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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the past few years, researchers, independent advocacy groups, law enforcement and federal agencies, and bipartisan Members of Congress have been working together in an effort to reform America’s broken criminal justice system and find solutions to some of the country’s most devastating challenges. One such challenge is widespread heroin and opioid addiction. 

Between 2002 and 2013, national heroin deaths nearly quadrupled, reaching more than 8,000 annually by 2013. In that same year, an estimated 517,000 people used heroin – a figure up 150 percent from just six years earlier. Throughout the United States, addiction is ravaging communities and destroying lives. 

Last year, in an effort to combat this deadly epidemic, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), which offers a critical first step toward ending heroin and opioid addiction. 

Provisions within the bill establish community-based anti-drug coalitions, a national education campaign aimed at deterring new and young users from trying the drug, and creating alternative incarceration programs and outpatient treatment centers for non-violent drug offenders.

Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced its plans to reassess the agency’s approach to opioid medications. According to the FDA, the proposed multifaceted plan will focus on policies aimed at reversing the epidemic, while still providing effective medication. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
 “For more than a decade, there has been an alarming rise in heroin and opioid addiction, causing devastation to individuals, families, and communities throughout the nation. Last year, I introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) to address this serious problem. With a Senate companion bill and the FDA’s newly reaffirmed commitment to finding solutions, I’m confident in the direction our country is headed toward solving widespread addiction.” 

companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]. Both bills await passage in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, respectively. 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement in support of the efforts of the City of Waukesha to borrow water from Lake Michigan:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The City of Waukesha has gone through extensive public and environmental processes, and meets the requirements necessary under the Great Lakes Compact to borrow Lake Michigan water. As the city’s application goes before the Great Lakes Regional Compact Council for review, I’m optimistic it will be approved and Waukesha will have the necessary access to a safe water supply.”

Congressman Sensenbrenner also sent the following letter of support to the Regional Body Designees and Compact Council Alternates and Secretariat:


Dear Regional Body Designees and Compact Council Alternates and Secretariat,

The City of Waukesha’s application to borrow water from Lake Michigan is now entering the next, and possibly final, stage. Waukesha, which is under court order to find a new drinking water supply, has been examining its options for more than a decade. The state of Wisconsin has been analyzing the issue for at least five years.  Ultimately, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources determined the city’s application meets the criteria for approval as laid out by the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement between the states and Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes.

The city’s application is now before the Great Lakes Regional Compact Council, which will have the final say. I support approval of Waukesha’s application because it clearly complies with the requirements laid out in the Compact and the city has proposed a reasonable and environmental responsible plan.

The regional review process was designed to be unbiased and based on science and key criteria contained in the Compact. The Compact was established so that every community directly impacted by the Great Lakes would have a voice. This was necessary to ensure that decisions about the Lakes would not be driven by politics. The process is rigorous and exhaustive. It’s a lot harder to do it this way, but the result will be rooted in true democracy and based on science and planning, not public pressure.

Of course, the public should have its say and the regional review process provides for an opportunity for that to occur. Through public events and online forums, public input has been and will continue to be registered. 

But the Compact is clear about what qualifies a community to receive Great Lakes water. Among the most important standards for approval are: that the community making the request be in a county that straddles the Great Lakes Basin divide and that the community has the ability to return the water it borrows. These standards wisely protect everyone in the Great Lakes Basin by ensuring that Great Lakes water is not sent to faraway locations outside the basin. Should an application be rejected for reasons not discovered as part of the fact-finding process, the Compact and the communities it is meant to serve would suffer.

Waukesha meets these requirements. The city has instituted a comprehensive water conservation program to reduce existing and future needs for water but still needs a new water supply. The current water supply is depleted and contains natural contaminants such as the carcinogen radium. The request to borrow Great Lakes water comes after the city considered 13 other potential options and conducted an in-depth analysis of the five other prospective water supply alternatives to Lake Michigan. Three different entities (the City of Waukesha, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and regional planning officials) held more than 100 public meetings and independently found that none of the alternatives proved to be environmentally sound, cost-effective or sufficient compared to Great Lakes water.

Waukesha’s plan makes sense and protects the Great Lakes at the same time. It would withdraw a minimal amount of water (equal to 1/1,000,000th of 1% of the Great Lakes volume) from Lake Michigan via an existing water supply pipeline and would return the same volume of water to a tributary river after it has undergone advanced treatment. There will be no net loss of Great Lakes water to the basin. The enhanced flow in the tributary will in fact improve a fish egg collection facility that is downstream from where the return water will be discharged, providing a benefit to the Great Lakes fishery.

Approval of Waukesha’s application does not have to be a choice between a safe water supply for the city and protecting the Great Lake. Under the terms of the Compact, both are possible. The communities of the Great Lakes need the Compact to be successfully utilized so that important water issues are properly managed and the Great Lakes are protected today and into the future. Waukesha’s application should be approved in order to show that the Compact - and the regional cooperation and trust that fostered it - is working.

Sincerely,

F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr.
Member of Congress
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the agreement reached between the United States and the European Union Commission regarding a new framework for transatlantic data sharing:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Today’s agreement between the United States and the European Union Commission on a new framework for transatlantic data flow is a positive step in the right direction toward ensuring the continued sharing of commercial data between friendly nations. The framework is an absolute necessity for over 5,000 U.S. businesses. I look forward to the Congressional passage of the Judicial Redress Act and ongoing efforts to rebuild trust with our international allies.”
 
Popular opinion dictates that drug abuse is contained within city limits, but the truth is that addiction doesn’t discriminate by location, age, sex, race, or any other differentiating factor. Drug abuse touches individuals, families, and communities in every corner of our country. Over the past decade, heroin specifically has been devastating lives and wreaking havoc on our communities. 

Between 2002 and 2013, heroin deaths nearly quadrupled, reaching more than 8,000 people annually by 2013. In that same year, an estimated 517,000 people used heroin; a figure up 150 percent from just six years earlier.

We cannot let this epidemic continue to spread. Addressing this issue head on will not only save lives; it will save significant taxpayer dollars both in our healthcare and our prison systems. 

Key researchers, law enforcement agencies, and addiction treatment providers all agree that the most effective way to approach the challenges of heroin abuse is to pursue a comprehensive response to both heroin and opioid addiction. In order to be successful, the response must include:
• Prevention efforts
• Law enforcement strategies
• A plan to address overdosing
• Expansion of evidence-based treatment options

It’s true that no one piece of legislation will completely solve the addiction crisis we face, however there are certainly ways we can address this problem head on. Last year, I introduced the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which would offer a critical first step toward ending this deadly and costly epidemic. This serious piece of bipartisan legislation has also been introduced in the Senate. 

Solutions to this terrible problem will provide a desperately needed lifeline to individuals and families while simultaneously rebuilding communities and saving taxpayer dollars. Confronting heroin addiction is part of my larger efforts to reform our broken criminal justice system, and I’m committed to seeing this through because strong individuals make strong families. Strong families make strong communities, and strong communities make for a stronger, more prosperous America. 
 
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of the Judicial Redress Act:

Congressman Sensenbrenner: 
“Today’s passage of the Judicial Redress Act in the Senate Judiciary Committee marks a positive step forward toward rebuilding relationships with our international allies and strengthening our own national security. I look forward to a full Senate vote on this critical legislation soon.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sent the following letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy regarding the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and the EPA’s poor and outright dismissive response to the situation:

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

I write to you about the water crisis that Flint, Michigan is experiencing.  The distrust that Flint’s residents, and millions of other citizens, have for our government is disturbing.  It is widely reported that your agency contributed to the cynicism people are feeling, particularly in Flint.  

Revelations that an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official ignored scientific findings and lied to the people of Flint come just weeks after finding that your agency could have prevented the Gold King Mine Spill.  It is no wonder that the American people are growing ever more dissatisfied with the level of service that our government agencies provide.   

The government’s first obligation is to protect the health and welfare of its citizens.  Allegations that the EPA ignored or even hid scientific data about people being poisoned are deeply disturbing.  We may be at different ends of the political spectrum, but I want to support your mission to “protect human health and the environment.”  However, I am deeply concerned about the culture of an agency that consistently persecutes honest business, promotes special interest and liberal political darlings like the ethanol industry, and then blatantly ignores or even covers up a public health crisis. 

The EPA must refocus on its core mission and stop promoting political agendas like ethanol, alternative energy, and cap-and-trade policies that do more harm to our economy than they do good for our environment.  It is clear that your agency is too absorbed with these issues and is missing things that cause immediate harm to our citizens.  First and foremost, the EPA must fulfill its core duties.     

To begin the process of restoring trust in your agency, you should recommit to fulfilling President Obama’s promise of leading the most open and transparent government.  Open government ensures accountability, and your agency must commit to opening your scientific studies to the American people.

I would also like you to address the following questions:

• Was the EPA in contact with researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) regarding Flint, Michigan’s water supply?  
o Please provide all correspondence between Virginia Tech and the EPA to me.
• Did the EPA learn from any other sources that Flint’s water supply was contaminated? 
• Did the EPA collect its own water samples in Flint? 
o If yes, what were the results?
o If no, why not?
• Are there other water supplies that the EPA is currently investigating for possible lead contamination?

Please respond to this letter by February 18.  

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR.
Chairman Emeritus
House Committee on Science, Space & Technology
 
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on the lowering of Obamacare enrollment projections: 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Today, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the number of Americans expected to buy health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges was cut by more than one third. Millions of Americans continue to go uninsured because the President’s “signature achievement” is not only too expensive, but provides lower quality care. Today’s announcement is yet another example of the continuing failures of this disastrous policy.”
 
 
Legislation to help prisoners who have completed their sentences successfully return to society advanced in the House on Tuesday.

The House Judiciary Committee passed the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2015 by a voice vote. The bill reauthorizes grant funding for both public and private re-entry programs, including academic and vocational education for offenders in prison, jails and juvenile facilities.

“Most of the people currently imprisoned will one day return to society, and it’s in all of our best interests to give these individuals a second chance and a hand up,” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), chair of the subcommittee on crime, said in a news release.
“This legislation reduces prison costs, improves public safety, and produces significant savings to the American taxpayers. It also successfully helps reintegrate inmates into their communities, making our nation safer and stronger,” he said.

This legislation builds on the Second Chance Act of 2008 and includes important accountability measures and eliminates programs that have not been used.

“Statistics show that more than 90 percent of federal prisoners will eventually be released,” Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a release. “We must enact policies that enhance public safety by helping prisoners successfully reintegrate into society and restore their lives.”

View this article online here.
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner accused Marco Rubio of "McCarthyism" as the GOP hopeful has ramped up criticism of the USA Freedom Act co-authored by the longtime Wisconsin congressman. 

That includes Rubio's suggestion ISIS would have supported the bill, a comment Sensenbrenner said he resents. 

"I don't know why Sen. Rubio would object to it," Sensenbrenner told WisPolitics.com. "But saying that I am ISIS's biggest supporter in Washington being the author of the Freedom Act, I think, is McCarthyism at its worst." 

The legislation, which cleared Congress this summer, made changes to the federal government's bulk collection of phone metadata by the National Security Agency. It also has become a source of contention among several GOP presidential hopefuls, because Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Rand Paul, of Kentucky, supported the bill. 

During a stop in New Hampshire on Monday, Rubio said he would restore the previous NSA program. 

"If ISIS had lobbyists in Washington, they would have spent millions to support the anti-intelligence law that was just passed with the help of some Republicans now running for president," Rubio said. 

Sensenbrenner fired back in the WisPolitics.com interview that Rubio had a "disconnect" in his argument for bringing back the phone records collection program under the Patriot Act. 

That program went through significant changes under the USA Freedom Act, though they didn't take effect until Nov. 30. The Menomonee Falls Republican pointed out the San Bernardino shooting occurred just days after the old Patriot Act provisions expired. If the previous phone records program was as effective as Rubio and others claimed, Sensenbrenner said, the program should have picked up something on the shooters. 

The USA Freedom Act still lets the government get needed information on potential terrorist activity, Sensenbrenner said. But it has to seek a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to get records from phone companies. 

"I don't think that there's anything wrong with going to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and saying, 'We suspect that this guy is up to terrorist activity. Give us an order so that we can get the phone records,'" he said. 

As he looks to 2016, Sensenbrenner, a former Judiciary Committee chairman who continues to serve on the committee, said he's still looking to push bipartisan criminal justice legislation he introduced with Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. The SAFE Justice Act is targeted at reducing the recidivism rate, changing mandatory minimum sentences and aiming to ensure those who leave prison have marketable skills. 

Last year, Sensenbrenner also reached across the aisle in proposing legislation to uphold a key section of the Voting Rights Act that had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. He said this week his fellow House Republicans don't have an appetite to take up the bill right now, but he plans to push for it again. 

Some states and local governments that had been subjected to preclearance by the federal government of their changes to voting laws complained about being subject to scrutiny that other areas didn't need to go through. Sensenbrenner said his bill would take the program nationwide while creating an incentive to avoid violations of the the law's standards. Those who go 10 years without a violation would no longer be subject to the federal review. 

"There's a carrot and the stick, and the carrot is by following the law and not discriminating, you get out from under preclearance," Sensenbrenner said. 

This week, House Republicans delivered on a longtime promise to put legislation on President Obama's desk that would repeal significant portions of the Affordable Care Act. The president today vetoed the bill. 

But Sensenbrenner said the vote underscores the GOP agenda while also responding to conservatives, particularly those on talk radio, who have complained congressional Republicans have not done enough to stand up to Obama. 

"We are giving people who have complained about us for not standing up to Obama exactly what they asked for. It will put everybody on record on who supports Obama and who does not," Sensenbrenner said, noting it would also save half a trillion dollars over the next decade according to the CBO. 

Sensenbrenner praised House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, for his leadership over the past two months. Sensenbrenner added he believes Ryan will stay on in the position after the 2016 elections if he believes it's important for the country and the party. If not, Sensenbrenner suggested Ryan could go back to being Ways and Means chairman, which would be an unusual move. 

"He's got the respect, and he's got the clout to do that," Sensenbrenner said. "That's one thing that's really important. In the House of Representatives particularly. You earn respect, and Paul has really done that with the record that he has had. If you rank the members from one to 435 on how well respected they are, Paul is No. 1." 

Sensenbrenner, who was elected to the seat in a 1978 special election, announced at the GOP state convention in May he plans to seek re-election in 2016. Assuming he wins -- and he will be heavily favored to do so -- that term would push Sensenbrenner past four decades in the House. 

He didn't sound like someone looking to retire if he wins re-election this fall. He noted he is cancer free after a scare five years ago, just announced more than 40 town hall meetings in his district and spends every weekend back home. He also pointed to the USA Freedom Act as a sign he's still an effective lawmaker, saying he started the process "with everybody in this town against me." In the end, he said, he picked them off one by one except for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Even so, a sizable chunk of Senate Republicans voted for the bill and against their leader. 

"I'm kind of a can-do person," Sensenbrenner said. "One of the things that I've demonstrated is that I'm conservative. I have not in any way compromised my principles, but I'm able to reach across the aisle on certain issues and get support there. There are not many of us in the Congress that can do that." 


Listen to the full interview here.

View this article online here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement in response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address:

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“Since his first State of the Union address, President Obama has delivered thousands of empty words, and tonight was simply more of the same. But the American people will no longer tolerate flowery rhetoric followed by broken promises. We have an opportunity to pursue bold ideas and reclaim America’s promise in 2016. That is why Republicans are putting forth a focused agenda that will empower our citizens, rebuild faith in our future, and restore a confident America. It’s time to leave the President’s hollow words behind us and look forward to a prosperous new era for all Americans. ”