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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


11,964 subscribers

December 11, 2015

Telephone Community Meetings

This week many of you received a phone call inviting you to join me for a telephone community meeting. We couldn’t call everyone due to system capacity and regulations limiting calls to land lines unless prior approval has been obtained. I want to thank all those who joined us; I hope you found it useful. We are sharing the audio files if you didn’t have a chance to listen in and would like to hear some of the questions that came up. I really enjoy this forum and we get great feedback from our constituents. We hope to do more next year and hope you can join us.

http://capuano.house.gov/news/audio/telecon_20151208.mp3
http://capuano.house.gov/news/audio/telecon_20151209.mp3

Visa Waiver Program

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. The purpose of this legislation is to strengthen the existing Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP is an initiative that gives citizens of 38 countries the opportunity to visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. Individuals from visa waiver countries must complete a screening form, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before traveling. They are also screened by Customs and Border Patrol when entering the U.S.

Any travelers from countries not in the VWP must first obtain a visa from the State Department. They are also subject to fingerprinting, security screening and an in-person interview before the visa is approved. H.R. 158 imposes some additional requirements on the VWP. By April of 2016, VWP travelers to the U.S. must have an electronic passport, which is much more difficult to falsify. By October of 2016, all VWP countries must confirm they can verify these electronic passports at all ports of entry.

Under current law, VWP countries must report lost or stolen passports to the U.S. but there is no definitive timeline established for that notification. H.R. 158 requires notification within 24 hours of discovery. H.R. 158 requires the Homeland Security Department and the State Department to remove countries from the VWP if they do not share all relevant information that they possess about a traveler’s potential security threats and if they fail to screen travelers through the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).

Residents of VWP countries who have traveled to Iraq, Syria, and other countries that have been designated state sponsors of terrorism or other “areas of concern” since March 1, 2011 must obtain a visa under the same, more stringent, requirements that travelers from countries not participating in the WVP must currently fulfill. H.R. 158 does not prohibit these individuals from traveling to the United States; it simply requires them to obtain a visa before doing so. Individuals with dual citizenship from a VWP participant and one of the countries described above must also apply for a visa.

I did have some concerns about this legislation, such as defining “other areas of concern” in determining how to apply the VWP. In the final analysis however, H.R. 158 does not prohibit individuals from visiting the U.S. It simply requires more of them to obtain a visa before doing so. I voted YES. H.R. 158 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

242

0

0

3

DEMOCRAT

165

19

0

4

TOTAL

407

19

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

0

Red River

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 2130, the Red River Private Property Protection Act. This legislation interferes with the federal government’s survey authority along sections of the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma. It grants this authority to the state of Texas, thus eliminating any federal oversight. There have been questions about the Red River’s boundaries for more than 200 years. The Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on the boundary dispute and the Bureau of Land Management is in the process surveying the entire area. H.R. 2130 puts an end to that ongoing process and simply turns the land in question over to Texas. The President has stated he will veto this bill. I voted NO. H.R. 2130 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

240

4

0

1

DEMOCRAT

13

173

0

2

TOTAL

253

177

0

3

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Trade

Today the House considered the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015. Although I agree with some of the provisions in the conference report, such as strengthening enforcement of United States intellectual property rights, I could not support it. The conference report does not go far enough to address environmental concerns. For example, it does not allow language on addressing green house gas emissions to be included in fast track trade deals. It also weakens human trafficking language that prevented the worst offenders from joining trade agreements. The conference report allows these countries to participate as long as they are working to improve. I voted NO. The conference report passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

232

3

0

10

DEMOCRAT

24

155

0

9

TOTAL

256

158

0

19

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Continuing Resolution

I am sure you have heard about our inability to find common ground on funding the government for the fiscal year. Appropriations bills were supposed to be completed by October 1st. Instead we have been “kicking the can down the road” by passing short-term funding bills. Well, this week the House did it again – this time we extended the deadline to Wednesday December 16th. I have serious doubts we will be able to meet that deadline – but the struggle continues. The current continuing resolution expires today making the additional time necessary. The continuing resolution passed by voice vote and is expected to be signed by the President shortly.

What’s Up Next

The next votes will occur on Tuesday December 15th. The House is scheduled to consider legislation to fund the federal government beyond December 18th.

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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