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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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December 21, 2012

Newtown, CT

My heart breaks for the families who lost loved ones on the 14th of December in Newtown, CT. I cannot imagine their pain, and I am praying for all of them. I hope that the families whose lives have been shattered can take some small measure of comfort in knowing that so many are grieving with them. I think too of the young girls and boys who survived, but witnessed unimaginable horror. I hope they can find peace with time.

The tragedy in Newtown is a stark reminder that it is long past time to take action on gun control. President Obama just announced that his Administration would send a gun control package to Congress next month. I look forward to that. The President has also called for the renewal of the assault weapons ban. There is no reason Congress can’t take action on that quickly. I supported renewing the assault weapons ban in 2004, and I am sorry that it expired without a vote. We cannot prevent every act of violence, but there are certainly many steps that can be taken to improve safety. Congress must extend the assault weapons ban, close gun show loopholes, ban the sale of large capacity magazines, and restrict sales at gun shows. I support all of this. I am hopeful that meaningful gun control will finally be implemented early in 2013.

Plan B and the Fiscal Cliff

An agreement on the fiscal cliff has still not been reached, so yesterday, Speaker Boehner tried to place what he referred to as “Plan B” on the House floor for a vote. That measure would have made tax cuts permanent for the first $1 million in income for all taxpayers, and let them expire for income over $1 million. It also included a permanent extension of the tax rate on Capital Gains and Dividends at 15% for income up to $1 million and a permanent extension of current Estate Tax rates. It did not extend the expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child Care Tax Credit. It also eliminated the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is for higher education expenses. By not addressing these three provisions, 25 million families would have seen an average tax increase of $1,000.

Plan B never made it to the floor for a vote. Speaker Boehner couldn’t get enough support for this bill in his own conference so the measure was pulled late last night. The House adjourned without taking any action on the expiring tax cuts.

Before adjourning, the House did vote on spending cuts and once again House Republicans are asking the neediest among us to bear the burden of deficit reduction. H.R. 6684, “The Spending Reduction Act of 2012” would replace portions of sequestration with $300 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare, and other programs that lower income Americans rely on. H.R. 6684 completely eliminates the Social Services Block Grant, which provides funding for the Meals on Wheels program. 300,000 children would lose access to the school lunch program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program if H.R. 6684 were to become law. Instead of subjecting Defense programs to similar reductions, H.R. 6684 actually increases defense spending in future years.

What happened last night in the House underscores the difficulty that Speaker Boehner has had with some members of his conference. Too many Members are insisting on spending cuts alone to address our deficit. That is not enough and it is most definitely not a fair or balanced approach.

The President has already stated he will veto H.R. 6684. I voted NO. H.R. 6684 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Defense Authorization

Yesterday the House considered the Conference Report on H.R. 4310: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. This bill authorizes funds for Defense Department operations and programming. There are many provisions in this bill that I support, including additional resources for our troops and their families. I was also pleased to see that conferees included language to lift the ban on health insurance coverage of abortion for sexual assault survivors in the military. However, there are still too many provisions that concern me, so I voted NO.

I still have concerns about some of the language in the bill related to Afghanistan. H.R. 4310 authorizes $88.5 billion in funding for the war, though other money in the bill could also be diverted to that purpose. Simply put, this allows the war to continue in a robust way. I have been saying for some time now that we must end our engagement in Afghanistan and bring our troops home. Any spending should now be focused on withdrawing our men and women in uniform, not continuing to fight.

The overall funding level of the bill is a problem too. It authorizes $633.3 billion in funding, which is $1.7 billion more than the President requested and more than the level set in the Budget Control Act. Despite the deficit we are facing, this bill significantly increases defense spending – including for some programs with disturbing cost overruns – which will mean even deeper cuts for non-defense programs. I voted NO. H.R. 4310 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Whittier Street Health Center

On Monday it was my great honor to deliver the keynote address at the Whittier Street Health Center’s annual meeting. The staff and patients of the Whittier Street Health Center are enjoying a new expanded facility with the capacity to offer more services to a greater number of people. Those attending the annual meeting had the opportunity to tour the new facility and learn more about the services available. Community Health Centers are so important to the fabric of our neighborhoods, providing access to vital health services and preventative care. As co-founder and co-chair of the House Community Health Centers Caucus I know how important they are to so many people. I will keep fighting to protect them from devastating cuts as the debate over sequestration continues.


Yesterday I met with Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). I requested the meeting on behalf of the House Sudan Caucus to find out more about USAID’s response to the current humanitarian crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, two states along Sudan’s southern border. In the last 18 months, nearly one million people have been severely affected by this crisis – through violent clashes between government troops and rebels, severe food insecurity, and mass displacement. The situation is made worse by Khartoum’s refusal to grant humanitarian access in the two states. I was glad to discuss USAID’s plans for the coming months, and I am encouraged that the agency is paying such close attention to this pressing issue.

What’s Up Next

As I write, the House has adjourned. An agreement on addressing the fiscal cliff has not been reached. I still think it will happen, but I don’t know when and I don’t know what the package will ultimately include. We received many thoughtful suggestions and substantive feedback on the December 11th e-update detailing my views on the fiscal cliff. I appreciate your activism and your compassion for each other. I will continue to keep you informed, and I hope you are having a peaceful holiday season with your loved ones.


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

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