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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

January 9, 2015

Terrorism

I grieve with the family and friends of those who were brutally murdered this week in France. First, 8 journalists were killed at a satirical magazine. Two police officers, guarding the paperís staff after a firebombing in 2011, died in the same attack. Men were killed, it appears, because they published cartoons some felt disrespectful of religion or defended their right to do so. Freedom of conscience creates responsibilities: citizens must tolerate dissent and express disagreements peacefully. Today we learned that hostages were taken at a kosher market in Paris by a man who boasted of having previously killed an unarmed policewoman. At least 4 of the hostages perished. These attacks are assaults on the principles that support all democratic governments.

The 114th Congress

On Tuesday the 114th Congress was sworn in. As you will learn by reading todayís newsletter, not much has changed in the House. Nevertheless, I am energized about continuing to represent the 7th Congressional District and truly appreciate the opportunity. Thanks for your interest in this newsletter and all the feedback we received last year. I hope you will continue sharing your thoughts and expressing your opinions.

Green Line Extension

Before I get to this weekís legislative activity, I have some good news to share. On Monday the Federal Transit Administration made its nearly $1 billion commitment to the Green Line Extension official by signing the Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Commonwealth. This commits the federal government to fully funding its share of the Green Line Extension, something Iíve been working on for years. I was very pleased to celebrate the signing of this agreement Monday with the local, state and federal stakeholders who have been great advocates with me on this initiative.

Federal Housing Administration

This week the Obama Administration announced that it was reducing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance premium effective January 26th. This will make homeownership more affordable for those seeking to enter the housing market. These premiums have been steadily increasing and I have long advocated a return to more affordable levels which will help make this program more accessible to moderate-income families. I wrote to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) several times last year, along with Rep. Maxine Waters, to request that the FHA take another look at its policies regarding the mortgage insurance premium. Because that premium was steadily increasing, it was putting FHA mortgages out of reach for many otherwise qualified home buyers. The Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) is stable. This sensible reduction to the upfront mortgage insurance premium will better accommodate the homebuyers it is designed to serve.

TRIA

On Wednesday the House considered legislation to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program. The bill considered, H.R. 26, was the same one that the House passed last month. It extends TRIA for six years and increases the amount of losses that would make insurance companies eligible to access TRIA from $100 million to $200 million over five years. TRIA was passed in the aftermath of 9/11 after terrorism insurance suddenly became unaffordable and limited. The high cost of terrorism insurance stymied activity in many industries, affecting workers compensation coverage and halting new construction. TRIA created a federal backstop to help make terrorism insurance available and affordable again. The measure has twice been extended but it expired at the end of 2014.

I have introduced legislation on TRIA starting in 2004. Most recently I worked with my Republican colleague, Rep. Peter King, in advance of the programís 2014 expiration. Unfortunately, the Senate did not act on the House bill and TRIA was not renewed. The House took steps this week to restart the program. The legislation still includes some changes to the Dodd-Frank Act having to do with non-financial swap transactions. While I do not think this legislation should be the vehicle that House Republicans use to amend Dodd Frank, a relatively noncontroversial change should not jeopardize restarting TRIA. The Senate also acted this week so the TRIA reauthorization is on its way to the President. I voted YES. H.R. 26 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

237

5

0

0

DEMOCRAT

179

0

1

5

TOTAL

416

5

1

5

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

0

More Financial Services

On Wednesday the House also considered H.R. 37, the Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act. This legislation, introduced on Tuesday, is a combination of 11 different bills that were considered in the last Congress. Most of the provisions are noncontroversial and have actually passed with bipartisan support when voted on separately. However, H.R. 37 contains a very troubling provision that delays the implementation of part of the Volcker Rule. The Volcker Rule prohibits banks from using its depositorsí funds to make risky investments. H.R. 37 gives banks two more years to divest from Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs). This is on top of the two extra years that federal regulators have already granted banks to divest from non-conforming CLOs, which are risky investments that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently investigating. The SEC is determining how these instruments are used and traded and whether they are creating new avenues for fraud. The SEC is also reviewing whether banks and companies are using complicated bond deals to hide certain risks illegally. Itís worth noting that only three of Wall Streetís largest banks control almost 70% of CLO transactions. I spoke on the House floor against H.R. 37 and you can view my speech here. Because H.R. 37 did not go through regular order, it required a 2/3 affirmative vote in order to pass. It did not achieve that threshold so it did not pass in the House. I voted NO and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

241

1

0

0

DEMOCRAT

35

145

0

5

TOTAL

276

146

0

5

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

More Votes on the ACA

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act of 2015. With this legislation, the Republican-led House is picking up where it left off when it comes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). H.R. 30 is the 54th time that the House has voted to repeal or alter the ACA. None of these efforts have resulted in a change to the law. H.R. 30 alters a provision in the ACA requiring employers to offer their employees working 30 hours or more a week health care or pay a penalty. H.R. 30 raises that threshold to 40 hours. This change places many more people at risk of losing their employer health care. Employers could simply reduce their workersí hours slightly, freeing employers from the requirement of offering health coverage. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this would increase the federal budget deficit by $53 billion over the next ten years. The CBO also estimates that a million workers could lose their health care coverage. Republicans argue that this change is necessary because the number of part-time workers has increased since the ACA became law. In fact, the exact opposite has occurred. I voted NO. H.R. 30 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

240

0

0

2

DEMOCRAT

12

172

0

3

TOTAL

252

172

0

5

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Keystone XL

Today the House considered H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act. This is basically the same legislation that the House voted on in November. The Keystone XL Pipeline would carry crude oil over the Canadian border through parts of the United States to the Gulf Coast. Because of the nature of the project, and because it will cross an international border, there is a required approval process. I donít think there is any question that a project like this one should be subject to a significant environmental review, including under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). H.R.3 basically exempts the pipeline from all of this. The review process is ongoing and there is no reason to stop it. This legislation also sets a troubling precedent by allowing the project to bypass required reviews, creating a similar path for other projects. I voted NO. H.R. 3 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

238

0

1

3

DEMOCRAT

28

153

0

6

TOTAL

266

153

1

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Whatís Up Next

Next votes will take place on Monday January 12th. The House is expected to again consider H.R. 37, the Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act. This time the legislation will come up under regular order, so it will need a simple majority to pass.

Mike


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

P.S. I welcome your feedback on our e-Updates. Please let me and my staff know what you think of this service by e-mailing our office.


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DC Office Phone:

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