An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano 7th Congressional District of Massachusetts
November 14, 2014
Back in Session
The House and Senate returned this week for a lame duck session and there are a number of issues that may be considered before the 113th Congress comes to a close. At the top of the must-do list is the budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The continuing resolution (CR) expires at midnight on December 11th. At this writing it is not clear whether leadership will put forth a short term CR extending funding into 2015 or pass an omnibus bill covering the remainder of the current fiscal year. It is also likely that Congress will consider an authorization for the use of military force regarding actions being taken against ISIS. As you know, I am deeply skeptical about greater U.S. involvement in the region. I believe strongly that Congress has a role in the formation of foreign policy and I am encouraged that the President has stated he will seek specific Congressional authority soon. The House is expected to adjourn for the year on December 12th.
Today the House considered H.R. 5682, legislation to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. H.R. 5682 was introduced on Wednesday and it has not gone through the committee process. Despite this, H.R. 5682 was subject to a rule, which means that it passed by a simple majority vote instead of the 2/3 usually required when a bill does not go through regular order. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry crude oil over the Canadian border through parts of the U.S. to the Gulf Coast. The project requires a whole host of approvals, particularly because it would cross an international border. I think it is obvious from the nature of the project that it merits a significant environmental review and should be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). H.R. 5682 basically exempts the Keystone XL Pipeline from permitting requirements. There is no need to rush this pipeline project through. The review process is ongoing and should continue. Furthermore, exempting this project from existing requirements sets a troubling precedent for the future. I voted NO. H.R. 5682 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:
On Halloween evening, October 31st, the Patrick Administration announced it had reached an agreement with the federal government on a five year Medicaid waiver. This is funding that will go to certain Massachusetts hospitals providing health care to the state’s most vulnerable patients. Two of the so-called “safety net hospitals” are in the 7th Congressional district. While the agreement should suffice for the first three years, it does not include funding for years four and five, putting the entire Massachusetts health insurance program in jeopardy starting in 2018. The amount agreed upon is almost half a billion dollars less than previous funding agreements. I applaud the efforts of Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Polanowicz but I am truly disappointed that the Obama Administration would jeopardize the first-in-the-nation health care system upon which the President based his legacy legislative accomplishment. I am especially disappointed because the Administration funded longer term waivers in other states, including Texas, whose governor, state legislature, and majority of members of Congress continue to be opposed to the Affordable Care Act. I find such disparate treatment incomprehensible and troubling. The current agreement leaves our Commonwealth at the mercy of the next President and the next Governor, and could result in increased cost to ratepayers. I hope my concern proves to be unfounded but I will pay close attention to the implementation of the agreement, particularly with respect to its last two years.
What’s Up Next Week
The next House votes are scheduled for Monday November 17th. At this writing, a floor schedule for next week is not available.
Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Ethics
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services
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Roxbury Community College Campus Library, Room 211, Boston
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