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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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December 1, 2017

The Mueller Investigation

As you probably know, former Trump Administration National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has pled guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russian officials during the transition. He is also reportedly cooperating with the Special Counsel. This is a hugely significant development in the Russia investigation, which is far from over. It’s not clear yet where the facts will lead but all Americans, regardless of party, should be furious that the top national security official to the President of the United States lied under oath to the FBI. It is imperative that Robert Mueller’s investigation continue without interference. There is no doubt much more to come.

That Tax Bill

At this writing, reports indicate that Republican Senate leaders have secured the votes they need to pass their tax bill, which is expected to happen today. The legislation advances even as the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) determined yesterday that it would increase the deficit by a TRILLION DOLLARS. Despite claims to the contrary, this tax bill doesn’t come close to paying for itself by any measure. Republicans continued revising the bill last night as they searched for votes. It’s worth noting that the JCT measured the impact of the tax bill exactly as Republicans demanded — using “dynamic scoring” — and it still fell far short. The House and Senate will now try to resolve the differences between their bills with a goal of completing work by Christmas.

Telephone Community Meeting

On Tuesday December 5th from 7:15 – 8:15 PM I am hosting a telephone community meeting. If you’d like to participate, just dial 877-229-8493 and use PIN 116139 at the scheduled time. To ask me a question, press *3 after joining the meeting. We’ll post an audio file of the meeting on my website at capuano.house.gov when it is available.

Prioritizing Mining at the Expense of the Environment

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 3905, Minnesota’s Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act. This legislation overturns a 2016 Bureau of Land Management decision to cancel two mining leases in Michigan’s Superior National Forest. The leases were rejected due to the United States Forest Service’s assessment that the mining would cause “unacceptable risks to the wildlife, recreational uses, tribal rights, and tourism industry.” H.R. 3905 reinstates the leases and makes it almost impossible to cancel future lease renewals. The owner of the mining leases is a Chilean company fined $24 million for failure to live up to environmental commitments at a copper mine in Chile. I voted NO. H.R. 3905 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

208

22

0

9

DEMOCRAT

8

182

0

4

TOTAL

216

204

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

Extending the Brownfields Program

This week the House considered H.R. 3017, the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment and Reauthorization Act of 2017. This legislation reauthorizes the Brownfields program through fiscal year 2022. The Brownfields program helps states and communities restore and redevelop contaminated sites. It is an important environmental initiative that helps generate economic development by revitalizing blighted properties. I voted YES. H.R. 3017 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

220

8

0

11

DEMOCRAT

189

0

0

5

TOTAL

409

8

0

16

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

0

0

1

Weakening Protections for Federal Employees

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 4182, the Ensuring a Qualified Civil Service Act of 2017. This legislation doubles the period that certain federal employees are considered “at will” from one year to two. While employees are in this probationary period, they have limited access to due process if they are subject to disciplinary action. They can be terminated without notice and in most cases, will not be able to appeal their termination. I voted NO. H.R. 4182 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

211

18

0

10

DEMOCRAT

2

186

0

6

TOTAL

213

204

0

16

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

Making Some Mortgages Riskier

On Friday the House considered H.R. 1699, the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act. This legislation revises the definition of a “mortgage originator” so that manufactured housing loan originators would be exempt from certain rules governing consumer financial transactions. This would put consumers who seek a mortgage for a manufactured home at risk because some of the rules established to protect consumers from predatory loans would not apply to their transactions. Consumers could also have more trouble refinancing if they are struggling with a bad loan, placing them in financial risk. I voted NO. H.R. 1699 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

229

1

0

9

DEMOCRAT

27

162

0

5

TOTAL

256

163

0

14

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

1

7

0

1

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 response to Congress overwhelmingly passing tough sanctions against Russia in July, President Putin demanded an almost 50% reduction of U.S. diplomatic staff stationed in Russia. Embassy guards and others responsible for security were among those employees who lost their positions. We learned from November news reports that the Trump Administration has responded to the need for security staff by hiring Elite Security Holdings. The company was established by General Viktor Budanov who is a former KGB agent. Budanov’s son, Dimitry, is now running the company. So, taxpayers are paying a security company founded by a Russian spy to protect our embassy in Moscow and the diplomats working there at a cost of almost $3 million.
  2. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has instructed its employees to treat all H-1B visa renewal applications as if the applicant were seeking a visa for the first time. 85,000 H-1B visas are available annually for qualified foreign workers in specialty fields such as technology or engineering. H-1B visas are valid for three years and can be renewed for an additional three. As a result of the new directive, approximately 25% of renewal applicants are now required to submit additional documentation and evidence to support their renewal request, even if the applicant’s specific circumstances have not substantially changed. This will delay the overall process and could ultimately reduce the number of individuals who are approved for renewal. This is not a matter of simply applying additional scrutiny. It is one more way that the Trump Administration is discouraging educated and talented immigrants from coming here and contributing to our economy and society.
  3. In a disheartening sign of the United States’ continuing retreat from global leadership, the State Department removed Iraq, Myanmar and Afghanistan from the list of countries using child soldiers. The 2008 Child Soldier Prevention Act requires that the State Department produce this list annually. Countries identified as using child soldiers are not eligible to receive military aid or training from the United States. President Obama waived sanctions for Iraq in 2016, presumably because he believed Iraq needed both aid and training. But this marks the first time that countries have been removed from the list. In response, some State Department employees sent Secretary Tillerson a memo expressing dissent on the decision, because the three countries taken off the list do in fact actively recruit and deploy child soldiers. Tillerson responded to the memo by basically admitting the three countries still use child soldiers but they were making progress toward ending the practice. This is not enough to justify giving these countries access to military resources.
  4. In November the Federal Communications Commission voted to eliminate the media cross-ownership ban, which prohibited one company from owning a newspaper and other media outlet in the same community. This will allow a single company to own radio and television stations and also a newspaper in the same geographic area, giving that company an outsized voice in the dissemination of information.
  5. In November 2017 President Trump named Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in an action many believe illegal under current law. The White House’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) asserted that Trump was within his authority to name a successor. The lawyer who wrote the memo making that legal argument is Steven Engel. According to the Intercept, Engel’s last job was for an entity currently being sued by the CFPB for the illegal collection of fees and loans and for making threats to consumers who weren’t making payments that they weren’t required to make in the first place. There is no question that this is a conflict of interest for Engel and clearly the Trump Administration doesn’t care about that. Mulvaney has referred to the agency he is now leading as "a sad, sick joke.” Congress intended the CFPB to be an independent agency. Putting Mulvaney who reports directly to Trump and is, moreover, on the record expressing his disdain for the agency, allows the Administration to delay the public Senate confirmation process.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Tuesday December 5th. 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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Stetson Hall Room 124, 6 South Main Street, Randolph

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