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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 15, 2016

Bastille Day Attack

My heart is heavy at news of the vicious terrorist attack on residents and tourists in the beautiful city of Nice. As the community celebrated Bastille Day, evil sought not just to destroy lives but to subvert the ideals of freedom, equality and brotherhood the holiday commemorates. The people of France won't let that happen and we stand with them against another brutal attack. I pray for the families who have lost loved ones and hope the injured recover quickly from their wounds.

Guns

The House adjourned a day early this week and next votes aren’t expected until after Labor Day. There was more than enough time for a full schedule of legislation (some of which is detailed below) yet Republican leadership chose not to consider any gun related bills.

House Democrats continued raising our voices, joining millions of people all across the country, demanding reasonable gun control measures. House Democrats are focusing on two basic votes: closing gaping background check loopholes and keeping guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists. I spent some time Thursday night on the lawn of our nation’s Capitol for “Lighting the Way” a National Speak Out on the Path Forward on Gun Violence. Members of the House Democratic Caucus joined Senate colleagues and thousands of people from all over the country to demand action on guns. We will continue demanding a vote on gun legislation in the weeks ahead, and when the House reconvenes.

I took this at last night’s gun control rally on the steps of Capitol with Dem Leader Nancy Pelosi and moral leader and civil rights icon Rep John Lewis. Thanks to the thousands who showed up.

Separation of Powers

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 4768, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016. This legislation actually encourages judicial activism rather than strengthening the separation of powers between the branches of the federal government. It ends the longstanding judicial practice of giving broad deference to federal agencies’ policymaking responsibilities. Congress has given federal agencies rulemaking authority in implementing policies because they have the expertise to do so. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for example, has the authority to oversee the technical rulemaking process for environmental law. H.R. 4768 effectively eliminates constraints on the judiciary by giving them the ability to apply their own policy views over the expertise of relevant agencies. Not only do agencies have technical expertise, they also have the ability to seek broad public comments on proposals and consider many different view points before acting. This is something that the judiciary is not well suited to do. The Administration has indicated that H.R. 4768 will be vetoed. I voted NO. H.R. 4768 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

239

0

0

7

DEMOCRAT

1

171

0

15

TOTAL

240

171

0

22

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

“Heavy Water”

The House considered H.R. 5119, the No 2H2O from Iran Act. This is the first of three bills the House voted on this week that weaken the recent Iran deal, more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The first, H.R. 5119, prohibits the United States from purchasing “heavy water” from Iran. “Heavy water” is derived from water containing some hydrogen molecules that are denser than regular ones. This form of water has numerous uses from nuclear power plants to medical and industrial applications, but it can also be used in nuclear weapon programs. H.R. 5119 prevents the U.S. from removing some of Iran’s heavy water stock. This limits its availability for research since the U.S. does not itself produce it. It also prevents the U.S. from removing a resource from Iran that could be used in nuclear weapons. I voted NO. H.R. 5119 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

239

2

0

5

DEMOCRAT

10

174

0

3

TOTAL

249

176

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Women’s Health Care

On Wednesday the House considered S. 304, the Conscience Protection Act of 2016. This legislation is yet another attempt to undermine women’s access to reproductive services, including abortion. S. 304 extends “conscience provisions” to health plan sponsors (primarily employers). As a result of this significant expansion of current law, an employer could deny coverage for reproductive health services including contraception and abortion if he or she had a moral objection to that coverage. S. 304 goes even further than that. It allows health care organizations to withhold medical information from patients if that information could “facilitate” access to abortion coverage. I voted NO. S. 304 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

242

1

0

3

DEMOCRAT

3

181

0

3

TOTAL

245

182

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Appropriations

The House continued consideration of Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bills with H.R. 5538, Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This legislation funds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies. Funding is below last year’s levels, with the EPA being particularly hard hit. H.R. 5538 contains $164 million less than the EPA had last fiscal year to support its programs. H.R. 5538 also contains a number of troubling policy provisions, including preventing the Interior Department from implementing its rule regulating mining waste in streams and preventing the EPA from enforcing regulations related to lead paint removal. I voted NO. H.R. 5538 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

228

15

0

3

DEMOCRAT

3

181

0

3

TOTAL

231

196

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Financial Systems Protection

The second Iran-related bill, H.R. 4992, is the United States Financial System Protection Act. This legislation violates the JCPOA because it imposes sanctions on Iran’s financial industry by blocking certain approved financial transactions that occur between Iran and other countries outside of the U.S. These transactions are allowed as a result of the JCPOA so this legislation violates that agreement. I voted NO. H.R. 4992 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

240

3

0

3

DEMOCRAT

6

178

0

3

TOTAL

246

181

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

More Iran

Finally the House considered H.R. 5631, the Iran Accountability Act. This legislation weakens the JCPOA by reinstating a number of sanctions on individuals and businesses that were lifted with the implementation of the JCPOA. I voted NO. H.R. 5631 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

238

4

0

4

DEMOCRAT

8

175

0

4

TOTAL

246

179

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

I think it is important to monitor Iranian compliance with the JCPOA. Both President Obama and Secretary Kerry have said that sanctions could “snap back” if significant violations were found. However, Congress should not attempt to conduct or undermine foreign policy by such haphazard measures to reinstate unilateral sanctions.

GMO Labeling

On Thursday the House considered the Senate Amendment to the House Amendment to S. 764, GMO Labeling Requirements. This legislation establishes a system for Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling. It directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish rules for defining which ingredients are GMOs and how manufacturers should convey this information to consumers. One of those options is directing consumers to a website through a scannable QR code. Replacing information consumers can read on a label while they are shopping by directing them to a website is not adequate disclosure. This legislation also preempts state laws regarding GMO disclosure. I voted NO. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

205

36

0

5

DEMOCRAT

101

81

0

5

TOTAL

306

117

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

5

4

0

0

What’s Up Next

The House has entered a District Work Period.

Mike


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

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