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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

July 27, 2018

This is Why We Fight On

With permission from a very brave woman and her three children, I want to tell you how I spent last Friday afternoon. Jaene Silva de Miranda was separated from her children at the U.S. border in May and suffered for two long months, worrying about where they were and if they were safe. It took a full month before she knew the location of her children and was able to communicate with them.

Jaene’s story is a heartbreaking one. During the weeks that she had no idea where her children were, they were in the same situation — scared and wondering if they would ever see their mother again.

Jaene’s eldest child is 16. Although he was at the same facility as his much younger siblings (ages 9 and 10), all three were kept apart. He begged officials to let him see his little brother and sister and they pleaded to see him. Eventually, the siblings were permitted to speak to each other for just 10 minutes a day. But they were forbidden to touch each other. A loving big brother was not permitted to hug or kiss the little ones or even hold their hands. Who has ever tried to calm or reassure a child with words alone? Language by itself cannot ease a child’s fears. Safety is found in an embrace. What kind of government denies frightened children a comforting touch?

Fortunately, Jaene has a U.S. citizen niece in East Boston. This young woman, who I was also privileged to meet, searched tirelessly for her aunt and cousins. Her first major clue came through a newspaper article that described a separated family she thought sounded like hers. She found committed lawyers in Boston who were willing to help, Annelise Araujo and Stefanie Fisher. Once Jaene and her children were located, they fought for her release from detention on bond and freed the children from custody. They were being held in a privately run facility under contract to the Department of Health and Human Services that gets paid based on the number of detainees housed there. The government was insisting on procedures that would have long delayed their reunion. Precautions are certainly necessary before placing children in foster homes but not when returning them to a parent from whom they have been arbitrarily seized. Annelise Araujo and Stefanie Fisher cut through this red tape with skill and determination, and they are continuing to work with Jaene and her children.

To further demoralize this family, the U.S. government dropped the three children off at an Arizona bus stop in the middle of the night and Jaene had to reunite with them there. Of course, Jaene has no identification papers and because the government would not facilitate getting her on a plane, the family had to take a three day bus trip from Arizona to Boston where they are now living with family.

When I went to the Texas border I talked with mothers who were torn from their children and every story broke my heart a little. You can hear it over and over again and it never stops shocking you. We have heard from so many of you since this cruel and immoral family separation policy was implemented. Some callers have told us they had never contacted a congressional office before but they couldn’t let this appalling policy continue without registering their outrage. Others self-identified as children or grandchildren of refugees or Holocaust survivors.

I filed the “Reunite Separated Families Act” to halt deportation of families at the border and require the Trump administration to reunite separated parents and children immediately. Although the administration is under a court order to reunite families, they have missed critical deadlines. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent the administration from reinstituting this family separation policy at some point in the future.

My legislation also requires steps to address the psycho-social needs of children who have been separated from their families and detained. There is no question this government has done lasting damage to young children ripped from the arms of their mothers and held in cages. Our government must right this wrong.

I want you to know that when I talked with Jaene and her children, I told them about all the calls and expressions of support from good hearted people who condemn this inhumane policy. I welcomed them to Boston on behalf of my constituents and thanked her for sharing her story.

From left to right: Stefanie Fisher, Esq; Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Jaene Silva de Miranda, Annelise Araujo, Esq; Rep. Mike Capuano

Adding to the Deficit

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 184, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2017. This legislation repeals the tax on medical devices established through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Because the legislation does not account for this lost revenue elsewhere, H.R. 184 will increase the deficit by approximately $20 billion over a ten year period. The Republican-led Congress already passed legislation suspending the tax in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. It is currently scheduled to go back into effect in 2020. The medical device tax doesn’t apply to products such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, glasses, contact lenses or other medical items that a consumer can purchase at a retail outlet. This is nothing more than a blatant effort to undermine the ACA by reducing revenue and significantly increasing the deficit. I voted NO. H.R. 184 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

226

1

0

8

DEMOCRAT

57

131

0

5

TOTAL

283

132

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

4

5

0

0

More Increasing of the Deficit

On Wednesday the House considered H. R. 6199, the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018. This legislation makes changes to Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Health Flexible Spending Accounts (HFSA). It increases the categories of expenses for which consumers may apply these funds and lowers the threshold deductible so consumers can more quickly utilize their HSA funds. Since all contributions are tax deductible, those with higher incomes will reap a greater benefit. H.R. 6199 will increase the deficit by more than $20 billion over 10 years. I voted NO. H.R. 6199 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

231

1

0

3

DEMOCRAT

46

141

0

6

TOTAL

277

142

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

1

8

0

0

Undermining the ACA

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 6311, the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018. This legislation is another sabotage of the ACA because it increases access to catastrophic insurance coverage. These are referred to as “copper plans” and they do not meet the minimum coverage requirements set forth in the ACA. H.R. 6311 would also raise the maximum contribution limit for HSAs, further tilting these programs to the wealthy and delay the annual fee on health insurers. There is no guarantee in the legislation that the tens of billions of dollars in savings to the healthcare companies would be passed along to consumers through reduced premiums. I voted NO. H.R. 6311 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

230

1

0

4

DEMOCRAT

12

175

0

6

TOTAL

242

176

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Defense Conference Report

Today the House considered the Conference Report on H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation authorizes funding for Department of Defense programming. While there are a number of provisions in this legislation that I do support, I could not vote for the conference report for a number of reasons. It weakens provisions of sanctions legislation passed last year directed at entities who are involved with Russian defense interests. The conference report also provides for funding to develop a nuclear warhead that would be launched via submarine. The language in the conference report weakens oversight of nuclear weapons which concerns me greatly. I voted NO. The Conference Report passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

220

5

0

10

DEMOCRAT

139

49

0

5

TOTAL

359

53

0

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

5

4

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 July of 2018 President Trump issued an Executive Order changing the way that federal administrative law judges (ALJs) are hired. Previously the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) maintained a list of qualified applicants that federal agencies could consider for hiring. ALJs work within individual federal agencies to oversee enforcement actions or claims relating to that specific agency. Under the EO, the federal agencies will now oversee all hiring, including determining qualifications. There is significant room for concern with this approach. Agency heads would have more freedom to hire based on political ideology or they could hire someone connected to industry. Can you imagine former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt with the freedom to appoint ALJs who would then determine how EPA enforcement actions were adjudicated? With these new powers he could have done even more damage to the environment.
  2. According to July 2018 news reports, the Trump administration is taking additional action to limit immigration. Beginning on September 11th the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will give employees who process immigrant visa petitions an expanded ability to deny requests. If, for example, an applicant makes a mistake or doesn’t complete a line on the application, their request can just be denied. Previously officials would notify the applicant that some aspect of their application was incomplete and they would have an opportunity to furnish the information without jeopardizing their application. Now, they will be turned away. This is certainly consistent with Trump’s overall approach to immigration – do everything possible to limit it.
  3. In July 2018 the Department of the Interior took steps to limit the scope of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the humpback whale are all protected under the ESA and might have become extinct without it. One major change will remove a provision that prohibits economic impact from being considered when determining if a species qualified for protection under the ESA. Once again, the administration is prioritizing business interests over environmental concerns. Without this language, the economic impact on a pipeline company or the drilling industry would be weighed before considering whether a species should be protected from extinction.

What’s Up Next

A District Work Period has been scheduled. The next House votes will occur on Tuesday September 4th.

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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