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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 14, 2017

A Note about Words

Often when we are putting together this newsletter, we search for fresh words to describe the way we are feeling about the latest breaking news of the moment. We pull out the old thesaurus and google synonyms. We keep coming back to the same words – shocked, stunned, troubled and appalled. I marvel sometimes at my ability to keep feeling shocked, stunned, troubled and appalled. But I believe strongly that the day we stop feeling that way is the day we start to accept the chaos as the new normal. We can never let that happen. Our democracy is too precious and too many lives have been lost defending it over hundreds of years.

Thoughts on the Latest — Unless More News Broke Between Last Edits and Send

Donald Trump Jr.’s emails about the meeting he and other high level Trump campaign officials had with an agent of Russia present us with some indisputable facts. Members of then-candidate Trump’s campaign inner circle, including his son and son-in-law, willingly met with a Russian government attorney, expecting to receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr.’s statements on this evolved over several days. To be blunt, the lies and shifting explanations keep piling up. We’ve seen this with the spin surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and with so much more coming out of this White House.

Special Counsel Mueller’s plate just keeps getting fuller because we know now that he will investigate this latest thread, which points squarely in the direction of collusion. The details in the email chain reinforce what we already know: a foreign power actively tried to influence our election, which is a choice that belongs to the American people and only the American people. Most reasonable individuals accept this, regardless of what party they are in or who they voted for in November. Of course President Trump, who swore an oath to protect the Constitution, appears not to be one of them and thinks this is “fake news”.

Everything we are learning just makes it even more important that Congress also establish an independent commission, not just to look back on how we got here, but to help us make sure it doesn’t happen again so we can secure our electoral process from foreign interference.

Impeachment

On Wednesday my Democratic colleague Rep. Brad Sherman introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump for obstruction of justice. I want to share my thoughts on that with you.

As an attorney who respects the legal process I think it’s important to support Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation which we expect will be comprehensive and include President Trump’s treatment of former FBI Director James Comey. I feel strongly that those of us who are deeply concerned about all this must proceed fairly and thoroughly. I will not pre-judge. I will not allow my political or philosophical opinions to play a role. I will wait for a thorough investigation. Anyone accused of wrongdoing has the right to be heard and defend themselves fully.

The issues on the table — collusion with a foreign government to influence our election and obstruction of justice are grave matters which could threaten the foundation of our democracy. We have to get this right because too much is at stake. Please know that I share your concerns and have many personal feelings about this separate from what I consider my responsibilities as your elected representative. There very well may come a time where circumstances require movement on impeachment before Mr. Mueller’s work is done, but I don’t think we are there yet.

The Water Doesn’t Belong to Everyone Act

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017. This legislation nullifies the San Joaquin River Settlement agreed upon twenty years ago in California. The agreement was reached to balance the interests of the agriculture industry with those of conservationists and the fishing industry. The settlement applies to how California’s water resources are managed in the San Joaquin Valley. H.R. 23 interferes with that, prioritizing agriculture over other interests, including fisheries. The legislation weakens the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because it alters the allocation of water resources and diminishes the protections in place through the ESA for fisheries. It also steps on states’ rights, which would have an impact well beyond California. I voted NO. H.R. 23 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

226

7

0

6

DEMOCRAT

4

183

0

7

TOTAL

230

190

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Defense Authorization

On Friday the House completed consideration of H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. One of the problems with this legislation is that it comes up before a budget resolution has been considered and without a review of the Budget Control Act (BCA) which caps spending. H.R. 2810 authorizes $72.5 billion more in funding than the BCA allows. Since the money has to come from somewhere, other federal spending initiatives will be impacted. Health care, scientific research, transportation, housing and so much more could lose funding at the expense of the defense budget. I voted NO. H.R. 2810 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

This legislation prohibits communities from establishing “trust policies”. These policies have been created to establish trust between law enforcement and their communities so people feel safe coming forward in the situations detailed above. H.R. 3003 seeks to bar critical federal law enforcement funds from states and cities that the Trump Administration determines are not fully compliant with federal enforcement policies. Simply put, this legislation would force cities and states to choose between detaining people in violation of the Constitution or be punished for protecting ALL citizens, regardless of status. I voted NO. H.R. 3003 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

227

8

0

4

DEMOCRAT

117

73

0

4

TOTAL

344

81

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

3

6

0

0

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. We learned on July 10, 2017 that the General Services Administration (GSA) would end efforts to build a state-of-the art modern headquarters for the FBI. The process has gone on for more than a decade and the current headquarters is in a serious state of disrepair. GSA planned to sell its current building to the winning developer and relocate its headquarters. So many questions are raised with this abrupt decision. The GSA is President Trump’s landlord because the government owns his D.C. hotel. Was the Trump Administration concerned that the winning developer would use the existing FBI headquarters site to build a hotel that would compete with Trump’s? Or is this a way for the President to send a message to the FBI in response to all the work they’ve been doing lately?
  2. It was reported in late June that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Chief of Staff directed a scientist from the EPA’s scientific review board to change her congressional testimony and minimize the dismissal of other scientists serving on the board. This contributes to the growing list of evidence that the Trump Administration does not value the important role academic science can and should play in environmental policy.
  3. In late June, President Trump's Commission on Election Integrity requested voter data from all 50 states. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is Vice-Chair of the Commission, asked for all “publicly-available voter roll data including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, [and] voter history from 2006 onward.” In the letter Kobach also made clear that documents submitted to the commission “will also be made available to the public.” This is a sweeping and troubling request. It raises privacy questions as well as questions over what exactly the commission is planning on doing with the information. More than 40 states have refused to turn over all or some of the requested information. This includes Kobach’s own state of Kansas. The commission is nothing more than an attempt to “prove” that millions of votes were illegally cast, which did not happen. Trump still can’t get over the fact that he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.
  4. In early July, Hui Chen, a Department of Justice anti-fraud and corruption expert, resigned from her post stating that it was impossible to continue working for the DOJ when President Trump has repeatedly issued statements that she would consider examples of abuses of power and conflicts of interests. She spoke out publicly about the difficulty in "trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to".
  5. Hui Chen’s resignation brings us to the resignation of Walter Shaub, the Director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) who stepped down on July 6th. He described the Trump Administration as a “disappointment” and told NPR that: “even when we’re not talking strictly about violations, we’re talking about abandoning the norms and ethical traditions of the executive branch that have made our ethics program the gold standard in the world, until now.” Although subject to Senate confirmation, President Trump will appoint Shaub’s replacement.
  6. On July 7, 2017 in a court filing the Department of Labor stated it wanted the right to set the salary threshold that determines who is eligible for overtime pay. An Obama Administration rule that had not gone into effect yet would have made workers earning less than $47,000 a year eligible for overtime pay. The Trump Administration now claims the right to determine that salary threshold and could lower it to limit the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. This is a clear sign that the Trump Administration will support the interests of businesses over workers.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday July 17th. At this writing, a legislative schedule is not available.

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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