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Congressman Capuano's
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts
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September 25, 2009


On Thursday, the House considered H.R. 3631: Medicare Premium Fairness Act. This legislation would help a number of senior citizen Medicare Part B recipients who are soon scheduled to see an increase in their monthly premiums. These increases will be felt all the more because there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to Social Security benefits next year.

Many Part B enrollees have their premiums deducted directly from their Social Security check, and would therefore experience a net loss each month if Medicare premiums are allowed to rise while Social Security payments remain the same. H.R. 3631 extends a “hold harmless” provision to all Part B recipients to ensure that their premiums will stay at 2009 levels. The cost of this bill is offset according to PAYGO rules, and I believe it is an appropriate action to take so that we can protect seniors in these tough economic times.

I voted YES. H.R. 3631 passed in the House under suspension of the rules and the entire vote is recorded below:






















Today I joined with the three other Sudan Caucus co-chairs — Reps. Michael McCaul, Donald Payne, and Frank Wolf — in writing to President Obama to express our concern about his Administration's forthcoming release of its Sudan policy review. The release has long been delayed as players within the Administration debate the serious differences that appear to divide them. A major crisis persists in Darfur, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has yet to put an end to the conflict between Northern and Southern Sudan, and country-wide elections are scheduled shortly — with voting lists to be based on a census which is itself controversial.

In his six months on the job, the President's Special Envoy, Major General J. Scott Gration, has opted for engagement with the National Congress Party (the ruling party in Khartoum) and has generally minimized talk of genocide. Susan Rice, our Ambassador to the UN, has continued to condemn on-going abuses. Many in the Sudan advocacy community are concerned that without sufficient pressure in the form of sanctions and tough coordinated international measures, Khartoum will not take action to end the genocide in Darfur, nor will it carry out its obligations under the CPA to facilitate free and fair elections in Southern Sudan.

Our letter to the President spells out certain principles that we believe should be incorporated into U.S. policy moving forward: strict adherence to the CPA and a commitment not to renegotiate provisions that promote democratic reconciliation; greater protection for Darfur and support for the International Criminal Court's efforts to promote accountability; and a robust set of options, including both carrots and sticks. We look forward to working with the Administration as it shapes its new policy, and we believe the Sudan Caucus has a role to play in maintaining US leadership while seeking peace and justice for the people of Sudan.

Middle East

This week, over 25 of my colleagues in the House and I sent a letter to President Obama in support of renewed peace efforts in the Middle East. Recently, the President has tasked Special Envoy George Mitchell with jumpstarting negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. These efforts have been frustrated by a lack of agreement on settlements and by an unwillingness within the Arab world to move forward with confidence-building measures.

As President Obama was meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas this week at the UN, many of us in Congress felt we should reiterate our support for a just and comprehensive peace process. Our letter acknowledges the bold vision laid out by President Obama in his June speech at Cairo University and encourages him to press forward in a leading role to facilitate reconciliation efforts. We recognize that we face many critical foreign policy issues at this time, and we believe that the goal of Middle East peace must remain a priority. It deserves and requires our vigilance to keep it moving forward.

What's Up Next

Next week the House is expected to consider the conference report on Interior and Environment Appropriations.

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

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