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

Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE

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May 12, 2006

Recent House Votes

On Wednesday the House passed H.R. 5122: the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill authorizes $512 billion in funding for the Defense Department for FY 2007, including funding to support military operations in Iraq. However, it does not direct the President to fully fund the war in Iraq through the regular budget process. Instead, it allows the President to continue submitting numerous emergency supplemental spending requests for a war that has lasted for more than three years. This bill also directs too much money to the wrong priorities. For example, funding is authorized for a missile system in Alaska. Although I support continuing research on this and other types of weapons systems so that are available if we ever need them, deployment is premature and unnecessary at this time. I voted NO. The entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

227

1

0

2

DEMOCRAT

168

30

0

3

INDEPENDENT

1

0

0

0

TOTAL

369

31

0

5

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

5

5

0

0

The House also considered H.R. 4297: the Tax Reconciliation Act of 2005. This bill extends capital gains and dividends tax breaks for an additional two years while increasing our already enormous deficit by $70 billion. It primarily benefits the wealthiest taxpayers and shortchanges the middle class. I voted NO. The entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

229

2

0

0

DEMOCRAT

15

182

0

4

INDEPENDENT

0

1

0

0

TOTAL

244

185

0

4

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

0

10

0

0


Surveillance

This week, two troubling reports surfaced. The first, that the National Security Agency (NSA) has obtained phone records from three major carriers to create a database and search for suspicious activity. We also learned that the Department of Justice had to cease their investigation of the NSA electronic surveillance program due to the NSA's refusal to give their investigators the necessary security clearances. I am extremely concerned about both of these reports and am working with my colleagues to force the leadership here to exercise some desperately needed oversight. As you know, the President has insisted that the Constitution grants him the authority to order surveillance without a warrant and further claims that Congress implicitly authorized these actions in 2001 when they authorized the use of force against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. I completely reject such assertions.

Boston is fortunate to have six premier law schools — Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, New England School of Law, Northeastern University, and Suffolk University. I recently wrote to their Professors of Constitutional Law to ask their opinion about the legality and constitutionality of President Bush's warrantless electronic surveillance on American citizens. We have received a number of very interesting responses and have obtained permission from the authors to post them on our website. I thank the Professors for their thoughtful replies on this subject. You may review their letters here.


Medicare Deadline

Monday May 15th is the deadline to sign up for the Medicare prescription drug program. The difficulties in choosing plans and signing up for this complicated program have been well documented. I have joined over 170 of my colleagues in co-sponsoring legislation that would extend the deadline for enrollment. Unless Congress acts, virtually anyone signing up for the program after May 15th will be forced to pay a higher premium for drug coverage for the rest of his or her life. As you may know, I opposed the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) because I believed the benefit it created was inadequate and overly complicated. The law also contained fundamental changes to the Medicare program that I believe will ultimately hasten its demise. Nevertheless, the prescription drug benefit is being implemented and, at this writing, there is no indication that the Republican leadership will allow a vote on an extension of the enrollment period. All eligible Medicare beneficiaries should take a look at their options and decide if enrolling makes sense for them. If you are a beneficiary and have not reviewed the program yet, I urge you to do so before the 15th.


What's Up Next

Next week the House is expected to consider H.Con.Res. 376: the FY 2007 Budget Resolution and begin consideration of the FY 2007 appropriations bills.


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

District Offices:

110 First Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
and
Roxbury Community College, Administration Building, Room 110

District Office Phone:

(617) 621-6208

DC Office:

1232 Longworth Building, Washington, DC 20515

DC Office Phone:

(202) 225-5111

Website and e-mail:

www.house.gov/capuano



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