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Rolling Back Regulations

February 9, 2017

Regulations are important for the protection of Americans’ health, safety, and well-being, but over the last eight years, they have grown beyond those purposes. The Obama administration issued more than 3,000 new regulations at a whopping cost of $875 billion to the American taxpayer.

Rather than helping Americans, overregulation has stifled innovation, stalled economic growth, and cost taxpayers billions of dollars in lost income. 

In fact, in 2015, regulations cost nearly $2 trillion in lost productivity and growth, and unfortunately, the financial burdens are only part of our overregulation problem. Few old regulations are ever lifted and new regulations have been added at an alarming rate under the previous Administration. 

For a successful, functioning economy, we need a regulatory system that works with and on behalf of the people, not the government. It should be collaborative, not combative, and encourage competition rather than picking winners and losers. We need to cut down on needless regulations while making the rules we do need more efficient and effective, particularly for our nation’s small businesses which often shoulder a disproportionate share of the federal regulatory burden.

Common sense solutions to our regulatory problem, such as putting sunsets on federal regulations and requiring agencies to publish the cost of each regulation, are actions that House Republicans are taking in order to help alleviate the pressure on taxpayers and businesses. 

The House of Representatives has already begun the important work of addressing overregulation by passing the REINS Act, which would ensure Congress has an up-or-down vote on any major regulation that would have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more, and the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would increase transparency in the rule-making process and require federal agencies to choose the least costly option unless they can show a costlier option is needed to protect health, safety, or welfare. 

These are significant steps forward, and they’re only the beginning of our regulatory reform efforts. The House Republicans’ plan, a Better Way, outlines our reform efforts and proposes common sense solutions that will not only help lift the heavy regulatory burdens on hardworking taxpayers, but also from our nation’s small businesses that drive our economy and put people to work. 

I look forward to continuing this important work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle throughout the 115th Congress, and encourage my constituents to voice their opinions at any of my upcoming town hall meetings, or by phone, standard mail, and email.  
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Each year, CQ releases a comprehensive vote study featuring the records of each Member of Congress. For the second year in a row, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner obtained a perfect voting record of 100 percent by not missing a single vote. Only 15 out of the 435 Members in the House of Representatives achieved this rating.

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“Serving the citizens of Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District is a responsibility that I have never taken lightly. Each year, I host more than 100 public events, such as town hall meetings and office hours, and respond to thousands of constituent comments submitted by phone, mail, and email. These avenues of open communication make it possible for me to thoughtfully perform my essential duty of voting on the House floor on behalf of my constituents, and I’m extremely proud of my consistent voting record. I’m humbled to serve as Wisconsin’s Fifth District representative, and I will continue working diligently on behalf of my constituents as long as I serve in the United States House of Representatives.”

The complete vote study scores can be found in the February 6, 2017 edition of CQ. 
On average, Wisconsin parents pay more than $9,000 each year for child care. That is nearly as much as one year of in-state tuition at the University of Wisconsin — Madison.

As Wisconsin families know, our state ranks among the most expensive for child care. In fact, only nine states have greater child care costs in the United States. We must ease the heavy burden these high costs are placing on the shoulders of hard-working families.

Wisconsin has more licensing requirements and regulations than other states, which drives up costs for care providers. Providers then pass on those increased costs to consumers.

Consider the average annual cost of child care in Wisconsin — nearly $12,000 in a child care center.

The median income for a married couple in Wisconsin is roughly $82,000, meaning child care consumes more than 11% of their annual earnings. The median income for a single mother-led family is roughly $23,000, so child care consumes nearly 39% of her annual earnings. These statistics present a troubling reality for families throughout the state, one in which they must choose between quality child care and daily essentials such as food, housing and transportation.

That is a decision no parent should ever have to make. The government should be encouraging hardworking people to start families, not punishing them.

High dependent care costs not only impact families; they also strain businesses. According to the “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2014 Report,” on average, U.S. businesses lose $3 billion annually due to absenteeism caused by gaps in dependent care coverage. The report also notes that when affordable quality care is available to working parents and caregivers their productivity increases at the workplace and professional absences are significantly reduced.

We must do everything possible to ensure that our nation’s businesses have every advantage to succeed and grow. A focused, present workforce is a critical component of that success, and it is imperative we do what we can to promote work, which includes finding solutions to the growing problem of high dependent care costs.

So what can be done to reduce costs and give Wisconsin families a hand up?

While many aspects of this issue must be addressed on the state level, there are significant actions Congress can and should take to help make dependent care more affordable.

I recently re-introduced the Working Parents Tax Relief Act — legislation that amends the Internal Revenue Service Code in order to help make the cost of dependent care more affordable for Wisconsin families.

Under the employer-sponsored Dependent Care Assistance Program, eligible employees may reduce their taxable income by setting aside money from their paycheck to pay for dependent care expenses, including child care, elder care, and extended care. The money set aside is pretax, which lowers an individual’s taxable income and ultimately saves families money.

This bill will play a small role in lessening the burden on Wisconsin families.

Currently, individuals may only set aside $5,000 per year. This limit has been in effect since 1986, despite the fact the cost of care has increased significantly. Under the current rules, program participants also are unable to rollover unused funds to the next year. My bill increases the amount available under the Dependent Care Assistance Program from $5,000 to $7,500, indexes the benefit amount to inflation, and allows program participants to rollover unused funds into the following year.

The cost of reliable, quality dependent care, especially child care, has risen dramatically over the years, and Wisconsin’s costs are disproportionately higher than the national average. Changes to the DCAP are necessary to help spur economic growth and security while giving our hard-working families a hand up and ensuring our businesses have a focused and productive workforce.

You can view this piece online here.
All Wisconsin business owners know that tax rates are often a significant factor when making important business decisions, such as whether to invest in new equipment, increase staff, or expand facilities.

Most businesses in Wisconsin and the United States, including proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and subchapter S corporations, are organized as pass-through entities, meaning they are not subject to income tax. Rather, owners are directly taxed individually on income, taking into account their share of profits and losses. 

Given this, most business owners are highly sensitive to their marginal tax rate, which currently tops out at 40 percent. And it’s not just the tax rate, but also the complexity of the federal tax code which can be a hindrance to the business community and make owners think twice about growing, updating, or expanding.

With a newly united government, I’m optimistic that comprehensive tax reform can finally be achieved in the 115th Congress – something that hasn’t happened since 1986. Tax reform that lowers rates for job creators, broadens the tax base, and promotes fairness is exactly what our country needs to jumpstart the economy and give our hardworking business owners a hand up. 

Too often, when Members of Congress talk about rewriting the federal tax code and making businesses more competitive, their focus turns first to the U.S. corporate tax rate, leaving pass-through entities as an afterthought. True tax reform that spurs investment, innovation, increases wages, reduces compliance costs, and promotes growth should address both corporate and individual tax rates simultaneously.

Under the House Republicans’ Better Way agenda, we will tackle these problems and find solutions that will finally give business owners in Wisconsin and nationwide a tax code that works for them, not against them.

Business owners are the backbone of our nation’s economy. Their ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit, and ambition is what spurs growth, prosperity, and opportunity for us all. It’s my prerogative to support our business owners and help give them the tools they need to succeed. A smarter, fairer, and flatter tax code is the best way to create an economic atmosphere of opportunity for generations to come. 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced two bills aimed at reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the national biofuels mandate. Taken together, these bills call for the additional study and evaluation of our ever-increasing ethanol mandate and to ensure Environmental Protection Agency volume obligations for biofuels are based in reality. 

The first bill, the comprehensive mid-level ethanol assessment legislation, requires the National Academy of Sciences to provide a comprehensive assessment of research on the implications of the use of mid-level ethanol blends – fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol by volume –  compared to gasoline blends containing 10 percent or zero percent ethanol. The study will evaluate the performance, safety, and environmental impact of mid-level ethanol blended fuels.
The second bill focuses on cellulosic biofuel assessment. This legislation relaxes the Environmental Protection Agency’s volume requirements for cellulosic biofuel under the RFS to what is commercially available until the National Academy of Sciences submits to Congress a report on the environmental and economic impacts of cellulosic biofuel, and the feasibility of large scale commercial production.

These common sense bills ensure that hardworking American fuel consumers are not needlessly subjected to ineffectual and burdensome government regulations. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “As a former member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I have always believed science-based decision making must guide our assessment of the RFS and the effects this policy has had on consumers, our economy, and our environment. This is especially true in a state like Wisconsin, where the use of recreational vehicles and marine engines is a way of life for many of its residents.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on President Trump's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court: 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has proven himself an ardent defender of the Constitution, a true advocate for the sanctity of human life, and a prudent judicial practitioner who has served with humility, integrity, and candor. If approved to the United States Supreme Court, I have no doubt he will continue to serve the American people with honor and the utmost respect for the laws of this nation.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner reintroduced the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act, which would help ensure patients with disabilities or severe medical conditions have access to highly-specialized, custom medical equipment.

The Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act establishes a distinct Medicare benefit category for complex rehabilitation technology products (CRT), such as specialized power wheelchairs and adaptive seating systems. It would also allow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to better target its payment and coverage policies by adopting higher quality standards for suppliers, improving oversight to prevent fraud and abuse, and expanding eligibility criteria for beneficiaries. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “As a leader in the fight for the rights of the disabled, I want to ensure all Americans have access to the tools needed to live each day to the fullest. Disabled Americans should not be denied rehabilitation or medical equipment that can enable them to live and work freely and independently. With increased flexibility and proper oversight, we can help those in need while inhibiting fraud and abuse.”

The Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act is supported by multiple patient, medical professional and supplier organizations, including: American Association for Homecare, American Physical Therapy Association, Brain Injury Association of America, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Easter Seals, National Association for Home Care & Hospice, National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the United Spinal Association.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: "After a town hall meeting, I was pressed to answer questions about whether the President's immigration pause should apply to green card holders.  I do not believe it is right to ban green card holders from entering the United States absent evidence of a threat, regardless of where they are from. I misspoke and I apologize for the confusion.. In terms of the pause itself, it's important to emphasize that this isn't about religious affiliation, it's about national security and keeping Americans safe. This is a temporary ban so the government can ensure we have sufficient screening policies in place.  While the majority of people seeking to enter the United States are peaceful, it only takes one individual to wreak havoc. I will never support a blanket ban on any religious group, but we have to do everything we can, consistent with our values as Americans, to protect the freedom and security of the American people."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the following statement on President Donald J. Trump’s recent executive order on privacy rights:

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“I urge our European allies to be patient as we transition into the new Administration, especially referring to President Trump’s new executive order on privacy.  The order specifically says, “to the extent applicable with current law.” That means that all current laws supporting the Privacy Shield and the Umbrella Agreement remain in full effect. This includes the Judicial Redress Act. It would take an act of Congress to repeal it and there is no effort I’m aware of in either Congress or the Administration to do so. I remain committed to supporting both the Privacy Shield and the Umbrella Agreement—they are important pillars supporting the Transatlantic Relationship. I am prepared to defend them if they’re challenged, but the Trump administration has not done anything to undermine them. This is a false alarm.”

Working on Your Behalf

January 26, 2017

I regularly hold office hours and host town hall meetings throughout Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District. Throughout my career, I have prided myself on being accessible to my constituents. In fact, I hold more than 100 public meetings each year. They give me an opportunity to speak with my constituents directly and hear about any problems they may be facing with the federal government. And public meetings are only one of the many services my office provides.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is working to solve problems you may have with the federal government. These issues can be complicated, frustrating and stressful. As is often the case, federal agencies give you the runaround – putting you on hold, promising to return your calls or emails and then becoming unresponsive for weeks or even months, or leaving you more confused than you were before.

Fortunately, we deal with these problems every day. I will advocate on your behalf when problems arise and help get the answers you deserve. Every day, my Brookfield staff stands ready to hear your concerns. They will work to ensure the problems you have with federal agencies are thoroughly reviewed and help you cut through the bureaucratic red tape.
Additionally, for qualified Fifth District students, my office provides internship opportunities both in Brookfield and Washington, D.C., and can assist those interested in attending a U.S. service academy to begin the nomination process.

My office also provides constituent services such as offering for purchase flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol, fulfilling Presidential greeting and Congressional commendation requests, and scheduling tours of Washington, D.C. To view a full list of available constituent services and upcoming town hall meetings, I encourage you to visit my official website at 

I, along with my experienced and friendly staff, hope you’ll reach out with any issues you have and let us help. You can call or write my district and/or Washington, D.C. offices, as well as attend one of my many upcoming town hall meetings to discuss your concerns with me in person.  

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Representative.