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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


12,360 subscribers

August 1, 2014

Schedule

As I write this newsletter, the voting schedule in the House is uncertain. Republican leadership at this point does not have the votes within its own caucus to pass legislation addressing the immigration crisis along our southern border, and they refuse to compromise with Democrats to gain some bipartisan support. Votes are possible today and into the weekend. While we wait for the House Republican Caucus to make an announcement on votes I thought I would report on the rest of the week.

Suing the President

On Wednesday the House considered H. Res. 676, Providing for the Authority to Initiate Litigation for actions by the President or the Executive Branch Officials Inconsistent with their Duties under the Constitution of the United States. H. Res. 676 gives the Speaker of the House the authority basically to sue any Executive Branch employee, including the President of the United States. Republicans have asserted that the Administration is taking too many executive actions without first consulting Congress. H. Res. 676 is their response.

This resolution is a waste of valuable floor time and any lawsuits initiated as a result of it will be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Many conservative legal experts have soundly rejected the merits of this resolution. Three sitting Supreme Court Justices, Antonin Scalia, along with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas have rejected the idea behind it in past writings. In 2013 they wrote that “the framers of the Constitution emphatically rejected a system” that allows Congress to seek legal remedies “whenever the President . . . implements a law that is not to Congress’s liking”. I voted NO. H.Res. 676 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

225

5

0

3

DEMOCRAT

0

196

0

3

TOTAL

225

201

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Border Legislation – Part One

For weeks we have heard reports about the thousands of children traveling across our southern border. The United States cannot simply ignore these undocumented and unaccompanied minors. The Administration has repeatedly stated it must have more resources to care for the children while they wait for their cases to be processed. Many will be returned to their home countries, but even simply sending them back costs money. Despite acknowledging the need to deal with this crisis, House Republicans adjourned yesterday without calling for a vote on their own legislation to address it. A number of House Republicans objected that the bill did too much to help the unaccompanied children and refused to support it. The legislation, which provided a fraction of the funds that the Administration requested, was pulled from the schedule yesterday afternoon.

Speaker Boehner and his leadership team then issued a statement asserting that “there are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action.” I call your attention to H. Res. 676, detailed above. House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to sue the President for taking actions without consulting Congress, then turned around a day later and demanded that he take action to address the border crisis without consulting Congress.

After initially indicating that no more votes would be held in the House this week, Republican leadership seemed to recognize the importance of addressing the border crisis and announced that additional votes were possible after all. The problem of course is that they cannot agree on a path forward among their own members.

Veterans

On Wednesday the House considered the Conference Report for H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access to Health Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014. This legislation delivers additional health care resources for veterans after troubling reports of very serious problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This included falsified appointment records that masked significant delays for veterans waiting to see a doctor. H.R. 3230 gives veterans access to health care outside of the VA system if they live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic or if they cannot get an appointment at a VA clinic within 30 days. The legislation increases the VA's capacity to provide services by making it easier to hire additional medical professionals and open more health care facilities to meet existing need. H.R. 3230 gives the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs more resources and authority to address issues with employee misconduct. H.R. 3230 authorizes $10 billion for health care at non-VA facilities and $5 billion to hire additional medical staff. I voted YES. H.R. 3230 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

225

5

0

3

DEMOCRAT

195

0

0

4

TOTAL

420

5

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

0

Transportation

You may recall a couple weeks ago the House voted to replenish the Highway Trust Fund and extend legislation authorizing transportation funding. The Highway Trust Fund, which helps finance transportation projects in communities all over the country, was scheduled to run out of money on a day to day basis this month. At the end of September, the legislation authorizing transportation funding was set to expire. The House bill addressed both of these issues through May 31, 2015. This week the Senate also voted, but their extension lasted until December of 2014.

Instead of negotiating with the Senate to find some common ground, the House instead passed their version of H.R. 5021 again and rejected the Senate plan. By doing this House leaders basically demanded that the Senate accept the House’s approach. This put funding at risk because the Highway Trust Fund was running out of money fast. I voted NOT to reject the Senate plan. H.R. 5021 passed yesterday. The Senate did vote last night on the House proposal. So funding won’t run out next week, but a long term transportation plan is still out of reach. The entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

227

2

0

4

DEMOCRAT

45

148

0

6

TOTAL

272

150

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Endangered Species Legislation

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act. This legislation is a combination of four bills that address how information about endangered species is shared. H.R. 4315 requires that all data related to the listing of an endangered species be made available online for anyone wishing to review it. The Endangered Species Act requires that the government use the best scientific and commercial data available when classifying a species as endangered. H.R. 4315 would deem any data submitted by a state or local government to be the best available scientific and commercial data. There is no requirement that the data actually have any basis in science and the legislation does not address how to proceed if different cities submit conflicting data. H.R. 4315 also requires that a large volume of data related to Endangered Species Act lawsuits be made available online. Despite the additional financial burdens that all this reporting requires, no funds are made available to address the expanded scope of work. I voted NO. H.R. 4315 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

219

8

0

6

DEMOCRAT

14

182

0

3

TOTAL

233

190

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

What’s Up Next Week

As the writing, the floor schedule is unclear.

Mike


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

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