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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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May 11, 2012

Sequester Replacement Reconciliation

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 5652: the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012. Last summer, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which called for spending reductions. It also created the Super Committee which was responsible for drafting a plan to reduce the deficit. In November of 2011, the Super Committee announced that they could not reach agreement. The inability to come to an agreement meant that billions of dollars in across-the-board cuts would go into effect automatically at the beginning of 2013 if Congress did not act to make adjustments.

You have heard the term "sequestration" used a great deal in budget discussions. It essentially means that almost everything the federal government funds will be subject to the same reduction. Most of us agree that such an approach is not the way to address the deficit because the cuts go into effect indiscriminately without any consideration of the relative merits or benefits of the programs being cut. Moreover, I believe strongly in a balanced approach to addressing our fiscal challenges — one that includes both spending reductions and new revenue.

In March of this year the House passed Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's Budget Resolution, which proposed spending reductions even greater than those laid out in the Budget Control Act from last summer. H.R. 5652 goes even further than that. It represents the Republican approach to changing the terms of sequestration. It includes over $300 billion in spending cuts over ten years, which is about $200 billion MORE than mandated by the Budget Control Act. It consists entirely of spending cuts and contains billions more in spending reductions than the Ryan budget, which passed just a couple months ago.

H.R. 5652 doesn't include a penny of new revenue and reverses the mandated defense spending cuts. In fact, the legislation actually increases defense spending. The measure unfairly targets funding for programs that help low income families, seniors and those who are struggling in this economy. H.R. 5652 cuts public health, nutrition and other support programs. It reduces Medicaid match funding to states and gets rid of several important components of the financial reform legislation, including completely eliminating funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

H.R. 5652 is not a serious proposal for replacing sequestration. The President has announced he will veto this bill, but he won't have to do that because Senate leaders have already said they won't take it up. I voted NO. H.R. 5652 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:






















The House began consideration of Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bills this week with H.R. 5326: the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013. House Republicans have put a $1.028 trillion cap on discretionary spending for the upcoming fiscal year. This is the number used in the Ryan Budget, and it is less than the $1.047 trillion cap agreed to in the Budget Control Act last summer. The President has stated that he will veto this bill, in part over concerns about the funding levels. Passing this appropriations bill means that there is less money available for programs funded through other appropriations bills such as health care, job training and education. H.R. 5326 increases funding for some agencies, such as the National Science Foundation. Many other programs however, like the Community Oriented Policing Program, are receiving less. This will result in the loss of about 1,200 police officer jobs or hires. I voted NO. H.R. 5326 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:






















As co-chair of the Sudan Caucus, I recently led other Members in writing to President Obama regarding last week's U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. We thought it was essential that the United States emphasize to the Chinese the importance of cooperation on the subject of Sudan and South Sudan. As you may know, the security situation along the border between Sudan and the newly independent South Sudan has been deteriorating.

The U.S. and China have both been consistently engaged on issues relating to the Sudans, each with its own unique points of leverage. The U.S. has historically close ties with South Sudan and played an important role in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the long civil war. China maintains economic and business relationships with both Khartoum (North) and Juba (South). We believe that the time has come for the U.S. and China to cooperate to improve the lives of the people of both Sudans. In coordinating approaches, our nations could make a real impact on the troubled relations among the parties. Realities on the ground dictate that international involvement must now be revitalized with new and innovative approaches.

In the letter, we expressed our belief that the U.S. and China can accomplish much more than either could hope to achieve unilaterally. I look forward to receiving an update from the State Department soon regarding outcomes from the U.S.-China Dialogue.

Maintaining Competitiveness

This week MIT invited me to participate in the Science, Engineering and Technology Congressional Visits Day Breakfast. Members of the scientific community gathered on Capitol Hill to advocate for continued research and innovation. Participants from all over the country urged the importance of maintaining funding for scientific research, technology and engineering. Such investments create jobs and help the U.S. stay competitive. Those in attendance included scientists, engineers and educators. I appreciated the invitation to talk with forum attendees. Several weeks ago, I also had the chance to meet with a group of MIT students who came to DC with a similar message. They were participating in Stand with Science, an effort to generate support for scientific and research funding. I am a strong supporter of this funding because of the clear impact it can have on our economy, particularly in Massachusetts. Growth through innovation has always been vital to our nation and it will undoubtedly play a role in our economic recovery.


This morning, I joined several other members of the House Sudan Caucus in meeting with Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Ambassador Princeton Lyman, the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan. As you may know, tensions between Sudan and South Sudan have increased dramatically in the last few weeks as both countries have engaged in military attacks as well as heightened rhetoric. I am particularly concerned about the impact a return to war could have on the people of both Sudans, given that so many are already suffering from food insecurity and a lack of access to basic services. Ambassador Rice has been a strong leader on this issue and has used the U.S. presidency of the Security Council for the month of April to press for negotiations. I spoke with both ambassadors about the influence China and Russia have on the process, and I emphasized my skepticism about the willingness of the regime in Khartoum to deal in good faith. The Sudan Caucus is grateful for the work Ambassador Rice and Ambassador Lyman have been doing, and we remain committed to working for peace in the Sudans.

What's Up Next Week

Next week the House will consider the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization and the National Defense Authorization Act.

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

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