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

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September 21, 2012

STEM Visas

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 6429 under suspension of the rules. This means that the legislation requires a 2/3 YES vote in order to pass, rather than a simple majority. This is usually reserved for noncontroversial measures that pass easily, many by voice vote.

H.R. 6429 establishes a new visa program for foreign students who have advanced degrees in the STEM subjects ó science, technology, engineering and math.† This is a worthy goal and I support it. I want students who earned a U.S. degree in a STEM subject to stay so they can utilize their skills here. I do not, however, support the way that this bill establishes the program.

Instead of simply creating a program that gives STEM students the opportunity to remain in the U.S., H.R. 6429 eliminates another visa program and directs those existing visas to STEM students. The program eliminated is called the Diversity Visa program, and it provides visas for countries where the rates of immigration to the United States are low. For example, half of the 50,000 visas allocated to this program are used by African immigrants. While I would support efforts to reform the Diversity Visa program to improve its effectiveness, I do not believe it is necessary to end this program in order to create new STEM visas. We should be able to do both.

I voted NO. Although H.R. 6429 passed, it did not garner the necessary 2/3 majority so it failed. If a simple STEM visa program had been proposed, one that did not eliminate other programs, it probably would have passed under suspension. The entire vote is recorded below:





















Welfare Reform

The House also considered H.J. Res. 118, a resolution expressing disapproval of a rule relating to changes in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The Obama Administration has proposed giving states more flexibility with the TANF program as a way to get more people off welfare and back to work.† The rule is very clear that any proposals from the states to obtain a waiver must show strategies for increasing employment. This issue has come up in the Presidential campaign, and President Obama has been accused of weakening welfare reform by giving states waivers. This claim is false, as many political fact checkers have noted. President Clinton has accurately pointed out that the waivers require more people receiving welfare to obtain employment. This vote is politically motivated and does absolutely nothing to increase employment requirements for welfare recipients. I voted NO. H.J. Res. 118 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:





















WIC Legislative Breakfast

This week I delivered the keynote address at the Boston WIC (Women, Infant and Children) Legislative Breakfast, which took place at the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center. The WIC program provides healthy food to low-income women and their children. As you can imagine, it is one of the many programs in danger of steep federal budget cuts. I talked with attendees about circumstances in Washington and the outlook for programs like WIC. I also had the chance to talk to folks who help administer the program as well as some WIC recipients. I was introduced by a very enthusiastic 4 year old WIC recipient who spoke eloquently about the importance of this nutrition program. He gave me the best introduction ever and was certainly a hard act to follow.

Schepens Eye Institute

On Tuesday I joined staff of the Schepens Eye Research Institute at their 5th annual Military Vision Symposium on Ocular and Vision Injury. The Schepens Eye Research Institute focuses on protecting vision, preventing blindness and restoring eye health when possible. The institute trains doctors and engages in cutting edge research. The symposium explored the challenges involved in treating eye injuries, particularly those suffered in combat. Participants shared information about the latest eye research and talked about the specific medical needs of wounded warriors. Injuries to the eye occur on the battlefield and in attacks using IEDís. These can often be difficult to treat. I spoke about the current climate in Washington, particularly when it comes to federal funding for medical research. As you can imagine, the outlook for increased research funding is not good. I learned a great deal about some of the advances being made in eye surgery and injury treatment, and was pleased by the opportunity to spend some time with institute staff.

Whatís Up Next Week

A district work period has been scheduled and no votes are expected.


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

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