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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 22, 2009

Helping Families Save Their Homes

This week the House passed S. 896: the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. This legislation is the culmination of efforts to craft initiatives that will help homeowners who are facing foreclosure to restructure or refinance their loans. As a Member of the Financial Services Committee, I have been working with my colleagues on this legislation for months. I received an invitation to attend the signing ceremony for this legislation at the White House Wednesday and was honored to join President Obama.

The bill recognizes that renters are also at risk by requiring 90 days notice before they have to leave a foreclosed home. I have long advocated that tenants need protections in this difficult market, and I am pleased that this measure is in the final bill.

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. This legislation makes several improvements to the Hope for Homeowner program which encourages mortgage refinancing for at-risk homeowners. S. 896 also provides liability protection for loan servicers, who work with struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages. Loan servicers have been vulnerable to lawsuits from investors if they modified mortgages to make them more affordable for homeowners.

S. 896 also increases the amount of money that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) can borrow from Treasury to help rebuild its reserve fund, which has already covered losses resulting from some recent bank failures. The FDIC insures consumer deposits up to a certain amount. The bill stipulates that these funds cannot be used to pay for any losses related to the government's purchase of toxic assets. I strongly advocated for this provision as a way to protect taxpayer dollars.

I voted YES. The entire House vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

244

3

1

7

REPUBLICAN

123

51

0

4

TOTAL

367

54

1

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

1

Bipartisanship

I am often asked why there is so much partisanship in Washington and why members of Congress can't just get along with each other. I tell people who ask that the differences are mostly based on honest philosophical disagreements, although some on the extremes do exaggerate these disagreements for personal or merely political motives.

I was struck by the results of a recent National Journal poll that I participate in on a regular basis. 50 Democratic Members and 50 Republican Members were asked their view on making a new public insurance plan part of health care reform. I believe that the results are truly indicative of the deep divide that exists between the two parties on substantive and important issues.

When asked this question, 62% of Democrats said that "excluding it would be a deal-breaker" while 83% of Republicans believed that "including it would be a deal-breaker". This significant difference of opinion cannot simply be described as partisanship. I think it exemplifies the different philosophies of both parties and the hard work involved in seeking true compromises on important issues.

Credit Card Holders' Bill of Rights

The House also passed H.R. 627: The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009 and President Obama signed it into law today. Many of you have contacted my office sharing your frustrations and personal experiences with your credit card companies. Congress has been trying to address your concerns. You may recall that the House passed similar legislation in the last Congress but there was not enough time for the Senate to consider it. This bill also came through the Financial Services Committee and I am pleased that all of our hard work over two sessions of Congress has finally resulted in this measure becoming law.

H.R. 627 provides needed consumer protections from unfair and arbitrary practices used by credit card companies. It requires credit card companies to give consumers sufficient notice when increasing interest rates and it prohibits increasing rates on preexisting balances. It eliminates the "universal default" practice, through which card issuers often raised interest rates because a consumer was late or defaulted on another account not related to the one held by the creditor. It also prohibits companies from double charging consumers on parts of purchases they already paid off and it bans excessive fees. In addition, the measure places restrictions on credit cards issued to individuals under 21 unless they have means to repay it or have a co-signer.

I voted YES. The entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

248

1

0

6

REPUBLICAN

113

63

0

2

TOTAL

361

64

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

FAA Reauthorization

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 915: the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009, another bill that originated in one of my committees: Transportation and Infrastructure. The bill included a provision that I fought for, which requires large airports to have a noise complaint hotline. Noise complaints received by large airports would be compiled by the FAA, summarized and reported annually.

H.R. 915 authorizes $70 billion over four years for infrastructure modernization, safety improvements and passenger protections. Funds are authorized for air traffic control upgrades and capital improvements.

H.R. 915 also increases the number of aviation inspectors and authorizes funds to reduce runway incursions. It also requires airlines and airports to establish plans to accommodate passengers who are experiencing lengthy tarmac delays. The efforts must include a plan for deplaning after a lengthy delay, as well as plans for food, water, clean facilities and medical care if needed.

I voted YES. H.R. 915 passed in the House and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

240

4

0

11

REPUBLICAN

37

132

0

9

TOTAL

277

136

0

20

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

Telephone Community Meeting

On Thursday May 28th from 6:40–7:40 PM, I am hosting a telephone community meeting. Anyone interested in participating may dial 1-877-229-8493 and use pin 13034 at the scheduled time to listen in. Anyone who wishes to ask a question can press *3 after joining the meeting. We will post an audio file of the meeting on our website as soon as it is available.

As you may recall, I started hosting these meetings a couple years ago. We break the district down into four sections in order to increase the opportunity for participants to ask me a question. During last week's meeting, several thousand constituents listened in for at least a portion of the discussion. I think it was an informative and wide-ranging one, and I am looking forward to next week. As always, I would appreciate any feedback you'd like to share on this form of outreach (or anything else that's on your mind).

What's Up Next

Next week, a district work period has been scheduled. Next votes are expected to occur on Tuesday June 2nd.


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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