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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 27, 2018

A Bipartisan Plan for the FAA

Today the House voted on H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. This legislation authorizes the programs, policies and administration of the FAA for five years. It includes provisions to help airports upgrade and improve facilities. It also contains passenger protections such as prohibiting airlines from bumping a traveler if she or he has already boarded the plane and banning cell phone calls on flights. H.R.4 requires that private rooms be available for nursing mothers at commercial airports. It mandates that all airlines provide passengers with a simple document detailing their rights with respect to baggage, overbooking and other issues.

The legislation also includes some provisions of mine that relate directly to airport noise. The first provision relates to RNAV or “area navigational system” departure procedures. RNAV is being used by the FAA to narrowly direct airplanes over very specific flight paths. The unfortunate result of this is that some neighborhoods are experiencing an increase in flights over their homes. My provision requires the FAA to consider “dispersing” flights to address noise concerns if the community and airport have requested it. Air traffic controllers can utilize dispersal to send flights over a broader area if too many flights are using a specific path at any given time. While it cannot eliminate the burden of too much airplane noise, it can spread the burden more fairly.

Another provision I included in H.R. 4 involves the way the FAA measures noise under flight paths. Currently, airports are required to offer various forms of mitigation to neighborhoods that experience noise levels above 65 DNL. DNL is an average noise level, measured over 24 hours, with higher weights given to noise in the overnight and early morning hours. My provision requires the FAA to review noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports and report on whether the current 65 DNL standard should be updated or changed entirely. The limit was first set in the 1970’s. The science behind noise exposure has gotten more sophisticated since then, and the FAA should update its approach based on current data.

Each of these is a significant step that will require the FAA to take a closer look at how RNAV and other policies are impacting the people who live below flight paths. Reasonable people understand that Logan Airport isn’t going anywhere and some airplane noise is an unavoidable part of urban living. This doesn’t mean however, that some communities should be unfairly burdened by airplane noise.

I voted YES. H.R. 4 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















More Bad Environmental Policy

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 3144, to Provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System pursuant to a certain operation plan for a specified period of time. This legislation applies to dams constructed by the federal government on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. This network, the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS), was rejected in federal District Court because it was not comprehensive enough and did not adequately adhere to the Endangered Species Act. The court ruled that species of salmon and steelhead trout, which are protected under federal law, are not sufficiently protected under the FCRPS. The courts are requiring an updated FCRPS yet H.R. 3144 mandates the use of the current plan, which has already been ruled insufficient. The legislation ignores a federal court and requires use of a plan that is in violation of federal law. H.R. 3144 also prohibits any modification to the FCRPS, no matter how minor, unless it is approved by Congress. I voted NO. H.R. 3144 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















Chelsea Soldiers’ Home

I am happy to report that the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home has received a Department of Veterans Affairs State Home Construction grant which will be used to help Massachusetts fund construction of a new Community Living Center (CLC). Upon completion, the CLC will include 154 new rooms for veterans as well as enhanced physical therapy and recreational activities. Until the CLC is fully operational, the current facility at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home will remain open. These federal funds are an important component of modernizing services for our veterans. I have spent time at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, meeting with residents and receiving updates on the facility’s operations. Our veterans have given so much of themselves in service to our country. They deserve the best care we can provide and state-of-the-art facilities that will improve their quality of life. I am pleased that the federal government is partnering with the state on this project.

Our Allies and Iran Deal

Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. He spoke powerfully of the ties that have united our countries since Lafayette volunteered to fight with George Washington and Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson served as our first Ambassadors in Paris. He spoke of our shared principles, liberty and equality, human rights and human dignity, our common resistance to tyranny in the last century. He recalled the “wrenching losses” both our nations have recently suffered because “our values and our taste for freedom are the very ones those terrorists precisely hate.” Above all, he urged that we not abandon multilateralism, arguing, and I agree, that these ties do not threaten national sovereignty but respect and protect shared values. He argued also, in less abstract terms, and I agree with this also, that the United States should seek to broaden and expand the existing framework of our agreement with Iran, rather than simply abandoning it. What would Iran do next, in Syria and elsewhere? Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is in Washington today, making the same argument, with an equally tough-minded grasp of international realities.

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 an April 2018 Associated Press report, Trump Organization lawyers appealed to the President of Panama, asking for intervention in a business dispute that had made its way to the Panamanian courts. The majority owner of the Trump International Hotel in Panama terminated the Trump Organization’s contract to manage the property after a court ruling. Trump’s company objected, arguing its contract was valid until 2031. A law firm representing the Trump Organization wrote to President Juan Carlos Varela to “urgently request your influence in relation to a commercial dispute regarding the Trump hotel.” Because he has refused to divest from his businesses, Trump still profits from the Trump Organization. In this instance, lawyers representing President Trump’s company asked the President of Panama to essentially help them get back a lucrative management contract. This is an egregious case of using the Office of the Presidency for financial gain. It is unethical and the definition of conflict of interest.
  2. In April 2018 the Trump Administration proposed implementing stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients. Under the proposal, which is part of the farm bill, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ) would prohibit any able-bodied adult from accessing food assistance unless they work or are in work training for at least 20 hours a week. Currently, able-bodied adults can receive assistance for up to three months before work requirements go into effect. Having these work requirements start immediately harms the temporarily unemployed just when they need help the most. It is estimated that the new work requirements would result in benefit cuts totaling $20 billion over ten years which translates into 2 million people losing access to this aid. This will further erode the resources actually available for food. This is one more way that the Trump Administration is shredding the safety net.
  3. In April 2018 the Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management began the process of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to drilling by proceeding on the “scoping” process. This is a first step toward beginning an official environmental review of drilling in the ANWR.
  4. In April 2018 the Trump Administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to TRIPLE the amount of money that low-income residents must pay in order to receive housing assistance. This is the same department where its leader, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, saw no problem spending $31,000 on a dining room set. Imposing such a significant increase on our most vulnerable residents is unconscionable.

What’s Up Next

A district work period has been scheduled. The next House votes will take place on Monday May 7th.


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

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