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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


12,426 subscribers

July 21, 2017

Senator John McCain

Senator McCain, a brave man and a patriot with whom I do not always or even often agree, faces treatment for a dangerous form of cancer. He and his family are in my thoughts. I hope for his recovery and return to duty.

Healthcare Update

At this writing, the Senate is expected to vote next week to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without also passing, as promised, a replacement for it. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has concluded that this approach will result in 32 million Americans losing their health care coverage. The Senate legislation will postpone the actual repeal of the ACA for two years. Proponents claim this will give them needed time to negotiate a new health care bill. There is so much wrong with this plan itís hard to know where to begin. So far the Senate hasnít been able to come to agreement on an ACA replacement, a self-imposed deadline wonít do much to speed consensus. Repealing the ACA without any real sense of what might replace it will create chaos in the insurance markets and among health care providers. 20% of our economy is tied to health care, and that includes many, many jobs. The uncertainty will cause premiums to go up and will needlessly burden patients. Itís not clear yet if there are enough votes in the Senate to repeal the ACA but if it does pass, the House will almost certainly take up the same legislation. I am vehemently opposed to this approach. Congress should focus on improving the ACA, not tossing it (and 32 million people) aside. Itís irresponsible and cruel.

Smoggy Skies

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017. Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to establish national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone and other pollutants. The EPA finalized standards for ozone in 2015. H.R. 806 delays implementation of the new standards by eight years. This has a clear negative impact on air quality and the public health. People with respiratory problems such as asthma are disproportionately impacted by this delay. Under current law, the EPA is required to review the NAAQS every 5 years using updated scientific and health information to determine if adjustments should be made. H.R. 806 increases that review period to once every ten years. It also requires the EPA to consider the cost to industry when establishing air quality standards. So the impact on businesses is given the same weight as the impact on the environment and public health. I voted NO. H.R. 806 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

225

11

0

3

DEMOCRAT

4

188

0

2

TOTAL

229

199

0

5

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Speeding Construction of Pipelines

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 2910, the Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act. This legislation establishes new deadlines for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissionís (FERC) oversight of the permitting process for natural gas pipelines. It also gives FERC the authority to set arbitrary review deadlines for the other federal agencies who are also responsible for reviewing pipeline permits. This creates difficulties for other agencies who would have to fast-track their analysis or risk being left out of the process. Once FERC completes its review required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), H.R. 2910 creates a 90 day window for approval of the pipeline permit. Proponents argue that H.R. 2910 simply streamlines the permit review process. 90% of permit applications are already approved within a year. Also, in 2015, Congress established the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the pipeline review process. This legislation is unnecessary. H.R. 2910 makes it more difficult for responsible federal agencies to conduct necessary oversight. It also makes it harder for landowners to object to projects impacting their property because the whole process is shortened. I voted NO. H.R. 2910 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

235

1

0

3

DEMOCRAT

13

178

0

3

TOTAL

248

179

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

More Pipelines More Quickly

On Wednesday the House also considered H.R. 2883, the Promoting Cross Border Energy Infrastructure Act. This legislation nullifies the requirement that all proposed oil and natural gas pipelines as well as all electric transmission lines that cross over Mexico or Canada receive a Presidential permit. This is only granted after the project has undergone a thorough National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) review and is determined to be in the national interest. H.R. 2883 shortens the approval process so only the parts of the project that actually cross over the border are subject to NEPA review. Pipeline owners who want to increase or alter an existing project donít have to get any federal approval or additional environmental review under H.R. 2883. Additionally, if a pipeline project is rejected under the current rules, H.R. 2883 contains language allowing project proponents to reapply under the less stringent regulations established through this bill. I voted NO. H.R. 2883 passed and the entire vote is required below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

237

0

0

2

DEMOCRAT

17

175

0

2

TOTAL

254

175

0

4

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Road to Nowhere Through a Wildlife Refuge

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 218, the King Cove Road Land Exchange Act. This legislation sets up a land exchange between the Department of the Interior and Alaska so the state can build a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and Izembek Wilderness. Supporters of this project argue that the road is necessary to improve transportation access to King Cove. Approximately 1000 people live in this community, located on the Aleutian Peninsula. Numerous federal agencies have evaluated the impact of building this road. Every agency concluded that the road would devastate the ecological resources of the wildlife refuge. Additionally, there are other ways to improve access to the town that do not involve building this road. Congress previously allocated funds to purse those alternatives. Constructing a road through a wildlife refuge establishes a troubling precedent for future projects. I voted NO. H.R. 218 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

233

3

0

3

DEMOCRAT

15

176

0

3

TOTAL

248

179

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Behind the Curtain ó More House and Trump Administration Actions You Donít Want to Miss

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

  1. A July 2017 news report highlighted a February memo sent by the Director of ICEís Enforcement and Removal Operations division ordering deportation officers to take action against all ďremovable aliensĒ without regard for whether or not they have any history of criminal actions. While this is hardly a surprise given the Trump Administration's ongoing efforts to expand deportation, it does contradict Homeland Security Secretary John Kellyís publicly stated commitment to focus on deporting immigrants who pose a clear public safety threat.
  2. The Trump campaign paid Donald Trump Jr.ís lawyer, Alan Futeras, $50,000 two weeks before the meeting that Trump Jr. and 7 others (so far) held with a Russian agent promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. is a private citizen with plenty of money. Why is his fatherís campaign paying his legal fees? In a recent filing the Trump campaign also disclosed an $89,000 payment to the Trump Corporation which is run by Don Jr. and his brother Eric for "legal consulting." I wonder how donors to the Trump campaign feel about their political contributions going into the coffers of Trumpís business. Also worth noting, many White House employees have been told to hire their own defense attorneys at their own personal expense because of the criminal probe by Special Counsel Mueller. Those personal costs could be significant for many employees who do not have access to the resources that the Trump family has.
  3. According to July 2017 news reports, Trump son-in-law and now government employee Jared Kushner tried and failed to get a $500 million loan from a Qatari businessman. The money was for a New York City building Kushner bought for $1.8 billion. Getting the money was contingent on Kushner securing additional funds for the multi-billion dollar project. That money was supposed to come from the Chinese investment firm Ambang, but the firm pulled out as conflict of interest concerns mounted. After Kushner was turned down, President Trump took a hard line against Qatar, branding it a terrorist state. It is true that we do not know if Trump lashed out at Qatar, contrary to the position taken by his own Secretary of State because of Kushner's influence but the situation reveals a web of conflicts of interest. It's a good illustration of why public officials, especially the President and his advisors, usually avoid even the appearance of a conflict and donít put themselves in the position of being indebted to others because of their business interests. We may never know if U.S. policy towards a strategic player in the war on terrorism is based solely on the merits or is the result of a bad real estate deal. It's important to note also that Kushner has been granted the highest level of security clearance.
  4. According to a July 18, 2017 news report Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is considering closing the office responsible for cyber issues and folding it into another department. The position of cyber coordinator would also be downgraded. This would reduce the number of personnel working on cybersecurity issues and sends a troubling message about the seriousness with which the Trump Administration approaches cybersecurity. Given what we already know about Russian interference in the 2016 election, this approach to cybersecurity is the exact opposite of what the White House should be doing.
  5. On July 14, 2017 it was reported that the White House made public the comments it received so far about its Election Integrity Commission. Personal information, like addresses and places of employment, was not removed from the comments before they were published. The Trump Administration stated that the July 5th Federal Register Notice about the Election Integrity Commission made clear that submitted information would be made public. The problem with this is that about half of the comments came in before the notice was published so not everyone submitting comments was aware their information would become public. This handling of personal information supports the fears that many have over how the Trump Administration will handle the personal voter information it is seeking from states.

Whatís Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday July 24th. The House is expected to consider H.R. 3219, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act.

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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