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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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May 16, 2008

Supplemental Spending

On Thursday, the House took votes on three amendments related to additional spending for FY 2008. The first amendment provided $162.5 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I voted NO.

As all of you know, I voted against the war in Iraq and have been doing everything I can to end this war and start bringing our men and women in uniform home. Like you, I am deeply disappointed that we have not yet been able to convince the Senate or a veto-proof majority in the House to join our efforts. Although I do not think that we will be able to convince President Bush to change course in Iraq, I will never stop trying to do that. I am also very hopeful that our next President will end the war in Iraq.

This vote may confuse people because many Republicans voted "Present". Although I do not truly understand their reasoning, it was explained to me that they (1) were unhappy about procedural aspects of the votes and wanted to voice their protest, and (2) wanted to underscore their argument that Democrats "don't support our troops". Personally, I think this approach on such a serious matter insults the intelligence of the American public, demeans the matter at hand and is doomed to fail. Although I disagree in the strongest possible terms, I understand that some believe we should not draw down troops in Iraq and therefore vote to fund our continuing presence. I cannot respect those who use their vote on a matter of this gravity as a gambit in some political game.

Please note that I do not believe this "victory" on defeating this funding amendment will end this war. I believe the Senate will overturn this action and the House will eventually fund the Iraq war as the President has requested. I hope to be wrong, but I want my constituents to know the truth so we can keep up the fight for the hearts and minds of American voters.

As a result of these political games, the amendment failed. I voted NO and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

85

147

0

3

REPUBLICAN

56

2

132

9

TOTAL

141

149

132

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

10

0

0

The second amendment establishes policy restrictions related to Iraq. It requires that the United States begin redeploying troops from Iraq within 30 days of enactment of the legislation, with a goal of completing that combat troop withdrawal by December of 2009. It also stipulates that funds appropriated for the war in Iraq may be used for troop redeployment. It further requires the President to submit for congressional approval any agreement between the United States and the Iraqi government involving U.S. defense of Iraq. There has been concern that the President will bypass Congress in seeking such an agreement. This amendment also prohibits the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq and mandates that the Army Field Manual's prohibition against torture also apply to all U.S. intelligence agencies and personnel. This amendment also requires that all troops meet the Pentagon definition of "combat ready" before they are deployed and follows the Pentagon's own guidelines on time at home between tours of duty. Far too many of our troops have had limited time with their loved ones between deployment and this amendment simply requires the Pentagon to live up to its own guidelines. I voted YES. The amendment passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

219

13

0

3

REPUBLICAN

8

183

0

8

TOTAL

227

196

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

The third amendment enacts a new GI bill. It restores full, four year college scholarships to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the same level of support that was available to our World War II veterans and should be available to today's veterans. This third amendment also provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits and contained funding for the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping troops in Darfur. The amendment includes the text of H.R. 5613, a bill that separately passed the House a few weeks ago, which would block 7 Bush Administration Medicaid regulations that would severely cut funding to Massachusetts. I voted YES. The amendment passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

224

7

0

4

REPUBLICAN

32

156

0

8

TOTAL

256

166

0

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

The Senate is separately considering its own version of the Supplemental, and ultimately the two versions will be reconciled.

Strategic Petroleum Reserve

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 6022: Strategic Petroleum Reserve Fill Suspension and Consumer Protection Act. This bipartisan legislation suspends filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) until the end of the year, unless the price of crude oil drops below $75 a barrel. Every day, 70,000 barrels of oil are taken off the market and sent to the SPR. By suspending this action, the price of a gallon of gas could drop 5 to 24 cents a gallon.

With gas prices so high, any action to counter this trend should be considered. This is a small but important step toward reducing gas prices. The SPR is currently 97% full, which is the highest level ever reached. This is more than in 2006, when President Bush took similar action by temporarily suspending deliveries. At that time, the price of a barrel of oil dropped by a third. I voted YES and the legislation passed with bipartisan support. The Senate passed a similar measure on Tuesday with a vote of 97-1. The President says he will sign the measure. The entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

223

0

0

11

REPUBLICAN

162

25

0

12

TOTAL

385

25

0

23

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

10

0

0

0

Farm Bill

On Wednesday the House considered the Conference Report on H.R. 2419: the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, also known as the Farm Bill. Although this legislation increases funding for nutrition programs, I could not support it because, in the final analysis, it did not go far enough to reform payments to wealthy farmers, savings which could be used to further expand nutrition programs for American children. The President has threatened to veto this legislation, but both the House and Senate passed the bill with veto-proof majorities this week, so it is unclear if he will follow through with his veto threat. I voted NO. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

218

15

0

2

REPUBLICAN

100

91

0

8

TOTAL

318

106

0

10

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

9

1

0

0

Telephone Community Meeting

On Tuesday May 20th from 7:15 – 8:15 PM, I am hosting a telephone community meeting. Anyone interested in participating may dial 1-866-447-5149 and use pin 13034 at the scheduled time to listen in. Anyone who wishes to ask a question can press *3 after joining the meeting. I hope you have some time to join us on Tuesday.

What's Up Next

Next week, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 6049: the Energy and Tax Extenders Act of 2008 and H.R. 5658: the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.


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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