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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


12,169 subscribers

February 12, 2016

Scientific Research

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 3293, the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act. This legislation adds bureaucratic layers to the process the National Science Foundation (NSF) uses in reviewing and awarding grants; and reorganizes its funding priorities. There is already an extensive process in place, one with an emphasis on peer review so scientists with expertise in research eligible for funding can examine the proposals of their colleagues. Decisions on awarding limited federal grant dollars are best made by scientists. H.R. 3293 emphasizes awarding funds to research “in the national interest” and includes “shorter term research with practical applications” as an example. This is an important research category but I have always believed that public funding is needed for basic research for which there is no immediate practical use but which may, and has many times in the past, led to unintended and unimagined breakthroughs. Moreover, this legislation prioritizes shorter term research over others. Basic scientific research all too often takes years to complete and this legislation could not only limit funding for it but also place it in the lowest priority category. I voted NO. H.R. 3293 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

229

4

0

12

DEMOCRAT

7

174

0

7

TOTAL

236

178

0

19

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Debt Management

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 3442, the Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act. This legislation would require the Treasury Department to provide Congress with a report 21 days before a debt limit is reached explaining why the debt limit is approaching and detailing how the Administration will lower the debt burden. The legislation requires the Treasury Secretary to deliver this report in person to two House committees. Earlier this week, President Obama released the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which represents the Administration’s plan for allocating federal dollars and reducing the deficit. For decades the Director of the Office of Management and Budget has appeared before the House and Senate Budget Committees as a courtesy to present this document. This year, the Administration was essentially told not to bother. So while H.R. 3422 requires reporting on reducing the debt, earlier this week the Republican-led House told the Administration it did not want to hear from them about the budget, which involves reducing the deficit. The legislation is just another way to make it more difficult to raise the debt limit when necessary, which simply allows the federal government to pay bills that have already been incurred. I voted NO. H.R. 3442 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

239

0

0

6

DEMOCRAT

28

151

0

9

TOTAL

267

151

0

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Menu Labeling

Today the House considered H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires calorie information to be displayed on menus at chain restaurants and similar establishments with 20 or more locations. Obesity and diabetes are serious problems in this country and both can lead to significant health problems. With research showing that Americans are obtaining almost half of their meals outside their own homes, this provision gives consumers important information about what they are eating and can help facilitate healthier food choices.

H.R. 2017 undermines this important provision in a number of ways. Current law requires that calorie counts reflect realistic portion sizes. This legislation gives merchants more flexibility. For example, instead of listing a bagel breakfast sandwich as one serving, this legislation allows restaurants to list it as two servings. It also exempts establishments selling more than 50% of their meals online by allowing them to simply post calorie counts on their websites. Consumers who choose to place orders in person should also have access to this information. If it can be posted on a website, there is no reason why it can’t also be available at the restaurant itself. I voted NO. H.R. 2017 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

233

1

0

11

DEMOCRAT

33

143

1

11

TOTAL

266

144

0

22

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

4

5

0

0

More Science

On Thursday a team of researchers from MIT and Caltech announced the first detection of gravitational waves. First predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916, these waves will allow scientists to look at our skies and universe in a completely different new way that I am sure will lead to further discoveries. It took 100 years of ingenuity, world-wide collaboration, and technology development to reach what has been called the discovery of the century. More importantly, the success represents the importance and need for the continued pursuit of basic scientific research. The instrument used by the scientists to make the detection, funded by the NSF, is a clear example of what we can achieve by supporting the type of fundamental science that otherwise few would have invested in. My congratulations to MIT and all of the researchers involved in this great achievement.

What’s Up Next

A district work week has been scheduled. The next House votes will occur on Tuesday February 23rd.

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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