent. The 20-term congressman has prioritized doing town hall events since he first came to Congress in 1979.

“Sensenbrenner said his constituents should know he’s still with them.”

 

GOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls – The Hill

“Since the beginning of the 114th Congress in 2015, four Republicans – Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.), Sens. Mike Crap (Idaho) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) and former Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) – held more than 100 in-person town hall meetings.”

 

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner holds civil town hall in Pewaukee as others turn hostile – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Sensenbrenner… routinely holds more town halls each year than nearly all members of Congress…”

 

Constituents pack Pewaukee town hall meeting, present a number of concerns – WTMJ Milwaukee

“Jane Speer went on to say she isn’t necessarily in favor of many of the congressman’s policies, but she appreciates the town hall platform he’s provided for citizens to voice their concerns, even if they disagree.”

 

Town halls are in the spotlight, but are they effective in communicating with lawmakers? – USA Today Network-Wisconsin

“Sensenbrenner and Kind held the most town halls in the months following the 2016 election, according to their offices. From November 2016 through May 2017, Sensenbrenner held 75 town halls while Kind held 13.”

 

Congressman Sensenbrenner Holds Town Halls in Wisconsin – CBS Milwaukee

“Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner is spending the weekend in Wisconsin. He's listening to the concerns of the people he represents.”

 

The left prepares ‘Indivisible’ playbook for Sensenbrenner town hall – Watchdog.org

“When U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner holds the latest in a long line of town hall meetings Monday evening in Wauwatosa, the usual suspects will most likely be in attendance. The Menomonee Falls Republican has hosted more constituent events than just about any other member of Congress this town hall season…”

 

“Be respectful!” U.S. Rep. Sensenbrenner’s crowded town hall events feature heated exchanges – Fox6 Milwaukee

“Sensenbrenner, a 38-year veteran of Congress, noted that he had been holding town halls since President Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Sensenbrenner has held the second-most town hall meetings of any congressman since the start of 2014, according to the website Legistorm.”

 

Lawmakers cutting back town halls this month – Politico

“POLITICO focused its analysis on the number of lawmakers holding events to gauge members’ interest in holding town halls as the year progresses. Some lawmakers still hold multiple public meetings each recess – Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has scheduled 79 town halls so far this year…”

 

Jim Sensenbrenner to host town hall meetings in Hartford and Elm Grove – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Sensenbrenner frequently hosts town hall meetings throughout his district to give constituents an opportunity to share their views on issues Congress is working on…”

 

Sensenbrenner says there has to be “vigorous debate and vigorous compromise” on health care policy – Fox6 Milwaukee

“Respect was the number one rule after a recent heated round of town hall meetings held by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.”

“There has to be a vigorous debate and vigorous compromise,” Sensenbrenner said.”

BY REP. JIM SENSENBRENNER (R-WIS.), OPINION CONTRIBUTOR 

On a clear and chilly Sunday afternoon in February, I walked into the Elm Grove Village Hall for my 29th town hall meeting of 2017. Unlike the meetings held there in 2016, where an average of 12 to 15 people would attend, this day brought a couple hundred people who stood in a line that wrapped around the building, waiting for the doors to open. Local and national reporters interviewed dozens of people as their cameramen shot footage of the crowd chanting and holding up signs. Organizers representing various local and national activist groups walked among the crowd handing out leaflets and lists of  prepared questions to pose during the meeting, and circulated sign-up sheets to join the “resistance.” 

Inside, law enforcement officers, under the advisement of U.S. Capitol Police, assumed their posts as chants from outside grew louder. When the doors were opened, the stream of people poured into the meeting room, quickly filling every seat and packing into the standing area until maximum capacity was reached. At least 100 more remained outside.

From the moment I began the meeting, much of what I said was met with loud boos and the waving of “disagree” signs. Some spoke over individuals who didn’t agree with their points of view while others interrupted recognized speakers.

Scenes like this one occurred regularly during the 115 town meetings I held throughout my district since January, 2017, as well as throughout the country. Amplified by the increasingly polarized political climate and fueled through organized protest groups, contentious town halls have become commonplace this year. 

But no matter how factious, perverse, disrespectful or uncomfortable such meetings have become, the importance of holding them never diminishes. Rather than avoid the unpleasant atmosphere of some of my meetings this year, I chose to carry on. Positive change can’t happen without open and honest dialogue between elected officials and their constituents, and accountability to those we represent is critical for a truly representative government.

I’ve held frequent, in-person town hall meetings since I was first elected to Congress because I believe that people not only deserve to see who represents them, but also to have a public forum to voice their concerns and discuss the issues of the day. The people who attend my meetings hold ideological beliefs that span the political spectrum, and I’ve made a point to be accessible to them all. Whether or not we agree, we can be agreeable. It’s how we grow as communities and as a nation.

These meetings are also important for me because they allow me to stay current with the pulse of my district. Some critics like to claim I don’t listen to what my constituents are saying, but that could not be further from the truth. For example, two of my legislative priorities over the past Congress – opioid addiction crisis and criminal justice reform – have been raised by constituents repeatedly in town hall meetings. I authored two bills to address these issues, one of which, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), was signed into law in 2016.

I will not walk back the promises I make to voters who soundly elect me to represent their interests; however, I do listen to all points of view, consider the merits of each argument, and weigh input from constituents when making policy decisions. Dissenting views are important and I know that sound policy decisions contain input from both sides of the aisle.

While town hall meetings can be difficult, they are important to a healthy democracy. When you peel back the many layers of partisan politics that are dominating the national conversation, you will find genuine people who want to make a difference for their communities and their country. This is what motivates me and that’s why I continue to hold town hall meetings.

Sensenbrenner represents Wisconsin's 5th District and is a member of the Judiciary Committee.

You can view this article online here.

By: Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner says he thinks the current GOP tax overhaul effort will be changed to protect some state and local tax deductions. 

The tax measure is slated to be unveiled in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. Sensenbrenner, a suburban Milwaukee Republican, says it seems clear from the House budget resolution debate last week that the plan will no longer propose fully eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes. 

"But I don't think it's going allow unlimited state and local deductions as the current law says. There's also been a proposal out there to give taxpayers a choice of taking the full state and local tax deduction, or a full mortgage interest deduction, but not both," Sensenbrenner said Saturday at a town hall meeting in Wauwatosa.

Several speakers at the meeting said they're worried the tax overhaul plan will be tilted toward the rich. Sensenbrenner told WPR Saturday that higher-income people will see some sort of tax reduction, "Because the top 10 percent pay 70 percent of the individual income taxes. I think the people who are complaining don't want any cut for the wealthy. I think if there is a cut for the wealthy, it's going to be relatively small proportionately."

Sensenbrenner said he wants to see the details of the tax measure due out this week before deciding whether to vote for it. He said his key principles are that taxes should be cut with most of the reductions for middle-income people. He said he also wants a simpler tax code.

You can view this article online here.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats sent a letter to Congress supporting a “clean and permanent” reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the end of this year. While FISA is a critical component to ensuring our national security, passing a permanent reauthorization would remove transparency from the process and puts the privacy of innocent Americans at risk.

Following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and I authored the USA PATRIOT Act – legislation that directly responded to those attacks by increasing the government’s ability to collect information in order to prevent terrorism. When NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information about the Agency’s bulk data collection activities in 2013, it was clear that Congress needed to act on behalf of Americans’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy. That led to the introduction and ultimate passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, which ended the NSA’s indiscriminate collection of personal information and provides stronger privacy safeguards against intrusive government surveillance.

In their letter, Sessions and Coats argue that Section 702 currently “provides a comprehensive regime of oversight by all three branches of Government to protect the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons,” but without regular examination of these efforts by Congress, there is no guarantee that such oversight would continue. By maintaining FISA sunsets, lawmakers are able to review actions taken by government agencies and ensure that citizens’ constitutional rights are being upheld, as well as make any necessary reforms to the law. Removing such safeguards would amount to dereliction of duty by Congress, and it would hinder its ability to respond to the changing demands of a technological world.

Innovations in technology continually force us to shift and improve the way we combat terrorism. As technology becomes more sophisticated, so do our enemies and the methods they use to perpetrate acts of violence and terrorism. Finding the right balance between privacy rights and national security will never be easy. It will require sustained attention from Congress and our intelligence communities. It’s imperative that we are able to adapt to new threats and reform our laws to reflect those threats.

It would be shortsighted for Congress to suspend its ability to respond appropriately to the dangers facing our nation, which is why I am an original co-sponsor of the Uniting and Strengthening American (USA Liberty) Act of 2017.

This carefully crafted, bipartisan legislation represents the type of common sense compromise that our country needs and deserves. It balances privacy and security by requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability of the government’s surveillance powers while limiting the incidental collection of Americans’ communications and requiring a court order to query data. It also puts in place a six-year sunset provision, allowing Congress to reexamine the legislation as our society – and everything that threatens it – continues to evolve.

Rule of law is critical to the success and prosperity of this nation. Congress did not enact FISA to give the government limitless surveillance powers that would intrude upon the data of countless innocent Americans, and it certainly should not take away its power to perform crucial oversight for government abuses.

The justifications Mr. Sessions and Mr. Coats provide for their support of ending of 702’s sunset provisions, such as Title VII’s requirement that the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Security report to Congress on “implementation and compliance twice a year” are not enough to warrant the abolishment of these provisions. A report does little good if Congress cannot take action to reform practices if necessary. Further, the claim that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “exercises rigorous independent oversight of activities conducted pursuant to Section 702” is only one facet of the oversight necessary to ensure the protection of national security and privacy rights.

Ending Section 702’s sunset provisions would be gamble that America cannot afford to take in respect to both national security efforts and personal privacy. As these discussions continue to be debated in Congress, I urge my congressional colleagues to examine the merits of the USA Liberty Act and seriously consider the consequences of ending these vital provisions to determine whether they believe our nation can afford to take such a risk.

Sensenbrenner represents Wisconsin’s 5th District and is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

You can view this piece online here.

By: Brian Huber of the Waukesha Freeman

WAUKESHA — Wisconsin U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner on Thursday said no more U.S. aid or food would go to the “rogue state” of North Korea in the foreseeable future, and called on China to help defuse growing tensions on its neighboring peninsula.

The comments came during a Thursday interview ahead of the Menomonee Falls Republican’s series of town hall meetings with constituents in his district over the next few weeks. Sensenbrenner will have conducted more than 110 meetings in his district this year by the end of October. He said people have predominantly been discussing health care, tax reform and foreign policy, particularly as the rhetoric between North Korean and U.S. leaders escalates.

Sensenbrenner said North Korea has violated previous agreements not to develop nuclear weapons, and where things go from here “all depend upon China.”

“North Korea is essentially a client state of China and the Chinese are going to have to be the adults in the room because nobody wants to have a nuclear war and the more bellicose the young dictator of North Korea is, the closer we come to something that is accidental that will happen,” he said.

“Certainly North Korea is going to have to be required to uphold all the U.N. sanctions that have been passed against them for both their nuclear program and their ballistic missile program. They’ve completely blown those sanctions and U.N. resolutions off. They definitely are a rogue state and frankly I don’t know what the young dictator wishes to accomplish on this. What I can say is there is no way President Trump will propose or Congress will approve any more food or other aid to North Korea as a result of the fact that ever since Kim Jong Un became dictator things have gotten worse, almost exponentially.”

Turning to the comprehensive tax reform Republicans want to undertake, he said the failure to repeal Obamacare means that its taxes remain in place and $1 trillion less is available for tax relief, and he pinned the blame on Democrats: “Because of the universal Democratic opposition to doing anything with Obamacare, there will be less money for tax relief for middle- income Americans, and they are the ones who are not only going to be paying for this obstructionism on the part of Democrats, also Wisconsin residents who are under Obamacare — and let me make this clear, it’s a relatively small percentage because most people are covered either by Medicare or Medicaid or by an employersponsored health insurance program — they are going to be seeing double-digit increases in the cost of their Obamacare policies that are offered through the exchanges.

“Let me say that members of Congress are under Obamacare; that was a part of the Obamacare law. We are the only federal employees that are required to be under Obamacare if we get health insurance as a part of our employment by the federal government.”

Messages left late Thursday for the men challenging Sensenbrenner in next year’s elections, Democrats Tom Palzewicz and Ramon Hyron Garcia, were not immediately returned.

Tax reform, privacy legislation on deck

Regarding tax reform and the standard mortgage interest deductions enjoyed by homeowners, “there is no proposal that is on the table to do away with” that, Sensenbrenner said. But he predicted fewer state residents would itemize their tax deductions because he expects more exemptions in the tax code, all in the name of simplifying things.

“First of all, it is important to have the tax relief go to middle-income people.

“There will be some tax relief for upper-income people because the top 10 percent pay 70 percent (of federal taxes),” Sensenbrenner said. “You’re going to see people opposed to tax reform zeroing in on that. But No. 1, we have to concentrate it on middle- income people so they can spend more of their own money.

“The president said his proposal for tax reform will basically put $4,000 a year more in the average middle-income person’s pocket. But the other thing we have to look at very strongly is reducing business tax rates.

“We have the highest corporate income tax rate in the world, and that has caused businesses like Johnson Controls to move their headquarters overseas where the business tax rate is much lower, but most small businesses in the country are established as the so-called Subchapter S corporations, so their income and profits are taxed at personal income tax rates.

“Small businesses are what generates economic growth and generates jobs in this country, and the president has proposed reducing the top tax rates for these types of small businesses from the current 39.6 percent top rate to 25 percent. That’ll allow small businesses No. 1 to hire

more people because they will have more disposable income and secondly to give their existing employees bigger raises because they will have more money to do that rather than send it in to the IRS,” Sensenbrenner said.

Sensenbrenner also predicted the passage of the USA LIBERTY Act, to protect Americans from government searches of their communications. The current law on it, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, expires on Dec. 31, “so it has to be extended in one form or another,” he said. The bipartisan effort balances the need to protect Americans’ privacy with the need to protect national security, he said. He added it was important to require the government to get a warrant for gaining access to Americans’ phone logs and records and go before a judge to show a need for that before information can be seized; foreigners are not entitled to such Fourth Amendment rights, he said.

NFL demonstrations

Lastly, Sensenbrenner was asked his thoughts on the national anthem demonstrations in the NFL and President Trump’s call for firing players who participate in them. He said he believes everyone should stand for the anthem out of respect for what the flag stands for and sacrifices of those who fight and have fought to defend it throughout our history.

“This was a case of the NFL owners initially deciding that they were going to be backing their employees rather than backing their customers. Now it seems to me if you are in business, and the NFL is in big business, the customers should come first. I think that’s what the president was stating. But there is no way the government can force anybody to do anything on that,” he said.

“That’s up to the owners in deciding what their employees should do as a way of keeping their customers happy. I certainly don’t want to see politics being injected into sports. I am a great Green Bay Packers fan, my wife and I have season tickets to the Packers, and we go to as many games as we should, and I don’t go to Lambeau Field for a political rally, I go there to watch the Packers win.”

You can view this article online here.

Interest in the health of our nation’s economy is universal to every American. Political ideology aside, the state of our economy directly affects our ability to provide for our families, grow our businesses, and save for the future. As the debate on tax reform continues in Washington, I think it’s important to talk about why it matters here in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is home to nearly 450,000 small businesses that employ 1.2 million people —roughly 50% of the private workforce in our state. Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led Legislature have worked hard to implement common-sense reforms that have allowed our businesses to grow and expand. Over the last 12 months, Wisconsin added about 25,000 jobs and the unemployment rate stands at 3.4%, which is lower than the national average.

Our state was once one of the worst states to do business. Now, thanks to the reforms enacted since 2010, Wisconsin has attracted global businesses such as Amazon, Haribo, and most recently tech manufacturing giant Foxconn to invest here, creating thousands of new family-supporting jobs and enticing Wisconsin’s next generation to stay and begin their careers here.

But there’s a limit to what can be done on the state level unless Congress can pass tax reform legislation. Businesses in Wisconsin and nationwide carry the heavy burdens of an onerous and convoluted federal tax code. In fact, it has increased so much in length and complexity that hundreds of pages of instructions are necessary to file even the most basic returns.

The current federal tax system is unworkable for small businesses, which incur between $15 billion and $16 billion in tax compliance costs, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. But small businesses aren’t alone; they share the painful repercussions of an outdated and unfair tax code with everyday taxpayers. Data provided by the Internal Revenue Service’s Taxpayer Advocate Service shows that American taxpayers spend more than 6 billion hours annually complying with our monstrous tax code.

I remember the impact bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform had on our nation’s economy when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law more than 30 years ago. Those reforms gave a jumpstart to our economic climate and reignited Americans’ faith in the national economy. Similar reforms are long overdue. The time is now to move forward with a comprehensive overhaul of our federal tax system, which has hampered economic growth and bankrolled the bloated federal bureaucracy.

Taxpayers in Wisconsin and throughout the country deserve a fairer tax code that will allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money by streamlining the process and closing special interest tax deductions and loopholes. Business owners deserve a flatter, simpler tax code that will reduce the amount of time and money they spend on compliance and allow them to invest more of their capital back into their businesses. America deserves a tax code that doesn’t incentivize its companies to relocate overseas in order to avoid massive tax obligations that crush growth and kill American jobs.

We all deserve more from our federal tax code. That’s why my congressional colleagues and I — led by House Speaker Paul Ryan — are proposing a plan for long-term, comprehensive tax reform. We want to jumpstart the American economy and restore hope to the millions of businesses and individuals who have come to accept an anemic economic growth rate as the “new normal.”

President John F. Kennedy famously said that a rising tide lifts all boats. That’s exactly what state-level reforms have done here in Wisconsin, and that’s what it will do for our national economy and all Americans when Congress passes comprehensive federal tax reform legislation.

Wisconsin is leading the way, and Congress must now follow suit by passing tax reform legislation that will deliver results to improve the lives of citizens here and around the country, while giving a much needed hand up to our businesses.

View this piece online here.