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Congressman Capuano's
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An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts
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October 23, 2009

Sudan

On Monday, the Obama Administration released its new Sudan policy, and some of my colleagues in the House and I were able to meet with Special Envoy for Sudan Scott Gration on Thursday to discuss it. The violence and chaos in Darfur has gone on for far too long, while efforts to create a stable and functioning government in Southern Sudan have been deliberately frustrated.

I am encouraged that the Administration's long-awaited policy review emphasizes: "The United States has a clear obligation to the Sudanese people — both in our role as witness to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and as the first country that unequivocally identified events in Darfur as genocide."

I recognize that engagement with the Government of Khartoum may be necessary to achieve those ends. I am not, however, ready to embrace President al-Bashir's government as a changed entity. It still has important baseline expectations — such as implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement — it must live up to. At the same time, it is critically important to take concerted action, with other nations and with all parties to the conflict, to halt the violence and promote peace. Effective implementation of the policy and follow-through will be essential. I applaud President Obama and key members of his administration in committing resources and crucial diplomatic energies to these objectives.

HIV/AIDS

On Wednesday, the House passed S. 1793: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. This important bipartisan bill reauthorizes a program that has provided some of the most critical services to our country's most vulnerable populations for nearly two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV/AIDS. While we have made tremendous strides in the treatment of HIV, prolonging and improving the lives of those with the disease, the need for funding to provide treatment has accordingly greatly increased.

Furthermore, this epidemic has had an alarmingly disproportionate impact on communities of color. African Americans account for roughly 50% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses, while Hispanics and Latinos make up 18%. We must properly address this troubling disparity and continue to work for improved access and treatment for racial and ethnic minorities living with HIV/AIDS. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program offers us the opportunity to do so with a comprehensive, cost-effective solution to these challenges.

I voted YES. S. 1793 passed in the House and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

246

0

0

9

REPUBLICAN

162

9

0

6

TOTAL

408

9

0

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

Energy

This week, this House also considered H.R. 3585: Solar Technology Roadmap Act of 2010. This bill calls for the development of an overall plan, or roadmap, of short, medium, and long term goals for federal solar technology and Research & Development needs. The Secretary of Energy is directed to convene an 11-member committee (comprised at least in part of experts from the solar industry) to draft the roadmap within 18 months. The legislation authorizes $300 million in merit-based grants each year for solar technology demonstration projects conducted by colleges and universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, industrial entities or other consortia. This type of initiative will help to firmly establish the U.S. as an innovator in energy technology and will foster federal support for future advancement.

I voted YES. H.R. 3585 passed in the House and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

247

0

0

8

REPUBLICAN

63

106

0

8

TOTAL

310

106

0

16

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

Consumer Financial Protection Agency

This week the Financial Services Committee marked up H.R. 3126: the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009. This measure establishes an independent agency with the sole mission of protecting consumers from deceptive and abusive financial products and services. The agency will promote a fair marketplace and ensure customers have access to clear disclosures for products such as credit cards and mortgages. The CFPA will also monitor new potentially harmful financial products and services and will have the authority to set strong rules and restrictions on them. H.R. 3126 will also put currently unregulated financial industries, such as payday lenders, under the oversight of the CFPA. To stop financial firms from shopping around for the weakest regulator, the bill places accountability for consumer protections under one regulatory roof. The existing system divides consumer protection authority among several agencies, which have failed to use their powers to curb many predatory practices.

I am proud to cosponsor H.R. 3126 and voted YES on this legislation, which passed in committee. The House is expected to consider H.R. 3126 as part of a larger financial regulatory reform package on the floor in the upcoming month.

Credit Card Reform

The House Financial Services Committee also approved by voice vote H.R. 3639, the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009. This legislation, which I am proud to cosponsor, would bump up the effective date of credit card reforms to December 1. Recent reports indicate that credit card companies have been jacking up interest rates and fees and cutting credit limits in advance of the new rules going into effect. My office has received many calls from constituents describing their own personal frustrations with their credit card companies. It is my hope that we can quickly pass legislation on the House floor to provide relief to consumers.

What's Up Next

Next week the House is expected to consider a Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations.


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

P.S. I welcome your feedback on our e-Updates. Please let me and my staff know what you think of this service by e-mailing our office.


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:

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