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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


12,456 subscribers

October 6, 2017

Community Meetings

We have scheduled two more community meetings. I’ll be in Chelsea on Tuesday October 17th from 6:30-8:00 PM for a community meeting. It will take place in the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home’s Martin Auditorium at 91 Crest Avenue. We will also be in Brighton on Monday October 30th from 6:30 – 8:00 PM. The meeting will take place at Brighton Marine Health Center in the R.E. Hawes Building’s Conference Room 1, located on 77 Warren Street. We will broadcast both meetings via Facebook live if you are interested but cannot join us in person.

Guns

I cherish the Constitution and support the second amendment. I don’t understand, however, why too many Americans think the second amendment means unfettered access to as many types of guns as possible without any restrictions. As far as I’m concerned, that position is indefensible.

The tragedy in Las Vegas is not the first time a “bump stock” device was used in a mass shooting. I even posted a video demonstrating its impact more than a year ago. This is a LEGAL, inexpensive device that anyone can buy to modify a semi-automatic gun so it operates more like an automatic weapon. It converts a gun requiring a trigger pull for every shot into an 800 round per minute gun that mimics a machine gun. Does anyone really need such a deadly weapon to hunt deer or protect a home?

I am fed up with the lack of Congressional action on guns and I know you are too. For too long, the will to pass reasonable gun measures just hasn’t been there. Some Republican leaders in the House and the Senate are now saying they are willing to consider legislation banning “bump stock” devices. While this is an encouraging and in some ways surprising development, it isn’t nearly enough for me. While I strongly support banning future sales of “bump stock” devices, Congress must do more. Getting “bump stock” devices completely out of circulation, extending the assault weapons ban, prohibiting those on the Terrorist Watch List from boarding a plane, restricting sales at gun shows, and expanding background checks are just some of the important and reasonable protections we must keep fighting for. And we cannot trade these thoughtful actions for a national right-to-carry law or other such dangerous proposals. I will never stop pushing for more comprehensive gun measures and I’m asking you not to stop either.

Restricting Women’s Rights on Choice

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This legislation is not about protecting unborn children. It’s really about restricting a woman’s access to abortion. Regardless of how one may personally feel about this matter, the right to choose has been affirmed by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. H.R. 36 prohibits abortion after 20 weeks. While there is an exception if the mother’s life is in danger, it does not include an exemption if a doctor determines that continuing the pregnancy will damage the health of the mother. H.R. 36 inserts itself into a woman’s relationship with her doctor. The legislation imposes fines and prison time of up to 5 years for health professionals who are not in compliance. It is a sad fact that in some cases, fetal abnormalities are not detected until after 20 weeks and these are sometimes so severe that survival is unlikely. H.R. 36 forces women to carry to term a fetus who could be missing a brain or have severe heart defects. H.R 36 also imposes limits on women who seek abortion as a result of rape or incest. They must report these cases to law enforcement or document that they sought medical help or counseling before an abortion is performed. Minors who were raped or who are victims of incest must also report to appropriate authorities and provide documentation that they have done so. In cases where the rapist is a member of the child’s household, this may be simply impossible. In any case, the requirement only adds to their trauma. I voted NO. H.R. 36 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

234

2

0

3

DEMOCRAT

3

187

0

4

TOTAL

237

189

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

More Evidence of Misguided Budget Priorities

On Thursday the House considered H. Con. Res. 71, the Fiscal Year 2018 Republican Budget Resolution. The House already missed the statutory deadline to pass a budget resolution by about six months and the current federal fiscal year started on October 1st. House Republicans are using this budget resolution to ease the path to passage of the Trump Administration’s tax cuts which will primarily benefit the wealthy. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has calculated that the Trump tax plan would increase the deficit by almost $2.5 trillion over ten years.

H. Con. Res. 71 includes budget reconciliation instructions that will allow the Senate to pass tax cuts with 50 votes instead of the 60 votes usually required. Vice President Pence represents the 51st vote. It calls for more than $200 billion in spending cuts that hit everything from infrastructure and health care to student loans. It cuts veterans benefits by almost $50 billion over 10 years, Medicaid by over $1 trillion, housing, nutrition programs and so much more. The budget resolution does, however, provide for Trump’s wall. It authorizes $1.6 billion despite his repeated assertions that Mexico would pay for it. The budget resolution also presumes the elimination of the Affordable Care Act. All of these massive spending cuts are proposed to help make the case that the Trump tax cuts won’t increase the deficit. I voted NO. H. Con. Res. 71 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

219

18

0

3

DEMOCRAT

0

188

0

6

TOTAL

219

206

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Equifax

Yesterday the House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing on the massive Equifax data breach which exposed the personal information of more than 145 million people. Former Chief Executive Officer Richard Smith appeared before the committee in what was a largely frustrating experience. Because Mr. Smith is no longer with the company, he can’t commit to any actions that will actually protect consumers. When I questioned Mr. Smith [video], I focused on an Equifax company policy that errors in a consumer’s credit file are only investigated after a lawsuit is filed. This policy frankly is ridiculous. 145 million people have had their personal information compromised. Must they all file a lawsuit in order to get the attention of company executives? I also asked Mr. Smith about staffing levels that seem wholly inadequate to effectively service the 200 million credit files managed by Equifax. There were four hearings this week in the House and Senate about the Equifax data breach and so far the approach is bipartisan. We are all outraged. This gives me hope that Congress will act to protect consumers.

A Nuclear Iran

According to media reports President Trump will announce next week that he is decertifying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the Iran Nuclear deal. Under the terms of the INARA, the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the President must periodically report to Congress on Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. The Administration last certified that Iran was in compliance with the agreement in July. If Trump follows through with decertification he is also required to provide Congress with information of how Iran is violating the agreement. The International Atomic Energy Agency as well as military and intelligence officials have consistently reported that Iran is living up to its commitments. I joined 130 members of Congress, some who voted for the JCPOA and others who did not, in urging the President not to withhold certification. Without definitive information confirming a breach in the agreement, we are concerned about the consequences of decertification. We wrote that “withholding certification of Iran’s compliance or walking away from the JCPOA would harm our alliances, embolden Iran, and threaten U.S. national security”. Without proof that Iran has committed a material breach of the JCPOA, we think it’s important that the United States live up to its own commitments.

Please understand that this possible action by Trump does NOT, by itself, end the agreement or start World War Three. It is merely one step closer that we should not take. It is also an action that will diminish America as a world leader — other nations will see that we cannot be trusted to live up to our agreements. It will greatly complicate relations with North Korea and will be one more reason why our allies will look elsewhere for leadership on international matters.

It has been reported that both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense have urged the President not to decertify. If he ignores their advice, responsibility shifts to Congress, which could — and I will do all I can to insure that it does — refuse to reimpose sanctions that were relaxed under the JCPOA. The United States could thus be considered still a party to the agreement. In any case, that deal was a beginning, not an endpoint, in efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. If it remains in effect, as I hope it does, it covered only ten years. President Macron of France has already proposed negotiations begin about the future. That would seem the best approach any inadequacies in the JCPOA.

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. In a September 29, 2017 Executive Order President Trump rescinded an Obama Administration initiative establishing Labor Management Forums. They were opportunities for managers and employees to share concerns and ideas about issues in the workplace. Participants would collaborate to solve problems and make improvements. Two sides working together can sometimes come up with solutions in ways that one side working alone cannot. The Administration cited best uses of “taxpayer resources” when issuing the Executive Order. It’s not clear how taxpayer resources are wasted when managers and employees cooperate to improve the workplace environment.
  2. In September of 2017 the Wall Street Journal reported that the Treasury Department removed a report prepared by its own Office of Tax Analysis. This is worth noting because that report directly contradicted an argument the Trump Administration is making to push its tax proposal. Secretary Mnuchin claims that Trump’s tax plan relieves workers of a tax burden because nearly every penny of the corporate tax burden is passed along to them in the form of fewer workers and lower wages. However, the report by the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis shows that the exact opposite happens. So the report was removed from Treasury’s website. Officials claimed the report was taken down because it was written in 2012 and is therefore dated, but other Office of Tax Analysis reports going back 40 years are still on the website. This has nothing to do with an old report and everything to do with obscuring how bad Trump’s tax plan really is.
  3. Add Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke to the growing list of Trump Administration officials using taxpayer dollars for private air travel. According to October 2017 news reports, the Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General is investigating Zinke’s use of charter planes over commercial air travel. In one instance, Zinke was in Las Vegas where he participated in an event with a hockey team owned by a campaign donor. Zinke is a former Congressman from Montana which is where he flew to after his Las Vegas event.
  4. On October 2, 2017 all Trump Administration appointees to the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) voted to remove AIG from the list of companies designated a Systemically Important Financial Institution (SIFI). You may recall that insurance giant AIG received a $185 billion federal bailout during the 2008 financial crisis. This means that AIG is no longer subject to enhanced Federal Reserve oversight and certain regulations that apply to all SIFIs. The independent insurance member and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen voted with the Trump appointees to the FSOC to reclassify AIG because the company is smaller than it was during the crisis. Notably, the leaders of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation all dissented. Just 9 years after the crisis, one of the companies bearing responsibility for it has been essentially downgraded for regulatory purposes. As an insurance company, AIG will now be subject to the state-level oversight and not more comprehensive federal oversight.
  5. In an October 4, 2017 memo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice will no longer apply Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to discrimination based on gender identity. This represents a reversal of the Obama Administration’s application of the law. In the memo Sessions wrote: “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women, but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Tuesday October 10th. The House is expected to consider disaster relief legislation.

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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