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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


8,333 subscribers

December 16, 2011

Recent Votes

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 3630: the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011. Before a House vote was even cast, President Obama stated that he would veto this measure.

You have no doubt heard much about the payroll tax cut, which expires at the end of the year, as well as the extension of unemployment benefits, which also expires at the end of the year. H.R. 3630 seeks to extend both of those initiatives, but the measure contains a number of troubling provisions.

H.R. 3630 does extend unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed, but it slashes the number of available weeks from 99 to 59. This will put unemployment benefits out of reach for more than three million Americans, including close to 60,000 Massachusetts residents who are struggling to find work in this difficult economy. The bill also places restrictions on collecting the unemployment assistance, such as requiring a GED in order to receive assistance.

H.R. 3630 also contains provisions that have nothing to do with either unemployment or tax cuts. It requires that the Obama Administration proceed on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days or announce that the project will not go forward. The Administration is still studying the issue and this artificial deadline is nothing more than an attempt to force a fast resolution.

H.R. 3630 cuts more than $21 billion from health care programs and $31 billion in Medicare benefits by making some seniors pay more. Despite this, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that H.R. 3630 will increase the deficit by more than $25 billion over ten years. I voted NO. H.R. 3630 passed in the House and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

224

14

0

3

DEMOCRAT

10

179

0

3

TOTAL

234

193

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

10

0

0

On Wednesday the House considered the Conference Report on H.R. 1540: the FY 2012 Defense Authorization bill. This legislation authorizes funding for Department of Defense related programs. It does contain some worthy provisions, such as approving funding for fighting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and for improved troop vehicles. However, in the final analysis I could not support this bill because of a provision related to detainees. The Conference Report authorizes the President to “use all necessary and appropriate force” against anyone involved in the September 11th terrorist attacks, and anyone who supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or any forces associated with those groups. There is no question that we must combat terrorism and continue to pursue those who caused such pain for our nation.

However, the Conference Report does not define the parameters clearly enough for me. Concerns have been raised that someone involved in a group years ago could be targeted even if the group in question was not involved in terrorism at the time of their involvement. The bill also requires indefinite military detention for suspects. It does not require this for U.S. citizens, but the bill does not specifically prohibit it either. I am concerned about the impact that this bill would have on civilian law enforcement agencies investigating terrorism in the United States. In fact, the FBI would have to get a waiver from the President in order to proceed with an interrogation of a U.S. citizen on American soil who is suspected of terrorism. This particular provision is a troubling overreach that quite simply diminishes our civil liberties. For this reason, I could not support the Conference Report. It passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

190

43

0

8

DEMOCRAT

93

93

0

6

TOTAL

283

136

0

14

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

2

7

0

1

Today the House passed H.R. 2055, the Conference Report on the FY 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act. I was inclined to support this bill because the Conference Report is much better than the House proposal and it is probably the best deal we could get in the current climate. In the final analysis, however, I just couldn’t vote for it because it is one more step down the wrong path — one that will negatively impact so many valuable programs. I voted NO. H.R. 2055 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

147

86

0

8

DEMOCRAT

149

35

0

8

TOTAL

296

121

0

16

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

7

3

0

0

MF Global

Yesterday the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, of which I am the Ranking Member, held a hearing on the recent failure of MF Global. An estimated $1.2 billion in customer funds seems to have disappeared and the company has collapsed in fast and alarming fashion. Jon Corzine, who was CEO of MF Global until a few days after it filed for bankruptcy, testified at the hearing, along with representatives from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and others. Regulators and investigators are in the process of determining exactly what happened to all of the money and how MF Global ended up in such a precarious position. For me, the biggest question is was MF Global using legal loopholes to excessively leverage customer funds — and was this an isolated issue with one company, or are other companies doing this right now, and to what extent? It is important to explore that question to determine if the rules in place are sufficient.

What’s Up Next Week

The House will likely return on Monday to continue working on extending the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and a host of other items.


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

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