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

12,456 subscribers

July 17, 2015


I want to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the four Marines so tragically taken through an act of senseless violence in Tennessee. We grieve with those who have lost so much and express gratitude for their service to our country.


I have always hoped for a negotiated resolution to the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The general outlines of the deal, made public this week, appear reasonable and encouraging. However, I will carefully review the diplomatic details and I am now consulting with qualified scientists about the technical aspects of the deal. I have never expected a perfect agreement because that is an impossible standard. For me, the most important question is if this deal is not acceptable, then what does the United States do next? Some argue for continued sanctions but it’s clear to me that Russia and China won’t go along with that. Moreover, I fear Europe would not support the U.S. in continued sanctions so we would be left with unilateral sanctions and historically these have been ineffectual. Nor do I think a military option is prudent or feasible at this time. Congress has 60 days to review this agreement and I will carefully consider all aspects of it before making a final decision.


This week the House passed H. R. 3083, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015. This is the 34th short term extension since 2005 of what is traditionally multi-year bipartisan legislation. America’s infrastructure is slowly crumbling which is hurting our economy and delaying our commutes. I have been advocating a longer term approach to capital planning and funding for many months now, including increasing taxes as necessary to pay for it. Transportation funding creates good paying jobs and boosts the economy tremendously. The result of that spending can be seen and used by all of us every day.

Many thoughtful Democrats voted against this funding extension in an attempt to force the Republican majority to allow a vote on a longer term solution to our infrastructure concerns. While I understand and agree with their frustration, I did not think there were enough votes at this time to force the issue and those who initiated this approach were not prepared to offer a unified alternative proposal that could be supported by the broad coalition of Members and advocates who agree we are better off with a long term bill.

Those well intentioned Democrats were also joined by a comparable number of Republicans who voted against the bill for completely different reasons – many of them do not support any federal funding for infrastructure. Instead, they believe each state should stand on its own. I strongly disagree with that philosophy and proudly stand with a long list of Republican and Democratic leaders who believe, as I do, that we are one country and every American deserves good highways, safe bridges, reliable rail lines and working water and sewer systems.

This short term extension only runs until December 18th so the House must work quickly toward compromise. I hope thoughtful people can come together to address funding issues and pass a longer term infrastructure bill instead of another extension. I voted YES. H.R. 3083 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Water Legislation

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act. The purpose of this legislation is to help alleviate drought conditions in California and other western states. However, H.R. 2898 weakens important environmental protections and doesn’t do enough to address water shortages. It relies on surface water sources such as reservoirs to alleviate drought conditions without considering whether the region will receive sufficient rainfall to replenish these sources. It reallocates water resources so more is available for agricultural use but does so by making troubling changes to the Endangered Species Act. H.R. 2898 establishes a permitting process to expedite water storage projects, which will weaken environmental oversight. It also exempts certain water surface projects completely from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). I voted NO. H.R. 2898 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Tunnel Inspection Program

This week the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration published the final rule for the National Tunnel Inspection Standards (NTIS). Long-time readers of my e-update may recall I filed legislation numerous times to establish a nationwide highway tunnel inspection program modeled after the existing bridge inspection program. Tunnel inspections became law as part of a previous transportation authorization and the DOT has been working on its implementation.

I first filed tunnel inspection legislation in January of 2007 after the tragic death of Milena Del Valle due to a falling ceiling panel in a Big Dig tunnel. At the time, there were no national standards or requirements for inspecting highway tunnels. Instead, the responsibility was left to tunnel owners, who had the authority to determine how and when their tunnels would be inspected.

In announcing the final rule for the NTIS, Secretary Anthony Foxx stated: “This important step to keep our nation’s tunnels safe for the traveling public is unprecedented. Establishing national standards will help us maintain a high level of quality and uniformity in tunnel inspections nationwide.”

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Tuesday July 21st. The House is expected to consider H.R. 1734, Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015 and H.R. 1599, Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 as well as the Conference Report for the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.


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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