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An update from the office of
U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts

Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE

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February 1, 2008

Economic Stimulus

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 5140: Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act of 2008. This economic stimulus package includes a number of initiatives to help spur the economy and bring a measure of relief to Americans. For most working Americans, the bill provides up to $600 per individual and $1200 per married couple plus an additional $300 per child in the form of rebate checks. The rebates are gradually phased out for individuals with income exceeding $75,000 and couples with an income over $150,000. H.R. 5140 also helps small businesses by doubling the amount that owners can write off their 2008 taxes for any capital investments made this year.

The economic stimulus package also includes a provision to increase the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan limits to make affordable mortgages available to more home buyers. FHA was established to provide affordable mortgage loans to first-time home buyers and existing homeowners in need of refinancing. Currently, FHA loans are not available in many higher-cost areas of the country because the average cost of a home is too high. As a result, some borrowers are forced to turn to the more expensive sub-prime market. A key provision in H.R. 5140 increases the FHA loan limit from the current $367,000 to $729,750, which helps to make mortgages more affordable in regions where the cost of housing is high. A provision that I have been working on for several years, to further increase the FHA loan limit for two, three and four family homes, was included in the stimulus package.

Since Massachusetts has a great deal of multi-family housing stock, this change in loan limits means that more first-time home buyers and existing homeowners who need to refinance will have greater access to an affordable multi-family home mortgage. H.R. 5140 passed unanimously in the House and now moves to the Senate for consideration. I voted yes and the entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

216

10

1

5

REPUBLICAN

169

25

0

5

TOTAL

385

35

1

10

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

10

0

0

0

State of the Union

On Monday, I attended President Bush's last State of the Union Address. Although I certainly did not expect to hear new initiatives from the President, I was disappointed nonetheless that he spent so much time talking about the war in Iraq yet offered nothing in the form of a new direction. I remain convinced that we must end the war and start bringing our troops home, yet this President still refuses to alter the course we are on. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Congress to push for a new direction.

Iraq

Throughout the course of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have vigorously opposed efforts to undermine the constitutional separation of powers, through Presidential "signing statements," warrantless electronic surveillance of US citizens, and Executive Orders that purport to establish tribunals exempt from judicial review. Recently, many concerns have arisen over a "Declaration of Principles" signed last fall by the President and the Prime Minister of Iraq that appears to establish the parameters of a "Long Term Relationship" between our two countries.

This declaration forms the basis for negotiations on an agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, set to be finalized in July. Bush Administration officials have indicated that this agreement will not be submitted to the Senate for consideration, despite the fact that the Constitution requires treaties to be presented and ratified. I am deeply concerned about this attempt to circumvent the Congress and establish a series of long term commitments in Iraq.

Along with many of my colleagues, I am a co-sponsor of HR 4959. This legislation requires the President to consult the Congress on any long term agreement with Iraq. It also expresses the sense of Congress that unless an agreement is presented to the Senate in the form of a treaty and is supported by a two-thirds majority, it will not have the force of law. The Administration is working to downplay the significance of its actions by claiming that the agreement in question is not a "treaty" and therefore does not need Congressional approval. I could not disagree more with that assertion.

What's Up Next

Next week, the President will submit his FY 2009 budget to Congress.


Congressman Mike Capuano
8th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services
Committee on House Administration

District Offices:

110 First Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
and
Roxbury Community College, Campus Library, Room 211

District Office Phone:

(617) 621-6208

DC Office:

1414 Longworth Building, Washington, DC 20515

DC Office Phone:

(202) 225-5111

Website and e-mail:

capuano.house.gov


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