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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


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July 8, 2016

A Somber Week

I cannot begin to understand what it feels like to be a black man in America today, or a black parent, and I know I will never truly comprehend what it means to walk in their shoes. We have come so far, as electing President Barack Obama twice to lead our great nation illustrates. But this past week tragically illuminates once again how much work remains. I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the countless others who have lost so much.

I was stunned to learn this morning that 5 Dallas police officers were gunned down and 7 others wounded while they were doing their jobs. They were shot while protecting the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens to protest the deaths of Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile. The overwhelming majority of law enforcement personnel are honorable people, who go to work every day not knowing if they will make it home to their families. They understand that they have chosen a dangerous profession, one with no guarantee of a tomorrow. I extend my condolences to the families of the slain Dallas officers and to the greater law enforcement community.

So many, including President Obama, Attorney General Lynch, other elected officials, community and faith leaders, law enforcement officials in Dallas and the family of Mr. Sterling have all spoken out since the tragedy in Dallas. I echo their message — we cannot let our grief and anger further divide us and violence is never the answer. We must respect one another, try to understand one another and commit ourselves to peaceful resolution of our differences.

Votes on Gun Legislation

H.R. 5611, the Homeland Safety and Security Act, was scheduled for consideration this week. This legislation is House Republican leadership’s response to House Democrats’ call for gun control, but in reality it does virtually nothing. H.R. 5611 only gives the FBI the ability to block a suspected terrorist from purchasing a gun for 72 hours. After 72 hours, the purchase would proceed unless a court acts in time and finds that there is probable cause someone will commit an act of terrorism. This provision makes absolutely no sense because if the FBI has probable cause, then they have grounds to make an arrest. Under those circumstances, the person wouldn’t be able to get a gun anyway. The fact that the NRA supports this legislation tells you all you need to know about its effectiveness. Consideration of this legislation was delayed indefinitely. Democrats overwhelmingly opposed it and some Republicans actually thought it went too far.

House Democrats continued pushing for reasonable gun control legislation this week. I spoke on the floor about our desire for two basic votes: closing gaping background check loopholes and keeping guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists. I fully understand that these provisions may not pass but that is no reason to keep them from a vote. Members should be on record so their constituents know exactly where they stand on these important provisions.

I have heard the argument that No Buy=No Fly didn’t pass the Senate so there is no point in having the House consider it. I direct you to the next item in this newsletter. This week the House voted for the 64th time on legislation to repeal or weaken the Affordable Care Act. Most of those bills haven’t gone anywhere either, yet the House keeps at it.

The Affordable Care Act

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 1270, the Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2015. This legislation is really one more attempt to repeal or weaken the Affordable Care Act (ACA) disguised with an appealing title. H.R. 1270 expands the Health Savings Account (HSA) by increasing annual contribution limits. The current family limit is $6750. This legislation would expand that contribution limit to $13,100. The money put into HSAs is pre-tax so increasing the contribution limit essentially amounts to a tax cut. This provision will cost almost $20 billion over ten years. H.R. 1270 also expands the medications eligible for reimbursement through a HSA to include all over the counter medications. The ACA limits reimbursements to medications that have been prescribed by a doctor. The Administration has stated that H.R. 1270 will be vetoed. I voted NO. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

233

0

0

13

DEMOCRAT

10

164

0

13

TOTAL

243

164

0

26

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Federal Employee Regulations

Also on Wednesday the House considered H.R. 4361, the Federal Information Systems Safeguards Act. This legislation is a combination of 7 bills that focus on the federal workforce. It prohibits almost all federal agencies from finalizing rules during the last two months of the Obama Administration regardless of what stage in the process they are in. So, for example, if a federal agency is close to implementing a rule that has been developed over a long period of time, that agency must delay completing work on the rule. H.R. 4361 makes changes to employee probationary periods and due process regulations governing senior employees. The probationary period for new employees is currently one year. This legislation extends that period to two years. If a “formal training” period is required for a position, the probationary period does not begin until training has ended. H.R. 4361 also limits due process protections for senior employees. If they are removed from their positions, they have just seven days to file an appeal and an administrative judge must issue a ruling within 21 days. The ruling cannot be appealed and if the judge takes longer than 21 days, then the actions of the supervisor will stand. The Administration has stated that H.R. 4361 will be vetoed. I voted NO. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

237

2

0

7

DEMOCRAT

4

179

0

4

TOTAL

241

181

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Appropriations

The House continued consideration of Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations with H.R. 5485, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. This legislation cuts funding for the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other agencies. The legislation also contains provisions making it harder for the IRS to fulfill some of its duties relating to the Affordable Care Act. H.R. 5485 diminishes the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of Financial Research (OFR) by bringing them under the regular annual appropriations process. I voted NO. H.R. 5485 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

235

7

0

4

DEMOCRAT

4

178

0

5

TOTAL

239

185

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Addiction Recovery

Today the House considered the Conference Report to Accompany S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. While this legislation does not provide as much as I would have liked, it does make crucial resources available to help communities address the epidemic of opioid addiction. I voted YES. The Conference Report passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

233

5

0

8

DEMOCRAT

174

0

0

13

TOTAL

407

5

0

21

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

0

Twitter

On Tuesday I sent my first official Tweet. If you haven’t followed me already, I hope you will consider doing so @RepMikeCapuano. I’m late to the Twitter universe and have resisted using this social media tool. After all, it usually takes me much more that 140 characters to express a position or share my thoughts about a particular issue. However, the recent gun debate and sit-in on the floor of the House convinced me that Twitter is a powerful tool and another way to connect with you. So far so good, in just a few days more than 1,000 people have followed. I hope you are one of them, and if not, that you’ll consider joining our conversation.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday July 11th. The House is expected to consider an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization.

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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