Jim Sensenbrenner

Jim Sensenbrenner

WISCONSIN's 5th DISTRICT

Sensenbrenner Chairs Hearing on ISIL in America

2015/02/26

The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations today held a hearing on “ISIL in America: Domestic Terror and Radicalization.” Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) gave the following opening statement:

Today’s hearing will examine the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL and the domestic terrorism threats posed by these terrorists.  Although ISIL seems to have reared its head only in the last eighteen months, a closer look quickly reveals ISIL to be an old foe, one with whom the United States has done battle for more than a decade.

Before the group declared itself a global caliphate and adopted its current name, it was merely The Islamic State of Iraq.  During the Iraq War, members of this same group were among the most prolific perpetrators of attacks on American troops and our partners in Iraq.  

The procession of name changes, however, has made no difference in ISIL’s commitment to harm Americans.  Earlier this month we were all reminded of this as we learned of Kayla Mueller’s [Mew-ller] death after eighteen months in ISIL captivity.  The 26-year old from Prescott, Arizona, traveled to Syria with Doctors Without Borders to help alleviate the suffering wrought there by Islamic Extremism.
 
Distance does not make us in the United States immune from ISIL’s destructive ideology.  From far beyond the battlefields of Syria and Iraq comes funding and support for this group’s call to arms against the West.  And the domestic threat is not limited to New York City or our nation’s capital.  

Two weeks ago in St. Louis, Missouri, five Bosnians were charged with providing material support to ISIL.  The suspects allegedly provided weapons, military uniforms and equipment, and money to a sixth Bosnian who left the United States in 2013 to join ISIL in Syria.  Alarmingly, all six individuals are natives of Bosnia who immigrated to the United States.  Three are now naturalized citizens of the United States and the remaining three have either refugee or legal resident status.

But the threats posed by ISIL’s hateful ideology are not purely external.  Inciting Americans to join their ranks or ally themselves with ISIL’s mission is a pivotal component of their campaign of violence against America.  

Last month, a Cincinnati man named Christopher Lee Cornell was arrested at a gun shop purchasing multiple weapons he is alleged to have been collecting for an attack here in Washington, D.C. Mr. Cornell had become an adherent of radical Islam on the Internet.  Having adopted the Jihadi worldview, he aimed to gun down members of Congress and government employees for the glory of ISIL, a terrorist group on the other side of the world with whom he had no connection except devotion to the same perverted Islamist ideology.  As FBI Director Comey has pointed out, these are not isolated incidents.  ISIL connections are being investigated in virtually every part of the United States.

But on the heels of the St. Louis and Cincinnati arrests – and just days after ISIL released a video depicting the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya – President Obama convened a summit on “Countering Violent Extremism.”  A summit that failed to include FBI Director James Comey and refused to acknowledge that ISIL and other terrorist organizations are motivated by radical Islam.  

As one commentator noted, this summit was “strangely sympathetic to Islamist sensibilities and grievances at the very time when rampaging jihadists, while quoting Islamic scripture, are barbarically slaughtering their enemies and conducting a pogrom against Christians.”  

The President’s unwillingness to acknowledge the true motives of these terrorists only emboldens their campaign of terror and makes Americans less safe.  Meanwhile, ISIL continues its march across western Iraq and continues to spew its propaganda of hatred and murder across the globe.  Just yesterday, three New York City residents -- two from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan – were arrested for plotting to travel to Syria to join ISIL and “wage jihad.”  According to the criminal complaint, one of these men stated he would kill President Obama if he had the opportunity to do so.  

The witnesses joining us today will hopefully shed light on the escalating domestic terror threat posed by ISIL and those who would ally themselves with Islamic extremism.  Read More

Demanding More from the IRS

2015/02/17

Once again tax season is upon us and millions of Americans are preparing to file their federal taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This year, however, the process is proving more taxing than usual.

Explicitly stated in its mission statement, the purpose of the IRS is to “provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities.” But in January, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen announced that filers can expect delayed refunds, fewer audits and limited assistance for the 2015 tax cycle. Rather than live up to its mission, the agency has set up roadblocks and made it more difficult for Americans to perform their civic duty.

From unprecedented hold times on help hotlines to restricted access to filing instructions and forms, I have heard from dozens of you in the Fifth District on how these changes are inhibiting your ability to fulfill your tax filing requirements. Of great concern is the fact that these restrictions disproportionately affect those without the means to file electronically or the resources to use a professional filing service. And when those who are adversely impacted do their due diligence and call for assistance, they cannot even get through to an agency representative for help.

While agency officials have politicized the problem by blaming budget cuts and claiming they are left to “do less with less,” the hardworking Americans who comply with their tax responsibilities each year deserve more than a blame-game. With our national debt surpassing $18 trillion, budget cuts are unpopular but necessary adjustments that challenge agencies to do more with less for the good of the country.

Three weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Commissioner Koskinen demanding answers on what the agency will do to address these problems and eagerly await a response. Additionally, I have met with local taxpayer advocates and contacted libraries in the Fifth District to discuss viable solutions for our constituents. I will continue to insist that the IRS do its job and do right by the American people. Read More

Sensenbrenner Reintroduces Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

2015/02/12

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) today reintroduced the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which provides for a robust response to the twin epidemics of opioid and heroin addiction that includes prevention, law enforcement strategies and the expansion of evidence-based treatment. CARA is the first piece of legislation introduced as part of Congressman Sensenbrenner’s over-criminalization package.

Original cosponsors of CARA are Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), David Joyce (R-Ohio), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner: “Too many Americans are falling into the addiction trap. It must be addressed effectively and expeditiously. With this legislation, we have an opportunity to build on proven methods that enable law enforcement to respond to this epidemic and support long-term recovery.”

Congressman Tim Ryan: “As Co-Chair of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, I understand the damage substance abuse inflicts upon the nation. In my state of Ohio, fatal drug overdoses have been the leading cause of accidental death since 2007. Heroin and opiate addiction is destroying lives, disrupting families and destabilizing communities – it is imperative that we begin to stem this tide. The provisions in this legislation are proven to work and I call on Congress to act now and pass this important legislation.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

CARA is supported by more than 90 organizations, including the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), Faces and Voices of Recovery, the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, among others.

 

Read More

Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations Hearing on “Civil Asset Forfeiture”

2015/02/11

The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations today held a hearing on “Civil Asset Forfeiture.” Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) provided the following opening statement:

It’s hard to believe this can happen in America.  The government is seizing billions of dollars of cash and property from Americans often without charging them with a crime.

With origins in medieval law, civil asset forfeiture is premised on the legal fiction that inanimate objects bear moral culpability when used for wrongdoing.  The practice regained prominence as a weapon in the modern drug war as law enforcement sought to disrupt criminal organizations by seizing the cash that sustains them. The practice, however, has proven a far greater affront to civil rights than it has a weapon against crime. 

While forfeitures have received increased attention in recent months, they are still poorly understood.  During her recent confirmation hearing, Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, testified that civil asset forfeiture is “done pursuant to supervision by a court, it is done pursuant to a court order, and I believe the protections are there.”

As a United States Attorney, Lynch was known for her aggressive use of forfeiture provisions.  She was, however, wrong when she testified that forfeiture is “done pursuant to supervision by a court,” and wrong again when she said it was “done pursuant to a court order.”  One wonders if she would still believe the protections were “there” if she properly understood how they worked.

After property is seized, its owner will usually have the option of challenging the seizure judicially, with the federal court system, or administratively, with the seizing agency itself.  Seizures that are not challenged within 30 days of receiving notice are automatically forfeited. A majority of federal civil forfeitures are never contested, largely because of the high cost of retaining counsel, which often exceeds the value of the property itself.

Because of the expense and complexity of the federal court system and the short timeframe, most owners who contest forfeitures do so administratively.  Thus, contrary to Ms. Lynch’s testimony, only a small percentage of federal civil forfeitures have any involvement or supervision of a court or judge. 

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about whether these administrative processes provide property owners with sufficient protections.

Better-documented has been the Justice Department’s use of adoption, which occurs when a federal agency adopts a seizure from state or local law enforcement and proceeds with federal forfeiture. Under the equitable sharing program, DOJ returns up to 80 percent of forfeited money to the state agencies. 

Federal adoption allows police to ignore restrictions in state law by working with the federal government.  A 2011 study found that police were in fact more likely to rely on federal equitable sharing in states where the law made forfeitures more difficult or less rewarding. This presents a profound federalism problem and opens law enforcement agencies to allegations that they are policing for profit.
           
After 5 O’clock last night—at the last minute before today's hearing—DOJ sent new guidance on the revised adoption policies it issued last month. I look forward to learning more about the impact of these revised adoption guidelines. 

Just last month we learned that the DEA, through their cold consent searches, may have improperly searched citizens’ belongings at transportation hubs throughout the country.  During these searches, DEA seized cash based merely on the suspicion that a large quantity of cash was indicative of illegal activity.

To make matters worse, according to the DOJ Inspector General, DEA did not always provide adequate information to those who had their cash seized. At times, people did not even know which agency had seized their money, making contesting the seizure extremely difficult. 
           
Our Founders understood the virtues of limited government.  The right to own property is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution:  “[No person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. . .”  Current forfeiture provisions mock the spirit and meaning of that passage and create serious issues under several other Constitutional provisions. 

It’s no wonder my former colleague Henry Hyde described civil asset forfeiture as an “unrelenting government assault on property rights, fueled by a dangerous and emotional vigilante mentality that sanctions shredding the U.S. Constitution into meaningless confetti.”

Hyde led an effort that culminated in passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, known as CAFRA.  It was a noble effort, but it plainly fell short.  In advancing CAFRA, Hyde noted that in 1993 DOJ forfeited $556 million.  Post-CAFRA, in 2012, DOJ seized $4 billion dollars. 

Forfeitures only defenders seem to be its beneficiaries—law enforcement agencies entitled to keep the proceeds of their seizures—a conflict of interest so stark it takes us to another age.  Adequate forfeiture reform is long overdue. 

To be clear, the failure is not on law enforcement, who risk their lives to enforce the laws we write. Congress has failed to craft adequate laws, and DOJ has failed to implement sufficient policies.  The failure is ours, and I hope DOJ will work with us to fix it.   

As a former-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I am fully aware of how broken our criminal justice system is. I spent the last year leading a task force on over-criminalization. Our jails are over-crowded, our criminal code is convoluted and federal regulations are outdated and cumbersome.

William Blackstone wrote, “[H]owever convenient these may appear at first, (and doubtless all arbitrary powers, well executed, are the most convenient), yet let it be again remembered, that delays, and little inconveniences in the forms of justice, are the price all free nations must pay for their liberty in more substantial matters.”

It is passed time to pass comprehensive legislation to reform forfeiture laws.

Read More

DOJ Forfeiture Programs Targeted as 'Affront to Civil Rights'

2015/02/11

By Todd Ruger, CQ Roll Call

The Justice Department defended civil asset forfeiture programs Wednesday, as lawmakers and legal experts described them as sorely in need of another legislative overhaul.

The forfeiture law sparked controversy after media reports that law enforcement has seized money or property without warrants or indictments, in what appears to be policing for profit, lawmakers said at the hearing. Many people don’t contest the seizures because of the complexity and cost, so many of the most abusive cases are handled administratively and are never seen by a judge.

“It’s hard to believe this can happen in America,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. “The practice has proven a far greater affront to civil rights than it has been as a weapon against crime.”

Sensenbrenner said a previous effort to overhaul civil forfeiture programs in 2000 (PL 106-185) clearly fell short of its goal, since Justice Department forfeitures increased from $556 million in 1993 to $4 billion in 2012.

“Forfeiture’s only defenders seem to be its beneficiaries, law enforcement agencies entitled to keep the proceeds of their seizures, a conflict of interest so stark that it takes us to another stage,” Sensenbrenner said. “Adequate forfeiture reform is overdue.”

Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., said he would work with Republicans on an overhaul bill this year, and that “it has become increasingly apparent that the procedures are inadequate from the aspect of fundamental fairness.”

Lawmakers floated overhaul provisions during the hearing. Those included ending civil asset forfeiture outright, or at least moving the seized funds to a general fund instead of returning them to the agency that seized them.

Kenneth Blanco, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, told the subcommittee that civil asset forfeitures are an important part of fighting crime. Civil forfeiture is the only means by which the government can pursue some cases, such as those of terrorists, fugitives and deceased defendants, and the department has returned billions of dollars to victims, Blanco said.

“By taking criminally-tainted assets out of circulation and off the streets, we intend to break the financial backbone of organized criminal syndicates, terrorists, fraudsters, drug cartels, and use these assets to compensate victims and deter crime,” Blanco said.

Blanco also described the procedural structure around civil asset forfeitures, trying to dispel some myths about the programs.

Late Tuesday, the Justice Department issued more guidance on a new policy, announced in January, to curb the use of a controversial type of civil asset forfeiture.

The new policy ends the practice that allowed state and local police to seize vehicles, valuables, cash and other monetary instruments, and then share the proceeds with federal agencies that “adopt” the seizures.

Read More

Reps. Sensenbrenner and Conyers Lead Bipartisan Reintroduction of Legislation to Restore the Voting Rights Act

2015/02/11

Today, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) reintroduced the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015.  The legislation aims to uphold the most vital principles of the historic law, which was first enacted 50 years ago.

Reps. Conyers and Sensenbrenner reintroduced the legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision which struck down Section 4b, the core provision in the Voting Rights Act that determines how states are covered under Section 5 of the Act (which requires federal preclearance of voting changes by covered jurisdictions to protect against discriminatory voting measures).  The bill updates the coverage formula by making all states and jurisdictions eligible for coverage formula based on voting violations in the last 15 years. 

“The Voting Rights Act was designed to eliminate evolving legal barriers to the voting booth and to give minority voters an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.  The Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the Section 4b formula for coverage under Section 5 is a critical blow to its future relevancy and will make it more difficult to challenge existing barriers” said Rep. Conyers, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus who cosponsored the original Voting Rights Act in 1965.  “I have witnessed firsthand the stain that discrimination has placed on our democracy.  Though the Shelby County v. Holder decision struck at the heart of the Act, today, it is with much pride that my colleagues and I are reintroducing a renewed Voting Rights Amendment Act to reaffirm our constitutional commitment to protecting the right to vote.”

“The VRA is one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation ever passed.  Combating both discrimination and fraud is essential to ensuring Americans’ right to vote is protected.  Our legitimacy as elected officials relies on the integrity of the ballot box.  I urge my colleagues to support the VRAA because it is vital to our commitment to never again allow racial prejudices in the electoral process,” said Rep. Sensenbrenner.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in August of 1965, and it has been reauthorized four times since.  President George W. Bush signed the most recent reauthorization into law in 2006, after the House voted 390-33 and the Senate 98-0 in favor of the legislation.

An outline of the legislation can be found here, and text of legislation can be found here.

Key provisions in the bill include:

• Through a coverage provision based on current conditions, the bill establishes a rolling nationwide trigger that covers states or jurisdictions that have a persistent record of recent voting rights violations over the last 15 years.

• Allows our federal courts to bail-in the worst actors for preclearance.  The current law permits states or jurisdictions to be bailed in for intentional violations, but the new legislation amends the Act to allow states or jurisdictions to be bailed in for results-based violations.

• Greater transparency in elections so that voters are made aware of changes.  The additional sunlight will deter discrimination from occurring and protect voters from discrimination.

• Allows for preliminary relief to be obtained more readily, given that voting rights cannot often be vindicated after an election is already over.

Additional original co-sponsors of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015 include: Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Charles Dent (R-PA), Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), John Lewis (D-GA), Christopher Gibson (R-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY),  Bobby Scott (D-VA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee ( D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN),  Hank Johnson (D -GA), Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR),  Judy Chu (D-CA), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Karen Bass (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Scott Peters (D-CA).

Read More

Congress must reform outdated and unfair civil forfeiture laws

2015/02/10

By Jim Sensenbrenner

​Published on February 10, 2015


It's hard to believe this can happen in America. The government is seizing billions of dollars of cash and property from Americans, often without charging them with a crime. Worse, the law enforcement agencies that seize the cash are usually entitled to keep it.

If these individuals were found guilty of crimes and this money was its fruit, my only response would be applause. But forfeitures need not be predicated on crimes.

Recent reports highlighted the story of Mandrel Stuart, who was pulled over because he had tinted windows and a TV in his line-of-sight. Stuart owned a barbecue joint — the Smoking Roosters — and was carrying cash for supplies. Police seized $17,550 in cash, but never filed charges.

After a lengthy process, Stuart's money was returned, and a court ordered the government to pay his $11,825.40 in legal fees. And while this is the exception, not the rule, it still came at a cost. Stuart lost his business, and taxpayers footed the bill.

With origins in medieval law, civil asset forfeiture is premised on the legal fiction that inanimate objects bear moral culpability when used for wrongdoing. The practice regained prominence as a weapon in the modern drug wars as law enforcement sought to disrupt criminal organizations by seizing the cash that sustains them. It has, however, proven a greater affront to civil rights than it has a weapon against crime.

Our justice system makes it too easy for law enforcement to seize and ultimately forfeit property and too hard for innocent owners to get it back. And it gives law enforcement a direct financial incentive to exploit these weak procedures.

Last month, Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) and U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and I sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder to express our "concerns that the government is not using the process fairly and instead is infringing on the rights of small business owners and motorists," and that "seizures might circumvent state forfeiture law restrictions, create improper incentives on the part of state and local law enforcement, and unnecessarily burden our federal authorities." We encouraged the attorney general "to consider discontinuing 'adoptive seizures' and 'equitable sharing'" and "implement additional procedural safeguards."

In response, Holder took an important first step, and suspended federal adoption of state and local seizures. Federal adoption allowed police to ignore restrictions in state law by working with the federal government. Under the equitable sharing program, DOJ returned up to 80% of forfeited money to the state agencies. A 2011 study found that police were, in fact, more likely to rely on federal equitable sharing in states where the law made forfeitures more difficult or less rewarding.

While the announcement by Holder is commendable, there are notable loopholes.

The new policy does not apply to joint task forces, which could exempt a large number of seizures.

It also doesn't curtail "seizures pursuant to federal seizure warrants," so law enforcement can avoid the policy by convincing a judge to issue a seizure warrant. The policy is therefore only as robust as the judges who review the seizures demand.

DOJ's new policy will result in fewer unfair forfeitures. How many fewer? We'll have to wait and see, but the problem is far from solved. Congress must enact permanent, comprehensive forfeiture reform to protect property rights.

The Founders understood the virtues of limited government. The right to own property is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution: "(No person shall) be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law."

Current forfeiture provisions mock the spirit and meaning of that passage and create serious issues under several other Constitutional provisions. It's no wonder my former colleague Henry Hyde described civil asset forfeiture as an "unrelenting government assault on property rights, fueled by a dangerous and emotional vigilante mentality that sanctions shredding the U.S. Constitution into meaningless confetti."

Hyde led an effort that culminated in passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act. It was a noble effort, but it plainly fell short. In advancing CAFRA, Hyde noted that in 1993 the Department of Justice forfeited $556 million and U.S. customs had seized property valued in excess of $611 million. Post-CAFRA, in 2012, DOJ alone seized $4 billion.

Forfeiture's only defenders seem to be its beneficiaries — law enforcement agencies entitled to keep the proceeds of their seizures — a conflict of interest so stark it takes us to another age. Adequate forfeiture reform is long overdue.

To be clear, the failure is not on our police who bravely enforce the laws we write. Congress has failed to craft adequate laws, and DOJ has failed to implement policies that fully protect Constitutional rights.

As a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I am fully aware of how broken our criminal justice system is. I spent the last year leading a task force on over-criminalization. Our jails are over-crowded, our criminal code is convoluted and federal regulations are outdated and cumbersome. I intend to introduce a package of legislation to address these and other concerns. Reforming our forfeiture laws will be a chief priority.

The Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations Subcommittee, which I chair, is holding its first hearing on asset forfeiture this week to determine what reforms will best prevent abuse.

I have no illusions about how difficult a fight this will be, but our Constitutional rights are worth fighting for.

 

Read More

Sensenbrenner, Massie & Lofgren Introduce Secure Data Act

2015/02/04

Bipartisan lawmakers today reintroduced the Secure Data Act to protect Americans’ privacy and data security by prohibiting surveillance agencies from requiring or compelling surveillance “backdoors” in products and services.
 
A similar amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act last year passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 293-123 vote. This amendment was not included in the CRomnibus.
 
U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R- Wis.), Thomas Massie (R- Ky.), and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), sponsors of the Secure Data Act of 2015, issued the following statement:
 
“Congress has allowed the Administration’s surveillance authorities to go unchecked by failing to enact adequate reform. Last Congress, the Massie-Sensenbrenner-Lofgren amendment garnered support from an overwhelming bi-partisan majority in the House as a provision to the Defense Appropriations bill, but unfortunately, was not included in the CRomnibus. With threats to our homeland ever prevalent, we should not tie the hands of the intelligence community.  But unwarranted, backdoor surveillance is indefensible. The Secure Data Act is an important step in rebuilding public trust in our intelligence agencies and striking the appropriate balance between national security and civil liberty.”
 
It has been widely reported that US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have requested or required individuals and organizations build a “backdoor” into their product or service to assist in unwarranted electronic surveillance.
 
However, on more than one occurrence, major security flaws have been found in these “backdoors” that put the data security of every person and business using the internet at risk. For example, a software testing firm found serious backdoor vulnerabilities in wiretapping software for law enforcement made by Israeli software firm NICE Systems in 2013 that allowed hackers to completely compromise their system and listen to intercepted phone calls. If a backdoor is created for law enforcement and intelligence surveillance, past experience has shown it’s only a matter of time before hackers exploit it too.
 
These "backdoors" can also be detrimental to American jobs. Other countries buy less American hardware and software and favor their domestic suppliers in order to avoid compromised American products.
 
The Secure Data Act fixes this by prohibiting any agency from requesting or compelling backdoors in services and products to assist with electronic surveillance.
Read More

Sensenbrenner to IRS: Do Your Job

2015/01/29

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) sent the following letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen in response to complaints from a large number of constituents struggling to file their taxes as a result of shortcomings by the IRS.

Dear Commissioner Koskinen:

I am writing about an important matter that has been brought to my attention by taxpayers in the 5th District.

Recently, I have heard from my constituents that are having difficulties upholding their civic duty to pay their federal taxes.  The problem they have identified stems from an apparent recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) policy change to no longer supply hard copies of IRS forms and instructions in a reasonable way.  If a taxpayer does not have internet access, and therefore will file a paper return, the taxpayer must call a toll free number to request that the form(s) be sent via US Postal Service; or, must visit a local library to access the IRS website, download and print the form (numbers of print copies of tax products IRS previously sent to libraries and post offices have been dramatically reduced); or hire a tax professional to file their return.  In addition to great inconvenience, these options are costly to taxpayers. 

In fact, IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, the booklet containing instructions important to many taxpayers as they prepare their returns, is not available in print from the IRS.  Instead, it must be ordered through the Government Printing Office for a cost of $23.00.  To make matters worse, many who have tried to order forms through the IRS form hotline cannot get through, nor can they reach anyone on the general tax advice hotline.  This severely hinders them from receiving important tax law advice to ensure their returns comport with IRS issued rules and current tax law.

I am inquiring as to what steps are being taken to remedy this problem and ensure all taxpayers are given a fair chance to fully understand the law.  In its mission statement, the IRS acknowledges that it exists to “provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.”  At this point, it appears the IRS is falling woefully short of its own stated objectives. To say the least, these reports are concerning and raise questions about whether the IRS is taking this situation seriously or playing politics with budget cuts.

While I realize that many federal agencies, including the IRS, have experienced reduced funding levels, we owe it to taxpayers to assist them in fulfilling their obligation to file their taxes correctly on time.

Read More

Sensenbrenner Announces US Service Academy Nominees from the 5th District

2015/01/20

Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Menomonee Falls) announced today that sixteen students from Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District have received nominations to the US Service Academies. 

“I continue to be impressed with the caliber of area students who apply through my office for a service academy nomination,” Sensenbrenner said.  “These young men and women have established strong records as leaders in their communities in addition to excelling academically and athletically.  I congratulate all of the nominees and wish them the best of luck on all their future endeavors.”

Nominees for the United States Service Academies were chosen from an impressive group of qualified applicants residing throughout Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District.  The Congressman’s Academy Selection Committee put forth its recommendations for nomination after reviewing each individual candidate and conducting in-person interviews. 

Of the sixteen students, three have been named principal nominees.  If a principal nominee meets the academic, physical, and medical standards set by the academy, they are assured an offer of appointment to the academy.  If a principal nominee does not qualify or chooses not to attend, the alternates compete for the vacancy.  Alternates are also part of a pool of applicants from which the academies will select the incoming class.

Principal Nominees:

Andrew Kitzhaber of Watertown has been named a principal nominee to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY.  Andrew, son of Peter and Michelle Kitzhaber, is a senior at Watertown High School. 

Julia Miller of Waukesha has been named a principal nominee to attend the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  She has also been nominated to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY; the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; and the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.  Julia, daughter of Brent and Elizabeth Miller, is a senior at Brookfield Academy.

Avery Preston of Hartland has been named a principal nominee to attend the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.  Avery, daughter of Eric and Michelle Preston, is a senior at Arrowhead High School. 

Competing Alternate Nominees from Jefferson County:

James Nachtigal of Fort Atkinson has been nominated to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY.  James, son of Terry and Julie Nachtigal, is currently attending the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in West Point, NY. 

Michael Resnick of Cambridge has been nominated to attend the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.  Michael, son of Gary and Jennifer Resnick, is a senior at Cambridge High School. 

Competing Alternate Nominee from Milwaukee County:

Colton Gingrass of Wauwatosa has been nominated to attend the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, as well as the US Military Academy in West Point, NY.  Colton, son of Charles and Kimberly Gingrass, is a senior at Marquette University High School.

Competing Alternate Nominees from Washington County:

Curtis Peters of Hartford has been nominated to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY as well as the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.  Curtis, son of Jason and Erin Peters, is a senior at Hartford Union High School. 

McKenzie Rosenthal of Kewaskum has been nominated to attend the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.  McKenzie, daughter of Scott and Cammie Rosenthal, is a senior at Kewaskum High School. 

Competing Alternate Nominees from Waukesha County:

Maria Carter of Oconomowoc has been nominated to attend the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.  Maria, daughter of Paul and Angelique Carter, is currently attending the Greystone Preparatory School at Schreiner University in Kerrville, TX. 

Naomi Dawood of Brookfield has been nominated to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY; the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; and the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.  Naomi, daughter of Mohammed and Karryn Dawood, is a senior at Brookfield Central High School. 

Daniel Lee of Brookfield has been nominated to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY, as well as the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  Daniel, son of Ernie and Robyn Lee, is a senior at Brookfield Central High School.

Emily Lowerr of Brookfield has been nominated to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY; the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; and the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.  Emily, daughter of Briane and Renee Lowerr, is a senior at Brookfield Central High School. 

Christian McMiller of Waukesha has been nominated to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY, as well as the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  Christian, son of James and Roberta McMiller, is a senior at Arrowhead High School.

Nicholas Patnode of Oconomowoc has been nominated to attend the US Military Academy in West Point, NY, as well as the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  Nicholas, son of Donald and Ann Marie Patnode, is a senior at Kettle Moraine High School.  

Benjamin Peterson of Brookfield has been nominated to attend the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.  Benjamin, son of Dean and Lori Peterson, is a senior at Brookfield Central High School. 

Lukas Texeira of Waukesha has been nominated to attend the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.  Lukas, son of David and Lisa Texeira, is a senior at Waukesha West High School.  

Congressman Sensenbrenner is currently accepting nomination applications from Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District for those who would like to enter any United States Service Academy in the summer of 2016.  Inquiries concerning this process can be made to the Congressman’s District Office in Brookfield at (262) 784-1111, or online at www.sensenbrenner.house.gov.

Read More

Please check back for future meetings

2011/04/01


Loading legislation ... one moment please
Loading votes ... one moment please

Contact Information

2449 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5101
Fax 202-225-3190
sensenbrenner.house.gov

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., (Jim), represents the Fifth Congressional District of Wisconsin. The Fifth District includes parts of Milwaukee, Dodge and Waukesha counties, and all of Washington and Jefferson counties.

Jim was born in Chicago and later moved to Wisconsin with his family. He graduated from the Milwaukee Country Day School and did his undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where he majored in political science. He then earned his law degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968.

After serving ten years in the Wisconsin State Legislature, Jim ran for a U.S. House seat and was elected in November, 1978. He has been reelected since 1980.

Jim’s current committee assignments include serving on the Committee on Science and Technology and the Committee on the Judiciary. Congressman Sensenbrenner is Chairman of the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Oversight Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and Internet, and the Subcommittees on Environment and Oversight.

He is the former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and as a long-serving committee member, Jim has established a strong record on crime, intellectual property and constitutional issues. Previously, Jim also served as Chairman of the House Committee on Science, where he solidified his reputation as an independent leader on science issues, as well as oversight.

Throughout his public life, Jim has been at the forefront of efforts to preserve the sanctity of life, eliminate wasteful government spending and protect the interests of American taxpayers. He has regularly been cited by the National Taxpayers Union as one of the most fiscally responsible House Members and is well known for completing his financial disclosure forms down to the penny.

Jim is proud of his many legislative achievements that have helped improve the lives of many during his tenure in Congress.

In 1977, Jim married Cheryl Warren of Green Bay, Wisconsin, a staunch advocate for the rights of the disabled. They have two adult children, Frank and Bob. In his free time, Jim enjoys watching the Packers and reading.


Serving With

Paul Ryan

WISCONSIN's 1st DISTRICT

Glenn Grothman

WISCONSIN's 6th DISTRICT

Sean Duffy

WISCONSIN's 7th DISTRICT

Reid Ribble

WISCONSIN's 8th DISTRICT

Recent Videos