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Congressman Capuano's
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts

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April 6, 2018

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This week we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A civil rights activist, preacher & transformational leader, Dr. King recognized the power of nonviolent protest, which gave the civil rights movement its deep moral resonance. As we reflect on his legacy, let us acknowledge that though progress has been made, much work remains if we are to truly realize his dream of a nation free of racism and bias. Let us continue as Dr. King would have wanted; working together, respecting one another and exercising our rights in peaceful actions.

I filed H. Res. 798 as a way to honor the legacy of Dr. King. It emphasizes the importance of teaching our children that “nonviolent action can be an important force for social and political change”. My resolution encourages schools to incorporate the study of nonviolence into history and civics curriculum. Students should be taught, in age appropriate ways, the importance of their constitutionally protected rights — freedom of speech, assembly and association — upon which Dr. King relied. I have written Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Massachusetts education officials to encourage them to consider recommending such study.

The Dimock Center’s Dr. Lucy Sewall Center for Acute Treatment Services

I joined city and state officials this week for a ribbon cutting at the newly renovated Dr. Lucy Sewall Center for Acute Treatment Services, which is located in the Dimock Community Health Center. Individuals with substance use disorder have access to a range of services, including inpatient and outpatient care. The newly renovated facility now has additional assets to help staff expand and increase treatment programs. The center is a vital resource for those who are struggling with drugs or alcohol. We toured the renovated facility and spoke with staff about the important work they are doing.

Somerville High School

Student activism on gun control continues, in our district and throughout the country. I spent time with Somerville High School students yesterday to talk about this issue as well as others. We had fairly detailed policy discussions about ways to strengthen our gun laws. We also talked about the challenges of preserving affordable housing and improving transportation options. I encouraged them to stay active and motivated. Some of the students are participating in the Town Halls for Our Lives initiative tomorrow. These are meetings organized by students with their elected officials in Congressional Districts all across the country. I am looking forward to continuing this dialogue with them tomorrow at the local town hall meeting in Roxbury.

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. A March 2018 Politico report illustrates the troubling discrepancies in the way the Trump Administration managed hurricane relief in Puerto Rico when compared to Texas. Puerto Rico endured more destruction than Houston, yet FEMA was quicker to approve funding assistance for residents there, directing $141.8 million within two weeks of the hurricane. During the same timeframe, $6.2 million was approved for Puerto Rico. Personnel and supplies were also initially more abundant in Texas. This includes meals, helicopters, water, tarps and other emergency supplies. For example, within nine days of the hurricanes, FEMA provided Houston with over 5 million meals and 4 ½ million liters of water. Puerto Rico received 1.6 million meals and 2.8 million liters of water. Trump himself displayed less concern, taking longer to view the destruction in Puerto Rico. He also took time to tweet about its debt and infrastructure issues while hurricane relief efforts were still underway and lives at risk.
  2. According to March 2018 media reports the Trump Administration is giving states the ability to oversee how coal ash is disposed, resulting in varying degrees of oversight and disposal policies. The Trump Administration is prioritizing business over the environment once again. In announcing the change, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt cited the burden on utilities and others. This policy will harm the environment in states where the disposal oversight is not robust and increase health risks.
  3. A March 2018 Washington Post report found that the Department of Education is trying to force a “collective bargaining agreement” on the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). This is a shocking and troubling failure to negotiate with unions in good faith. The 3,900 AFGE members voted to reject the proposed agreement yet Administration officials notified them it would be implemented anyway.
  4. March and April 2018 media reports are resulting in a series of unflattering headlines for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. He rented a room for $50 a night in the D.C. home of an energy lobbyist’s wife. During this arrangement, clients of the lobbying firm in question (Williams and Jensen) were successful in obtaining approvals from the EPA for a variety of projects. For example, Enbridge Inc., a Canadian energy company, had its pipeline-expansion plan approved while Pruitt was renting the room. Pruitt has denied any connection and expressed disbelief that anyone would question the room rental arrangement.
  5. According to April 2018 media reports, Pruitt gave significant pay raises to two staff members after the White House rejected the increase request. One staffer is a former campaign employee and the other worked for the Oklahoma Attorney General. After the White House vetoed the salary increases, a provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act was used to get around the rejection. That legislation gives the EPA Administrator the authority to hire up to 30 people without prior White House or Congressional approval. It was put in place so administrators could hire experts as needed without having to wait for approval. Instead, Pruitt used the provision to rehire the two employees through the Safe Drinking Water Act, giving them the raises and taking them out of the approval process. By doing so, these employees are also exempt from the conflict of interest and ethics rules that apply to political appointees. Pruitt is now insisting he knew nothing about the hiring maneuvers or the raises, which of course, is not at all believable.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Tuesday April 10th.


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

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