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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts
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December 3, 2010

There has been a good deal of action in the past week as the 111th Congress seeks to wrap up this legislative session, and I expect to see more in the coming two weeks. Three of the largest issues we must face before adjourning are tax cuts, unemployment insurance, and continued government funding for FY 2011. Many Americans lost their unemployment benefits this week, and many more will lose this vital safety net in the weeks ahead. At this writing, there aren't enough votes in the Senate to extend this program. It is my hope that we can extend and finalize both unemployment insurance and tax cuts by the end of the year, but unfortunately negotiations have been frustrated by political posturing, and it is unclear if we'll be able to reach a compromise by that time.

Tax Cuts

Yesterday, the House voted to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class. I agree with the principal of allowing the tax cuts for the wealthiest 3% of Americans to expire in order to reduce the deficit, while extending the cuts for everyone else. However, I am willing to compromise on where we draw the line and you may recall that I recently proposed keeping the tax cuts for couples earning under $500,000 . Those who are totally unwilling to compromise their personal opinions as to where to draw the line either don't care about the deficit or believe that they are infallible.

H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act, makes permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that otherwise would expire on December 31, but only for individuals making up to $200,000 or couples making up to $250,000 a year. Individuals and couples with yearly incomes above those levels would return to their regular tax rate, which is a crucial component in helping reduce the deficit. While Republicans still overwhelmingly opposed this measure, the House is finally on record supporting long-term tax relief for the middle class. The Senate is not expected to have the votes to pass H.R. 4853, so negotiations on a compromise must continue. I voted YES. The entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

231

20

0

4

REPUBLICAN

3

168

0

8

TOTAL

234

188

0

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

1

Lance Corporal Arredondo

This week my legislation naming the United States Post Office at 655 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain after fallen Massachusetts hero Lance Corporal Alexander Scott Arredondo, USMC passed in the House.

Lcpl. Arredondo made the supreme sacrifice in August of 2004 in Najaf, Iraq while on his second tour of duty. Lcpl. Arredondo received Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat V and the Purple Heart for his actions while serving in Iraq. He heroically performed the duties of a fire team leader while fighting enemy forces in Najaf. In the battle leading to his death, Lcpl. Arredondo led his fellow Marines through a two story building, working to clear and secure it. His squad gained control of the building after enduring intense enemy fighting. Lcpl. Arredondo was mortally wounded by a sniper as he checked on the security of his fellow Marines.

The naming of this post office is a small way to honor the memory of Lcpl. Arredondo who sacrificed his life for all of us. He was a dedicated and selfless individual, and my thoughts are with his family, who endured such a tremendous loss.

Sudan

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy held a hearing to review a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report I requested with some colleagues entitled "Sudan Divestment: U.S. Investors Sold Assets but Could Benefit from Increased Disclosure Regarding Companies' Ties to Sudan." In December 2007, Congress enacted the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA) which safeguards states and investment companies that choose to divest from companies with business ties to Sudan.

The GAO report examines steps taken since the passage of SADA by private investment companies and states with Sudan-related investments and discusses the factors they considered when making these decisions. The hearing further examined the Sudan divestment legislation and its impacts.

SADA represented a major milestone for those who want to ensure their investments do not fund genocide or mass atrocities. We say 'never again' but we must take the necessary actions to ensure that our investments aren't inadvertently financing criminal behavior and this includes making it easier for investors to divest in cases of extreme violence or crisis.

Tuesday's hearing was an important step in assessing both the progress made by the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act and the need for further action. Let's not forget that this divestment campaign started because of a genocide, and that there are actual human lives at stake. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that Congress can have a constructive role in helping to prevent American investments in countries committing such atrocities.

Child Nutrition

This week the House considered S. 3307: the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This bill reauthorizes a number of nutrition programs including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The legislation makes it easier for eligible low-income children to qualify for meal programs and increases reimbursement rates for schools serving both breakfasts and lunches that meet federal nutrition standards. S. 3307 gives the US Department of Agriculture the power to set nutrition rules for food sold in school vending machines. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill would have the net effect of decreasing the budget deficit by $287M over ten years. I voted YES. S. 3307 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

247

4

0

4

REPUBLICAN

17

153

0

9

TOTAL

264

157

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

1

Continuing Resolution

The House voted to extend FY 2011 funding for all federal agencies through December 18th. This continuing resolution was necessary because Democrats and Republicans are still negotiating how to address long term funding for the remainder of FY 2011.

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

237

8

0

9

REPUBLICAN

2

170

0

7

TOTAL

239

178

0

16

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

1

Ethics

Yesterday, the House took up the recommendation of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (also know as the Ethics Committee) in the matter of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY). As you likely know, Rep. Rangel has been involved in an ethics case related to unpaid taxes, inaccurate reporting of income, and improper use of official resources. After many months of investigation, the Ethics Committee presented its case last month and, finding Rep. Rangel guilty of 11 charges, recommended he be censured by the full House.

Pursuant to that recommendation, the House considered H.Res. 1737 to censure Rep. Rangel. I voted YES. H.Res. 1737 passed and Rep. Rangel was immediately censured.

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

170

77

0

7

REPUBLICAN

163

2

0

14

TOTAL

333

79

0

21

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

1

0

1

What's up Next Week

Negotiations on funding for the remainder of FY 2011 are expected to continue between Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate. Leadership is also engaged in ongoing talks about tax cut extensions. In addition, it was announced that H.R. 1751, the DREAM Act, may be considered on the House floor.


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.


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