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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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This afternoon, Congressman Sensenbrenner (R-WI) clarified remarks he made during the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee’s hearing on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, also known as ECPA. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I have long opposed data retention and do not believe that any ECPA reform package should include such a mandate.  Data ‘retention’ requires a provider to retain information about the Internet use of all of its customers.  A data retention mandate raises privacy concerns because it affects all users, not just bad actors.

 “By contrast, I support a far more targeted approach, data preservation, which is already found in current law.  The law requires providers to preserve data about the Internet use of a particular subscriber when law enforcement has evidence of wrongdoing.  Current law allows for a retention period of 90 days, renewable for an additional 90-days.  At today’s hearing, I was inquiring as to whether extending this 180 preservation requirement would be useful to law enforcement.  I still believe that the more cumbersome proposals for data retention belong ‘in the dustbin of history.’”
Today, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced House Republicans’ fiscal year 2014 budget resolution.  As he has in the past, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) supports Congressman Ryan and the House Budget Committee in their attempt to rein in out-of-control spending and balance the budget.  

“Congress has an obligation to put an end to wasteful spending, fix our broken tax code and protect Medicare and other programs Americans rely on. I support the Republican Budget because it is a responsible plan to get our economy back on track while protecting seniors and repairing safety nets for the poor without raising taxes.  It creates a climate in which the private sector can thrive and create jobs, generates stability and protects the American Dream for future generations.  

“The proposal by House Republicans balances our budget in 10 years – something the Senate’s plan never does. And while the White House has not yet released its budget, I expect to see nothing but more tax hikes and trillion dollar deficits from the Obama Administration.” 

View the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution here.  
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Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) today reintroduced the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act (bill text) to allow religious institutions and private employers with sincerely held religious beliefs to follow the core tenets of their faith, rather than bow to a government mandate that violates their rights of conscience.

“America was founded by strong-willed individuals seeking religious freedom.  These freedoms laid the groundwork for what is now the greatest nation in the history of the world.  But certain provisions in ObamaCare allow the federal government to infringe upon this fundamental American right – forcing religious institutions and private businesses to choose between violating their faith-based values or facing substantial financial consequences.  Employers with hundreds of employees could face millions of dollars in fines annually.  Religious institutions such as parochial schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, and universities, as well as businesses with moral convictions, may have no choice but to violate their consciences or close their doors, unable to afford the staggering confiscatory taxes laid out in ObamaCare.

“Therefore, I am reintroducing legislation that protects our liberties from the federal government’s attack on religious freedom in America.  In a time when many businesses are already struggling to stay afloat and millions of Americans cannot find work, it is reprehensible for the federal government to punish religious institutions and employers who are creating jobs and contributing to our recovery.”

The Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act of 2013 would exempt employers from penalties, excise taxes, and certain suits that would be instituted against an employer if they fail to provide coverage in their group health plan currently mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that offends their religious or moral convictions.

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Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced H.R. 875, which would require the EPA to stop the use of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) until its harmful effects are investigated further. 

H.R. 875 (text here) would repeal the EPA’s waiver decision approving the use of E15 and the authority of the agency to grant further decisions until the EPA seeks an independent scientific analysis of the effects of the E15 blend.
 
“There have been several tests and warnings highlighting E15’s harmful effects on engines and their components, but they have all been dismissed by the EPA.  Therefore, we must force the EPA to stop the use of E15 fuel until the serious safety, durability, performance and environmental concerns have been addressed. Throughout the 112th Congress, I introduced several bills to address the risks associated with E15. And earlier this week, witnesses from AAA, the American Motorcycle Association, and the Coordinating Research Council all testified to the Science, Space and Technology Committee that more testing is needed. We have a responsibility to ensure that Americans using gas-powered machinery – whether it be cars and boats or chainsaws and lawnmowers – are not put at risk due to faulty fuel that has not been adequately vetted.”
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EPA's fuel folly

February 24, 2013



By Representative Sensenbrenner

February 24, 2013


What has been termed the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Phantom Fuel Requirement” is an aptly named rule that epitomizes the mind-set of an agency that has put itself above the law. Hiding behind complexity and its self-assigned moral authority, EPA increasingly subjugates the views of the public, Congress and the courts to its own policy determinations.

In 2005 and 2007, Congress twice amended the Clean Air Act to establish a renewable fuel standard. Under the RFS, Congress required that our fuel supply contain increasing amounts of renewable fuels.

The Phantom Fuel Requirement relates specifically to a mandate within the RFS to use cellulosic biofuels. Under the mandate, refiners, blenders and importers must purchase the prescribed amount of cellulosic biofuels or pay a fine.

The RFS established ambitious goals for cellulosic biofuels but charged EPA with reducing the requirement if production was in fact lower than the mandate.

The intent was for EPA to reduce the required level of cellulosic biofuels to the amount that was actually likely to be produced. Congress wanted to avoid penalizing refiners for failing to buy fuel that did not exist.

The RFS greatly overestimated the industry’s ability to produce cellulosic biofuels. As a result, EPA has had to reduce the required level every year since the mandate took effect.

In 2010, the first year of the mandate, EPA projected that 5 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels would be available. In fact, there were none. In 2011, EPA increased the mandate to 6.5 million gallons. Again, the actual amount available was zero. Undeterred, in 2012, EPA increased the required amount to 8.5 million gallons. The actual available amount was 25,000 gallons.

Since it is impossible to comply with the mandate to use this phantom fuel, EPA is effectively taxing the industry. This tax is passed to consumers in the form of higher gas prices.

EPA’s overestimates are part of an intentional strategy. On July 19, 2012, I wrote to EPA and argued that the agency had “usurped Congress’ policymaking authority in order to satisfy its own goals.” In its response, EPA wrote, “the standard that we set helps drive the production of volumes that will be made available.”

The statement is a concession that EPA was setting volumes above required levels in order to drive more production. Whether you agree with EPA’s goal or not, this position is at odds with the express mandate of Congress.

In the same response, EPA wrote, “Congress did not specify what degree of certainty should be reflected in the projections.” This latter response is reminiscent of a petulant child who, asked to clean his room, responds, “You didn’t say when I had to do it.”

On Jan. 25, 2013, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that EPA had overreached. The court held that the cellulosic biofuels legislation calls for “a prediction of what will actually happen.” The court further chastised the agency: “The EPA points to no instance in which the term ‘projected’ is used to allow the projector to let its aspiration for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology.”

EPA, however, appears to have no more regard for the courts than it does for Congress. The agency responded to the court’s concerns by nearly doubling its 2013 mandate from 8.5 million gallons to 14 million gallons. EPA outright snubbed the court for its clear rebuke. Paying lip service to the ruling, the agency’s regulatory announcement stated the amount was “a reasonable representation of expected production.” One wonders: What “degree of certainty” does the agency have?

From all the data currently available, the 2012 requirement will again wildly overestimate the available amount of cellulosic biofuel. Taxpayers will very likely pay for EPA’s agenda twice: at gas pumps in the form of higher prices and in tax dollars when EPA is again sued for abuse of discretion.

It is past time for Congress to recognize the RFS as a failed experiment. Until it does so, I have introduced legislation that would link the mandated amount of fuel to the actual level of production the previous year. Allowing EPA to exercise its own discretion has also unfortunately proven a failed approach.

View online: here