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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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June 22, 2018

Traveling to the U.S.-Mexico Border

Tomorrow I am joining more than 20 House colleagues in Texas at the U.S.-Mexico border to obtain firsthand information about the immoral and cruel Trump Administration practice of ripping children away from their families. So many of you have reached out to my office about this crisis, to express your outrage and heartbreak. Thank you for standing with us and demanding change.

After spending days insisting that ONLY Congressional action would end HIS family separation policy, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) Wednesday – which he claimed reversed HIS policy. Of course, like so much of what Trump does, the signing of the EO amounts to little more than political theatre.

The administration will stop separating families, for now. Instead, children will be held, essentially imprisoned, with their parents or other family members. Moreover, the administration has no immediate plans to reunite parents and children who were cruelly separated because of his policy. This is appalling and inhumane.

The EO also contains, not surprisingly, some very troubling language that renders it hollow. Here is the relevant text: “It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.” Translation – ripping children from their families and thus creating significant emotional trauma for them is still in the Trump toolbox.

I will report back next week on my experiences in Texas. And I want you to know how very grateful I am to represent such an informed and caring community. So many of our callers over the past week are constituents who made it a priority early in this administration to check in regularly to express outrage about another terrible policy or say thanks for standing strong against those policies. It means a lot to me that you remain engaged, determined to make sure your voice is heard.

The First of Two Very Bad Immigration Bills

The House spent most of Thursday debating two immigration bills. Neither one comes close to comprehensive immigration reform. The first, H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act, is essentially an anti-immigration bill. The legislation does not include a permanent path to citizenship for the Dreamers. Instead, it allows some Dreamers to apply for three year temporary legal status which cannot be used to apply for a green card. They can apply for renewal at the end of the three year period but approval is not guaranteed. Moreover, this provision does not cover all Dreamers. In fact, about 2 million of these individuals will still be left with no avenue to stabilize their status in this country.

H.R. 4760 takes a hammer to the existing family-based reunification program. Under current law, U.S. citizens can sponsor their parents, children, spouses and siblings for a green card. The bill narrows eligibility to only spouses and minor children. The legislation eliminates the Diversity Visa Lottery program. This initiative is open to nationals of countries whose citizens have not previously come to the United States in large numbers. Under this program, roughly 50,000 green cards are distributed annually after careful review of applicants who must meet certain educational standards. This program has been a success and the only reason to end it is to close off a legal avenue for immigrants, many from sub-Saharan Africa, to come to our country.

H.R. 4760 also makes the family separation crisis worse by clearing the way for an undocumented individual to be criminally prosecuted if they are simply discovered living in the country. Previously, these circumstances were treated essentially as misdemeanors. Given what we are seeing play out at the border, does anyone doubt that this administration would fully embrace this provision – arresting and prosecuting every illegal immigrant they can find – without regard for any minor children, most of them U.S. citizens, they may leave behind? And of course, H.R. 4760 contains $30 billion for Trump’s border wall. I voted NO. Republicans couldn’t round up the votes for this bad bill. H.R. 4760 failed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

193

41

0

0

DEMOCRAT

0

190

0

3

TOTAL

193

231

0

3

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

More Immigration

The House also considered H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act. Republican leaders pulled it from consideration because they didn’t think they had the votes to pass this bill either. This legislation is being laughably described as the Speaker Ryan “compromise” bill. It doesn’t even come close. H.R. 6136 also fails to provide a tenable solution for Dreamers. This bill establishes a “contingent non-immigration status” which would require Dreamers to apply for six year renewable status while they wait in a long line for green cards. Under this proposal it could take up to 23 years before all Dreamers get green cards and years more before they become citizens.

H.R. 6136 also abolishes the Diversity Visa Lottery Program and rescinds more than 3 million immigrant visa petitions that have already been approved. Tearing children from the arms of their parents as a matter of deliberate policy must be one of the cruelest actions that this Administration has undertaken. And this proposal is surely one of the most hypocritical. The legislation revokes already approved applications made by U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents for their relatives abroad. They are already facing a long wait for immigrant visas. These families followed the rules. Although persons dear to them, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could not join them, they trusted in the rule of law and did nothing illegal to get their loved ones here. Yet none of that matters.

This bill makes family reunification even more difficult by eliminating two family-based immigration programs. It reduces some important protections for asylum seekers by raising the bar for those fleeing persecution and other dangerous circumstances. The legislation also requires the Department of Homeland Security to essentially imprison families if a parent is caught attempting illegal entry. It does nothing to alleviate the crisis at the border. In fact, it makes the situation measurably worse. H.R. 6136 also contains $25 billion for Trump’s border wall. I spoke on the floor about this bill which the House is expected to continue considering next week.

Waivers for States

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 5797, the Individuals in Medicaid Deserve Care that is Appropriate and Responsible in its Execution Act. This legislation waives for 5 years a policy that prevents Medicaid matching funds from being provided to states for patients of Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) facilities. There is already a mechanism in place for states to request waivers and it is used regularly. Additionally, this legislation is so narrowly drawn that it specifically applies to individuals with opioid use disorder. The waivers would not apply to patients suffering from other addictions. I voted NO. H.R. 5797 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

211

15

0

8

DEMOCRAT

50

140

0

3

TOTAL

261

155

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Updating Privacy Regulations

On Wednesday the House also considered H.R. 6082, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act. This legislation amends the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records, 42 Code of Federal Regulations in order to more closely match Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) requirements. The intent of the legislation is to update current medical record privacy regulations so that information vital to patient care can be properly shared with the appropriate health care officials in the event of a medical emergency such as a drug overdose. I voted YES. H.R. 6082 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

217

7

0

10

DEMOCRAT

140

50

0

3

TOTAL

357

57

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

7

2

0

0

Gutting Nutrition Assistance

The House took a break from debating immigration Thursday to consider H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018. You may recall that this legislation was first considered in May but Republicans didn’t have enough votes to pass it. H.R. 2 takes $23 BILLION away from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the food stamp program. H.R. 2 also 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 program covers children, seniors and the disabled. I voted NO. H.R. 2 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

213

20

0

2

DEMOCRAT

0

191

0

2

TOTAL

213

211

0

4

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Expanding Access to Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

Today the House considered H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act. This bipartisan legislation increases treatment access for patients who are struggling with substance use disorder. Some of its provisions include expanding Medicaid coverage for foster youth so they have access to care until the age of 26 and making Opioid Treatment Programs (OTP) eligible for Medicare coverage. I voted YES. H.R. 6 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

214

13

0

7

DEMOCRAT

182

1

0

10

TOTAL

396

14

0

17

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

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 a June 2018 National Employment Law Project report, Trump’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is focusing less and less on enforcement activity, particularly over the last several months. According to the report, enforcement was 7.4% lower during the first five months of fiscal year 2018 when compared to the same time frame during the previous fiscal year. OSHA is responsible for monitoring and enforcing safety standards in the workplace so that employees are not subject to dangerous conditions or situations that could pose a health risk. By paying less attention to enforcement, OSHA is increasing risk for employees and reducing its attention on employers. OSHA may miss important safety violations which could lead to injury or worse.
  2. According to a June 2018 report in Politico, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement abandoned a study exploring the health impact of mountaintop removal mining. When questioned about the termination by House Natural Resources ranking member Raúl Grijalva, the Interior Department’s Inspector General claimed, in part, that there weren’t enough criteria provided to properly proceed with the study. This is just one more example of the Trump Administration working to obscure information that might be detrimental to their interest in expanding mining.
  3. In June 2018 the Trump Administration withdrew the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). While the UNHRC is by no means a perfect organization, one does not make progress by walking away, which is what the Administration has done. This withdrawal is one more example of an administration refusing to exercise global moral leadership. Trump has abandoned the commitment to human rights and the rule of law upheld by presidents of both parties throughout our history.
  4. In June of 2018 the State Department announced new restrictions and limitations on student visas for citizens of China. This recalls the shameful racism of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It is shocking to see such action taken on the 75th anniversary of its repeal in 1943.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday June 25th. The House is expected to continue consideration of H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act as well as the Department of Defense Appropriations 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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