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

12,456 subscribers

November 18, 2011

Upcoming Community Meetings

On Monday November 28th I’ll be at the Hyde Park Branch Library from 6:30 - 7:30 PM to talk with you about what is happening in Congress and here in our community. The Hyde Park Branch Library is located at 35 Harvard Avenue in Hyde Park and the community meeting will take place in the Library’s Lecture Hall. I hope to see you there.

If you can’t make it on the 28th, we have telephone community meetings scheduled for Wednesday November 30th from 7:15 - 8:15 PM and Wednesday December 7th from 6:50 - 7:50 PM. If you’d like to participate, just dial 1-877-229-8493 and use pin 13034 at the scheduled time to join the call. If you’d like to ask me a question, press *3 after joining the meeting.

Tunnel Bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently passed a transportation reauthorization bill that included a tunnel inspection program. I have filed a bill to establish a nationwide tunnel inspection program based on the existing bridge inspection program three times since 2007. In the aftermath of the tragic 2006 death of Milena Del Valle due to a falling ceiling panel in a Big Dig tunnel, many questions were raised about tunnel inspection standards. There are currently no national standards for tunnel inspections and my bill simply addresses that clear need. My bill has passed before in the House and it has also been attached to House transportation reauthorization bills, but it hadn’t previously advanced in the Senate. I was very pleased to see that the Senate took this step last week because it increases the likelihood that the inspection measure will eventually become law. I will continue working on the House side to establish this much needed program.

Continuing Resolution

This week the House considered H.R. 2112: the Conference Report for Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Justice and State Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations. This is the first set of appropriations bills to fund federal agencies for FY 2012. A continuing resolution to fund other federal agencies and programs through December 16th was also included. H.R. 2112 increases funding over FY 2011 for some valuable programs. I was relieved and surprised that this approach was taken and that is why I supported this bill. For example, instead of slashing school nutrition programs and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, small funding increases were included. In addition, some important scientific research programs were also increased. To be sure, plenty of programs did not receive increased funding and I wish that more was available for initiatives like high speed rail, transportation, Community Development Block Grants, and community policing. There is no doubt that this bill was not ideal. But, H.R. 2112 does not slash programming across-the-board as I feared it would and I think this is the best bill we can get, given the current environment. I voted YES. H.R. 2112 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Balanced Budget Amendment

Today the House considered H.J. Res. 2: Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment. This measure requires that the federal budget be balanced every year. I think that is a goal many could easily support. We certainly should aim to balance the federal budget every year. However, H.J. Res. 2 requires a three-fifths vote of the entire Congress every time there is a need to spend beyond what is taken in. I am not at all confident that in the current climate three-fifths support could be found when there is a clear need to spend additional funds. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods and circumstances such as war cannot be anticipated, yet the need to provide funding is obvious. In terms of war funding, H.J. Res. 2 waives the balanced budget requirement but only if additional legislation is approved identifying the specific amount needed and the specific conflict. It is a little difficult to imagine that our military leaders will be able to pinpoint exactly how much more money is needed for a given conflict. Circumstances quickly change on the battlefield. Additionally, some economists have stated that implementing a Balanced Budget Amendment during tough economic times when we have a large deficit could result in the loss of as many as 15 million jobs. I voted NO. Although H.J. Res 2 received a majority of the votes cast, a two-thirds majority is required to amend the Constitution so the measure failed. The entire vote is recorded below:





















What’s Up Next Week

The House is in recess due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Next votes are expected on Tuesday November 29th. All eyes are on the Super Committee, which has until Wednesday November 23rd to come to agreement on $1.2 trillion in cuts. If they cannot reach agreement, then automatic across-the-board cuts will be triggered.

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

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Roxbury Community College, Campus Library, Room 211

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