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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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March 6, 2009

Helping Families Save Their Homes

This week the Obama Administration released the details of their housing initiative, the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, which is designed to help homeowners facing foreclosure restructure or refinance their loans. On Thursday the House considered legislation designed to help implement the President's plan: H.R. 1106: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009. This legislation helps homeowners avoid foreclosure by giving qualified families the ability to negotiate more affordable mortgages.

Keeping people in their homes helps us all because it will stabilize the housing market and reduce foreclosures, which will help stabilize the value of all of our homes. H.R. 1106 allows bankruptcy judges to reduce the principal of a mortgage to the current market value of the home, reduce interest rates or reduce the fees associated with mortgage debt. These options currently exist for owners of second homes and are simply being applied to one's primary residence.

The legislation establishes principal reduction as a last resort. At least 15 days before filing bankruptcy, the homeowner must first try to contact their lender for a modification, unless foreclosure is scheduled to occur within 30 days of the date filed for bankruptcy. In order to enter bankruptcy, the homeowner's mortgage must be considered unaffordable, rather than simply greater than the home's current value. H.R. 1106 increases the percentage of funds that banks can recover if the borrower later sells the house for a profit. The legislation also permanently increases deposit insurance coverage from $100,000 to $250,000 for each consumer account at a bank or credit union.

I voted YES: H.R. 1106 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

227

24

0

3

REPUBLICAN

7

167

0

4

TOTAL

234

191

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

President Obama and Afghanistan

This week I joined Speaker Pelosi at a meeting with President Obama to discuss our recent trip to Afghanistan. Last month, I was asked to join the Speaker on a congressional delegation (CODEL) trip her office organized to Italy and Afghanistan and the President was interested in hearing about our experiences. It was an honor to meet with the President, Vice President and administration officials and to learn more about the Administration's approach to the war. We face significant challenges in the region and I am awaiting the finalization of the Obama administration's review in Afghanistan .

While in Afghanistan we met with President Hamid Karzai to gain a better understanding of the political and military realities in the region. We raised a number of issues of concern, including the situation with the Taliban and other terrorist groups, the role of Afghan leadership in stabilizing the region, issues with the Afghan police force and how efforts in Afghanistan are impacting U.S. national security. While in the country, we also met with U.S. military leaders and our diplomatic team in Kabul.

In addition, we spent time with our troops and expressed our deep gratitude for all of the sacrifices they are making for our country. In Italy, we went to Aviano Air Force Base, learning more about its mission, and toured the NATO Joint Forces Command. We received a briefing from U.S. Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, who is Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples. We also met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, as well as Italy's Foreign Minister, Defense Minister and President of the Italian Chamber.

Sudan

This week, the International Criminal Court indicted President Omar al Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This marks the first time the ICC has indicted a sitting head of state, and it emphasizes the gravity with which the world views the campaign of rape, slaughter, and devastation that the Government of Sudan has been waging against its own people for far too many years. The decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber represents a significant turning point in the international community's dealings with Sudan, because now accountability has been demanded.

President Bashir has refused to comply with the ICC arrest warrant and has pledged his defiance. In fact, Bashir's government in Khartoum has reacted to the indictment by expelling many international humanitarian groups working in Sudan to improve the lives of regular people. One example is the internationally acclaimed relief agency Oxfam. Such a reaction only lends credence to the indictment.

Clearly, we must do more to end the conflict in Darfur and continue to seek peace for all the people of Sudan. I call on the Obama Administration to quickly articulate a Sudan policy that includes dedicated, high-level engagement and enforceable measures to press the Government of Sudan into compliance with international law and internationally recognized agreements, such as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I also call on all governments to honor the indictment of the ICC and take all appropriate action related to it.

In my capacity as co-founder and co-chair of the Sudan Caucus, I will continue to advocate for the safety and security of the Sudanese people and will closely monitor the implications and effects of this decision by the ICC. Just today, several colleagues and I sent a letter to the President, urging him to immediately appoint a special envoy to Sudan. It is urgently needed and such action will reflect the priority that the Administration places on achieving a just and lasting peace for the people of Sudan.

What's Up Next

Next week the House is expected to continue consideration of the FY 2009 budget.


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

District Offices:

110 First Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
and
Roxbury Community College, Campus Library, Room 211

District Office Phone:

(617) 621-6208

DC Office:

1414 Longworth Building, Washington, DC 20515

DC Office Phone:

(202) 225-5111

Website and e-mail:

www.house.gov/capuano


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