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An update from the office of
U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts

Congressman Capuano's

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June 15, 2007

Public Debt and the War in Iraq

Visitors to my website will notice a regular feature highlighting our country's total public debt. The numbers are compelling and I thought they were worth sharing with those of you who may not have visited the website lately. On June 13, 2007, the total public debt was $8,846,993,833,130.17. That's over $8.8 TRILLION dollars!

Since the start of the Iraq war on May 20, 2003, the total public debt increased by roughly $2.4 TRILLION ($2,386,716,910,254.46). Put another way, the debt increased at a rate of about:

  • $1.6 BILLION A DAY! ($1,600,749,101)
  • $67 MILLION per HOUR! ($66,697,879)
  • $1.1 MILLION per MINUTE! ($1,111,631)
  • $19 THOUSAND per SECOND! ($18,527)

We periodically update these numbers and I invite you to go to from time to time to see how they change.

Recent Votes

Improving Background Checks for Gun Purchases

On Wednesday, the House unanimously passed its first gun control bill in many years. H.R. 2640, the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Act is bipartisan legislation designed to address the situation that allowed the Virginia Tech. shooter to purchase the guns used in his deadly crime spree. Under current law, individuals like Virgina Tech. shooter Seung Hui Cho who have been committed to a mental institution or legally declared mentally defective and a danger to others are prohibited from purchasing a firearm. Unfortunately, states do not always transmit the required information to the NICS database in a timely fashion. H.R. 2640 provides incentives for states to do a better job making this disqualifying information available to the NICS. It also reduces federal law enforcement funds to states who fail to do so. Under the bill, those deemed ineligible to purchase firearms can appeal this decision to the relevant state authority. This bill now moves to the Senate, where I hope that it can be moved as expeditiously as possible.

Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations Bills

This week, the House was also scheduled to consider four of the twelve Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bills. However, House Republicans brought floor action to a virtual standstill over a debate on earmarks. The House Democratic Leadership had informed members that all earmarked projects would be printed in the Congressional Record in August, giving everyone an opportunity to review and challenge exactly what would be debated as the House went to conference with the Senate. In the recent past when Republicans led the House, earmarks were often inserted into a bill during conference, with no time for review or challenge. Yet, Republicans were critical of the Democratic plan and insisted that all approved earmarks be available for review when the appropriations bills were considered on the floor. In the interest of making progress on important appropriations bills, and to avoid future stalling tactics by the Republicans, Democrats agreed to add earmarks moving forward, though this would delay bill consideration. This agreement cleared the way for floor action on two of the twelve appropriations bills this week.

On Friday the House passed H.R. 2638: FY 2008 Homeland Security Appropriations. This bill provided increased funding for a number of important public safety initiatives, such as border security, port security and first responders. The bill provides funding for 3,000 additional border patrol agents to strengthen security at our borders. It provides $1.2 billion more than the President requested for first responders, which will allow for increased training and equipment purchases. Funding is also provided to expand cargo screening on passenger airlines and improve port security. I voted YES. H.R. 2638 passed in the House and the entire vote is recorded below:



























On Friday the House also considered H.R. 2642 - 2008 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. At this writing, a final vote has not been taken. I will report on the outcome next week.

What's Up Next

Next week, consideration of the Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations bills will continue.

Congressman Mike Capuano
8th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services
Committee on House Administration

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