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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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July 31, 2009

Health Care Reform

The House adjourned for its August recess without casting a vote on health care reform. Given all the divisions that still exist on many issues, I think it was fair and prudent to postpone floor consideration until the Fall.

There were, however, some fairly significant developments that starkly illustrate just how difficult it is proving to be to forge an acceptable compromise. Some conservative Democrats (self-named Blue Dogs) on the House Energy and Commerce Committee reached key agreements with Committee Chair Rep. Henry Waxman but that action prompted opposition from me and other Members of the House.

I signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi along with 58 Members, mostly from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, expressing strong opposition to the Blue Dog agreement. Although a public option is still on the table, the reimbursement rate would not be based on the current Medicare reimbursement rates. Rather, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be charged with setting the rate. It is still unclear what factors would be considered in the decision-making process. It is easy to see some providers simply refusing to accommodate those choosing the public option because of potentially lower reimbursement rates. Other aspects of that agreement would increase costs to low and moderate income Americans while at the same time protecting the profits of health insurance companies.

At this writing, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is still marking up the bill. Once that markup is complete, the bill will have to be reconciled with the two versions passed out of the House Committees on Ways and Means and Education and Labor. The Senate must also produce a single bill, to be considered when Members return in the Fall. During the month of August, I plan to thoroughly review all aspects of health care legislation. As always, I am interested in any feedback you may have on this issue.

Transportation

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 3357: To Restore Funds to the Highway Trust Fund and for other purposes. This legislation transfers $7 billion to the Highway Trust Fund in order to cover an anticipated shortfall. This will cover all anticipated costs through September 30th, which is the end of the federal fiscal year. Congress has not yet resolved how to address transportation reauthorization legislation, which is set to expire at the end of September. The Administration supports an 18 month extension of current law. In the House, many members, including myself, do not support an extension of that length. I expect that there will be much debate this Fall over how to address reauthorizing current law. H.R. 3357 also provides additional funding for the federal Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF) to cover costs through the end of the fiscal year. In addition, funding is made available for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA) because demand for their affordable mortgage services is approaching 25% - up from an average of 3%. I voted YES. H.R. 3357 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

254

0

0

1

REPUBLICAN

109

68

0

1

TOTAL

363

68

0

2

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

Defense Appropriations

This week the House completed work on the FY 2010 appropriations bills with passage of H.R. 3326: Department of Defense Appropriations Act. Most of the appropriations bills still await Senate action. H.R. 3326 increases military pay by 3.4% and provides $500 per month in additional pay for every month that troops are required to remain on active duty beyond their term of service. It increases funding for medical care, military family resources and troop readiness. H.R. 3326 also provides funding specifically for efforts to begin a withdrawal from Iraq . I voted YES. H.R. 3326 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

230

23

0

2

REPUBLICAN

170

7

0

1

TOTAL

400

30

0

3

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

2

0

0


On Thursday the House considered H.R. 2749: Food Safety Enhancement Act. This legislation gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more resources to protect the safety of our food supply. H.R. 2749 provides for additional inspections of food processing facilities, the establishment of a system to trace a food’s origin to more easily identify the source of a possible contamination and incorporates additional guidelines for imported foods. I voted YES. H.R. 2749 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

229

20

0

6

REPUBLICAN

54

122

0

2

TOTAL

283

142

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0


On Friday the House considered H.R. 3269: Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act. This is part of an ongoing focus on improving our financial services sector. This legislation requires companies that are publicly traded to give shareholders an annual non-binding vote on golden parachutes and top executive compensation packages. It also prohibits financial institutions from providing compensation packages that encourage inappropriate risk-taking, which could lead to financial instability. I voted YES. H.R. 3269 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

235

16

0

4

REPUBLICAN

2

169

0

7

TOTAL

237

185

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

9

0

0

1

What's Up Next

The House has begun a district work period. Next votes are expected on Tuesday September 8th.


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:

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DC Office Phone:

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