skip to main contentskip to popular page linksskip to main navigation links
Office Hours Program Social Security Calculator Translate this page into another language
photo of Mike Capuano Michael E. Capuano representing the 7th district of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives Go to the House of Representatives homepage
Visit Mike's video channel on YouTube Like Mike on Facebook

 

 Mike's Schedule Voting Record District Maps Register To Vote FAQ Site Map e-Updates

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


8,321 subscribers

June 29, 2012

This is one of the longest e-updates we have ever sent and we apologize for that but so much happened this week that we just could not cut anything out. So thanks for your interest and your patience.

The Supreme Court and Health Care

I am very pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. If you’re interested, the entire decision can be found here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf

It took far too long to achieve comprehensive health care reform and the court’s ruling means we won’t be going back to the days when too many Americans couldn’t afford health care or were denied access to coverage. Now that the constitutionality question has been answered, I’d like to highlight some of the important protections that will remain in place as a result of this ruling. Insurance companies cannot deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Lifetime coverage limits cannot be imposed. This means that if you develop a serious illness requiring lengthy and expensive care, your insurance company can no longer cut off your coverage after a certain point. Young people can remain on their parents’ insurance until they are 26. Seniors will receive discounts on prescription drugs.

These are just a few of the provisions that will remain in effect as a result of the Supreme Court’s historic decision and all Americans will benefit from it. Unfortunately the Republican-led House continues to focus on ways to dismantle this legislation. Speaker Boehner already announced that the House will vote again on repealing the Affordable Care Act in July. It will pass in the House, but will go nowhere in the Senate. And once again, time that could be better spent on real problems will be wasted on an empty gesture.

The Supreme Court and Campaign Financing

The Supreme Court’s decision on another matter this week was not good news. The court struck down a 100 year old Montana law in issuing its decision on American Tradition Partnership Inc. v. Bullock. The longstanding Montana law prohibited corporate expenditures in state elections. The Supreme Court struck down that law based on its 2010 Citizens United decision.

I am very disappointed by this decision. The Supreme Court essentially refused to recognize the rights of a sovereign state by invalidating a century old law without even giving the state a chance to offer an oral argument in support of this statute. Montana had a long history of elections being unduly influenced by mining companies and that’s why they passed a law prohibiting corporate donations to influence a state or local election. The Supreme Court simply dismissed the law out of hand; declaring that Citizens United overrules it and there is no chance of corruption unless the donation goes directly to a candidate.

Most of you already know where I stand on this matter. Citizens United diminishes the voice of the individual voter by giving corporations outsized influence over elections. We’ve seen countless examples in the most recent cycles of millionaires and billionaires donating big money to Super PACs that support one candidate over another. In the current Presidential campaign, some candidates were able to continue campaigning simply due to the generosity of one individual and a Super PAC.

This Supreme Court action underscores the need for a Congressional response. I support an amendment to the Constitution that clarifies “personhood” does not apply to a corporation, I have co-sponsored a bill to require clear disclosure of corporate contributions to Super PACs, and I have filed legislation requiring a shareholder vote before a corporation can make political expenditures. This week’s Supreme Court decision puts a bold line under the need for action.

Transportation and Student Loans

Today the House approved the Conference Report on H.R. 4348: the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012. This is the long awaited reauthorization of road, bridge and highway programs that has been extended nine times. It is not the bill I would have written and I have some problems with it. However, I think it is probably the best bill we could have gotten due to the fiscal climate and Republican resistance to seeking increased funding for transportation.

H.R. 4348 authorizes $105 billion in funding for highway and transit programs through Fiscal Year 2014. For every $1 billion in federal funds spent on highways and transit, more than 34,000 jobs are created or sustained. Of that $105 billion, Massachusetts will receive $1.2 billion for highways and $700 million for transit for a total of $1.9 billion over two years.

Massachusetts actually does a lot better than most states. In terms of federal dollars, Massachusetts is one of only three states and the District of Columbia that will see an increase in total annual funding.

I do not like some of the changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regarding environmental review. I am also concerned about cuts to the Transportation Enhancements program which helps fund pedestrian safety initiatives and bike paths. But on balance, I felt that H.R. 4348 was an acceptable compromise and I am comforted knowing that the Commonwealth is not prohibited from using their funds for such investments if they choose.

Long-time readers of my e-update may recall that I have filed a bill three times to establish a nationwide highway tunnel inspection program modeled after the existing bridge inspection program. It has passed in the House and has been included in previous transportation bills, but it has never become law.

That will finally change when President Obama signs H.R. 4348, which he will do by tomorrow. My tunnel inspection provisions are included in this legislation. I first filed the bill in January of 2007. After the tragic July 10, 2006 death of Milena Del Valle due to a falling ceiling panel in a Big Dig tunnel, many questions were raised, including questions about inspections. There were no national standards or requirements for inspecting highway tunnels. Instead, the responsibility was left to the tunnel owners, who had the authority to determine how and when their tunnels would be inspected.

In simplest terms, my legislation created a Nationwide Tunnel Inspection Program modeled after the existing Nationwide Bridge Inspection Program. I am very pleased that this program will finally become a reality. It will give us a much better understanding of the condition of our highway tunnels so that potential problems can be addressed in a timely fashion and inspected against national standards.

H.R. 4348 also includes a one year delay in the interest rate hike on federal student loans, which was scheduled to go from 3.4% to 6.8% on Sunday. The Conference Report also includes a 5 year reauthorization for the National Flood Insurance Program. I voted YES. H.R. 4348 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

186

52

0

3

DEMOCRAT

187

0

0

4

TOTAL

373

52

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

AG Holder

Yesterday the House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. This is the first time in the history of the United States that the Congress has voted in favor of a contempt motion for a sitting Cabinet Officer of any President. In my opinion, this vote is more about politics than policy. I joined many of my colleagues in walking off the floor of the House in protest of this politically-motivated vote.

All of this has to do with an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) program known as “Operation Fast and Furious”. Law enforcement agencies would allow firearms to be bought by people suspected of arms trafficking and track those purchases to Mexican drug cartels. The purchases could then be used as the basis of criminal charges to prosecute members of the cartels. This program has been labeled as “gunwalking”.

This particular program started in 2006 when George W. Bush was President. Documents establish that Attorney General Holder shut it down once he learned of the operation.

“Operation Fast and Furious” was revealed after two guns in question were found at the murder scene of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol Agent. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee began investigating. As part of that, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made thousands of documents available to the Committee. Dozens of DOJ officials were also interviewed and the Attorney General himself has testified nine times before Congress on this matter.

Throughout that entire process, no evidence was discovered that AG Holder ever approved continuation of the program. Once AG Holder did become aware of it, he halted the operation and initiated an investigation by the DOJ Inspector General.

Recently, the Committee decided to focus on a letter from February of 2011, in which the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs asserted that “gunwalking” was not taking place. The DOJ has explained that the letter was inaccurate. It has also given the Committee over 1,300 pages of documents related to the circumstances surrounding how the letter was drafted. Those documents show that there was no effort to intentionally provide inaccurate information. Instead, the documents show that letter drafters received inaccurate information from the ATF.

When those documents revealed no evidence of a cover-up, the Committee then demanded additional documents from a period of time after the letter was sent. The AG last week offered to provide those documents. He also requested that Committee Chairman Issa not move toward a contempt vote because the DOJ was cooperating with the Committee and would continue to cooperate. The Chairman said no. At that point the White House exercised executive privilege over the documents, because it was obvious that Chairman Issa wouldn’t be satisfied no matter how much the DOJ cooperated.

So that’s how we got here: an ATF run operation that started under President Bush and should not have been implemented, a new Attorney General and Department of Justice testifying before the Oversight Committee and providing close to 8,000 pages of requested documents, and a Committee that kept demanding more when the information they were receiving wasn’t supporting the story they wanted to hear.

I think it’s important to note that every hearing witness requested by a Democrat on the Committee was denied, including a request that the head of the ATF testify. I cannot imagine why Chairman Issa wouldn’t want to hear directly from the agency that ran the program in question, but he didn’t. As I noted earlier, I did not vote because in my opinion the resolution wasn’t worthy of one. The resolution passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

238

2

0

1

DEMOCRAT

17

65

1

108

TOTAL

255

67

1

109

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

10

0

0

Appropriations

The House this week continued consideration of FY 2013 appropriations bills with H.R. 5972: FY 2013 Transportation–HUD Appropriations. This legislation funds the Department of Transportation as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The House continues to take up appropriations bills that do not adhere to the funding level agreed upon in last summer’s Budget Control Act. Because of this approach, there will be even less money available for programming in the last appropriations bills of the year, most notably the ones covering health, human services, education and research programming. Many of these initiatives have already endured substantial cuts, and this funding approach guarantees that they will be subject to even steeper cuts.

H.R. 5972 cuts a number of programs that provide tangible benefits to the Commonwealth. For example, New Starts funding is cut. This is the program that helps states build new transit lines. The Green Line Extension has applied for funding through this program. With less money available overall, more projects will be competing for a smaller pool of funds. TIGER grants aren’t funded at all. This program makes money available for the construction of multi-modal transportation initiatives and has been used to make improvements to Wonderland Station on the Blue Line.

H.R. 5972 cuts rental assistance for project-based section 8 housing so that there won’t be enough money to renew existing contracts for one year. The Clarendon Hill Towers in Somerville is an example of a project-based section 8 property. I voted NO. H.R. 5972 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

182

55

0

4

DEMOCRAT

79

108

0

4

TOTAL

261

163

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

4

6

0

0

What’s up Next Week

A District Work period has been scheduled for next week. The House is expected to continue consideration of FY 2013 appropriations during the week of July 9th.


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

P.S. I welcome your feedback on our e-Updates. Please let me and my staff know what you think of this service by e-mailing our office.


District Offices:

110 First Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
and
Roxbury Community College, Campus Library, Room 211

District Office Phone:

(617) 621-6208

DC Office:

1414 Longworth Building, Washington, DC 20515

DC Office Phone:

(202) 225-5111

Website and e-mail:

capuano.house.gov

You have received this e-mail because you subscribed to Rep. Capuano's E-Mail Updates authorizing Rep. Capuano to send your inbox periodic e-mail updates from his Congressional office.

UNSUBSCRIBE: if you would like to unsubscribe from this newsletter, you may do so at this address: http://capuano.house.gov/e-updates/unsubscribe.shtml.

PRIVACY POLICY: Your e-mail address will not be shared with anyone else or sold in any way. To read the complete privacy policy, visit: http://capuano.house.gov/privacypolicy.shtml.

E-Updates are sent from an unattended mailbox. Please do not reply directly to this e-mail. Instead, if you wish to e-mail us, please go to http://capuano.house.gov/contact/.
 
NEWS & MULTIMEDIA

 

Privacy Policy

To protect your privacy, subscriptions to Rep. Capuano's E-Updates are subject to our Privacy Policy.

 

Bill Search

Use the THOMAS search engine to search bills from the 113th Congress.

 

i.e "hres 142"

 

i.e "health care"

 

Newspapers

 

News Services

Here are some informative online news services to help you find reports from Boston and the region, as well as national and international news stories.

 

Home | About | Biography | Contact | Issues | Links | News | Schedules | Services

E-Updates | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Accessibility

110 First Street
Cambridge, MA 02141
P: (617) 621-6208
F: (617) 621-8628
Hours

Roxbury Community College
Campus Library
Room 211
Boston
Hours

Stetson Hall
Room 124
6 South Main Street
Randolph
Hours

  Constituent Services Click to close menu
  Casework and Constituent Assistance
  Citizenship/Naturalization Information
  Immigration Casework
  Ordering Flags Flown Over The Capitol
  Presidential Greetings
  Tours
  U.S. Service Academy Nominations
  Internship Programs
  Washington, D.C. Attractions
  Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance
  FAQs
  News and Multimedia Center Click to close menu
  e-Updates
  Recent Votes
  Press Items
  Video and Audio
  Photo Gallery
  Legislative Issues Click to close menu
  Mike on the Issues
  Recent Votes
  Mike's Voting Record
  Scorecards for Mike's Votes in Congress
  Legislation Sponsored by Mike
  Earmark Requests
  Committees and Caucuses
  Ethics Task Force
  Congressional Schedules Click to close menu
  Mike's Schedule
  House Floor Summary
  Weekly House Schedule
  Annual House Calendar
  Weekly Senate Schedule
  About The 7th District Click to close menu
  Maps
  Cities
  Demographics
  The 7th District Over the Years
  Nobel Prize Winners
  Interesting facts about Massachusetts
  Massachusetts Links
  Links Click to close menu
  Massachusetts Links
    State Government
    About the 7th District
    Arts, Culture and Attractions
    Chambers of Commerce
    Colleges and Universities
    Exploring Massachusetts
    Hospitals and Health Organizations
    Newspapers
    Sports

  Federal Government Links
    USA.gov - Official Government Portal
    Legislative Branch
    Executive Branch
    Judicial Branch
    Federal Agencies
    Kids' Pages
    Register to Vote
    Washington, D.C. Attractions
    Business Opportunities with the Government

  Links For Students
 
  Contact Mike Click to close menu
  District Office
  Washington, D.C. Office
  Office Hours Program
  Community Meetings
  E-mail Mike's Office