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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


12,456 subscribers

May 18, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough

This morning, when Texas students should have been looking forward to summer or graduation, they are instead grieving the tragic deaths of their friends. And all Americans are mourning lives lost in another school shooting. The time for action is long past. We owe it to every family traumatized by the murder of precious loved ones, every survivor who will never fully recover from witnessing gun violence. Congress must strengthen gun laws and I will do everything I can to press for action on common sense reform.

Community Meeting in Dorchester

On Tuesday May 29th from 6:30 – 8:00 PM I’m holding a community meeting at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, located at 650 Dudley Street in Dorchester. I hope you can join us to talk with me and your neighbors about the issues that are important to you. We’ll also broadcast on Facebook live for those who can’t attend in person.

Telephone Community Meeting

Thanks to those who joined us for a telephone community meeting. We are posting audio files on our website if you weren’t able to call in and would like to listen to the discussion. There is one more coming up on Wednesday May 23rd from 7:00 – 8:00 PM. If you’d like to participate on the 23rd, just call 877-229-8493 and use PIN 116139. If you’d like to ask me a question, press *3 after joining the meeting. I hope you can join us.

Gaza

Any decent person feels anguish over the heartbreaking loss of life at the Gaza border. I opposed President Trump’s moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem because I thought it would provoke violence and so it has. I am deeply troubled by reports that Hamas is urging thousands of Gazans to enter Israel and march to Jerusalem. I believe Israel, like every country, has a right to defend its territory - but the Israeli Defense Force should minimize the use of deadly force against protesters, using it only when no reasonable alternative exists. It is deeply regrettable that the Trump Administration is exacerbating tensions in a troubled region and doing nothing to encourage negotiations that might lead to a two-state solution. I am in complete agreement with the letter sent by Senators Sanders, Warren, Markey and others calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "do more to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

An Attempt to Slash SNAP Funding

Today House Republicans failed in their attempt to pass a farm bill that would have ripped $23 BILLION from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the food stamp program. H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 went down to defeat in the House because of opposition from some conservative Republicans. H.R. 2 does much more than simply fund Agriculture Department programs. It contains damaging environmental provisions such as eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program, limiting endangered species protections and increasing access to federal lands for timber harvesting. The damage to the SNAP program is significant. Cuts of this magnitude will make it much harder for low income families to provide nutritious meals for their families. Almost 2/3 of the nutrition assistance program covers children, seniors and the disabled. Today’s vote result was a small victory but this bill will be back. I voted NO. H.R. 2 did not pass and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

198

30

0

7

DEMOCRAT

0

183

0

10

TOTAL

198

213

0

17

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

Codifying Existing Law

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 5698, the Protect and Serve Act. This legislation establishes a new federal offense related to the intentional targeting of law enforcement professionals for the purposes of doing harm. There was much that could have been added to this bill to make it more comprehensive, but it is already a crime at the federal and state level to target a member of the law enforcement community. This legislation simply codifies aspects of the law at the federal level. I voted YES. H.R. 5698 passed by a wide bipartisan margin. The entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

220

11

0

3

DEMOCRAT

162

24

0

7

TOTAL

382

35

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

0

Creating Uncertainty in Veterans Programs

On Thursday the House considered S. 2373, the VA MISSION Act of 2018. This legislation updates the Veterans Choice Program, primarily by consolidating a series of care programs into one large initiative. I have several concerns with the way S. 2373 seeks to address veterans’ care. It transforms funding for the Veterans Choice Program from mandatory to discretionary but does not address the spending constraints required by the Budget Control Act. This could mean cuts to existing veterans programs or changes to eligibility requirements for some services. The legislation also establishes an Asset and Infrastructure Review Board that would study every existing VA medical facility – from clinics to hospitals – and make a determination regarding their viability. This puts essential veterans’ facilities at risk of closure, limiting care options. The legislation also makes it easier to privatize veterans’ healthcare services. S. 2373 just creates too much uncertainty regarding maintaining and improving essential care for our veterans. I voted NO. S. 2373 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

231

0

0

3

DEMOCRAT

116

70

0

10

TOTAL

347

70

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

6

3

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. In May of 2018 the Trump Administration announced its intention to take federal funding away from any medical facility that provides abortion services. This is directed at Planned Parenthood. Federal law already prohibits taxpayer funds from being used for abortion services. This money that Trump is taking away covers preventive medical care such as pap tests, mammograms and other cancer screenings. It’s not just women that this policy impacts. Men also obtain preventive care and cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood clinics. Trump’s rule also prevents medical professionals working at facilities receiving federal funds from even talking to their patients about abortion or referring them anywhere else. It is a really outrageous action on a long list of outrageous actions from this administration– one that inserts itself between a patient and doctor and limits access to potentially life-saving diagnostic and preventive care.
  2. According to a May 2018 Washington Post report, the Trump Administration is not complying with an Obama Administration Executive Order (EO) related to drone strikes. The order requires an annual report with information on how many individuals have been killed as a result of these counterterrorism strikes, including civilians. The intent of the EO was to add a measure of transparency and accountability to U.S. un-manned strikes in Libya and elsewhere. Instead, the Trump Administration is acting like the EO doesn’t exist.
  3. According to May 2018 media reports, the Trump Administration is basically terminating investigations into for-profit colleges. Education Secretary DeVos hasn’t officially ended the probes, but by reassigning investigators, directing them to work on other issues and minimizing their efforts, she doesn’t have to take formal steps. Investigators were looking into numerous issues including how schools present employment statistics to students. Maybe one of the reasons DeVos is hitting the brakes on this is because Julian Schmoke is in charge of the investigators (BtC #149). He was a Dean at the for-profit DeVry University. The school’s parent company, Adtalem Global Education, paid $100 million as a result of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint that DeVry was not honest with students about employment opportunities and salary data. So Schmoke leaves a for-profit college fined millions of dollars for a job with Trump overseeing investigations of for-profit colleges, then the investigations mysteriously grind to a halt. Coincidence?
  4. According to a May 2018 Politico report, the Trump Administration is interfering in scientific decisions regarding dangerous chemicals in water supplies. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry conducted a study of certain chemicals found in water near military bases and chemical plants around the country. The agency determined that the chemicals tested are dangerous at a level lower than the EPA previously determined. The administration was concerned releasing the report would be a “public relations nightmare” according to emails sent in January. So they directed the agency not to release the report, which is still not public. This is deeply troubling on so many levels. The Trump administration is playing politics with science and the public health.
  5. In May of 2018 Trump took great interest in a cell phone company partially owned by the Chinese government. The company ZTE, has a concerning profile. The United States military just prohibited the use of ZTE cell phones on their bases due to security concerns, including worries that military members could have their movements tracked through the phones. ZTE was fined over a billion dollars last year for violating U.S. sanctions against North Korea and Iran. ZTE has also been prohibited from purchasing U.S. materials for their products which created great financial difficulty for the company. After the Chinese government invested in a project in Indonesia that the Trump Organization is also investing in, Trump tweeted: “Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” So Trump orders his Commerce Department to help a Chinese owned cell phone company with a questionable history after China helps his company out financially. What shall we call this? Is it a violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause or something else?

What’s Up Next

The next votes will take place on Monday May 21st. At this writing, a legislative schedule 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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