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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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February 2, 2018

That Memo

Today Trump authorized the release of a memo written by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes’ staff which is an incomplete and misleading report on the Department of Justice’s investigation into Carter Page. By doing this, Donald Trump is politicizing and undermining the FBI and our intelligence operations for his own personal gain.

The Department of Justice and the FBI vigorously opposed the release of the memo citing national security concerns. The FBI also noted it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy”. The memo is only four pages and it’s glaringly obvious that the information in it has been selectively presented. Trump reportedly wanted the memo out because he thought it would help discredit the Mueller investigation. It’s notable that Republicans won’t release the corresponding Democratic memo.

There is growing concern that Trump will use the Nunes memo as an excuse to fire Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein which brings him one step closer to Mr. Mueller. Trump insists that there is nothing to the Russia investigation yet his actions speak volumes.

Defense Authorization

On Tuesday the House considered an Amendment to Senate Amendments to H.R. 695, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2018. This legislation has already passed the House twice as part of other packages so taking it up a third time is a waste of precious floor time, especially since the latest Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal budget expires next week. This legislation ignores the funding caps imposed under the Budget Control Act (BCA), directing $73 billion more than allowed under the BCA. This additional funding will come at the expense of all non-defense federal spending, which will be funded at LESS than allowed under the BCA to account for the additional defense spending. This legislation effectively exempts defense spending from the budget parameters mandated by the BCA. This is one of the issues complicating agreement on a long term spending bill. Democrats are fighting to lift the caps equally for defense and nondefense spending. Republicans are more focused on exempting defense spending from budget restrictions which will hurt all nondefense programs. I voted NO. This legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

227

4

0

6

DEMOCRAT

23

162

0

8

TOTAL

250

166

0

14

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

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 February of 2018 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) chief Mick Mulvaney moved the CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity into his office and changed its mission from enforcement to “advocacy, coordination and education”. The Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity is responsible for ensuring that financial firms are not violating laws against discrimination and for issuing enforcement actions if firms are in violation. In the past, the office has fined financial firms who charged higher interest rates to minority borrowers. This move undermines the office and greatly weakens its overall mission, which is to ensure that minority borrowers are not subject to discrimination.
  2. Last week in BtC #229 we reported on efforts to ease rules restricting payday lending. There is more to report on that. The CFPB, under the leadership of Mick Mulvaney, just dropped a lawsuit filed against four California payday lenders who are alleged to have been collecting debts that consumers did not in fact owe and obscuring the actual cost of the loans they issued, which came with interest rates as high as 950% a year (that is not a typo). Instead of seeking better ways to help low-income borrowers access fair credit, the Trump Administration would rather support payday lenders that exploit poverty and trap people in debt. The payday lending industry’s trade group, it turns out, has scheduled its annual conference at a Trump golf resort in Florida, which means more money going to the President’s family business.
  3. In January of 2018 the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suspended the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Established in 1997, the registry is a clearinghouse for information on effective programs for mental health and substance abuse. It is an important tool that gives communities and organizations access to approaches that have worked. Ending a program that simply provided interested parties with information about effective evidence-based initiatives raises questions. Perhaps it’s because “evidence-based” is one of the phrases banned by the Trump Administration in December? See BtC # 216.
  4. According to a January 2018 Huffington Post report, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has a financial interest in PROOF Research Inc., a Montana gun company. Cabinet Secretary Nominees must disclose their financial information as part of the confirmation process but Zinke failed to do so in this case. Zinke is also a former member of PROOF’s board. He’s made a number of decisions favorable to the gun industry such as giving hunters more access to Arizona’s Santa Teresa Wilderness and allowing lead ammunition to be used in areas managed by the department’s Fish and Wildlife Services. Zinke is also working to increase hunting at 10 national wildlife refuges. He met with PROOF executives as Secretary when it would have been more prudent to recuse himself. The company also received an $11.4 million government contract from the Department of Defense. All of this erodes the public’s trust because of the lack of transparency and the appearance of favoritism.
  5. According to a January 2018 Daily Beast article, the Attorney General’s office drafted a controversial report asserting that 73% of all “international terrorism” convicts are immigrants. Once the report was done, the AG’s office sent it to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) simply for a signoff. The Trump Administration then presented the report as if it had been produced by the DHS, thus creating a misleading narrative. The Administration did not release all the details behind the report, but according to the Washington Post, they included people who were brought from overseas only to face charges in the U.S. as “immigrants.”
  6. In January of 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ended a policy that has been in place since 1995. Under the Clean Air Act, any entity classified as a “major” source of harmful emissions, like a power plant, must maintain that classification even if they have taken steps to reduce air pollution. The rule essentially allows the EPA to keep monitoring these facilities to ensure they are continuing efforts to reduce pollution. Ending this policy reduces oversight and prioritizes business interests over environmental concerns.

Behind the Curtain – UPDATES

  1. President Trump disbanded his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity but not before it asked Texas for some very specific information. In addition to requesting the same detailed voter registration data it was also asking other states to provide, officials asked Texas for records identifying all voters with Hispanic surnames. This data was never delivered because advocacy groups filed suit, but this is a clear targeting of one minority group.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday January 29th. At this writing, a list of legislation to be considered 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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