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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


12,360 subscribers

May 26, 2017

Community Meetings

Hope to see you next week at one of my community meetings:

  • Tuesday, May 30th from 6:30 – 8:00 PM, Everett High School, 100 Elm Street in Everett
  • Wednesday, May 31st from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at the Thelma Burns Building, 575 Warren Street in Roxbury

Budget

In March the Trump Administration released its budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018. This week, we got a lot more detail and most of it is just disastrous. This $4.1 trillion budget is so bad, it’s hard to know where to begin.

First, the whole budget is based on fuzzy math. There is a mistake in it to the tune of $2 TRILLION. Officials are using Trump’s proposed tax cuts as part of the equation, arguing they will produce some $2 trillion in economic growth. Since the tax cuts are supposed to be revenue neutral, that $2 trillion from projected (not guaranteed) economic growth covers the money lost by cutting taxes in the first place. It’s worth noting that the Trump budget projects $328 billion in revenue from the estate tax over ten years. But wait, his tax plan repeals the estate tax. So, if the Administration gets what it wants, the amount of revenue generated from that would actually be $0. If the Administration is going to use its tax plan in the budget, even though it hasn’t even been submitted to Congress let alone become law, they should at least be consistent.

The defense budget grows by $54 billion while non-defense spending is slashed by the same amount. As a reminder, the House-passed health care bill cuts $800 billion from Medicaid and uses it for corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for high income earners. The Administration cuts Medicaid in this budget another $610 billion. This is money that helps low-income families, our seniors and children. Taken together, these two proposals would cut Medicaid by $1.4 trillion!

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget is slashed by over $7 billion which represents almost 20% of its overall budget. Medical research, new treatments, initiatives to protect the public health and so much more would be severely underfunded.

Even though President Trump keeps promising an ambitious $1 trillion infrastructure plan, the Trump budget cuts $2.27 billion in transportation funds. The New Starts Program loses $928 million, or 43%. This money provides matching grants for state and local transit projects. The Green Line Extension is a New Start but it has been grandfathered in and will receive federal funding. However, it may well be the last project of its kind supported by the federal government if these numbers hold up. States and municipalities simply cannot fund transit expansion initiatives on their own.

Amtrak’s budget takes a big hit too, with a program supporting long distance lines losing 45% of its budget and the Northeast Corridor losing 28%. When these cuts are coupled with the elimination of Essential Air Service grants, many American communities would be without viable interstate transportation options.

So many programs and initiatives that help low income families are devastated in this budget. The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit are cut by more than $40 billion. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would lose close to $200 billion.

Education programs aren’t spared either. Various student loan and financial aid programs lose $143 billion over ten years. A college education is already far too expensive and this budget makes it worse. Foreign language studies, Gifted and Talented programs and even Special Olympics grant funding are all eliminated in this budget.

Not everything gets cut in Trump’s budget. $4.5 billion is added to the $19 billion immigration enforcement budget. This money will help implement the Administration’s new Executive Orders, dramatically expanding the already sizeable deportation force and network of immigrant detention centers around the country. There is also $1.6 billion for the ineffective “border wall” that Trump promised Mexico would pay to build.

The Environmental Protection Agency loses $2.4 billion or 30% of its budget. This will result in the elimination of over 3,500 jobs and the termination of dozens of programs. EPA grants to states are reduced by 44%.

Here is just a small sampling of the dozens of programs or agencies that will be dismantled under the Trump budget:

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, money communities can use for neighborhood improvement, affordable housing, Meals on Wheels and much more;
  • Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which helps qualified families heat their homes in winter but also helps families cool their homes during dangerous heat waves;
  • TIGER grant program which helps states fund larger transportation projects;
  • National Endowment for the Arts;
  • National Endowment for the Humanities;
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting;
  • Minority Business and Development Agency;
  • Economic Development Administration;
  • Health Professions and Nursing Training Programs;
  • Transportation Security Agency Law Enforcement grants;
  • National Housing Trust Fund;
  • Essential Air Service grants which help rural airports offer limited commercial air service; without this program hundreds of small airports around the country will close and the related jobs will disappear too;
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services which is the primary source of federal support for more than 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums;
  • The Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools program, which supports on-campus child care for low-income parents attending college

There is so much to be concerned about in this budget I could go on for days. It won’t become law as currently written but it is the best signal yet of what a “great America” looks like to the Trump Administration and it is very troubling.

A Word about the New CBO Score

Late on Wednesday the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its updated score on the American Health Care Act, which was rushed to the floor and barely passed the House. The CBO has concluded that 23 million more Americans will be without health insurance if this bill becomes law. The new score is just as bad as the old score, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

Getting Around the Clean Water Act, Again

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017. This legislation exempts the application of pesticides near water from regulations applied through the Clean Water Act. Commercial pesticides have been classified as pollutants if they are used near specific bodies of water. This has been the case since a 2009 court ruling. H.R. 953 allows for the application of pesticides near water essentially without restrictions. Almost 2,000 bodies of water in our country are already at concerning levels of pesticide pollution. Clearly, this legislation will only worsen the problem. Proponents argue it is necessary for mosquito control due to Zika and other viruses. However, current law already allows for immediate pesticide application in a declared emergency situation. H.R. 953 is not only unnecessary, it could further damage numerous bodies of water that are already contaminated. This includes water used for drinking and to support wildlife. I voted NO. H.R. 953 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

231

1

0

5

DEMOCRAT

25

164

0

4

TOTAL

256

165

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Protecting Young Athletes

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 1973, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017. This legislation is directed at amateur athletic organizations recognized by the United States Olympic Committee. It requires individuals authorized by these bodies to work with minors or amateur athletes to report any allegations of child sexual or other abuse to their relevant governing organizations. The amateur athletic governing bodies would then be required to report the suspected abuse to the authorities. H.R. 1973 includes protections for these organizations so they are not liable for legal action if they have promptly reviewed and reported any allegations. I voted YES. H.R. 1973 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

231

2

0

4

DEMOCRAT

184

1

0

8

TOTAL

415

3

0

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

0

Closing a Loophole in Childhood Pornography Law

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 1761, the Protecting against Child Exploitation Act of 2017. This legislation makes the production of child pornography a crime when a minor is involved in sexually explicit conduct, even if the production of the pornography was not the purpose of the interaction. Some child pornography defendants have argued that because they did not intend to create pornographic material they should not be convicted of that charge under current child pornography statutes. The Fourth Circuit has overturned a conviction on these grounds. H.R. 1761 clarifies the law and adds new offenses subject to child pornography charges, including livestreaming of a child involved with sexually-explicit conduct. I voted YES. H.R. 1761 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

231

2

0

4

DEMOCRAT

137

49

0

7

TOTAL

368

51

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

1

0

0

Glass-Steagall

This week I introduced the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) to shield federally insured deposit-taking banks from riskier financial institutions such as investment banks and swaps dealers.

Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act in the wake of the 1929 economic crash to create a wall between investment banks and depository banks that consumers rely on every day. In the 1980s the law’s regulations were weakened as the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reinterpreted longstanding legal terms. As a result the wall between investment banking and depository banking slowly eroded. In 1999, Congress passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealing the core provisions of Glass-Steagall. I voted against this legislation. In its report on the 2008 financial crisis, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded that, “this deregulation made the financial system especially vulnerable to the financial crisis and exacerbated its effects.”

We know that the repeal of Glass-Steagall played a role in the 2008 financial crisis. It could happen again and to prevent that, Congress must act to rebuild the wall that protected depository banks from investment banks for decades.

The 21st Century Glass Steagall Act removes unnecessary financial complexity by:

  • Separating traditional banks that have savings and checking accounts and are insured by the FDIC from riskier financial services, such as investment banking, insurance, swaps dealing, and hedge fund and private equity activities.
  • Prohibiting traditional depository banks from investing in structured and synthetic financial products, such as complex derivatives and swaps.
  • Reversing the regulatory interpretations of the 1980s and 1990s that were used to undermine Glass-Steagall’s protections.
  • Instituting a five-year transition period and penalties for violating the law.

The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act will help bring an end to “Too Big to Fail” by making large financial institutions smaller and preventing institutions that use federal depository insurance from engaging in high risk activities. It has also been introduced in the Senate.

Behind the Curtain — More House and Trump Administration Actions You Don’t Want to Miss

Here are this week’s additions. If you need to catch up or share with friends, you can find the full list here.

  1. The Department of Justice has issued a Cease and Desist order to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, demanding the organization stop providing legal assistance to immigrants unless they are formally representing them in a court proceeding. This would make it difficult for the nonprofit to continue much of the legal work it does to help immigrants, including for those facing deportation proceedings. A federal judge has issued a nationwide temporary restraining order to prevent the DOJ from sending similar letters, but this action highlights the Trump Administration’s negative approach to dealing with immigration.
  2. The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has asked all federal agencies to provide information about all the waivers they have issued to former lobbyists and industry lawyers now working in the Administration. OGE would like the information by June 6th with the intention of making them public. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney is challenging the OGE's authority to even request this information and has demanded they rescind it. Without waivers being made public, there is no way of knowing how many employees working in the Administration are former lobbyists and industry representatives involved with the same issues they worked on in the private sector. We also don’t know who they are. Under the Obama Administration, any waivers granted were made public and explanations were given for why the waiver was appropriate. This is one more example of the apparent disdain this Administration has for transparency and the public's right to know.
  3. The Department of Transportation has delayed a rule requiring states to track greenhouse gas emissions from cars that use federal highways. The idea behind this effort is to compare from year to year how federal transportation investments are impacting greenhouse gas.
  4. On May 23, 2017 the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year 2018 budget. See above for some details.
  5. H.R. 953 as detailed above.

Behind the Curtain – UPDATES

  • The Department of Labor has decided it cannot delay the effective date of a fiduciary rule that directs financial advisors to place the best interests of their clients before profits they may make when recommending an investment.

What’s Up Next

A District Work period has been scheduled. The next House votes will take place on Tuesday June 6th.

Mike


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
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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