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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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September 23, 2011

Continuing Resolution

The federal fiscal year ends on Friday, September 30th, and the appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government for the Fiscal Year 2012 aren’t done. Congress must pass a continuing resolution (CR) so that federal funds do not run out after next Friday. This basic housekeeping exercise is proving to be difficult to complete. If you’ve been paying attention to the workings of Congress this year, I am sure that doesn’t surprise you.

Last week, the Senate passed a bill that contained disaster relief funding for states recently hit hard by natural disasters like flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes. It passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 62-37. The House this week took up a CR, which would also provide funding for disaster relief, but in a different form. This funding is necessary because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could run out of money as early as Monday night. FEMA is in that position because of the costs associated with addressing the numerous natural disasters many states have endured, such as Hurricane Irene and the tornadoes that hit communities like Joplin , MO. On Wednesday, the House tried to pass a CR that contained less funding than the Senate laid out for natural disasters and offset that funding with cuts to other programming. That bill did not pass in the House. Dozens of Republicans voted against it because they didn’t think the CR cut funding enough. Many Democrats voted against the CR because of the way the disaster relief was paid for.

The House tried again last night with a slightly different bill, and this time it passed. H.R. 2608 funds the federal government through November 18th and provides $3.65 billion in disaster relief. But it pays for that disaster relief by cutting the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program. This initiative provides loans to the auto industry so that companies can update their factories to produce more efficient cars. So far, this program has created close to 42,000 jobs in 11 states. In the midst of a tough economy with millions of Americans looking for work, H.R. 2608 cuts a program that is creating jobs.

Historically, disaster relief has not been offset because it is considered emergency spending. Not this time. Some Republicans are insisting that before aid goes to communities and families that have been devastated by natural disasters, we must cut money from somewhere else. But why cut funding from a program that is creating jobs?

HR. 2608 passed last night. The Senate rejected it today so this impasse continues. I voted NO and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Clean Air

This week the House passed H.R. 2401: The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act or the TRAIN Act. This bill makes troubling changes to the Clean Air Act and is nothing more than an attempt to weaken that landmark legislation which passed in 1970. H.R. 2401 requires the President to establish a committee to examine the effects of current and proposed federal regulations on U.S. energy and manufacturing industries, global competitiveness and energy prices. The study is deeply flawed because it focuses solely on the costs of these regulations and ignores their benefits.

Of greater concern, H.R. 2401 delays until 2013 the implementation of two EPA rules. The first rule would lower the level of mercury and toxic air emissions from power plants. The second would require power plants to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in certain states. The states covered under this rule were chosen because their polluting plants flow across state lines and cause high pollution in other states. It is estimated that these rules combined would prevent more than 50,000 premature deaths per year. The President has already stated that he will veto this bill. I voted NO. H.R. 2401 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Corporations and Hiring

Our unemployment rate is too high and the economy continues to show signs of fragility. Many people are struggling to make ends meet and even if they are employed, they worry about their future financial security.

In the midst of all this continued economic uncertainty, corporations are sitting on the largest amount of retained earnings ever recorded. According to the Federal Reserve’s recent Flow of Funds Report for the 2nd Quarter of 2011, “non-farm, non-financial corporations” are sitting on over $2 trillion in cash and other liquid assets. This is a $500 billion increase in total liquid assets since 2007. Today’s corporate reserves account for over 7 percent of all corporate assets, the highest level since 1963. It’s clear that U.S. corporations are staying on the economic sidelines as millions of Americans struggle to find work.

America needs these corporations to re-invest in our economy. They have the cash and should use it either directly by hiring or indirectly by investing in their own company. I am not suggesting we should tell corporations how to use their money — but we should provide incentives to get them back in the game.

That is why I introduced H.R. 3018, The Corporate Assets Should be used to Hire (CASH) Act. The CASH Act would assess a temporary surtax on corporate retained earnings that exceed the average of that corporation’s retained earnings for the prior three tax years. This approach recognizes the need for reasonable cash reserves. My proposal exempts corporations with retained earnings under $5 million and corporations that have been required to increase their cash reserves as a result of federal law or regulation.

The sole purpose of this proposal is to encourage corporations to use the money sitting on their balance sheets to help put Americans back to work and get our economy moving again.

  • Corporations can easily avoid every penny of this surtax by using this excess retained money to hire people, purchase material, enhance capital assets, pay dividends, or for any other business purpose.
  • All funds collected under this surtax would be available ONLY to reduce the federal deficit and nothing else.

This is not an attempt to raise revenue — this is an effort to get our largest corporations to use excess cash reserves to help America's economy get back on track. Job creation is the key to growing our economy and until the private sector steps up, we will continue to see discouraging unemployment numbers.

What’s Up Next Week

A District Work period has been scheduled for next week, although the impasse over the CR and FEMA funding continues. At this writing, next votes are expected in the House on Monday October 3rd.

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

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