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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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February 15, 2008

Darfur and China

On Tuesday, as co-chair of the Congressional Sudan Caucus, I wrote to President Hu Jintao of China, urging him to take stronger action regarding the genocide in Darfur. 119 Members of Congress joined me in signing the letter, which was sent six months before China will host the summer Olympics in Beijing, and on a day when activists around the world pressed China to do more to end the genocide.

Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost due to the genocide in Darfur and over 2.5 million more have been displaced. On July 31, 2007, UN Security Council Resolution 1769, authorizing the United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), passed unanimously. At the time, the People's Republic of China played a prominent role in securing the government of Sudan's commitment to the UNAMID mission. Unfortunately, since those efforts, China has done virtually nothing to advance efforts to end the genocide.

In our letter to President Hu, we wrote, "While the PRC doubled its trade with Sudan and reaffirmed its friendship with the government of Sudan in 2007, it has since August shown no willingness to seriously hold its friend to account. To the contrary, reports from the UN Security Council indicate that the PRC has taken every opportunity to shield the government of Sudan from any attempt to hold it accountable for its willful obstruction of Resolution 1769, and even tried to shield it from the full and rightful condemnation of the Security Council following the January 7 Sudanese Armed Forces' attack on the UNAMID convoy."

We must do everything we can to end the genocide and deliver assistance to the millions of people who live in fear every day. The eyes of the world will be on China in six months when they host the 2008 Summer Olympics. The PRC must participate in efforts to end the genocide, using its unique relationship with the Government of Sudan to bring about an end to the conflict.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Update

As you may know, I have opposed all attempts by this President to limit our civil liberties or to circumvent our judicial system. Because of these strong beliefs, I was one of only 66 Members who voted against the original PATRIOT Act.

In August, Congress passed the so-called Protect America Act. This law provided extensive powers to the executive branch to conduct warrantless surveillance. Some provisions of the law are set to expire February 15, 2008. I voted against the Act.

As part of the debate over extending these expiring provisions, the President has insisted that his surveillance powers be extended and private companies that helped him violate the law be immunized from any independent judicial review of those acts. Unfortunately, this past week, the Senate agreed with his positions and sent a bill to the House to do just that. You should know that Senators Kerry and Kennedy both voted against this proposal.

Fortunately, the House refuses to cave into the President's demands, especially on the immunity provisions. In an attempt to allow all parties time to work out their differences, the House proposed a 21 day extension to the expiring provisions. Since I simply cannot envision a scenario where I would support this measure, I voted against the extension. The entire vote is recorded below. Please note that some of those who voted in favor may not agree with the provisions — they may have been voting simply to allow time for compromise.

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

191

34

0

6

REPUBLICAN

0

195

0

3

TOTAL

191

229

0

9

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

9

1

0

0

Under the law before the PATRIOT Act and Protect America Acts, the government was required to obtain search warrants from a secret court. You may have heard of it referred to as the FISA Court . Evidence is presented secretly and decisions are rendered secretly. However, most civil liberties are protected under this process. In fact, of the 15,000 or so requests for secret search warrants, only 3 were denied. Ironically, the President is claiming that the House's failure to act will hinder surveillance capabilities. If this were even close to the truth, he would not threaten to veto an extension of the law designed to give the House and Senate time to deliberate over differences between their two versions of a longer term FISA update.

Congressman Silvestre Reyes, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has written an impassioned letter to the President on this matter. I encourage you to read his letter, which you may access here: http://intelligence.house.gov/Media/PDFS/ReyesRelease021408.pdf

Contempt of Congress

On Thursday the House considered two privileged resolutions: H. Res. 979 and H.Res. 980. The first recommends that the House hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee. The second resolution authorizes the Judiciary Committee to pursue legal action in the courts to enforce the subpoenas.

Both individuals were issued subpoenas in connection with a congressional investigation probing whether nine U.S. Attorneys were fired for political reasons, as has been alleged. Not surprisingly, White House officials have refused to cooperate with the Judiciary Committee, declining to produce requested documents related to the investigation.

House Republicans walked out in protest and most did not vote, arguing that instead of considering these two resolutions, the House should simply take up the Senate's version of the FISA update. I voted YES on H.Res. 982, which adopts H.Res. 979 and H.Res 980. The entire vote is recorded below:

 

YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

220

1

0

10

REPUBLICAN

3

31

1

163

TOTAL

223

32

0

173

 

 

 

 

 

MASSACHUSETTS

9

0

0

1

What's Up Next

Next week, a district work period has been scheduled. The House will return for votes on Monday February 25, 2008.


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

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110 First Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
and
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