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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

June 8, 2018

Cruelty in Immigration Policy

Many of you have called to express your anguish and outrage that the Trump Administration is separating children, including infants and toddlers, from their parents and detaining them in separate facilities. Often, children are being placed at a great distance from their family members. The announced purpose of this so-called “zero tolerance” policy is deterrence. Even parents fleeing violence and persecution may hesitate to seek refuge in the United States if they know they will lose custody of their children. Such cruelty has no place in a civilized nation. Only a President who speaks of other human beings as “animals” could advance a policy as inhumane as this one. This week I joined with 130 other Members of Congress to condemn the practice as “child abuse” and “recognize(s) that it may inflict irreversible damage to the health of these children that could have a lifetime of consequences.” We reaffirm our commitment to keeping children and parents together as they come to the United States.

Bipartisan Support for Water Resources Development

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 8, the Water Resources Development Act of 2018. This legislation authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and programs. This includes disaster response, protection of our country’s shorelines, navigation of waterways, flood damage assessment and much more. H.R. 8 updates the Corps’ planning process while maintaining important environmental protections. Given the Trump Administration’s approach to environmental issues, this is an important provision. H.R. 8 also contains a provision I authored to modify the Boston Harbor Improvement Project so that wider berths can be constructed to house ships. Boston Harbor is being dredged with a $350 million federal investment so it can accommodate larger ships and the economic opportunity they bring. I worked closely with other members of the congressional delegation to secure that funding. As the vote total demonstrates, H.R. 8 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. I voted YES and entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

227

2

0

5

DEMOCRAT

181

0

0

12

TOTAL

408

2

0

17

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

0

0

1

Helping Communities Improve Public Safety

On Wednesday the House also considered Concurring in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3249 - Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of 2018. This legislation establishes the Project Safe Neighborhoods Block Grant program administered through the Department of Justice. The legislation authorizes $50 million a year for three years. Communities can access these funds to improve public safety initiatives in their neighborhoods. Funding can be used for intervention and mediation programs, juvenile justice initiatives and other efforts long recognized as effective. This legislation also passed by a wide bipartisan margin. I voted YES and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

216

13

0

5

DEMOCRAT

178

0

2

13

TOTAL

394

13

2

18

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

0

0

1

Hypocrisy on Spending

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 3, Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act. This legislation is a blatantly transparent attempt to address the $1.5 trillion budget deficit that Trump’s tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires and corporations created by taking back $15 billion in funds already allocated to programs. This bill was only considered so Republicans can point to some actions to try and convince people they care about the deficit. It won’t work. Supporters of H.R. 3 are trying to make the dubious argument that because the money hasn’t been spent, it must not be necessary. On the contrary, the cuts will impact the most vulnerable, chiefly low income children. H.R. 3 takes the biggest chunk of money, over $7 billion, from the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It also cuts money from programs that create jobs in low-income communities, slashes energy efficiency initiatives, transportation projects and much more. I voted NO. H.R. 3 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

210

19

0

5

DEMOCRAT

0

187

0

6

TOTAL

210

206

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Taking the Wrong Approach to the Federal Budget

The House this week considered H. R. 5895, the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2019. This “minibus” funds a segment of the federal government for Fiscal Year 2019. There is a lot to be concerned about with this approach to legislation and with the bill itself. It is troubling that Republicans have not allocated overall funding in a workable manner. They have underfunded some upcoming appropriations bills while increasing funding for others. This will result in crucial priorities such as in health, education, and the environment being underfunded.

Here are a few examples of why I could not support this bill. To start, it will permit people to carry guns on all Army Corps of Engineers land. Our country is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence. In my hometown of Somerville, the words of the song “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” were changed to teach kindergarteners what to do if their school goes on lockdown. 5 year olds are learning about lockdowns yet this House thinks it is okay to let people carry guns in more places?

H.R. 5895 cuts funding for clean energy programs and investments in new energy technology. For example, it greatly reduces funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy which supports clean energy initiatives. It also weakens the Clean Water Act by easing restrictions on how certain agriculture dredging is managed. I could not support this bill. I voted NO. H.R. 5895 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

212

16

0

6

DEMOCRAT

23

163

0

7

TOTAL

235

179

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

2

5

0

2

Pay Equity

I have been pushing the Trump Administration to explain why they won’t require companies to collect wage data which would help illuminate the pay gap that exists for women and minorities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was set to start collecting this information from businesses as part of paperwork they had been filling out since the 1960s. When the current administration took over, the requirement was waved away. Wage discrimination impacts millions of women and minorities in the workplace at every level. This has negative consequences for the employee as well as their families. It’s also an economic issue. In 2016 the Council of Economic Advisors estimated that the United States economy is $2 trillion larger today because more women have entered the workforce and are working more hours. I wrote Office of Management and Budget Director (OMB) Mick Mulvaney about this issue, in follow up to his testimony before the Financial Services Committee. His answers were unsatisfactory, with no valid reason given for failure to collect this basic information. In the letter, which several of my colleagues also signed, we ask Mulvaney to explain why wage data collection is too much trouble, if there are plans to revisit the issue and what the Administration is doing to address the wage gap.

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 2018 federal regulators announced plans to weaken the Volcker rule, an important safeguard implemented after the 2008 financial crisis. The intent of the rule is to prevent big banks from taking risky actions with their customers' money. Of course, the big banks don’t like the Volcker rule because it places limits on the speculative trading activity they engage in with client money. Bankers have argued that the rule places too many restrictions on them and they’ve managed to convince Trump’s regulators. Without the Volcker rule banks will no longer have an obligation to certify their trades are more than just a speculative bet. This newsletter recently featured a banking deregulation bill that Trump signed into law. That law exempted 85% of banks from even having to comply with Volcker. The only institutions to which the Volcker rule still applies are the megabanks. Is it really too much trouble to require multi-trillion banks like Citi and JP Morgan to act responsibly with client money and not engage in speculative trading? The Securities and Exchange Commission’s own economic analysis on the new rule states “ We recognize that the proposed amendment could increase moral hazard risks related to proprietary trading by allowing dealers to take positions that are economically equivalent to positions they could have taken in the absence of the 2013 final rule.” It is galling that just 8 years after the crisis, the regulators are happy to allow Wall Street traders to reinject the economic risk, the speculative betting, and the conflicts of interest that so devastated our economy in 2008.
  2. In a May 2018 letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) raised concerns about a new policy implemented in the White House Counsel’s office as well as the National Security Council (NSC). Under the new policy, attorneys from the two offices are ignoring the GAO, a nonpartisan oversight office. According to the GAO letter, staff is not responding to any inquiries or working with the GAO on any reviews, which GAO describes as “a clear departure from past practices”. Ignoring the GAO undermines the important role it has in Congress' constitutional oversight. The GAO requested a response from the White House by May 25th but as of today, no response. It’s outrageous but consistent with the Trump Administration’s policy of refusing to be accountable to Congress and the American people.
  3. According to a May 2018 report by WLRN Public Radio and TV in Miami, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paid the Carnival cruise ship company almost $75 million in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria to put up first responders and others at a cost of $834 a night. WLRN reported that not even half of the federal workers covered by the agreement even stayed on the ships. Carnival ended up getting more money overall than what was directed to residents of Puerto Rico who needed to rebuild their hurricane-ravaged homes. The nightly per person rate that FEMA paid comes to $5,959 a week. WLRN reviewed the market rate for a Carnival vacation cruise. Using data from Priceline and CruiseCheap.com, the news outlet estimated a vacationer would pay about $1,200 for a week. FEMA overpaid and wasted precious taxpayer dollars that should have been directed to hurricane relief.
  4. According to May 2018 media reports, a New England Journal of Medicine study determined that 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria, not 64, which is the official death toll. Researchers determined that “interruption of medical care was the primary cause” of the high death rate. Trump compared Hurricane Maria to Katrina, noting the 2005 hurricane was more devastating. According to FEMA, 1,833 people died due to Katrina. There is great concern that the Administration is downplaying the death toll to divert attention from the crisis and justify spending less money on relief and rebuilding efforts.
  5. A June 2018 Government Executive report on a Sunlight Foundation study revealed that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) took 26 training documents off their website. The documents gave officials guidance on how to handle immigrants seeking asylum. Hundreds of pages were removed, including information on screening immigrants in accordance with current law and asylum agreements. Laws and international agreements that cover the asylum process, how to communicate with victims of torture and how to work with interpreters all went missing from the website. The Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project found that the documents were removed over a year ago, in March and April of 2017. Add this to the very long list of troubling immigration actions from the Trump Administration. The removal of these documents no doubt relates to the heartless and cruel policy of tearing apart families and separating young children from their parents.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Tuesday June 12th. The House is expected to consider H.R. 5788, the Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act of 2018.

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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