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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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July 13, 2018

Reuniting Separated Families

This week I filed the Reunite Separated Families Act of 2018 which would halt the deportation of families at the border, require the Trump administration to reunite separated parents and children immediately and report to Congress on its efforts to remedy the suffering created by its immoral policy.

As I’ve noted in previous updates, I recently spent time in Texas, talking with children separated from their parents and it broke my heart. I saw children in cages and half empty boxes of diapers which illustrate in stark terms just how young some of these children are. Congress must ensure that something like this never happens again. Separating children from their parents is an immoral and cruel policy that will inflict life-long damage on the traumatized children.

My legislation directs the Trump administration and federal agencies to reunify children and their parents within 30 days and report to Congress within 60 days with details on how the family reunification process is being implemented. The Trump administration must also report to Congress on the conditions under which minors are being held and how officials are working to facilitate communication between separated children and their families.

Although a court ordered the administration to reunite families by July 10th, that deadline wasn’t met and the administration continues to drag its feet, insisting on “vetting” mothers for their suitability to care for the children snatched from them. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent the administration from reinstituting this family separation policy at some point in the future.

I am absolutely appalled by the lack of information coming from this administration about the actions they are taking to right the wrong they created. It is imperative that federal officials provide detailed information on their efforts to reunite families and furnish a thorough account of the care provided to children in custody.

My legislation also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work with the American Academy of Pediatrics and other appropriate organizations to address the psycho-social needs of children who have been separated from their families and detained. The legislation requires that the appropriate federal agencies provide housing for families during any period in which an adult or child is detained so that minors can remain with their parents.

There shouldn’t be any need for this legislation, yet the President’s cruel policy and the carelessness with which it has been implemented, has made it essential.

South Sudan

The United Nations General Assembly today approved an international arms embargo on South Sudan. I have urged a U.S. embargo and cooperation with other nations to impose an international embargo. I’ve been concerned about tragic violence in Sudan for years. I co-founded the Congressional Sudan Caucus - now the Sudan and South Sudan Caucus, with my friend, the late Congressman Donald Payne Sr. of New Jersey in response to the Darfur genocide. The government in Khartoum had long oppressed the black African Christians and animists of the South. When their forces, and the Janjaweed militia, began slaughtering the black Muslims of Darfur, it became clear the slaughter was racist as well as rooted in religious antagonisms. I urged that U.S. forces or international forces be deployed in the Darfur region. I believed and continue to believe that a small number of disciplined troops, guarding corridors for the delivery of humanitarian aid and protecting the perimeters of camps for Internally Displaced Persons, could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

In time, Darfur awakened the world to the nature of the government of Khartoum and the southern people it had long oppressed were able to secede, creating the new nation of South Sudan whose independence was greeted with optimism and joy. Tragically the newly independent state soon succumbed to tribal antagonisms. Atrocities were committed against civilian populations and international humanitarian relief workers. There have been truces, and failed truces, and there seems little likelihood at the moment of a stable political solution. The best we and other countries can do, at this terrible time in the history of a new nation, is work to minimize suffering. An arms embargo should limit the ability of the antagonists to harm innocents on all sides of the conflict.

Supreme Court

President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court gives him an opportunity to reshape the direction of our country for generations, a prospect that troubles me greatly. If you care about issues such as voting rights, reproductive freedom, consumer protection, worker rights, LGBTQ rights, privacy, or civil rights then Trump's nomination of Judge Kavanaugh should concern you too. The Senate must not rush through this lifetime appointment. They have a Constitutional obligation to subject the nominee to serious scrutiny, to study his record, read his decisions and consider how his reasoning could affect our lives and liberties.

Candidate Trump pledged time and again to only nominate judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade and who would roll back the Affordable Care Act. In the space of just one week last month, overturning years of precedent, the Court voted to support racial gerrymandering, undermine unions, uphold Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban, and side with anti-abortion clinics. All that was with a relatively moderate Justice Kennedy on the Court. The Supreme Court has the power to shape the law, perhaps, more than any other institution today. Its rulings must be followed by all federal courts, it decides cases involving executive power and disputes among the states.

The Supreme Court will almost certainly have a role in deciding at least some of the issues concerning the Trump family’s ethics violations and conflicts of interest, issues involving Russian interference in our elections, and whether or not to uphold the administration’s regulatory rollbacks - from healthcare to the environment to immigration. This President is embroiled in controversy and there shouldn’t be a rush to confirm his appointee who may, one day, have to rule on criminal complaints against him.

A Point of Information on that Hearing Yesterday

You may have seen news reports of the fiery congressional hearing involving FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was the lead agent on 2016 investigations of the Trump campaign and Hillary Clinton. He was also on the Special Counsel’s team until Mueller removed him last year after text messages critical of Trump were discovered on his phone. House Republicans are doing everything they can to get full access to ALL of Strzok’s personal communications just because he sent text messages that indicated bias against candidate Trump. He was challenged, belittled, shouted at and demeaned repeatedly at the hearing. Republicans claim his personal opinions illegally prejudiced his work on the Mueller investigation and his work overall at the FBI.

Let’s apply this argument to Judge Kavanaugh. By the same standard, Congress should have full access to all of Kavanaugh’s personal communications when he served as Ken Starr’s overzealous deputy during the Clinton investigation. Kavanaugh is seeking life time tenure to the highest court in the land. He co-wrote the report that devastated a presidency. It’s far more necessary for the public to understand his motivations during that time when he gave every indication that a sitting president was not above the law. His views have since “evolved” on that issue in ways that must delight Trump.

If Kavanaugh really has changed his mind about a special prosecutor’s power to indict a sitting President then doesn’t the public have a right to know what his real motivations were in going so hard after President Clinton?

Spotlight on Constituent Services

We continue our occasional series on constituent services with a case highlighting efforts on behalf of a veteran. He came to our office requesting help obtaining a copy of his DD-214, a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. This document is necessary to receive certain veterans’ benefits and services. In this particular case, our constituent needed it for a potential employment opportunity and time was a factor so he would not miss the hiring window. He was having trouble completing the process and contacted our office. We were able to expedite the request and he had his DD-214 in time to compete for the job opportunity and ultimately receive an employment offer.

The Empty Oceans Act

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. This legislation updates and reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (MSA). This is the law that provides oversight of the fishing industry in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

MSA was enacted as a way to prevent overfishing, protect both our oceans and fish habitats, and develop science-based policies to support the delicate ocean ecosystem. MSA also has helped support the fishing industry through identifying and replenishing dwindling fishing stock and identifying instances of unregulated overfishing.

H.R. 200 nullifies many aspects of MSA intended to sstain the fishing industry over the long-term and protect the ocean environment. It weakens catch limits for numerous species of fish that were developed based on scientific analysis. It redefines standards for overfishing in ways that will allow the practice to continue essentially unchecked. H.R. 200 also limits the ability of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to take steps that would better protect the environment. The bill undermines NOAA’s efforts and sets aside policies that have already been proved to work. I voted NO. H.R. 200 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

213

15

0

7

DEMOCRAT

9

178

0

6

TOTAL

222

193

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

1

8

0

0

Reauthorizing Intelligence Agencies

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 6237, the Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. I have continued concerns related to privacy issues and the Patriot Act. I voted NO. H.R. 6237 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

222

8

0

5

DEMOCRAT

141

46

0

6

TOTAL

363

54

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

5

3

0

0

Privatizing Public Infrastructure

On Thursday the House also considered H. R. 3281, the Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act. This legislation gives the Secretary of the Interior the authority to give up ownership of federal water infrastructure without Congressional approval, as currently required. This type of infrastructure would include dams, irrigation canals and similar facilities currently overseen by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). There is no provision in the legislation to require taxpayer compensation for the loss of publicly owned land and infrastructure. Importantly, the federal government must comply with numerous clean water and environmental standards that private owners are not subject to. Once this land is transferred, it would no longer be subject to these federal standards. It’s clear to see how this would have a negative impact on the environment. I voted NO. H.R. 3281 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

224

6

0

5

DEMOCRAT

9

178

0

6

TOTAL

223

184

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

Big Business Always Comes First

Today the House considered H.R. 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act. This legislation amends both the Congressional Budget Act and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). The intent of H.R. 50 is to tilt the regulatory process in favor of business at the expense of the general public. It requires all regulatory agencies to involve private industry in its rulemaking before the proposals become publicly available.

This gives them an opportunity to delay and dilute rules intended to protect the public health, the environment, public safety and much more. It seriously limits the value of the public comment period by presenting only industry-approved regulations. H.R. 50 also gives Members of Congress the authority to direct an agency to conduct a “retrospective analysis” of rules already in place. That would delay agencies’ abilities to move forward with new or updated rules. I voted NO. H.R. 50 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

220

0

0

15

DEMOCRAT

10

168

0

15

TOTAL

230

168

0

30

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. It’s not enough that the Trump administration’s immoral policy of separating children from their parents at the border was implemented to discourage undocumented immigrants from coming to the U.S. The administration is also working to shut the Golden Door even harder by reducing the number of approved immigrant visas. According to a Washington Post analysis of State Department visa processing, approval of visas for immigrants who are hoping to make America home is trending downward. The analysis projects that approved visas are on track to be 12 percent lower since Trump took office. Trump likes to bluster that he just wants immigrants to come here legally but the evidence doesn’t support that claim. Even people who follow the rules are being held up.
  2. According to July 2018 media reports, the Securities and Exchange Commission has reached a settlement with two high level employees of ITT Educational Services Inc. while a lawsuit filed by former students continues. That settlement was described as a “sweetheart deal” by one of the lawyers representing the students. The institution abruptly shut down in 2016 and declared bankruptcy, leaving thousands of students with unfinished degrees and massive student loan debt. Despite the fact that ITT Tech abruptly shut down, the Department of Education refuses to forgive any portion of the students’ loans. Instead of pursuing the fairest outcome for students who are the wronged parties here, the SEC decided to let the individuals responsible for ITT’s failure off the hook with minor fines and no admission of fault. And Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refuses to step in and provide any relief to the wronged students.
  3. As he was walking out the door in July 2018 after resigning, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made sure to help out industry at the expense of the environment one last time. He approved a loophole for the trucking industry so they can increase production of a specific type of truck that emits over 50 times the air pollution of other trucks. The trucks in question are called glider trucks, which run on old engines manufactured before the development of new technologies that help reduce emissions. This impacts the environment and the public health but the trucking industry is happy because they can keep selling new trucks with old engines, increasing their profit margins.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday July 16th. 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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