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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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January 19, 2018

Funding the Government

Last night the House voted on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through February 16th. I voted against it. Here’s why. At the end of the day, the only real leverage that Democrats have is to stand our ground and refuse to accept legislation that is drafted without any regard for Democratic concerns. Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House. I fully understand that Democrats will lose more than we win. As you can see below, the CR passed pretty easily in the House. But that does not mean we should throw up our hands, give up and accept whatever is presented to us. I’ll never do that.

I voted against the CR because too many of the issues we care about are kicked down the road again. This is the fourth time this fiscal year that a CR has been necessary to fund the government and we aren’t even four months in. I’ve detailed below some of the reasons why I could not support this CR:

  • Republicans want to increase defense spending but so far won’t budge on domestic spending. If the Budget Control Act mandated caps are going to be raised, it must be done equally. The CR does not address this problem which is the key to reaching long term agreement.
  • Funding for community health centers is not in this CR and this crucial money expired in September. Every year, 27 million Americans depend upon community health centers for their medical care.
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program is not reauthorized permanently which is the only way to ensure its stability.
  • There is no deal for the “Dreamers”, individuals brought to the country illegally when they themselves were innocent children. That deadline is fast approaching.
  • There is no disaster funding in this CR. I was just in Puerto Rico and I can tell you that much more is needed there and in other parts of our country.

Of course I will compromise, but I will not capitulate!

At this writing, it is not clear if the Senate can pass what the House sent over last night. If agreement cannot be reached the federal government will essentially shut down. I voted NO. The CR passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

224

11

0

3

DEMOCRAT

6

186

0

1

TOTAL

230

197

0

4

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Censure and Impeachment

Today the House voted on a motion to table H. Res. 705, Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, of high misdemeanors. The House first considered impeachment in December. Those casting a NO vote were voting to begin a debate on impeaching the President. As I noted last month, taking steps to impeach a President is a gravely serious matter. I still don’t think passing articles of impeachment in this House is realistic at this moment in our history. However, I believe in my heart that this President is unfit for office. The evidence is mounting and Congress should be willing to discuss and debate the facts related to these concerns. I cannot force the House to take up impeachment. But I can make sure that my constituents know exactly how I feel about this. The responsibility of casting votes in the House is entrusted to me by the people of the 7th CD and I take it very seriously. I voted again today to begin a debate on whether this President has committed impeachable acts. It’s long past time to have an open, honest discussion about President Trump and his fitness for office.

I do take some solace in knowing that, in December, we had 58 votes to proceed and 4 Present votes – for a total of 62 members who thought the concern deserved a review. This week we had 66 votes to proceed and 3 Present votes – for a total of 69 Members.

I am also co-sponsoring a resolution to censure President Trump for the racist and offensive comments he made last week about Haiti and countries in Africa. It is deeply disturbing and really heartbreaking that an American President would so callously denigrate these countries. Language like that has no place in the White House and all the linguistic gymnastics too many Republicans have used to excuse or dismiss Trump’s racist rant says a lot about them too. The resolution specifically censures Trump for his language, his objections to including Haitians in an immigration compromise and his suggestion that the United States should favor immigrants from countries “like Norway” - over Haiti and African countries. We are demanding that Republican leadership bring up the censure resolution as quickly as possible.

Puerto Rico

Last week I traveled to Puerto Rico with other members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to assess firsthand the efforts underway to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. I was hoping to get a clear sense of just how much more work remains to fully restore services to Puerto Rico’s residents.

We met Friday with volunteers from the Massachusetts State Police, who have been assisting recovery efforts in a number of ways. Officers are responding to 911 calls, helping with traffic management and filling in as needed so local officers can focus on helping their own families recover from the hurricane.

We toured Hospital del Nino, a pediatric hospital where 34 patients are currently receiving treatment in its extended care facility. The hospital also offers rehabilitation services for children and is Puerto Rico’s only long-term care facility providing services to low income families.

Our time in Puerto Rico included a briefing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the Joint Field Office (JFO) which is where FEMA and all other agencies coordinate relief efforts. We talked at length with FEMA officials about the ongoing energy and public health needs on the island as well as issues involving security.

As part of the FEMA briefing, we used helicopters for an aerial assessment of Puerto Rico, particularly the areas still in need of attention. We witnessed some significant storm damage along the coast as well as inland, including damaged power lines and communities still devastated by storm debris.

At the Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza, a community health center near San Juan, we learned more about what officials need to more fully serve the medical needs of island residents. This includes longer term care as well as health needs resulting directly from the hurricane.

We concluded our trip with a stop at what was the largest shelter on the island. In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, over 350 people were housed at this shelter. There are still about 80 people living in the shelter.

While progress has been made toward Puerto Rico’s recovery, there is so much more that our fellow citizens still need. I am working with my colleagues to increase the level of federal assistance provided to Puerto Rico.

Let’s Punish the Poor for the Failure of Others to Act

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 3326, the World Bank Accountability Act of 2017. This legislation authorizes the United States’ more than $3 billion contribution to the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). The IDA provides financial resources to help impoverished countries make improvements to their health care system, transportation network, water resources and much more. The funds are made available through loans and grants. H.R. 3326 requires the withholding of 30% of the United States’ commitment to the IDA if the World Bank does not meet a series of goals improving efficiency and accountability. The problem with this approach is that it seeks to achieve these improvements by harming some of the poorest countries in the world. The improvements required through H.R. 3326, while worthy, are also vague and difficult to quantify. I voted NO. H.R. 3326 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

216

16

0

5

DEMOCRAT

21

168

0

4

TOTAL

237

184

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

The Housing Crash is over So Let’s Ignore the Data Act

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 2954, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law authorized the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to manage oversight of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The HMDA requires financial institutions to give the public access to mortgage lending data highlighting gender, race and income. The data is important because it helps show whether lenders are indeed serving the needs of their communities and provides insight into lending patterns that may be discriminatory. In 2015 the CFPB increased the scope of data that financial institutions were required to disclose. Smaller institutions were concerned that the expanded data requirements would be overly burdensome. The CFPB took those concerns into account and revised its reporting requirements, exempting lenders originating no more than 25 mortgages and 100 home equity lines of credit from the expanded requirements. Just last year, I worked with the CFPB to expand the thresholds even further. On a temporary two year basis effective this month, the Bureau has expanded to 500 the exemption threshold for reporting home equity lines of credit data. The temporary extension will allow the Bureau to assess if the change should be made permanent and whether further changes are needed. H.R. 2954 casts that agreement aside, restricting the CFPB’s authority to revise the rule in the future should circumstances warrant. Instead, it expands the scope of the exemption so lenders originating no more than 500 mortgages and 500 home equity lines of credit no longer have to comply. This will make it much more difficult for officials to identify instances of discrimination in lending. I voted NO. H.R. 2954 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

234

1

0

2

DEMOCRAT

9

183

0

1

TOTAL

243

184

0

3

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Playing Politics with Women’s Health

Today the House considered H.R. 4712, the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act. This legislation puts politics between a woman and her doctor, establishing a vague new “standard of care” and increasing reporting mandates that doctors must follow. If they do not comply, criminal penalties will be imposed. Supporters claim this legislation simply protects infants who are delivered alive during an abortion procedure. It is already against the law for the provider to do anything that would harm the baby in those specific circumstances. H.R. 4712 plays politics with women’s health. I voted NO. H.R. 4712 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

235

0

0

2

DEMOCRAT

6

183

0

4

TOTAL

241

183

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

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. According to a January 2018 Newsweek report, Jared Kushner’s required security clearance is still awaiting approval. Kushner has been working in the White House for a year, amending his financial disclosure forms a whopping 39 times so far. Despite all of this Kushner still has access to classified information that others would need an approved security clearance to review. Most security experts agree this is highly unusual treatment. There are important national security reasons why people who want access to classified information must first obtain a security clearance. Kushner has conflicts of interest and he neglected to include ties to Russian contacts on his disclosure forms. The fact that he has access to sensitive documents while still lacking the required clearance raises national security, data privacy and ethical concerns.
  2. In January of 2018, President Trump created and symbolically handed out "Fake News Awards" as a way to discredit journalism he doesn’t like. CNN, the Washington Post and Newsweek were all singled out for coverage Trump thought was unfair. This is astounding, even for an Administration that responds “fake news” to everything they don’t like. This is an embarrassment, and a new low, even for him.
  3. In January of 2018, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report entitled “Abandoning Science Advice: One Year In, the Trump Administration is Sidelining Science Advisory Committees.” Their report highlights the Trump Administration’s stunning disregard for scientific advice. There are over 200 scientific and technical advisory committees that are consulted as resources on scientific matters throughout the government. The UCS found that in 2017 the science advisory committees had the fewest number of meetings since 1997, the year that this data was first recorded. A full two thirds of the committees are not fulfilling the obligations of their charters, meeting less than required. At the Department of the Interior, Secretary Zinke has disbanded the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science. This disregard for scientific expertise is an alarming trend. Federal policy will be based more on political ideology and bias rather than on facts.
  4. In January of 2018 the Trump Administration announced its intention to establish new protections for health care workers who have moral objections to performing certain medical procedures by creating a new Conscience and Religions Freedom division at the Department of Health and Human Services. The mandate would protect workers who object to assisting in providing abortion services but because it is so broadly written, it could cover other circumstances such as treating transgender patients. Facilities that did not permit their employees to decline to treat a patient based on a moral objection would face penalties. Imagine how frightening it would be to seek emergency treatment at a hospital or clinic and have that treatment denied or delayed because of a religious objection? No one should have to worry that the personal views or motivations of their health care professional will prevent them from receiving proper medical care.

What’s Up Next

A District Work period has been scheduled. The next House votes are expected to occur on Monday January 29th.

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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