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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts


8,321 subscribers

May 23, 2014

The Monuments Men

On Monday H.R. 3658, the Monuments Men Recognition Act passed by voice vote. As the lead Democratic co-sponsor of this legislation, I am pleased to have been a part of bringing this long overdue recognition to the men and women who served as the “Monuments Men”. I would like to extend special thanks to lead Republican sponsor Rep. Kay Granger for her tireless efforts to build bipartisan support for this bill. H.R. 3658 would award the “Monuments Men” of World War Two the Congressional Gold Medal. These brave and resourceful soldiers struggled, often behind enemy lines, to locate and preserve some of the world’s most precious artifacts. Without thought for their own safety, they helped save from destruction cathedrals, sculptures and other works of art. They also recaptured major paintings looted by prominent Nazis for their own private collections. Earlier this year, the story of the Monuments men and women became a major motion picture.

As we prepare to remember those who fought and died for our freedom on Memorial Day, this is a fitting tribute to those courageous and selfless individuals who went to war, not to fight but to preserve humankind’s greatest endeavors, the common culture that inspires and unites us.

Boston Harbor Islands

I had the pleasure last week of spending time on Peddocks Island, which is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Through its apprenticeship program, the Carpenters Union has donated the time and talent of its members to renovate an historic chapel located on the island. A view of the chapel from the water appears below. The chapel was built in 1941 by the United States Army. This is the latest phase in the rehabilitation of an island that the military stopped using more than 40 years ago. Peddocks Island visitors have access to a new dock and Welcome Center, miles of hiking trails and campgrounds. There is also a fascinating history associated with the island. It is home to Fort Andrews which was built in the late 1800’s to protect Boston Harbor. As the weather warms, the Boston Harbor Islands are an ideal place to spend an afternoon.

If you are interested in visiting, go to bostonharborislands.org.

Water Resources

On Tuesday the House considered the Conference Report to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). This is the legislation I wrote about last week that includes a $310 million authorization so that the Army Corps of Engineers can dredge Boston Harbor. This work will deepen the harbor’s navigation channels so that it can accommodate newer, larger ships and create more jobs in Boston. The economic benefit of this project will be felt throughout the region. WRRDA authorizes work on water resources projects across the country that will improve navigation, reduce flood risks and address storm damage. I voted YES. The Conference Report to H.R. 3080 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

223

4

0

5

DEMOCRAT

189

0

0

10

TOTAL

412

4

0

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

0

0

1

Defense Authorization

The House also considered H.R. 4435, the Fiscal Year Defense Authorization Act. Although the level of overall funding is comparable to what the Administration requested for FY 2015, and I am pleased that H.R. 4435 contains a cost of living adjustment for military personnel, I could not support this bill. H.R. 4435 includes a $1.2 billion cut to military readiness programs and uses those funds for aircraft and other items not requested by the Defense Department. It also authorizes $69 million to construct additional detention facilities at Guantanamo. Since the Administration has proposed closing this facility, it makes no sense to waste valuable resources expanding it. I voted NO. H.R. 4435 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

216

13

0

3

DEMOCRAT

109

85

0

5

TOTAL

325

98

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

2

7

0

0

Privacy

Thursday the House considered H.R. 3361, the USA Freedom Act. This legislation was filed in response to reports that the government was collecting and storing telephone metadata under the authority of the USA Patriot Act. As someone who consistently voted against the Patriot Act, I feared an overreach like this could happen and was outraged when it did. I was one of the first co-sponsors of H.R. 3361, which banned the blanket collection and storage of bulk data. It required the government to receive approval from the FISA Court and use specific key words as grounds for data collection before conducting a records search. As H.R. 3361 made its way to the floor of the House, it became a completely different bill. It is certainly not the one that I and many of my colleagues cosponsored. For example, language was changed to incorporate the phrase “such as” which would vastly broaden the terms of a search. H.R. 3361 allows the NSA to collect metadata from an entire zip code, an entire state or from every email account with one letter in common. Previously, the collection of telephone metadata did not include cell phones. Now it will. The legislation also greatly reduces transparency because it prohibits companies from making public the number of requests they receive for data collection. I think the version of H.R. 3361 that was considered yesterday takes us in the wrong direction. It continues to allow broad data collection, expands the search to include cell phones and limits what companies can share with the public. I voted NO. H.R. 3361 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

179

51

0

2

DEMOCRAT

124

70

0

5

TOTAL

303

121

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

3

6

0

0

The New York Times had an interesting editorial on H.R. 3361.

Baggage Fees

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering more transparency when it comes to baggage fees, requiring airlines and travel sites to prominently post this information. I have long advocated for this, through legislation and appeals to transportation officials. Sometimes the path to the President’s desk is a long one, and legislation must be filed for years before it becomes law. In some instances, like this one, there are other ways to accomplish a goal. In addition to filing the Baggage Fee Fairness Act, I have been appealing to the DOT to look into this issue. Consumers should know before they book a flight how much an airline will charge to check their bags. The cost is not insignificant, particularly if you must check more than one bag. I appreciate that the DOT is being proactive on behalf of consumers. I encourage you to share your thoughts on this proposal with the DOT as they consider taking this action:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DOT-OST-2014-0056-0001

What’s Up Next Week

The next House votes will take place on Wednesday May 28th. The House is expected to continue consideration of FY 2015 appropriations.

Mike


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Ethics
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

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