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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

September 12, 2014

Remembering

As we mark the 13th anniversary of September 11th this week, we remember and honor all of the lives taken that tragic day. We honor too, the brave men and women in uniform who lost their lives in the aftermath of the attacks on our country. Let us continue to hold them and their families in our hearts.

President Obama’s Address to the Nation on ISIS

While I do appreciate that President Obama shared his approach to destroying ISIS this week, I still firmly believe that he must seek Congressional approval soon. I think the President has the authority to act without Congressional approval in the short term, but if the plan is to engage inside Syria on a regular and pre-planned basis, that is beyond his sole authority. I remain skeptical but want to be clear that I am open to listening and I will be watching over the next few weeks to see precisely what actions are proposed and taken, and whether a credible international coalition can be built. It is also important to know which regional governments are cooperating and the extent to which allies will commit their resources and forces.

Pending this, I do NOT support arming Syrian rebels immediately. If that plan had been carried out a year ago, as some American war-hawks demanded, the United States would have been arming ISIS itself both directly and indirectly. ISIS was merely part of the rebel coalition at that time, not the threat that they have since become, and our government would have entrusted them with weapons. Moreover, they would have seized these weapons from weaker rebel forces, as they have others.  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a brutal despot, but there is little reason to believe that ANY of the serious opposition factions can be trusted to be any better, more tolerant or respectful of human rights. Indeed, it’s not clear at this point how the opposition factions will fare over the more fanatical and that must be taken into consideration.  Syria is not the American Civil War with two clear cut sides – it is a myriad of different groups with one common enemy in Assad but otherwise different in philosophy, goals, trustworthiness and military effectiveness.  The worst outcome would be to arm and support people who then morph into something more dangerous.

You can be certain that I am watching developments closely and will continue to share my thoughts with you as events unfold. I want to thank everyone who has contacted my office on this grave matter. Your opinion is important to me.

Ruggles MBTA Station

We received some great transportation news on Tuesday. The MBTA will receive $20 million through the Department of Transportation’s TIGER grant program to revitalize Boston's Ruggles Station, including the addition of a new passenger platform. The DOT received $9.5 billion in applications, which was 15 times the amount of federal funding available.  We fought hard to deliver funds from this highly competitive program.  The planned upgrades will improve the overall commuter experience and I am pleased that federal funding is being made available for this work.

Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange

On Tuesday the House considered H.Res. 644, Condemning the Obama Administration’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and expressing national security concerns over the release of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists. H.Res. 644 is the House response to the circumstances surrounding the May release of Sergeant Bergdahl. His freedom was obtained through an exchange with 5 Guantanamo prisoners. H.Res. 644 condemns that exchange and the failure of the administration to consult Congress before it happened. Administration officials have maintained that the opportunity to act was very limited and they believed it represented the last credible chance to free Sergeant Bergdahl. Simply put, the United States does not leave its soldiers behind on the battlefield. Furthermore, prisoner exchanges to free American soldiers have occurred throughout our history. I’d also like to underscore that this exchange took place in May and it is now mid September. The timing of this resolution for me, certainly raises questions. I voted NO. H.Res. 644 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

227

0

0

5

DEMOCRAT

22

163

0

14

TOTAL

249

163

0

19

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

0

7

0

2

Clean Water Act

Also on Tuesday the House considered H.R. 5078, Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act. This legislation essentially seeks to weaken enforcement of the Clean Water Act. The administration has been working to clarify what waterways fall under the Clean Water Act and H.R. 5078 blocks that effort.  During the Bush Administration, two Supreme Court decisions created confusion over the reach of the law. The Bush Administration’s response at the time did not do enough to address that confusion moving forward. Earlier this year, the Obama Administration issued a proposed rule that would better define the waterways subject to the Clean Water Act. Without action, some projects impacting waterways could experience increased costs and delays because the rules aren’t clear. The administration has threatened to veto H.R. 5078. I voted NO. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

227

1

0

4

DEMOCRAT

35

151

0

13

TOTAL

262

152

0

17

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

0

7

0

2

 

More ACA Votes

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act, which represents yet another effort to weaken the Affordable Care Act.  H.R. 3522 allows insurance companies to continue offering plans that do not meet the minimum coverage requirements mandated by the ACA through 2018 and to make those plans available to new customers. Currently, only consumers already enrolled in plans that did not meet the ACA threshold could remain on those plans for an additional year. H.R. 3522 opens those substandard plans to everyone. I voted NO. H.R. 3522 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

222

0

0

10

DEMOCRAT

25

167

0

7

TOTAL

247

167

0

17

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

0

9

0

0

What’s Up Next Week

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday September 15th. The House is expected to consider a continuing resolution to fund the government beyond September 30th. 

Mike


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

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