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Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal:

“I was extremely disappointed by President Obama’s budget proposal – a plan that does not offer America a path toward fiscal stability or self-reliance. Our economy is struggling and raising taxes by over a trillion dollars on hard-working families, increasing spending by $964 billion and adding $8.2 trillion to our debt is not the answer.  We simply cannot tax, spend and borrow our way to prosperity. A budget that never balances is irresponsible and is not the solution the American people are looking for. 

“I support the responsible proposal brought forth by Chairman Ryan and the House Budget Committee. Our plan balances in ten years and brings real solutions to the table to address waste and excess, making government more accountable and better stewards of taxpayer money. Washington must tackle the drivers of our debt and address the mountainous burden it is placing on future generations. This is not only an economic issue, but a moral one as well.” 

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT) introduced the Preserve the Charitable Contribution Deduction Act today which would help affirm our nation’s commitment to protecting charitable giving.

Since 1917, Congress has seen the value of incentivizing charitable giving through our tax code.  Diverse organizations such as hospitals, veterans’ organizations, religious institutions, universities, disaster relief services, museums and parks rely heavily on private donations. Proposals to limit charitable deductions have consistently been met with broad bi-partisan opposition because Americans appreciate the great significance of the philanthropic sector.  Non-profits and charities are the country’s first safety net and can play a critical role in lessening the load on financially-strapped government programs.  

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Non-profit and charitable organizations are deeply engrained in our social fiber. Looking out for our fellow man is part of the American way of life. Americans recognize the importance of the philanthropic sector. And in trying economic times, the importance of non-profits and charities only grows.  We should make clear that the deduction for charitable giving is a critical part of our tax code.”

Congressman Matheson: “The charitable deduction should be protected in order to maintain the important work that charities are undertaking across the country. Especially during this time of economic recovery, charities are providing a vital safety net. It is critical that we encourage and provide people with every opportunity to give back.”

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, 80 percent of Americans who itemize their deductions contribute to charity. Last year, the top three percent of taxpayers gave about 45 percent of the $180 billion in deductible charitable contributions.  Charitable deductions should be exempted from the Pease limits to emphasize their importance.  America is the global leader in giving – contributing more to charity than any other nation.  By excluding charitable deductions from the Pease rule, we affirm our country’s rich tradition of giving and reinforce our commitment to charity.

 

Today the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it is delaying until June 15 the closures of the 149 federal contract air traffic control towers.  Last month, the FAA announced the closures under the Contract Tower Program (CTP) blaming sequestration cuts.   In so doing, the Administration ignored the cost savings and increased safety benefits of the program and pushed to cut CTP by 75 percent even though the FAA budget is absorbing only a five percent cut.

“I hope the move by the FAA to delay the airport tower closures is a sign the Administration is listening to the serious concerns that I raised in a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood last week.  The FAA says it has safety as its top priority and pledges to ‘get this right.'  But, Contract Towers are safer and save taxpayer money.  Only by reconsidering this misguided decision will the FAA get it right.  Let’s hope with more time the FAA will give the matter more thoughtful consideration and focus on cutting bureaucratic waste rather than cutting programs that save taxpayer money.”

Congressman Sensenbrenner sent a letter today to Transportation Secretary LaHood to gain a better understanding of why the cost-effective Contract Tower Program (CTP) has been cut and what can be done to salvage the Contract Towers and the jobs of the workers who operate them.

“Washington is full of excess, waste and duplication. Our federal government is bloated and we must begin the tedious process of unburdening the American taxpayer from political inefficiency.  Reining in spending will stabilize our economy and put America on a path to fiscal stability and self-reliance. But we must do so carefully and responsibly. Across the board cuts are not the answer.

“When looked at next to comparable FAA-staffed towers, Contract Towers are considerably safer and less expensive. It is my goal to work with Secretary LaHood to pinpoint waste within the Department of Transportation (DOT) in order to reallocate funds to the Contract Tower Program. By doing so, I am confident that we can provide a sufficient operational budget for Contract Towers – saving jobs and ensuring flyer safety while still achieving the necessary savings required by sequestration.” 

 

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Record debt of over $16.4 trillion and consecutive trillion dollar deficits caused by out of control spending in Washington have forced Congress to make some difficult decisions – and many more will be needed to stabilize our economy. We must go after the drivers of our debt, get America back on track to fiscal sanity and prevent the burden of mountainous debt from being passed down to future generations. This must be done carefully, ensuring the American people do not fall victim to political recklessness and recovery is not prolonged.

Government is riddled with duplicative programs, waste and excess. The sequester was a last ditch effort to turn the corner and get America on the right track. But I believe across the board cuts are not the answer. We must look at Washington spending through a microscope, systematically and responsibly shrinking the size and scope of our federal government – taking American taxpayers off the hook.

Rather than the scalpel approach I would prefer, the Obama Administration and the Democrat-led Senate would rather blindly swing their hatchets, dangerously hack away and then spike the football before returning to their offices to draft up the next piece of tax-and-spend legislation. As a result, efficient programs we rely on for safety, employment and our overall livelihoods are being threatened.

Sequestration went into effect March 1st and triggered a 5.3 percent cut in non-defense discretionary spending for federal agencies for fiscal year 2013. For the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), this means $633 million in reduced funds. And while there is a plethora of waste in federal agencies, the Contract Tower Program (CTP), one of the FAA’s most cost-effective programs, is being cut by a disproportionate 75 percent.  Contract Towers are safer than comparable FAA-staffed towers, and cost an average of $1.5 million less per year. Closing these towers will also jeopardize efficiency and kill jobs.

As part of the FAA’s sequester implementation plan, 149 Federal Contract Towers will be shut down, including all eight in Wisconsin.  Closures will begin April 7 and will be phased over four weeks – the tower in Waukesha is scheduled to shutdown May 5.

“We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration.”

Considering the overwhelming amount of waste, fraud and abuse throughout our federal government, the “choice” to ill-advisedly shutdown these towers is simply unacceptable.

On March 14, several of my colleagues and I sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta questioning these closures despite considerable wasteful spending at FAA and we are currently awaiting his response.

Today, I sent a letter to Secretary LaHood inquiring, among other things:

  • Given his previous support for allowing flexibility with Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants– such as funds being funneled to remote airports while Federal Contract Towers around the country are being shut down – would he support legislation to authorize AIP funds to be used for Contract Tower operations?
  • Which parties did he hear from during the limited comment period that ended on March 13, 2013?
  • Were any of the parties who contacted the Department of Transportation (DOT) supportive of his decision to cut the CTP? And if so, which ones?
  • It has been reported that the FAA may close federally-staffed towers, pending negotiations with FAA labor unions about the manner in which sequestration cuts will be implemented.  Did the FAA offer to negotiate with the contractors who operate the Contract Towers?
  • Will the FAA hire additional staff at federally-staffed towers should larger airports see increased air traffic due to tower closures at smaller airports?

Please know that I will keep you informed regarding this ongoing situation, as it is my responsibility to represent our community and protect it from recklessness in Washington. I will not stand idle while the safety and livelihoods of Wisconsinites are put in jeopardy by this Administration.

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Congressman Sensenbrenner’s (R-WI) response to the FAA’s announcement to move forward with the closure of Contract Towers as part of sequestration cuts: 

“I am concerned about the FAA’s announcement that 149 federal Contract Towers will be shut down as a result of sequestration, including all eight in Wisconsin.  There are fewer safety incidents at Contract Towers than at comparable FAA-staffed towers, and Contract Towers cost an average of $1.5 million less per year. The FAA budget is being cut by five percent, while the FAA is cutting contract towers by 75 percent. 

“The bottom line is Contract Towers are safer and save money.  The FAA must reevaluate its decision, and the White House must put an end to its political charade. On March 14, several of my colleagues and I sent a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta questioning these closures despite considerable wasteful spending at FAA.  I intend to send a follow-up letter inquiring how much taxpayer money is being spent on the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, which funnels money to remote airports, like the one in Saipan, while towers around the country are being shut down.  I also intend to investigate the role public unions played in this decision.”
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) made the following remarks after voting in support of House Republicans' Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution, which was passed by the House of Representatives today. 

“Today, by voting in favor of a responsible budget, House Republicans have again shown our eagerness to change course and put America’s economy back on track. Chairman Ryan and the members of the House Budget Committee have constructed a blueprint to balance the budget in 10 years, putting an end to annual trillion dollar deficits while protecting programs Americans depend on and addressing our broken tax code. 

“Our national debt is over $16.4 trillion and growing. It is not only an economic issue, but a moral one that endangers our national security and threatens the prosperity of future generations.  The bottom line is Washington cannot continue to spend more money than it brings in. And the Republican budget is a step in the right direction.”

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