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LANNON - U.S. Rep James Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) is no rookie when it comes to town hall meetings; in fact, he has held more in-person meetings than any member of Congress with more than 525 town hall events since 2013.

Since the start of the year alone, he's already held nearly 40. Despite the congressman's regular presence in his constituents' communities, every second of the meetings on Friday, March 3, across Waukesha County suburbs were accounted for with questions and concerns from residents.

Sensenbrenner started his day in Butler and traveled to Lannon, Sussex, Merton and Nashotah for 45-minute meetings where, virtually, no topic was off-limits.

One Lannon audience member who had also attended his Butler session said she kept hearing him use the line "the devil is in the details."

"Mr. Sensenbrenner you say the devil is in the details; I say the devil is in the White House."

Residents shared their concerns over the future of Medicare and Social Security benefits in Lannon.

“I’m concerned about the privatization of Medicare," said one Lannon audience member. "When you are 80 years old and have cancer, you don’t have the energy or the strength to fight the insurance companies. We’re at the mercy of these insurance companies.”

Sensenbrenner said the problem facing traditional Social Security benefits is "there are more older people that are drawing benefits and fewer younger people in the labor market to pay the taxes on those benefits."

The congressman said it's up to congress to make a change before 2033.

"If congress does nothing to change the formula on that, there will be an automatic 27-percent cut in Social Security benefits. In 2033, I will be 90 years old and I’m not going to be in Congress then. It’s going to be up to those who are in Congress to prevent the bottom from being pulled out from people who are on Social Security at that time.”

One man in Lannon asked Sensenbrenner about his take on global warming, climate change and what needs to be done to address the problem.

"I think there is a man-made impact on climate change; there is a scientific consensus that is the case, but there is no scientific consensus on how much human action impacts the climate," Sensenbrenner said. 

He said the answer to the problem of climate change lies in the use of better technology.

"We need to have better technology to be able to reduce emissions," Sensenbrenner said. "We cannot put ourselves at a disadvantage to countries like China and India. If we raise our energy prices and they’re allowed to continue to do business as usual … then there’s going to be a great outsourcing of jobs to places like China and India. I will not support, under any circumstances, something that has that as a result.”

Village of Lannon Trustee and president candidate Jerry Newman was in attendance at the town hall meeting. He said he trusts Sensenbrenner's stance on immigration for a very personal reason.

"The Congressman helped my wife (who is originally from Indonesia) get a green card 13 years ago," Newman said. "It was quite a challenge. It took us five years to get a green card and many thousands of dollars, so I’m of course very anti people walking across the border. 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.”

One of the final questions in Lannon for the Congressman was in regard to the current administration, and it generated a lot of unrest among the audience to the point where the Congressman announced his departure.

"Are you willing to stand up against some of the really ridiculous things that are coming from the White House, or are you going to be like most Republicans? I voted for you, so this can’t be a sore loser thing because I’m tired of hearing that line; this isn’t about sore losers. There are strange things coming from the White House to the point of being ridiculous; they cannot be trusted. I want to know if you are prepared to stand up for what’s right?"

Sensenbrenner reminded the audience that it was important to accept the idea that the Cresident would remain in office for the next four years.

“When that first immigration order came out, I said it wasn’t right," Sensenbrenner said. "Sometimes, we do have a little problem getting press coverage when we say something is right or not right. I would just point out to you that the president has done lot of things by executive order."

In Sussex, audience members began shouting at the Congressman when he began leaving around 10:45 a.m. for his Merton town hall meeting, which was to start at 11:15 a.m.; they claimed he was leaving far too early to get to a village that was five minutes away from Sussex, and in essence, they were not given enough time to ask questions.

Sensenbrenner's communications director Nicole Tieman said the circumstances of his departure was due to his very busy meeting schedule.

"Normally, office hour sessions, such as the ones held today, are sparsely attended and end much more quickly than a traditional town hall meeting," Tieman said. "With that in mind, they are scheduled differently than a traditional town hall meeting, with less time allotted for each one. Although the Congressman has been holding frequent office hours and meetings since he was first elected, it’s only been recently that there’s been a significant uptick in interest. Unfortunately, that means that there is not always time to get to every question in the amount of time available. However, in addition to the many in-person meeting opportunities the Congressman provides, constituents are welcome and encouraged to contact our office by phone, email, or standard mail with any questions, concerns, or opinions they’d like to share with the Congressman. Every constituent who contacts our office and wishes to receive a response from the Congressman receives one in short order."

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Dear Editor: On March 1, the Cap Times published a column by Dave Zweifel in which he claimed that I “couldn’t possibly think that those constituents are worth representing” referring to those who come to my town hall meetings with views different from my own. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nationwide, elected officials are being criticized for not holding town hall meetings. I have prioritized them. I hold more than any other member by far — hosting more than 100 meetings annually, and they are all in-person so my constituents, no matter their political leanings, can speak to me face to face. 

During the months leading to Nov. 8, I was clear and honest about my agenda, just as I have been since my first term in Congress. Voters know what they’re getting with me, because when I make a promise, I keep it.

I ask Mr. Zweifel, and those who agree with his opinion, to consider how they would feel if Congressman Mark Pocan suddenly supported the repeal and replace of Obamacare, after campaigning and promising to preserve it.

I hold frequent town hall meetings because I’ve always believed that the people deserve to see who represents them, and to have an open forum to voice concerns and discuss the issues. Whether or not we agree, it’s productive to have these conversations — it’s how we grow as a community and a nation. I listen to all points of view, I consider the merits of arguments, and I often make decisions based on input from my constituents. I will not, however, walk back promises I made to the voters who soundly elected me.

Whether you agree or disagree with my politics, I’m frequently in my district providing my constituents with an opportunity to speak with me directly, and despite criticisms, I will continue to do so. I look forward to seeing everyone at my next town hall.

You can view this piece online here.
The first priority of Congress is to protect the safety and sanctity of the American people and our nation. That means guarding against those who seek to threaten that safety. Border security is imperative to protecting our nation, and we must strengthen our efforts to safeguard where our country is most vulnerable. Protecting our borders from the illegal movement of drugs is crucial part of ensuring the safety of all Americans. 

Opinions on the best approach to securing our border are varied. Whether it’s new infrastructure, advanced technological solutions, increased law enforcement, or a combination of these things, the ultimate approach we take must ensure that the American taxpayer isn’t left to foot the bill. We must implement innovative, cost effective solutions to enhance our current border security efforts, and the BUILD WALL Act of 2017 does just that.

The Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted (BUILD WALL) Act would require the U.S. Attorney General to provide a detailed report on the amount of annual profits brought into the United States by Mexican drug cartels. It would also require a study of how the Department of Justice can increase assets seized from such cartels. The legislation would then use money forfeited from drug traffickers to fund increased security on the U.S./Mexican border. This could include a wall, another type of physical barrier, or infrastructure improvement. It could also be a technology-supported solution, such as sensors, radars, and aerial assets. Most likely, it will be a combination of these things.  

The Justice Department estimates up to $39 billion is collected annually by Mexican drug cartels from sales in the United States. Instead of allowing foreign criminals to feed and profit from our nation’s struggle with addiction, we should use these forfeited funds to secure our border and stop the flow of illegal drugs into our country.

The BUILD WALL Act of 2017 is a common sense solution that would keep the American people, and their pocketbooks, safe. Using funds forfeited from drug traffickers instead of taxpayers would ease the financial burdens on hardworking Americans and help build stronger relations between the United States and Mexico while fighting back against drug trafficking in both countries.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on President Trump’s address to the Joint Session of Congress:

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“In tonight’s Joint Address, President Trump outlined a straightforward and optimistic vision for the future of this nation. He spoke to the concerns of every American and extended an olive branch across the aisle, highlighting the need to work cooperatively to find serious, lasting solutions to the fundamental issues that weaken our economy, hurt hardworking American families, and threaten our country’s future.” 

Have Gavel, Will Travel

February 27, 2017

Wisconsin’s Jim Sensenbrenner has held the most town halls this year - See more at:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner reintroduced legislation to prohibit the sale of fetal tissue acquired by performing an abortion. 

The Safe Responsible, Ethical Scientific Endeavors Assuring Research for Compassionate Healthcare (RESEARCH) Act would amend Section 498A of the Public Health Act to state that human fetal tissue may be used for research purposes, but only if it is obtained as a result of a stillbirth or ectopic pregnancy, not from an abortion procedure. 

Not only is harvesting and selling fetal tissue a gruesome and horrific process, advancements in medical technology, such as adult stem cell science, has rendered fetal tissue an unnecessary option for medical researchers. The Safe RESEARCH Act would help end this practice and take another important step forward in protecting the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Due to a poorly drafted section of federal law, Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics throughout the country are legally able to sell fetal tissue to research institutions. This despicable practice is morally bankrupt, victimizes the defenseless, and increases profits for organizations that have no regard for human life. This legislation is an important step forward in the ongoing efforts to protect innocent lives and fight on behalf of the unborn.”

Earlier this month, the Family Research Council announced Congressman Sensenbrenner received a perfect score during the 114th Congress on its annual Vote Scorecard for Members of Congress who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the protection of unborn children.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner reintroduced the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act, which would allow the protections of the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act to continue saving the lives of children throughout the nation. 

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act became law in 2006 and has played a vital role in the prevention of sexual exploitation of America’s children. The comprehensive, bipartisan law strengthened sex offender registry requirements and enforcement across the country, as well as extended registry requirements to Native American tribes, increased penalties for child predators, and authorized funding for various programs to strengthen our defenses against child exploitation.

This legislation is critical because despite ongoing prevention efforts, the fight against child exploitation is not over. The Justice Department reports that only 17 states, three territories, and 36 Native American tribes have substantially implemented the Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Additionally, there are also an estimated 100,000 fugitive sex offenders across the country who are unregistered or in violation of registry requirements.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Childhood sexual abuse is a serious problem facing this nation, and the devastation it causes impacts every societal group, and lasts a lifetime for its victims and their loved ones. Reauthorizing the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act would ensure efforts continue to prevent the ongoing sexual exploitation of our nation’s children.”  

Further details of the proposal include the following:

• The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the two primary programs of the Adam Walsh Act – The Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and SORNA – for five years.
o SORNA sets minimum guidelines for state sex offender registries and establishes the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, which is a comprehensive national system for the registration and notification to the public of sex offenders. This registry currently contains information on more than 600,000 convicted sex offenders in the United States.

o The Sex Offender Management Assistance Program provides funding to the states, tribes, and other jurisdictions to offset the costs of implementing and enhancing SORNA, and funding for the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement agencies to assist jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who violate registration requirements.

• The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act makes targeted changes to the SORNA requirements, including giving states more flexibility in classifying sex offenders on their registry, lowering the period that certain juveniles must register to 15 years, and limiting public access to juvenile sex offender information.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2017 in the House of Representatives, which requests that the National Institute of Health (NIH) allocate time and already available resources to the research of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders.

Functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders affect two in five Americans, causing great personal hardship on affected individuals and costing society more than $30 billion annually. 

There are currently no known cures for these disorders, and lack of adequate research provides few treatment options. Further, these disorders are often misdiagnosed and improperly treated, resulting in increased patient suffering and additional financial burdens placed on patients and American taxpayers. 

The Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2017 requests that NIH dedicate time and already available resources to the research of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders in the hope that such research would better equip medical professionals to accurately diagnose and treat these disorders, as well as potentially find lasting cures.

Additionally, this legislation will direct the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases to provide continued funding for the advancement of gastrointestinal and motility research. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “America is the world leader in medical research and technological advances. With time and resources dedicated to finding cures, I’m confident that we can help every American suffering with gastrointestinal and motility disorders and drastically improve their quality of life. This fiscally responsible, bipartisan bill received great support during the 114th Congress, and I look forward to working with my colleagues again this session to see it to the finish line.”
I have held regular in-person town hall meetings since I began serving in the House of Representatives. In fact, I host more than 100 public events each year. I’m extremely proud of this, and it’s something I believe is not only important for the sake of democracy, but it’s invaluable to me as I work to best represent the interests of my district. 

Constituents who attend my town hall meetings hold beliefs that span the ideological spectrum, and I have made it a point to always be easily accessible to them all. Although at times we disagree on issues, I have always shown respect for their opinions and concerns. 

Open and honest discourse between elected officials and the citizens they represent is the only way to find solutions to the problems facing our nation, and as long as I have the privilege to serve Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District, I will continue to provide my constituents with an opportunity and a forum to respectfully express their views and offer their ideas. I encourage my congressional colleagues to do the same. 

Disagreements over legislation, implementation, and fundamental beliefs will never change. Challenging those in power and fighting for what we believe in is the American way – it’s what this nation was founded upon. But despite these disagreements, it is possible to find common ground, because at the heart of every issue is the desire to find solutions that make life better for every American. 

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. The process is never easy – sometimes it’s contentious – but if we listen and respect one another, I’m confident that at the end of the day, we will find ourselves in a better place than where we began.