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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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March 9, 2018

Following up with the Federal Reserve

I wasn't satisfied with Federal Reserve Chairman Powell’s answers on the gender and racial wage gap during last week's hearing so I wrote him with several colleagues requesting action. When approximately half the U.S. population is being paid less or not receiving the same employment opportunities as others due partly to their gender or race there is a direct impact on the economy and it is the Federal Reserve’s job to keep our economy strong. Congress has given the Federal Reserve the tools to measure the wage gap. It's time for the Fed to use them.

Taking Steps to Reduce Regulation

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 4607, the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act. This legislation amends the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act. It requires financial regulators, including the Federal Reserve and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to examine all regulations they have issued every seven years and eliminate any that they feel are no longer relevant or necessary. Current law requires a review every ten years. The legislation specifically focuses on the burden of regulations on big banks, pay day lenders, mortgage lenders and other financial companies, and does not consider how the regulations might benefit consumers. The review process required by H.R. 4607 is burdensome and would have to be done so frequently that it reduces the time and resources for agencies to actually review the companies they are supposed to be regulating. I voted NO. H.R. 4607 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

226

0

0

11

DEMOCRAT

38

143

0

12

TOTAL

264

143

0

23

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

1

8

0

0

Easing Pollution Regulations

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 1917, the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2017. This legislation delays rules related to Clean Air Act oversight of pollutants generated by the brick and clay ceramic industry until all legal challenges have been resolved. The rule was already put on hold by the Trump Administration. H.R. 1917 seeks to delay it even further. This industry generates air pollutants like hydrogen fluoride that cause serious health issues and can lead to cancer. The rule in question would require factories to reduce their pollution generation. Without it, the level of air pollution generated is essentially unregulated, creating health and environmental concerns. I voted NO. H.R. 1917 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

228

1

0

8

DEMOCRAT

6

179

1

7

TOTAL

234

180

1

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

More Weakening of the Clean Air Act

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 1119, the Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act. This legislation is yet another way to weaken the Clean Air Act. It changes the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule so that waste coal power plants are subject to less oversight. Under the new MATS standards the threshold for emitting pollutants such as mercury and other air toxins would be higher. This has a damaging impact on the environment and threatens public health. I voted NO. H.R. 1119 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

210

14

0

13

DEMOCRAT

5

175

0

13

TOTAL

215

189

0

26

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 March 2018 media reports, the family business of President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, received a hefty loan from a company after an executive meet with Kushner in his official White House capacity. Kushner had several meetings with Joshua Harris from the private equity firm, Apollo Global Management, about infrastructure issues as well as Harris’ possible employment at the White House. Late last year, Kushner Companies was loaned $184 million from Apollo for a refinancing of a Chicago building mortgage. The loan itself was much higher than Apollo’s typical property loan. This is one more example on a long list of the blurring of lines between business and government and certainly a conflict of interest.
  2. According to a March 2018 Washington Post report, the Securities and Exchange Commission ended a review late last year of Apollo Global Management, the firm highlighted in #256 that loaned Kushner Companies $184 million. The SEC was reportedly reviewing issues related to personnel and dissemination of financial information. While there is no evidence that the two are related it certainly raises questions about timing and is another apparent conflict of interest.
  3. According to March 2018 media reports, the State Department hasn’t spent one penny of the $120 million it was given to combat possible Russian meddling in the upcoming election cycle. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center is responsible for this work and none of its employees even speak Russian. The federal hiring freeze imposed by the Trump Administration has made it difficult to rectify this problem or to hire cyber security experts to help track possible intrusions. The first primary of the 2018 election cycle has already taken place and there is a special election in Pennsylvania next week, yet Trump’s State Department doesn’t appear to be taking the threat of Russian interference seriously.
  4. According to news reports in February and March 2018, the Trump Administration’s Health and Human Services Department recalibrated its guidelines for Title X family planning grants to favor organizations that promote abstinence. In announcing its guidelines for the $260 million in available funding, HHS often cites "natural family planning" which describes the rhythm method. This new emphasis has raised concerns that HHS will limit or deny grants to organizations such as Planned Parenthood who offer contraceptive services such as the birth control pill. Valerie Huber is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at HHS. She will now make the final decision on grant awardees. As the former President and CEO of the national organization Ascend, Huber actively promoted abstinence. Her word is final on what groups receive these grants and there is obvious concern that she will prioritize abstinence groups and shut out those offering contraceptive services.
  5. According to March 2018 news reports, Carl Icahn, a former advisor to President Trump, sold $31 million in steel stocks right before Trump announced he would be imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. A February 22nd SEC filing shows Icahn sold his share of the Manitowoc Company, which manufactures cranes and heavy construction equipment. On the day Trump announced the tariffs, the stock market closed down over 400 points. So, was it just a coincidence that Icahn sold his steel stocks or something more? It’s a question worth asking.
  6. According to March 2018 media reports, the Trump Organization has placed an order for golf tees adorned with the Presidential seal for use at Trump golf resorts. Quite simply, this is illegal. Federal law prohibits the official seal from being used on anything that is not for a governmental purpose. Here is more proof that the Trump Organization, which the President still profits from, is using his position to make money.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Tuesday March 13th. The House is expected to consider H.R. 4909, the STOP School Violence 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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