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By: Matthew Knott of The Sydney Morning Herald

New York: Almost 11,000 Australians a year will continue to have exclusive access to a prized visa that allows them to work in the US following an intense lobbying campaign by Australian officials in Washington.

Fairfax Media revealed last week that Australia's ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, had "gone nuts" over proposed legislation that could have seen Australians competing with the Irish for access to the plum E3 visa scheme.

That legislation has now been withdrawn and replaced by a new draft bill that guarantees Australians continued access to up to 10,500 E3 visas a year.

This visa class can only be accessed by Australian professionals and is the envy of many countries around the world.

The new bipartisan bill would allow Irish professionals in the US to apply for any unused visas from Australia's annual quota in the subsequent fiscal year. It is expected to be voted on before the end of the year.

Australia's first preference was to remain the sole beneficiary of the E3 visa, which was created as part of the 2005 Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

But sources said the Australian embassy was "comfortable" with the new legislation and would be recommending members of Congress support the bill.

Unlike other visas, the E3 visa permits the spouses of Australian recipients to live and work in the US without restrictions and can be renewed indefinitely. It is relatively cheap and allows Australians to bypass the pool of hundreds of thousands of other applicants competing for the right to work in America.

Despite these advantages, uptake of the visa has been slow and thousands go unused each year.

Some 5700 Australians took advantage of the E3 scheme last year, leaving almost half of our annual quota unused.

Irish officials have insisted that their goal has only been to gain access to any of Australia's remaining visas.

But the Australian embassy was concerned that, under the wording of the initial bill, Australian and Irish professionals would be competing for the same pool of 10,500 visas.

Australian officials pointed out that applications for the visa have been growing over recent years and Australians could miss out in the future if forced to compete with the Irish.

Australian officials raised objections with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior figures in the Trump administration in recent weeks.

The bill has been introduced by Wisconsin Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal and is expected to be supported by both parties.

By: Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner

It is easy to threaten impeachment on cable news and even easier to promise impeachment on the campaign trail. Turns out, though, that the actual business of removing a public official from office for the requisite "high crimes and misdemeanors" is actually pretty difficult.

Ask Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., about the impeachment process, and he will describe it with just one adjective: “all-consuming.”

After four decades in Congress, the old bull should know. He has managed more impeachments than anyone since the moment the Founding Fathers decided to empower Congress with the authority in Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution some two centuries ago.

While it's a difficult job, Sensenbrenner is pretty good at using this specific check on the executive and judicial branches. He was the one who guided the House when they charged former President Bill Clinton in 1999 for perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton would get off the hook, acquitted by the Senate after a five-week trial. Others weren’t as lucky: Sensenbrenner has collected the scalps of three federal judges.

But even when the defendants were guilty as sin, like Walter Nixon of Mississippi, who was already sentenced to five years in prison by a civil court for perjury after lying to prosecutors about marijuana smuggling, kicking the bums out is a herculean task.

“You don’t know how much work it is,” Sensenbrenner told the Washington Examiner editorial board during a recent meeting, even if it is “impeaching a judge that is in jail for some type of crime, refuses to resign, and is collecting a full judicial salary while sitting in the slammer.”

What makes this constitutional power so unwieldy? The greatest deliberative body in the world, the Senate, requires an overwhelming amount of evidence. Call it constitutional prudence or call it snobbery, but that upper chamber won’t accept the verdict of any other court. The House makes the charges, and the Senate won’t accept any evidence or testimony from anywhere else. Even if the defendant has already been convicted, they make their own verdict.

This means leg work and a lot of it. Impeaching anyone, Sensenbrenner cautions, requires lawmakers “to shut down the judiciary committee for several months to get their ducks in order.”

Good news for the accused, this is bad news for Democrats who are licking their chops at the chance of impeaching anyone in the current administration. Democrats, especially Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who is slated to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee, ought to take notice.

Sensenbrenner wouldn’t be surprised if Nadler tries to impeach President Trump. He wouldn’t be shocked to see Nadler take a shot at history and try to impeach newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Congress has only ever managed to knock a single judge off the high court. Sensenbrenner says going after the newest justice “would be a waste of time” because of the careful vetting that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, undertook during the confirmation process.

Because of arrogance or ignorance, Nadler isn’t convinced. He was overheard bragging over the phone while hurtling south on the train between New York and Washington, D.C., about his plans to go “all-in” to impeach Kavanaugh on charges of perjury.

Bragging over the phone is just as easy as posturing on cable and on the campaign trail. Politicians like to talk when it comes to impeachment. Few of them can do the actual work. Sensenbrenner knows the difference.

By: Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner

Nice Republicans don’t always make the best speakers of the House. And after the better part of a decade, Republicans have little to show for their now lost majority.

There were no lasting spending decreases. There was no immigration reform. No real Obamacare repeal. Nice Republicans don't make great speakers of the House -- at least according to Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

“Well, Boehner and Ryan are nice guys,” the old GOP bull said of the last two Republican House speakers — one who is now a weed lobbyist and the other soon to be some kind of a roving public policy wonk.

A legislative veteran of four decades and the second-most senior member of the House, Sensenbrenner points instead to former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. “You know,” he tells a recent meeting of the Washington Examiner editorial board, DeLay “was called The Hammer for a reason.”

It was DeLay who helped sparked the Republican Revolution as a rank-and-file member of the minority. It was DeLay who scuttled calls for censure and settled instead on impeachment for President Bill Clinton as majority whip. It was DeLay who united a fractured GOP majority behind the legislative agenda of President George W. Bush as majority leader.

Vote against the party, and DeLay would threaten to pull your committee spot. Vote against the party too many times, and Delay would help someone primary you. Even while serving as chairman of the House Science Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, Sensenbrenner wasn’t exempt: “He hit me over the head a couple times.”

But that was over a decade ago, when party unity made twisting arms easier. As Sensenbrenner points out, Boehner and Ryan were frustrated by political arithmetic and an entirely different dynamic in the House. Of course, it should be noted that Ryan never wanted the gavel. He was happier with his spreadsheets and his policy, planning overhauls of the tax code, which he achieved, and reform of the entitlement system, which remains elusive. By circumstance and duty, Ryan was instead forced to turn from policy and more to internal politics.

That policy nerd was confronted with an ongoing and ugly church fight when he took over for Boehner. There was the majority of the majority — about “170 or 180 people” — who followed leadership, and a minority of the majority — “a group in the Freedom Caucus and a group in the moderates" — who were not so wiling. Getting legislation out of the House would now require all three camps “to agree to something.”

“This was their major frustration,” Sensenbrenner remembers, noting that both Boehner and Ryan had majorities bigger than the one Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has just built. “There was a lot of frustration on both of the speakers that in order to govern … they ended up having to push-and-pull and make deals that didn’t really work out.”

One of the casualties of this fracturing, one of the compromisers who tried to broker a compromise when the House took up Obamacare repeal, was Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J. Sensenbrenner notes that things “didn’t really work out” for that member of the so-called Tuesday Group. He lost his re-election narrowly two weeks ago.

As Republicans gripe over internal dysfunction while preparing to enter the minority, Democrats can give thanks for party unity. Assuming she picks up the speaker’s gavel, Pelosi won’t face a majority set against itself. Looking at the incoming Congress, Sensenbrenner counts “a whole lot of progressives and not many blue dogs.”

The question, then, is how incoming Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will confront unified Democrats. In opposition, there won’t be as much squabbling as the Freedom Caucus, the Tuesday Group, and the rest of the rank-and-file come together in opposition. However, as everyone knows, McCarthy is unfailingly nice.

By: Jacob Greber of the Financial Review

Washington | The US is poised to scrap a plan that would have forced professional and highly-skilled Australians to compete with workers from Ireland for an attractive visa category that experts say is being under used.

Australians will continue to have exclusive access to 10,500 so-called E3 visas per year - a unique category that no other country can claim.

However, in an amended bill reintroduced by Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner on Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT) any unused quota would be offered to Irish workers in the subsequent fiscal year.

The change, which is expected to be adopted before the end of the year, ends weeks of lobbying by the Australian embassy in Washington, which was concerned that Australians' access to the visas would effectively be halved.

It is understood Australian officials will encourage both sides of Congress to adopt the proposed change.

"We wanted very much to protect that 10,500 [figure] because we see an upward trajectory in takeup by Australians of the E3 visa, which was very hard fought during the FTA," said a source.

"They've come up with this solution, which I think is pretty neat."

Introduced in 2005 after Canberra and Washington negotiated a free trade agreement, the E3 visas provide a streamlined avenue for professionals with qualifications or high-level skills to work in the US for two years.

Department of Homeland Security figures show a steady increase in Australians winning E3 visas. In 2017 some 5657 were issued, up from 3946 in 2013.

The original draft bill introduced by Mr Sensenbrenner earlier this year would have enabled Irish citizens to apply concurrently with Australians for the limited pool of E3s, which are capped by number.

This could have resulted in future waves of Australian workers missing out.

The unused quota of E3s has drawn attention to the fact that many professional and highly skilled Australians may not be taking advantage of the program, and are effectively missing out on a US jobs and wages boom.

Experts say there is considerable demand in the US for highly-qualified workers in advertising, social media, consultancies and financial services.

Future demand for Australian workers may intensify on a dramatic surge in defence industry investment between the two countries in coming years.

New York-based immigration lawyer Zjantelle Cammisa-Markel - originally from Adelaide - said she often encounters Australians working in the UK or Europe who are unaware of the opportunities provided by the E3 visa class.

She said the category - which requires an offer of work from a US employer - can be obtained in as little as two or three weeks, and doesn't have the disadvantage of a more traditional business work visa that is subject to a lottery.

Ms Cammisa-Markel said there is a growing list of examples of Australians on E3 visas who have established businesses in the US and are now employing American workers.

One example, she said, was fintech firm Stash, which was founded by three Australians in 2015, and now employs more than 220 locals.

"It was these key Australians that were able to use the E3," she said.

Another example is Bluestone Lane, a fast-growing chain of coffee shops, which now has over 600 American employees.

"E3s are for educated people who are bright, fresh and smart - a lot of the new fintech companies are Australian-founded, and they're hiring tonnes of Americans," she said in an interview.

She insisted that employers in the US are also becoming more familiar with the category.

"They've noticed a cultural difference in the way Australians work, and that has benefited the productivity of American workplaces."

For those who apply, success rates appear high.

In 2017, when 5657 E3 visas were issued, only 668 were denied, according to Homeland Security data.

Fees are also relatively low, set at $US460 ($637 per applicant), and the visas can be renewed an indefinite number of times.

The category came about because under the FTA negotiated by the Howard government, Australia granted Americans uncapped access to its business visa program.

Because visa numbers are capped by law in the US, Republicans offered a program with a limit of 15,000. Negotiations with Democrats at the time, saw that figure reduced to the current level.

By: Nicholaus Garcia of Play USA

At least one congressman is on board with the U.S. Department of Justice weighing in on sports betting in the post-PASPA era.

Last week, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) addressed a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosensteinasking the DOJfor guidance on how to proceed in the current sports betting landscape.

ENTERING THE POST-PASPA ERA

In September, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, which Sensenbrenner chairs, heard public testimony on sports betting.

Following the hearing, Sensenbrenner declared for Congress to do nothing was the worst possible choice.

In his letter to Rosenstein, Sensenbrenner has this to say:

“As you are well aware, until 2011, the federal government consistently interpreted the Wire Act to prohibit all forms of gambling involving interstate wire transmissions – including transmissions over the internet. Revising its own longstanding interpretation, the Office of Legal Counsel issued a legal opinion stating the Wire Act only bans sports betting and does not apply to online gambling.”

Read the full letter here.

It appears the congressman is looking for the DOJ to answer three specific questions:

  • Do you support the 2011 Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion that reinterpreted the Wire Act to permit online gambling?
  • What guidance, if any, is the Department of Justice providing to states that are entering the sports betting realm?
  • What issues do you foresee in sports betting, both legal and illegal, if Congress does not act in response to the Supreme Court’s PASPA decision?

OPTIONS FOR CONGRESS TO CONSIDER

Additionally, Sensenbrenner laid out three “viable options” Congress could consider:

  • Re-enact a federal ban on sports betting
  • Defer completely to states to regulate the activity
  • Adopt uniform federal standards

“After hearing from a panel of experts representing a broad range of positions related to sports betting, it is clear that Congress has work to do to ensure the public is protected, and any potential for exploitation by criminals is minimized in the post-PASPA era,” Sensenbrenner wrote.

It remains unknown what path Congress or the DOJ will take, but the conversation will continue. Next year, several states are looking to pass sports betting bills. The clock is ticking on federal oversight should it ever make an appearance.

“Because of the breath of issues involved in establishing a federal framework for sports wagering, and the number of interested parties, it will likely take Congress months, if not years, to develop and enact comprehensive legislation,” he wrote.

By: iGaming Business

A senior US politician has attempted to resurrect arguments in favour of restoring the Wire Act in a letter to US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, asked Rosenstein as to whether he believes the Wire Act, which effectively acted as a federal ban on iGaming still has legal weight.

His attempts to resurrect discussion over the act comes around seven years after the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) said that the 1961 legislation was not applicable to online gaming, in a response to queries from the New York Lottery and Illinois Governor's Office regarding online lottery sales. Recent developments in sports betting have come about despite the act still being on the statute book as legislation has been introduced at a intrastate level in states such as New Jersey.

In his letter to Rosenstein, Sensenbrenner brought up old arguments that gambling could be used to fund terrorism and said only federal oversight of sports betting would protect the public from unscrupulous operators.

Sensenbrenner told Rosenstein that evidence submitted convinced him that Congress must act to ensure “the public is protected, and any potential for exploitation by criminals is minimised in this post-PASPA era”.

Describing the option of deferring responsibility completely to the states and “do[ing] nothing” as the “worst option” for Congress, he said two alternatives were the re-enactment of the federal ban and the adoption of uniform standards across the country.

He wrote: “[Online] wagering… will allow for exploitation of internet gambling by criminal and terrorist organisations to obtain funds, launder money, and engage in identity theft and other cybercrimes.”

In the closing half of the letter Sensenbrenner asked Rosenstein a series of questions about the Wire Act – the legislation used to outlaw online gambling until the issuance of a reinterpretation by the Office of Legal Counsel in 2011.

He asked Rosenstein whether the DOJ supports the reinterpretation and whether the body was issuing guidance to states. He also asked Rosenstein if he foresees particular issues should Congress not react to the PASPA ruling.

“To protect the American public and limit the ability of nefarious organisations from exploiting internet gambling, I believe Congress will develop a legislative response to the issues created by the Supreme Court's decision striking clown PASPA,” he wrote. “Since Congress is examining the totality of sports betting in light of the Supreme Court's PASPA decision, it would be beneficial to have answers to the[se] questions.”

Sensenbrenner's comments echo those made through previous attempts to "restore" the Wire Act, including those made by North Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Utah's Jason Chaffetz. The campaign ultimately wants to disregard the OLC's 2011 ruling on the Wire Act in order to revert to a 2002 interpretation that was used by the Department of Justice to prosecute offshore gaming sites targeting US customers.

However, with the Department of Justice currently without a permanent Attorney General following the firing of Jeff Sessions by President Donald Trump earlier this month and seven states having launched sports betting, it seems unlikely that his request will lead to legislative changes.

Despite this other lawmakers have pushed for a federal regualtory framework, with US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put forward a proposal for nationwide regulations to cover the sector in August.

Aside from suggesting that sports wagering should only be open to those aged 21 and over and that sportsbooks should adopt responsible advertising policies and report suspicious betting activities, Schumer said that only official league data should be used – enabling the sports properties to benefit from a lucrative new revenue stream.

By: Jim Hall of Best US Casinos

Summary: Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner has called upon the United States Department of Justice to review the sports betting landscape on a federal level.

Since mid-May, sports betting has been booming in the United States due to the United States Supreme Court ruling that a federal ban against the activity was null and void. State after state has either started looking into legislation or already passed laws to allow the activity to take place.

While the past few months have been good for sports betting, it seems one representative of Wisconsin is not too happy and wants the Department of Justice to weigh in regarding potential oversight of the industry via the federal government.

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner sent a letter to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week, stating that the Department of Justice needs to provide a fresh perspective when it comes to laws involving sports betting, including the Wire Act.

The Rep has his hands in the fire so to speak as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. The Subcommittee recently took testimony on the subject of sports betting back in September.

When the hearing ended, as the chair, Sensenbrenner stated that intervention is necessary by Congress to harness the industry as it emerges.

The concerns of the representative involving sports betting include the striking down of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act along with the Wire Act and how it was reinterpreted. The Rep is not a fan of the changes and wants to see something done about it.

Sensenbrenner has voiced concern over terrorism, identify theft and money laundering in connection with sports betting. While there are issues with any industry, such problems have been shot down time and time again when brought up by those who are opposed to such gambling options.

By simply taking a look at New Jersey, the most successful state involved in online gaming and recently launched sports betting, it is clear to see the positive effects.

Just this past month, the state was able to record revenues via online gaming and an increase in wagers placed via sports betting operations. The state continues to do well and is a prime example as to how such gambling should be conducted in the US.

According to the letter, there are three possible solutions that Sensenbrenner thinks that the federal government should do involving sports betting. First, they could chose to re-enact a federal ban on the activity. I doubt this would happen because so many states have already passed legislation and are offering services.

Second, federal standards could be created for the industry, across the board, with each state having to follow to offer sports betting. This seems unlikely as well. Third, the Representative suggests that states will be deferred to regarding regulation of the gambling activity.

This seems the most likely in the scenarios. States have already been regulating their gambling industries for many years and do a good job of avoiding any illegal activity.

According to Sensenbrenner, the worse choice that Congress could make is to do nothing. However, he does feel that if any changes were to take place, it would be months or even years before legislation could be developed and enacted.

By: Tim Poole of Gambling Insider

US Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has written to the Department of Justice seeking clarification of its stance on sports betting.

Sensenbrenner, the Chairman for the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, has suggested Congress must act in some way following the Supreme Court's repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May.

In September, representatives at a House Judiciary Subcommittee sports betting hearing discussed sports betting legislation, with the Nevada Gaming Control Board and American Gaming Association testifying against the need for federal involvement.

However, writing in a public letter, Sensenbrenner has re-addressed the issue, although he stopped short of recommending federal oversight.

He wrote: "After hearing from a panel of experts representing a broad range of positions related to sports betting, it is clear Congress has work to do to ensure the public is protected, and any potential for exploitation by criminals is minimised in this post-PASPA era.

"To protect the American public and limit the ability of nefarious organisations from exploiting internet gambling, I believe Congress will develop a legislative response to the issues created by the Supreme Court’s decision striking down PASPA."

By: Tim Poole of Gambling Insider

US Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has written to the Department of Justice seeking clarification of its stance on sports betting.

Sensenbrenner, the Chairman for the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, has suggested Congress must act in some way following the Supreme Court's repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May.

In September, representatives at a House Judiciary Subcommittee sports betting hearing discussed sports betting legislation, with the Nevada Gaming Control Board and American Gaming Association testifying against the need for federal involvement.

However, writing in a public letter, Sensenbrenner has re-addressed the issue, although he stopped short of recommending federal oversight.

He wrote: "After hearing from a panel of experts representing a broad range of positions related to sports betting, it is clear Congress has work to do to ensure the public is protected, and any potential for exploitation by criminals is minimised in this post-PASPA era.

"To protect the American public and limit the ability of nefarious organisations from exploiting internet gambling, I believe Congress will develop a legislative response to the issues created by the Supreme Court’s decision striking down PASPA."

By: Matthew Knott of The Sydney Morning Herald

New York: Ireland is trying to muscle in on a special United States visa class that only Australians currently enjoy and which has limited numbers.

A bipartisan bill before the US Congress threatens to open access to the prized E3 visa class to Irish workers, a prospect that has sparked an intense lobbying campaign by Australia's ambassador to Washington, Joe Hockey, to block the move.

The legislation to expand the E3 visa scheme to Irish immigrants was introduced to the US House of Representatives at the end of October and is due for debate in coming weeks.

Many members of the US Congress have Irish ancestry, and are sympathetic to the idea of making it easier for Irish professionals to work in America.

But Australian officials have launched a diplomatic battle to preserve the exclusive right to the visa, fearing that opening up the scheme to the Irish would lead to a stampede of other countries seeking to gain access to its special provisions.

The E3, negotiated as part of the 2005 Australia-US free trade agreement, is the envy of countries around the world because of the privileged status it confers on Australian professional immigrants to the US.

Unlike other visas, it permits the spouses of Australian recipients to live and work in the US without restrictions and can be renewed indefinitely. It is significantly cheaper than other visas and allows Australians to bypass the pool of hundreds of thousands of other applicants competing for the right to work in America.

The E3 is more generous even than the special visas negotiated for Canadian and Mexican professionals under their free trade deal with the US.

Australia has access to 10,000 E3 visas per year. Around 5700 Australians are currently accessing the scheme and that number has been growing in recent years.

Irish officials say they want access to any visas that are not taken up by Australians – a position strongly opposed by Australian officials led by Mr Hockey.

Fairfax Media understands Australian officials have raised objections with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior figures in the Trump administration in recent weeks.

A source familiar with discussions said Mr Hockey had "gone nuts" about the prospect of Australia losing exclusive access to the E3 scheme.

"There has been a full-court press on this," the source said. "Australia has said, 'No way, we are not giving up what we are entitled to.'"

Mr Hockey declined to comment.

Sources close to the negotiations said other US members of Congress were already discussing the prospect of Indian and Korean citizens being given access to the scheme.

Australia has said that any immigration deal between the US and Ireland should not include the E3 visa, which was a pivotal part of free trade negotiations between the two countries.

There have been fears that, under the wording of the draft bill before Congress, Australians would be competing with Irish applicants for access to the visas rather than the Irish taking up any unused visas.

The Irish Times reported this week that the draft bill was being amended by the US Department of Homeland Security to address these concerns.

"Australia understandably wants clarity about the allocations within the E3," Ireland's special envoy to the US, John Deasy, told the newspaper.

"The Bill is being re-drafted to make it absolutely crystal clear that their visa uptake will never be impacted.

"We are only discussing the remainder of the visas not used by Australia.

"Hopefully this can be resolved very quickly."

The bill, introduced by Wisconsin Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, would require to unanimous consent of the Senate to pass.

“The United States was built on the hard work and determination of immigrants -many from Ireland - and the fruits of their labour has enabled this country to grow and prosper," Sensenbrenner said in 2015 when announcing his plans for the bill.

“I believe in the value and opportunity that comes with legal immigration, and I’m pleased to work on legislation that would make the process more efficient for one of our oldest allies, as well as add to the great legacy of cultural diversity celebrated in America.”