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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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June 24, 2011


This week President, Obama announced that 33,000 troops would be coming home from Afghanistan by the end of 2012. While I am encouraged that so many of our men and women in uniform will be coming home to their families, tens of thousands more will remain in harm's way. I joined a number of my colleagues in the House this week in writing to President Obama to ask for a "significant and sizable reduction." The number of troops the President has scheduled to come home is simply not enough. I am disappointed that a more aggressive timetable was not laid out Wednesday night.

In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush rightly determined that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was providing shelter and material support to al-Qaeda, and he sent U.S. forces to Afghanistan to root out the terrorists. Our long-stated goal in Afghanistan has been largely achieved. The terrorists have been driven from Afghanistan . Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, was discovered and killed in Pakistan . Our military efforts in Afghanistan should be drawing quickly to a close.

We are spending vast amounts of money in Afghanistan , while back home, virtually every federal program is being cut. This is already the longest war in our history and it is time to end it.


Today the House took up two measures related to Libya. The first, H.J. Res. 68, authorizes the continued use of U.S. Armed Forces to support NATO's mission in Libya. The authorization expires one year after the date of its enactment. Although the resolution does state that Congress is opposed to ground troops, it does not legally bar them from being used.

Essentially, this resolution was brought to the floor to put the President in a difficult position. Republican leadership knew this bill would not pass when they scheduled it for a vote. I find this approach particularly offensive because we are talking about issues of war and peace. These are the most fundamental and serious issues that Congress addresses, and they deserve a robust debate that allows for input from all sides. That is not what took place in the House today. Nonetheless, the resolution was brought up for a vote. In the final analysis I had to vote based on the merits of the proposal and on my conscience. The President has still not come to Congress, which I believe is a requirement of the Constitution. With respect to this specific resolution, I am concerned that the scope of our involvement in Libya could expand depending on the circumstances there. I voted NO. H.J.Res. 68 failed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















The House also considered H.R. 2278 which limits the use of funds appropriated for action in Libya, unless otherwise specifically authorized by law. Only non-hostile support functions for NATO (like search and rescue, surveillance, and operational planning) are exempt from the general prohibition on funds detailed in this measure. Because H.R. 2278 specifically limits the scope of approved actions, I was able to support it. I voted YES. H.R. 2278 failed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Tunnel Bill

This week I re-introduced my legislation requiring the mandatory inspection of all highway tunnels. This is the third time I have filed this bill. It passed the House twice but not the Senate. The legislation is modeled after the Nationwide Bridge Inspection Program, which requires that all highway bridges be inspected and establishes minimum inspection standards. My bill simply requires that highway tunnels also be subject to standardized inspection.

After the tragic July 2006 death of Milena Del Valle due to a falling ceiling panel in a Big Dig tunnel many questions were raised, including those relating to tunnel inspections. Currently there are no national standards or requirements for inspecting highway tunnels. The Department of Transportation has proposed rules to require inspections of some of our nation's tunnels. Should those rules be finalized, my legislation would strengthen them by expanding the requirement to cover all highway tunnels.

My bill directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish minimum inspection requirements, including the maximum amount of time permitted between inspections. The Secretary will also establish inspector qualifications, create a national certification program for inspectors and implement a program to ensure they are properly trained. My bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation, where I am also working to have it included in an upcoming transportation reauthorization bill.

New England Council

This week I participated in the New England Council's Congressional Roundtable breakfast. We engaged in a thoughtful dialogue on the issues confronting Congress, particularly issues related to spending. We talked about the difficult debate surrounding raising the debt ceiling, my concerns about the Republican Medicare plan, and the fact that we must find ways to cut spending in order to reduce the deficit. I enjoyed the discussion and look forward to returning.

What's Up Next Week

A District Work period has been scheduled for next week. Votes are expected in the House on Wednesday July 6th.

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

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