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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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January 12, 2007

Troop Escalation

I am deeply opposed to President Bush' proposal to increase troop levels in Iraq and will resist any efforts to move in this direction. I believe that this is exactly the wrong way to go. Most of my Democratic colleagues and a growing number of Republicans share my position. The House Democratic Caucus is currently working to determine the best way to stop this escalation, and it will not be an easy path. We must craft a strategy that will achieve a majority of support in the House and in the Senate as well, where there have been hopeful signs of mounting opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. I am pushing as hard as I can to get the House to take some action and to do it soon. I don't believe that one vote will result in a change of policy and it won't get us out of Iraq immediately but we have to start somewhere.

Nationwide Highway Tunnel Inspection Program

This week I filed legislation amending the Nationwide Bridge Inspection Program to include the mandatory inspection of all highway tunnels. The entire Massachusetts House Congressional Delegation joined me in this effort. The Nationwide Bridge Inspection Program currently requires that all highway bridges be inspected and includes a series of minimum inspection standards. Under my legislation, highway tunnels will also be subject to standardized inspection.

Since the tragic July death of Milena Del Valle as a result of a falling ceiling panel in one of the Big Dig tunnels, many questions have been raised about the short-term and long-term safety of this project. Currently there are no national standards or requirements for inspecting highway tunnels. Instead, this responsibility lies with the tunnel owners, who have complete authority to determine how their tunnels should be inspected. At a minimum, tunnel owners must follow the requirements included in their bonding agreements relating to the structure.

Clearly, this level of scrutiny was not enough in Massachusetts and more must be done to ensure the safety of the traveling public. There is no question that national standards should exist for the inspection of all highway tunnels. My legislation simply takes the Nationwide Bridge Inspection program and adds highway tunnels. The Secretary of Transportation will establish minimum inspection requirements for tunnels, including the maximum amount of time permitted between inspections and the manner in which inspections should be carried out.

Votes in the House

This week the House began debate on Speaker Pelosi's "100 Hours" agenda with consideration of H.R. 1: Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act. In 2004, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission submitted 41 recommendations to the President and the Congress regarding strengthening our homeland security. In the two years that followed, Congress either ignored or only partially implemented many of these recommendations. This legislation advances a number of provisions including creating a separate grant program devoted to improving communication between first responders, allocating a greater percentage of homeland security funds based on risk, requiring that 100% of all air cargo be inspected within three years and improving explosive screening for checked baggage and airline passengers. I voted YES. The entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

68

128

0

6

DEMOCRAT

231

0

0

2

TOTAL

299

128

0

8

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

10

0

0

0

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 2: the Fair Minimum Wage Act. This bipartisan legislation increases the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour over a two year period. I voted YES. The entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

82

116

0

4

DEMOCRAT

233

0

0

0

TOTAL

315

116

0

4

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

10

0

0

0

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 3 the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. This legislation passed in the Congress last year, but was vetoed by the President. It extends federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to include stem cells derived from embryos left over from fertility treatments. Only embryos that have been specifically donated by those who sought fertility treatment will be eligible for research. In August of 2001, President Bush limited federal funding for stem cell research to existing stem cell lines. At the time, the President said that 60 lines were available. However, in subsequent research, scientists have learned that the majority of existing lines are contaminated with mouse cells, or are otherwise unsatisfactory for research. I voted YES. The entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

37

158

0

7

DEMOCRAT

216

16

0

1

TOTAL

253

174

0

8

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

10

0

0

0

Today the House considered H.R. 4: the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007. This legislation requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug companies to lower drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries. I voted YES. The entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

24

170

0

8

DEMOCRAT

231

0

0

2

TOTAL

255

170

0

10

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

10

0

0

0


What's Up Next Week

Next week the House will continue consideration of the "100 Hours" legislation.


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:

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DC Office Phone:

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