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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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November 30, 2012

STEM Visas

This week the House considered H.R. 6429: The STEM Jobs Act. You may recall that the House voted on this bill in September under suspension of the rules. This means that the legislation requires a 2/3 YES vote in order to pass, rather than a simple majority. I voted NO in September and H.R. 6429 failed because it did not receive a 2/3 YES vote. Today, H.R. 6429 was brought to the House floor under regular order.

H.R. 6429 establishes a new visa program for foreign students who have advanced degrees in the STEM subjects ó science, technology, engineering and math. This is a worthy goal and I support it. I want students who earned a U.S. degree in a STEM subject to stay so they can utilize their skills here and contribute to our economy. I do not, however, support the way that this bill establishes the program.

Instead of simply creating a program that gives STEM students the opportunity to remain in the U.S., H.R. 6429 eliminates another visa program and directs those existing visas to STEM students. The program eliminated is called the Diversity Visa program, and it provides visas for countries where the rates of immigration to the United States are low. For example, half of the 50,000 visas allocated to this program are used by African immigrants. While I would support efforts to reform the Diversity Visa program to improve its effectiveness, I do not believe it is necessary to end this program in order to create new STEM visas. We should be able to do both.

I voted NO. This time, H.R. 6429 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Massport Bypass Road

On Monday I participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for a bypass road dedicated in the memory of Martin Coughlin, an East Boston community organizer who long advocated for this project. The idea behind the bypass road is to reduce the volume of commercial traffic heading to and from Logan Airport. This takes trucks off residential streets, improves local air quality and enhances local neighborhoods. I have supported this project since taking office and I was pleased Monday to celebrate its completion.

Merging the SEC and the CFTC

Yesterday I joined Congressman Barney Frank in introducing legislation to merge the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This is a common sense step in continuing to advance financial regulatory reform. Merging the SEC and the CFTC will consolidate the existing regulators to eliminate gaps that have put our financial system at risk. I have long supported this merger and it became even clearer to me that such a step was needed during review of the MF Global bankruptcy.

Community Health Centers

I met this week with representatives from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. Like so many local agencies, community health center advocates are very concerned about the impact of sequestration on the services they provide. As chair of the House Community Health Centers Caucus, I am keenly aware of the importance of CHCs in the lives of patients and the neighborhoods they serve, and I too am concerned about looming budget cuts. We talked at length about the fiscal climate and the need to develop a balanced approach to addressing the federal deficit.

Massachusetts Hospital Association

I also met this week with members of the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA). They are also worried about the impact of sequestration and what it means for Massachusettsí many great hospitals, including our world-renowned teaching hospitals. These two meetings emphasize the sweeping and dangerous breadth of sequestration: access to health care and a continuing commitment to biomedical and clinical research are both essential, to our nationís health and to our economy. Every aspect of health care, from basic research conducted by the NIH to prenatal nutrition, taught by the Community Health Centers and supported by WIC, will be devastated if we cannot find a balanced and responsible approach to the ďfiscal cliff.Ē


I met this week with representatives from the AFL-CIO as well as members of the SEIU. Everyone is very concerned about the impact of the fiscal cliff and they have been communicating that message to Members of Congress in Washington. As you know, I share their concern. We talked at length about the prospects for a balanced agreement, which is something I remain hopeful will be achieved. The men and women who met with me expressed particular concern about the impact that the fiscal cliff could have on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting with Bishop Elias Taban, the National Bishop of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and Uganda, and his wife, Reverend Anngrace Taban Asha. Bishop Taban has lived all his life in what is now South Sudan, and spent many years fighting in the Sudan Peopleís Liberation Army (SPLA) as a soldier before he put down his gun and entered church service. His work with civil society in South Sudan ranges from involvement in drilling water wells to running orphanages and hospitals. The Bishop spoke about a number of challenges facing South Sudan today, including intercommunal violence in Jonglei state, government corruption, and the need for diversification of the economy. I was impressed with Bishop Tabanís work, and I take to heart his message that the US must continue to engage with South Sudan at the highest levels while also encouraging development of civil society. I assured him I will continue to work through the Sudan Caucus to make sure the two Sudans receive the attention they so desperately need.

Teach For America

I was pleased to meet yesterday with a group of Teach for America fellows who are part of a growing number who have been teaching in local classrooms throughout Massachusetts, including 21 in the 8th Congressional District. Teach for America is a national organization that brings recent college graduates into classrooms all over the country, usually in low-income or high-need communities. They have the opportunity to experience classroom teaching at all levels, from early childhood education through high school. Teachers contribute to the work being done in classrooms all over the country. They have the chance to learn about a new community, discover a new profession and make a difference in the lives of many children. I enjoyed hearing about the classroom experiences of the fellows and appreciated the time they took to update me on the organization.

Tip OíNeill

On Wednesday the House passed H.R. 6604, which names the federal building located on 2nd Street, SW between C and D Streets SW in Washington, D.C. after former House Speaker Tip OíNeill. Tip was Speaker of the House from 1977-1987 and would have celebrated his 100th birthday on December 9th. It is my great honor to serve in the district that Tip represented so effectively in Washington for so many years. His legacy is everywhere, in neighborhoods all over the 8th district and throughout the halls of Congress. It is fitting that this building be named for one of our countryís greatest House Speakers.

Tip possessed many qualities that I admired, and I think one of his most impressive skills was the ability to disagree with his colleagues on substantive issues but still seek common ground whenever possible. Thatís how progress is made and Tip recognized that more than most. Tipís approach to the legislative process and his willingness to listen to the other side are qualities that every elected official should strive to possess. Tip never forgot who elected him and why he was serving in Washington. Tip has left an impressive legacy as Speaker and as a towering advocate for his constituents. The naming of this federal building is a small way for Congress to say thank you for his years of service.

Whatís Up Next Week

The next House votes are scheduled for Tuesday December 4th. The floor schedule for next week has not yet been released. Negotiations continue over how to address the fiscal cliff.


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

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