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Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) today sent a follow-up letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the Department of Justice’s interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The justification the administration uses for bulk collection could potentially support the bulk collection of other records, including financial records, records of firearms sales, and countless other commercial transactions.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “We know the NSA is collecting details of every American’s phone records.  The strained legal argument the Obama administration relies on for this authority would seem to justify the dragnet collection of other types of personal data as well.  What other records is the administration collecting in bulk on innocent Americans?

“While targets of terrorist investigations need to remain classified, programs used to collect such information should be up for public debate.

“Soon, I will be introducing the USA FREEDOM Act – comprehensive legislation to end the bulk collection of Americans’ communication records, protect companies who work with the government and increase the transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). This bipartisan, bicameral effort will be led by Ranking Member Conyers and me in the House and Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in the Senate.”

The House of Representatives today passed a continuing resolution (CR) with the support of Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). The short-term CR would expire December 15, 2013 and includes H.R. 2682, the Defund Obamacare Act.

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“The Republican-controlled House has made its stance against Obamacare perfectly clear. And today, the House again voted to defund Obamacare as part of the CR to keep the government running.  Now it is up to the Senate to do what the American people want and vote against the president’s abominable health care law.”

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) today introduced the Public Access to Public Science (PAPS) Act. This legislation would ensure public access to published materials concerning scientific research and development activities funded by federal science agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Weather Service (NWS). An embargo period is included to help balance publishers’ needs with public access goals. PAPS builds on efforts by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner: “It is past time to embrace a public access policy for scientific research. Currently, scholarly journals count on taxpayers footing the bill for research on the front end and access to the results on the back end. The federal government spends over $100 billion annually on research and development, but denies adequate access to the taxpayers who fund it. This bill would ensure Americans have access to the results of their investment.  Public access will also lead to less duplicative research, foster innovation, increase scientific breakthroughs and keep America on the cutting edge of science and technology. This is a pro-taxpayer, pro-science, pro-information sharing bill. And we’ve worked in conjunction with OSTP to ensure we are codifying the work they have done within the Science Committee’s Jurisdiction.”

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson: “I want to thank Mr. Sensenbrenner for his leadership on this issue.  I am delighted to join him in introducing this legislation.  Public access is an important topic across the scientific enterprise, and for budding scientists, start-up companies, garage inventors, and families everywhere.  Increased access and increased use of technology to enable and promote discovery across the corpus of scientific literature will advance the frontiers of science, medicine, and innovation across all sectors of our economy.  In 2009 and 2010, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee took a leadership role on public access, launching an open process that culminated in the 2013 OSTP guidance to all federal research agencies to develop public access plans.  In codifying OSTP’s guidance with this legislation, we strove to balance sometimes opposing concerns on the part of different stakeholder groups.  But as with any introduced bill, this remains a work in progress.  I look forward to continuing to work with Mr. Sensenbrenner and with all interested parties as we move forward.”   

Our rapidly increasing national debt continues to burden American families, businesses and our country’s future. This year, the federal government has spent almost $3.5 trillion – roughly $27 thousand per American household. And the national debt is quickly approaching its $17 trillion limit. While we don’t know exactly when the government will run out of money, we know it will happen sometime this fall. And once again, President Obama will ask for his credit limit to be extended.  

Washington is riddled with waste and excess that must be addressed, but entitlement programs are the primary drivers of our debt. And while they provide an important safety net for American families, they must be reformed so they are viable for future generations. Any debt ceiling increase must be tied to the restructuring of entitlements – including significant spending cuts, responsible reforms and putting an end to widespread fraud and abuse.

The government doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. And each time we borrow more money, it goes on the backs of our children and grandchildren who will be responsible for paying off the mountainous debt we are accruing. This is not just an economic problem, it’s a moral problem. We can’t keep spending money we don’t have. The time has come to cut up the credit cards, stop borrowing from China and live within our means. It’s our obligation to put America on a path towards fiscal sanity.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) sent a letter today to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of data and the Administration’s misinterpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

On Wednesday, Congressman Sensenbrenner and the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed separate amicus briefs in the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) lawsuit against administration officials.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) training manual specifically lists gun sales as records the FBI can obtain under Section 215, the so-called business records provision.  

Congressman Sensenbrenner:  “The flawed logic the Obama administration relied on to support bulk collection of Americans’ phone data would also support bulk collection of other personal data. Does the administration believe it has the authority to indiscriminately collect records of firearms sales?  

“The FBI, for example, could conclude that it is interested in firearms sales – not only in the type of firearms being purchased, but also in who is selling firearms to whom – thereby ascribing importance to the connections between the buyers and sellers.  These connections would make firearms sales indistinguishable from phone records under the administration’s analysis.

“The administration’s legal view of Section 215 could potentially support building a national gun registry despite Congress’s expressed disapproval and the Second Amendment. This view is beyond anything Congress ever intended and must be reined in.”