Jim Sensenbrenner

Frank James (Jim) Sensenbrenner, Jr.

Credentials

  • Juris Doctor, University of Wisconsin Law School (1968). [1]
  • B.A., Political Science, Stanford University (1965). [1]

Background

Frank James (Jim) Sensenbrenner, Jr. is a member of the Republican Party in the United States House of Representatives. After serving in Wisconsin State Legislature for ten years, he was elected to the House of Representatives in November 1978, representing Wisconsin's 5th congressional district. Sensenbrenner announced in September 2019 that he would not seek re-election at the end of his term. [12], [25]

Sensenbrenner chairs the House Committees on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs and formerly chaired the House Science Committee. He served as the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming from 2007 to 2011. [12]

Sensenbrenner, whose $10 million fortune stems from his great-grandfather's invention of the Kotex sanitary napkin, won $250,000 in the lottery in 1997. He also has significant holdings in leading oil companies estimated at between $1,133,985 and $1,783,983 in 2008. [2]

Rolling Stone Magazine listed Sensenbrenner as one of their “10 Worst Congressmen” in 2006 for his “assault on free speech” and “major role in curtailing civil liberties.” The article lists some of the reasons for his unpopularity including reports that he had lobbyists pay for his transportation, a violation of congressional rules (his total travel expenses are higher than any other congressman). [3]

He also approved a bill that made it more difficult for Americans to declare bankruptcy, and refused to consider an exemption from the bill for victims of Hurricane Katrina. He additionally voted against the aid package designed to help Katrina victims. [3]

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a group that tracks pro- or anti-environment votes in Congress, gave Sensenbrenner a score of 6% of pro-environmental votes in 2018 with a lifetime score of 25%. [24]

Stance on Climate Change

January 2019

The Washington Times reported Sensenbrenner would be campaigning to be a ranking member of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis created by Democrats ahead of the 2020 election. [22]

“People might call me a climate change denier — my position on climate change is yes, I do believe there is human impact on climate change, but there is no consensus whatsoever on how much impact there is,” Sensenbrenner told the Washington Examiner. He added he would take a “free market” perspective to the committee. 

I am interested in selling the American people that market-based solutions work rather than all kinds of bureaucratic taxes or regulations that haven't worked in Europe, wouldn't work here, and would be extremely unpopular with voters,” Sensenbrenner said in an interview. “We won’t win the House back if the Republican position is Green Revolution-light.”

2017

Sensenbrenner replied to a question on his take on climate change during a town hall meeting: [23]

“I think there is a man-made impact on climate change; there is a scientific consensus that is the case, but there is no scientific consensus on how much human action impacts the climate,” Sensenbrenner said.

2009

Sensenbrenner outlined his views on climate change in an interview with conservative radio show host Jay Weber (listen to the original audio here) and below: [15]

“I personally believe that the solar flares are more responsible for climatic cycles than anything that human beings do and our lunar, our rovers on Mars have indicated that there has been a slight warming in the atmosphere of Mars and that certainly was not caused by the internal combustion engine.” [4]

Key Quotes

April 2019

At a town hall meeting in Fort Atkinson Wisconsin, after being asked to support H.R.763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, Sensenbrenner responded: [28]

I believe there is a human element to global warming and there is scientific consensus on that. There is no scientific consensus on how much human activity causes global warming or climate change. I can tell you that it’s not zero percent and I can tell you it’s not 100 percent.

I am not in favor of the bill you talked about and will oppose it and vote against it,” he continued. “The reason is that it’s a zero-sum game. What it does is limit carbon emissions and, with that, you’re going to see big jumps at the gas pump, the price of natural gas and the price of electricity.”

2009–2016

Sensenbrenner maintained a page on “global warming” on his House website, from as early as 2009 to 2016, according to captures by the Internet Archive. [5][20]

“I am a leader in the fight against the national energy tax proposal some Congressional leaders are advocating. I call this bad idea 'cap-and-tax' because of the damage it will do to jobs, manufacturing and our economy.”

December 7, 2009

Sensenbrenner spoke with conservative radio host Jay Weber about his views on “Climategate”: [6]

“The President's science advisor, who is a former Harvard professor named Holdren, is involved in the email scandals and covering up the fact that data has been lost, the fact that contrary opinions to the global warming crowd has been squeezed out of scientific journals … Now this is an international conspiracy.”

Key Deeds

October 17, 2019

Sensenbrenner was one of only two Wisconsin lawmakers with the ability to sit in on closed-door meetings of the impeachment inquiry for Donald Trump. While other Republicans have complained they are on the outside, Sensenbrenner declined the opportunity. [21]

He said in an interview:  “I have chosen not to do so because I can’t talk (publicly) about what I find out inside those meetings. This is a way, in my opinion, to gag members of the foreign affairs committee and the other two committees — Republican members — from actually going out and talking about what the testimony was.” [21]

May 21 – 23, 2012

Sensenbrenner was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7.) [14]

In response to Heartland's controversial billboard campaign which portrayed climate scientists as “murderers, tyrants, and madmen,” Sensenbrenner said that he would not be participating in the conference unless they pull the ad. [16], [17]

The Institute has since stated they were ending the billboard campaign which they describe as an “experiment.” [13]

DeSmogBlog researched the co-sponsors behind Heartland's ICCC7 and found that they had collectively received over $67 million from ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers and the conservative Scaife family foundations. [18]

January 28, 2011

Wrote to President Obama urging him to disband the White House Office of Energy and Climate Policy due to what he describes as its “lack of transparency.”[7]

The Office was created by Barack Obama in order to coordinate administration policy on energy and climate change. As of April, 2011 Congress no longer funded the Office. [19]

June 2010

Sensenbrenner criticized how President Barack Obama's administration handled the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. [8]

Sensenbrenner called the federal government's response to the crisis “erratic” and suggested that the administration's “apparent lack of regulatory oversight” allowed safety problems within BP to go undetected. [8]

Sensenbrenner had owned 3,604 shared of BP worth more than $251,000 before the spill, dropping to $118,000 shortly after. [8]

BP and the government need each other,” Sensenbrenner wrote. “So, I question again, how is the president publicly chastising and threatening BP with criminal actions — a company that has pledged to pay for the damage caused by the oil spill accident and who likely wants this resolved more than anyone — helping to stop the oil?” [9]

May 2010

Sensenbrenner was ranking member of a House subcommittee hearing by the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. While the Democrats produced experts in atmospheric science, oceanography, biology, and dendrochronology, Sensenbrenner brought forward climate change skeptic Lord Christopher Monckton, who's primary education appears to be in journalism. [10]

December 7, 2009

Sensenbrenner sent a letter to Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggesting that all scientists involved in “Climategate” be barred from contributing to the IPCC's Assessment Reports. [27]

June 2009

Sensenbrenner was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's Third International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC3) where he spoke on Panel 2: “Economics” with David Tuerck and Gabriel Calzada. [26]

May 28, 2009

As ranking member of the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, Sensenbrenner was part of a congressional delegation led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that traveled to China to assess the potential for cooperation on international climate change efforts.

At a press conference, Sensenbrenner said:

“It's business as usual for China. The message that I received was that China was going to do it their way regardless of what the rest of the world negotiates in Copenhagen.”

Sensenbrenner appeared to have based his comments on remarks made by Chinese economist Pan Jiahua who directs the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He accused Professor Pan of “denigrating the Waxman-Markey [energy and climate] bill,” and claimed that Professor Pan said “China has been too aggressive in reducing their [sic] emissions.”

Sensenbrenner insinuated that Professor Pan was “speaking for the thinking of China,” and concluded that Pan's position represented a “significant step backwards.”

Pan later released a statement to the Center for American Progress where he characterized Sensenbrenner's selective reading of his comments as “improper and unethical,” and designed to “frighten the American public and halt U.S. progress on solving the problem of global warming.” [11]

Affiliations

  • Republican Party — Member since 1979. [12]
  • Committee on Science and Technology  — Vice Chairman. [12]
  • Committee on the Judiciary — Member. [12]
  • Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee  — Chairman. [12]
  • Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee (Judiciary) — Member. [12]
  • Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee (Science and Technology) — Member. [12]
  • Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee (Science and Technology) — Member. [12]

Social Media

Publications

A list of statements and press releases by Sensenbrenner is available at his website.

Resources

  1. HISTORICAL ESSAY: Sensenbrenner Jr., F. James 1943”,” Wisconsin Historical Society. Archived October 18, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/a97da

  2. Paul Blumenthal. “Oil Industry Influence: Personal Finances,” Sunlight Foundation, August 8, 2008. Archived October 18, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/ldRrj

  3. Tim Dickinson. “The 10 Worst Congressmen,” Rolling Stone, October 17, 2006. Archived March 17, 2010. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/7i0hK

  4. Leslie Berliant. “Jim Sensenbrenner: Full of Opinion and Hyperbole on Climate Change Legislation but Very Few Facts,” DeSmogBlog, April 14, 2009.

  5. Global Warming,” Congressan Jim Sensenbrenner. Archived October 7, 2009. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/cnPxA]

  6. Sensenbrenner Speaks with Jay Weber on Climategate,” Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, December 7, 2009. Archived January 16, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/oGWS5

  7. SENSENBRENNER URGES END TO WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF ENERGY AND CLIMATE POLICY” (Press Release), Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, January 28, 2011. Archived June 2, 2011. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/KEm3Q

  8. Diana Marrero. “Sensenbrenner slams Obama, BP,” Journal Sentinel, June 10, 2010. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/hqTkk

  9. Dennis Condrad. “GOP lawmaker with BP stock has role in spill probe,” Lacross Tribune, June 10, 2010. Archived June 29, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/eJ7ae

  10. Foundation for Climate Science,” C-SPAN, May 6, 2010.

  11. Andrew Light and Julian L. Wong. “Sensenbrenner Distorts Climate Facts: Chinese Climate Expert Pan Jiahua Sets the Record Straight,” Center for American Progress, June 16, 2009. Archived October 18, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/a0FZr

  12. Biography,” Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. Archived October 18, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/vlKtT

  13. Heartland Institute Ends Experiment with 'Unabomber' Global Warming Billboard,” 7th international conference on climate change, May 4, 2012. Archived May 3, 2012. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/0csXJ

  14. “Seventh International Conference on Climate Change, Program,” (PDF) Heartland Institute. Archived January 23, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  15. WISN_Jay_Weber_-_Sensenbrenner_interview.mp3” Retrieved from Sensenbrenner.house.gov.

  16. Brendan DeMelle. “Will Heartland Institute's Corporate Funders Tacitly Endorse Comparing Climate Realists to bin Laden and the Unabomber?DeSmog, May 4, 2012.

  17. Brendan DeMelle. “Cue the Defections: Rep. Sensenbrenner First To Pull Out of Heartland Institute's Denial-a-Palooza Conference,” DeSmog, May 4, 2012.

  18. Brendan DeMelle. “Heartland Denial-a-Palooza Sponsors Have Received $67 Million From ExxonMobil, Koch and Scaife Foundations,” DeSmog, May 22, 2012.

  19. Robin Bravender. “Budget deal axes 'czars' already gone,” Politico, April 12, 2011. Archived October 17, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/t9r4I

  20. Global Warming,Congressan Jim Sensenbrenner. Archived November 8, 2016. Archive.fo URL:https://archive.fo/WT9DU

  21. Craig Gilbert. “Republican Jim Sensenbrenner says no thank you to chance to sit in on closed-door House impeachment inquiry,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 17, 2019. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL:https://archive.fo/mMGzh

  22. Josh Siegel. “GOP centrist and skeptic jockey for spot on Pelosi's climate 'crisis' committee,” The Washington Examiner, January 11, 2019. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/tN0u1

  23. Brittany Seemuth. “Making Sense of Washington: Congressman's town hall events in Sussex, Lannon get contentious,” Journal Sentinel, March 3, 2017. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/uOT2C

  24. National Environmental Scorecard: Representative James Sensenbrenner (R),” LCV. Accessed October 24, 2019.

  25. Colby Itkowitz, Rachael Bade, and John Wagner. “Rep. Sensenbrenner, who has served for 40 years, won’t seek reelection,” The Washington Post, September 4, 2019. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/rcbcm

  26. “Third International Conference on Climate Change, Program” (PDF)Heartland Institute. Archived January 23, 2018.

  27. Dear Dr. Pachauri.” Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, December 7, 2009. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  28. Jenny Lescohier. “Citizens air concerns at Sensenbrenner visit,” Daily Jefferson County Union, April 15, 2019. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL:https://archive.fo/LRoGp

Other Resources