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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 29, 2018

Supreme Court

A flurry of troubling rulings were released by the Supreme Court this week. Then we learned Wednesday that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring at the end of July. Often the swing vote on crucial decisions, his retirement will reverberate for generations with so much at stake, from reproductive freedom to employee rights and protection from discrimination. It is imperative that all of us, even if we don’t have a vote in the Senate, keep our voices raised on this monumental appointment.

This week’s rulings present us with examples of some of what is at stake as the Supreme Court prepares for its newest justice. In Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the court ruled that employees who choose not to join a union no longer have to pay partial union dues despite the fact that their union is still legally obligated to represent them in collective bargaining negotiations. This ruling ignores over 40 years of precedent to attack public employees such as teachers and firefighters. The responsibilities of public unions have not changed, they are still required to represent every employee in the collective bargaining process but they now will have diminished resources, making effective advocacy more difficult.

The Supreme Court this week also upheld Trump’s unjust travel ban. The President’s own words on multiple occasions have revealed his true intentions – to make it as difficult as possible for Muslims to enter our country. This ban is discriminatory and racist and history will not look kindly on the justices who decided in favor of this case, just as history has not looked kindly on the justices who voted in favor of placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II in the case Korematsu v. United States.

In Abbott v. Perez, the U.S. Supreme Court continued on its current path of undermining the Voting Rights Act and giving states a greenlight to engage in racial gerrymandering. The plaintiffs in Abbott claimed that the Texas Legislature redrew the state’s legislative and congressional maps to dilute the voting power of African-American and Latino voters. The lower courts agreed, finding that several of the new districts represented unconstitutional racial gerrymanders because the maps were intentionally drawn in a way that would dilute minority voting power. Abbott comes on the heels of another Supreme Court case in 2013, Shelby County v. Holder. In that case, the Roberts Court struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act, which required states with a history of discrimination, including Texas, to get “preclearance” from the U.S. Department of Justice before enacting new voting laws. Both cases were 5-4 decisions with the conservative majority finding fault with the Voting Rights Act, but having no problem with state legislatures’ modern day efforts to disenfranchise minority populations.

In the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra the court ruled “crisis pregnancy centers” are not obligated to provide their patients with information about obtaining abortion services also. The mission of these centers is to persuade women not to have an abortion, sometimes under the guise of providing medical advice. What is at stake with this ruling is a woman’s access to all the information that should be available to her when she faces an unplanned pregnancy. This impacts a woman’s health and the right to control her own body. Yet the court essentially ruled in this case that women, often desperately seeking help, aren’t entitled to that information at these centers.

The Crisis at the Border

The images continue to haunt and the outrage grow as families remain separated at the border. The Trump Administration has no coherent plan to reunite children with their parents and there are still far too many unanswered questions.

I am working alongside many of my colleagues to remedy the crisis President Trump has created along the southern border. I sent out a special newsletter earlier this week with information about the trip I took to the Texas border with others in Congress to learn firsthand what is happening there.

On Wednesday, many Members of that Congressional delegation met with immigration lawyers in Washington D.C. to discuss ways we can take action to bring an end to the suffering we witnessed. Some great ideas and suggestions were made and the group is working together to advance the cause through legislative proposals and other actions.

I am drafting legislation to temporarily halt deportation of families who have been separated at the border until a law is enacted prohibiting future separation of families at border sites. We expect to file it once Congress goes back into session.

Many of us will not rest until the cruel policy of family separation is reversed and repudiated, and we will persevere until our immigration laws and system are thoughtfully reformed. One action we can all take is to participate in the National Day of Action to Keep Families Together. I will be at the rally in Boston and I hope to see you there.

Spotlight on Constituent Services

We continue this week our new feature highlighting constituent casework. A local woman came to us with a difficult story and requested assistance. She owed the federal government thousands of dollars in unpaid student loans and couldn’t see a path forward. She had been in an abusive marriage and her husband encouraged her to enroll for a graduate degree which would considerably increase her earning power. He insisted that she take out loans to finance her education, but then refused to let her repay them. He continued to mistreat her and finally abandoned her. The constituent was not awarded alimony because her ex-husband had little income. She is also now struggling with health issues. We worked with her to arrange for “income contingent” repayment. This means she can delay repayment of her loans until she recovers her health and can resume work.

Immigration

On Wednesday the House again took up consideration of H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act. You may recall that Republican leaders pulled it from consideration last week because they were concerned it wouldn’t pass. Waiting a week didn’t change that outcome and H.R. 6136 did in fact fail on the floor. There are numerous problems with this legislation. To start, it doesn’t do enough to protect Dreamers, requiring them to apply repeatedly for six year renewable status while waiting for green cards. The way the program is structured under H.R. 6136, it could take up to 23 years before all Dreamers get green cards and years more before they become citizens.

H.R. 6136 abolishes the Diversity Visa Lottery Program and rescinds more than 3 million immigrant visa petitions that have already been approved. Think about that for a moment. These applications have already been approved by the government for individuals who are following all current immigration rules. It would have been a shocking betrayal of citizens and legal permanent residents who trusted in the commitment of the United States to the rule of law.

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 and does nothing to alleviate the crisis at the border. In fact, it makes the situation measurably worse. I voted NO. H.R. 6136 failed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

121

112

0

2

DEMOCRAT

0

189

0

4

TOTAL

121

301

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Funding the Defense Department

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 6157, the Defense Department Appropriations bill. This legislation funds the departments and programs of the Defense Department for Fiscal Year 2019. While there are many provisions in this legislation that I do support, I have concerns about funding allocations and how this budget impacts other important appropriations. I voted NO. H.R. 6157 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

222

3

0

9

DEMOCRAT

137

46

0

10

TOTAL

359

49

0

19

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

4

4

0

1

Attacking Deputy AG Rosenstein

Yesterday the House also considered H. Res. 970, Insisting that the Department of Justice fully comply with the requests, including subpoenas, of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the subpoena issued by the Committee on the Judiciary relating to potential violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by personnel of the Department of Justice and related matters. That lengthy title is just a blatant attempt at obscuring what this resolution should really be called – Doing Everything Possible to Discredit the Mueller Investigation. This resolution demands that the Department of Justice produce a range of sensitive documents, including those involving FISA surveillance by July 6th. If that deadline is not met, Republicans have threatened to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or hold him in contempt of Congress. Remember, Rosenstein is the only person who has the authority to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. I voted NO. H. Res. 970 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

226

0

1

7

DEMOCRAT

0

183

0

10

TOTAL

226

183

1

17

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

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 June 2018 media reports the Trump Administration is moving forward with efforts to change rules related to association health plans. These are health care plans that can be purchased by individuals or small businesses who join together to obtain the coverage. This is part of Trump’s efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act. It will lead to increased premiums for many individuals as well as reduced coverage. Under the rules, these association health plans can charge higher premiums based on age and gender.
  2. In June of 2018 President Trump signed an Executive Order repealing the Obama Administration’s National Ocean Policy that increased environmental protections for our oceans, coastlines and the Great Lakes. This move came during a month Trump declared “National Ocean Month.”

What’s Up Next

A District work week has been scheduled. The next House votes are scheduled to take place on Tuesday July 10th.

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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Roxbury Community College Campus Library, Room 211, Boston
Stetson Hall Room 124, 6 South Main Street, Randolph

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DC Office:

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DC Office Phone:

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