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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.


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.

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.

WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the passing of Wisconsin Congressman Jerry Kleczka:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: "Congressman Jerry Kleczka was first and foremost a public servant. He fought his entire career for his beliefs and cared deeply for his district and for the state of Wisconsin. Although we often disagreed on policy, it was an honor to serve with someone so committed to making life better for his constituents. He will be missed my many."

BROOKFIELD, WI – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the passing of Wisconsin State Representative Bob Gannon:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Bob was an ardent and unapologetic conservative who never shied away from a tough conversation and who always stood up for his principles. He was a fighter who continually held himself accountable to his constituents and was always transparent about his beliefs. He worked every day to make his district, and the state of Wisconsin, a better place, and it was an honor to work beside him as we traveled our districts together for town hall meetings. His presence will be missed, but he will never be forgotten.”  

By: Lindsey McPherson of Roll Call

House Republicans want to ensure any legislation replacing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, would have the support of the majority of their conference before it goes to the floor.

That’s why Speaker Paul D. Ryan formed a task force featuring a cross section of Republicans who serve on committees with jurisdiction over immigration and border security to come up with a plan the conference can support.

The group is just one of several moving parts in the House effort to find a legislative solution to DACA, according to a GOP aide. Discussions with other lawmakers, including Democrats, are underway and will continue, the aide said.

Rank-and-file Republicans have insisted for years that border security is a crucial piece of any immigration compromise, and that aspect may prove easier for the GOP conference to solve than DACA. There are numerous bills they could use as a framework for that effort. Some Republicans may also seek changes to the legal immigration system.

Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for any measure to include the language of the so-called DREAM Act, which would let certain undocumented immigrants obtain legal status and eventually citizenship. And they’re refusing to negotiate on President Donald Trump’s border wall, “sanctuary cities,” and more U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

When the House voted on a version of the DREAM Act in 2010, all the GOP task members serving at the time voted against it, except for Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. (Reps. Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Martha McSally of Arizona and Will Hurd of Texas were not in Congress at the time.)

Diaz-Balart was also the only task force member to vote against a 2014 measure to defund the DACA program; he was among 11 GOP “no” votes in the run-up to that year’s midterms.

McSally and Hurd were still not in Congress for that vote, but the House voted to defund DACA again in early 2015, this time as an amendment to a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. McSally joined Diaz-Balart and 24 other Republicans in voting “no,” while Hurd joined the remaining task force members in voting “yes.”

The task force members do not share identical views on immigration, so their road to compromise is a long one. Their individual stances and past positions may offer some insight.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan

Of all the task force members, Ryan’s immigration positions are probably the most varied.

While he voted against the DREAM Act in 2010 and has supported House efforts to defund DACA, he has also supported the concept of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and was a key House member involved in seeking support for a comprehensive immigration measure in 2013.

Since becoming speaker, the Wisconsin Republican has toned down his rhetoric on immigration, saying he supports providing undocumented immigrants with a way to “get right with the law.” Ryan also recently expressed support for moving to a skills-based merit system.

The speaker has said Congress needs to pass protections for DACA recipients but has not specified how, other than to say that it cannot be addressed without a solution for the larger border security problem.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

House majority leader

Like Ryan, the House’s No. 2 Republican has a mixed record on immigration.

McCarthy voted against the 2010 DREAM Act and for efforts to defund DACA. But in 2014, as majority whip, he expressed support for providing undocumented immigrants with a path to legal status and co-sponsored legislation that would grant young undocumented immigrants permanent residence if they enlisted in the military.

The California Republican has largely avoided talking about how to deal with the country’s undocumented population since he became majority leader. After all, it was his predecessor Eric Cantor’s support for a path to citizenship that contributed to his 2014 primary loss to hard-line conservative David Brat.

Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va.

Chairman, Judiciary Committee

The former immigration lawyer may not share the hard-line views of other Republicans on his committee, but he’s no slouch on enforcement and has sponsored bills to aid the Trump agenda.

Goodlatte supports mandatory use of the E-Verify program and changes to the legal immigration system. And because Judiciary holds jurisdiction over immigration laws — meaning any deal to grant legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S as children, or Dreamers, must go through him — the Virginia Republican will carry serious weight on the task force.

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, R-Idaho

Chairman, Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee

Another former immigration lawyer, Labrador is one of the few House Freedom Caucus members who openly backs allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain some kind of legal status.

Labrador was a member of the House “Group of Eight,” a bipartisan group of lawmakers that tried in 2013 to develop an immigration overhaul but failed. (The measure by the Senate “Gang of Eight” cleared that chamber.)

Labrador later left the group, citing disputes over a previously agreed position that undocumented immigrants should be responsible for their own health care costs.

Now the Idaho Republican, who is running for governor, backs the House Republican piecemeal approach to immigration that the Group of Eight was supposed to counter. He has said recently that border security and enforcement measures, including funding Trump’s proposed wall, should be passed before any DACA fix.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

Chairman, Judiciary Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations Subcommittee

Sensenbrenner has a long history on immigration. In 2005, as Judiciary chairman, the Wisconsin Republican sponsored a border enforcement bill that set off nationwide protests by immigrant communities.

Like the majority of Republicans, Sensenbrenner opposed the DACA program and has voted against the DREAM Act. He has said any compromise on DACA must “not give amnesty to illegal immigrants,” so he could be a tough voice in the room.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas

Chairman, Homeland Security Committee

If the final deal to offer legal protections to Dreamers includes a hefty border security package, it will likely be the brainchild of McCaul. The Texas Republican introduced a sweeping border security package this summer that authorized the hiring of additional Border Patrol agents and $10 billion for a border wall and surveillance technology.

McCaul is also a potential candidate to replace John F. Kelly — now the White House chief of staff — as the Homeland Security secretary, so his time on the task force may be brief. 

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.

Chairwoman, Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee

McSally, a former Air Force fighter pilot and a member of the moderate Tuesday Group, is a unique voice on the task force because of her combined border security chops and support for young undocumented immigrants.

Days before Trump announced the end of the DACA program, the Arizona Republican led party members in asking Ryan to take up legislation, saying it “would be wrong to go back on our word and subject these individuals to deportation.”

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas

Hurd serves on the Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee.

While one of his first votes after joining Congress in 2015 was to defund DACA, the Texas Republican has since sponsored legislation to grant permanent residence to young undocumented immigrants who enlist in the military. He has also co-sponsored a bill to eliminate employment-based visa caps and to increase the caps on family-sponsored visas.

Hurd, whose 2018 re-election race is currently rated a Toss-up, according to Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, has said he does not support Trump’s border wall proposal. That’s significant coming from a Republican whose Latino-majority district spans 40 percent of America’s border with Mexico.

As a counterproposal, Hurd introduced the so-called SMART Act to direct the Department of Homeland Security to use high-tech resources to secure the border, which Hurd says can be done at a fraction of the cost of building a wall.

Rep. John Carter, R-Texas

Chairman, Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee

Whatever border security package the task force comes up with, it’ll fall to Carter to find a way to pay for it. The former judge has already shown he can deliver the goods on hot-button issues — he ushered through the House $1.6 billion to begin building Trump’s wall — but he’s held his cards close on DACA.

In a statement following Trump’s DACA announcement, the Texas Republican only said he supported a solution that “provides for the pursuit of the American dream.” Like Labrador, he participated in the 2013 Group of Eight but left soon after negotiations collapsed.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.

Diaz-Balart, an Appropriations Committee member, is one of the House GOP’s strongest proponents for overhauling the immigration system. He was the last remaining Republican member of the 2013 Group of Eight, after three of his colleagues left the group and effectively made it a “Group of Five.”

While the Florida Republican has never personally stopped pushing for an immigration overhaul, his GOP colleagues have shown no interest in reviving the failed 2013 effort. This Congress, he has co-sponsored the so-called Recognizing America’s Children Act, which is similar to the DREAM Act but has slightly different conditions under which young undocumented immigrants can obtain legal status and eventually citizenship.

You can view this article online here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) honored Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner with its “Taxpayers’ Friend Award” for his strong voting record on supporting lower taxes, limited government, and economic freedom.

Sensenbrenner has received this award every year since he came to Congress and is one of only 15 total House Members to receive it for their outstanding voting record during the 2016 congressional session.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I have worked my entire career to help lower taxes and reduce onerous government regulations on businesses because ensuring our country has a thriving economic environment in which bureaucratic overreaches are put in check is critical to our success here in Wisconsin and throughout the nation.

“I want to thank the National Taxpayers Union for this recognition and for their ongoing work to hold Members of Congress accountable. I also want to assure my constituents that I will continue to work on behalf of comprehensive tax reform and initiatives that will promote economic freedom and growth.”

NTU has recognized Members of Congress since 1979 who annually earn high voting scores to qualify them for the “Taxpayers’ Friend Award.” See NTU’s full 2016 congressional scorecard and further analysis here.

Many Americans have gotten sick and tired of the partisanship and dysfunction they see in government. They feel that rather than working together to find real solutions to issues facing hard-working Americans, elected officials seize every opportunity to disparage their political counterparts. Instead of being accountable to their constituents, they stay in Washington to attend high-profile parties and events and are consumed by D.C. squabbles.

While that might be accurate for some members of Congress, some of us still work hard to take the responsibility of public service seriously. Bipartisanship and accountability not only still exist in Congress, but are the keys to political and legislative success.

Despite today’s hyper-partisan political climate, we have made cooperation a priority. Earlier this year, The Lugar Center, in cooperation with Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, released its annual report on bipartisan Members of Congress. We ranked 19th and 65th out of 435 Members in the 114th Congress; 18th and 59th in the 113th Congress.

Between the two of us, we have sponsored more than 20 pieces of bipartisan legislation so far this year, including the AFFIRM Act and the National Scenic Trails Parity Act, which we sponsored together. We’ve also held close to 100 town hall meetings to date in 2017 and can be found in our districts nearly every day we’re not voting in Washington.

Wisconsin is a unique place. Our people are hardworking, pragmatic and kind. Our state is neither politically blue nor red — it is purple with a long history of formative leaders representing both parties. Wisconsin is a political anomaly. It makes sense, then, that its leaders should have a common-sense, bipartisan approach to problem-solving. Together, residents of the Badger State have created a culture of respect and appreciation for one another. That’s the tradition that we — as Wisconsin Representatives — strive every day to honor and continue.

The people of Wisconsin are our No. 1 priority and the driving force behind our work in Congress. And although we each hold different ideological beliefs, we understand that to pass legislation that will solve the problems facing our constituents — and all Americans — we must find ways to bridge the political divide and compromise. 

Disagreements over legislation, implementation and fundamental beliefs will never change. But despite such differences, 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.

We believe that good policy requires input from all sides, 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, we’re confident that at the end of the day, we will find ourselves in a better place than where we began.

That’s what we’re working toward every day, and it’s what we hope our colleagues —both in the Wisconsin delegation and in the Congress as a whole — will work toward as well. Bipartisanship isn’t dead, and if we embrace it with clear eyes and full hearts, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.

Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, represents Wisconsin's fifth district in Congress. Ron Kind, a Democrat, represents the state's third district.

View this piece online here.