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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts
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July 2, 2010

Wall Street Reform

On Thursday, the House passed the Conference Report on the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This is a significant step forward in reining in Wall Street and protecting consumers. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression required a substantial and sweeping response, and this legislation goes far in addressing the problems that contributed to the financial crisis. It will create an independent authority to help consumers get clear information about mortgages and credit cards, and help them also avoid hidden fees and other deceptive practices. It removes loopholes that permitted many risky practices to continue unnoticed and without regulation. It imposes transparency and oversight requirements for credit rating agencies. It takes on "too big to fail" financial entities by requiring tougher capital and leverage requirements, and establishes an independent mechanism to monitor systemic risk.

It took many months to get here. The House, which passed its bill last year, waited patiently while the Senate searched for a way forward. It seems that the path to the President's desk is finally cleared, but not after making what I believe is a disappointing change to the conference report. Instead of imposing a levy on big hedge funds, banks and the largest financial firms to fund these new regulations, unspent TARP money will be tapped to cover these costs. This money could have gone to pay down the deficit or create jobs. Instead, we are letting hedge funds and other previously unregulated financial entities who engaged in the most risky investments off the hook. To pay for the remaining costs of these regulations, the FDIC will also increase its fees on already-regulated banks. These institutions should be financially responsible for their actions, but hedge funds and other large financial companies should also pay their share — not taxpayers. Despite this change, which was made to satisfy a handful of Republican Senators, I voted for this bill because of its many positive components. At this writing, the Senate is a vote or two short of passing the Conference Report and will not take it up until mid-July. I hope to report later this month that the bill is ready for the Presidentís signature. I voted YES. The entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

234

19

0

2

REPUBLICAN

3

173

0

2

TOTAL

237

192

0

4

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

Homebuyer Assistance

On Tuesday the House passed H.R. 5623: the Homebuyers Assistance and Improvement Act. This legislation extends a popular first-time homebuyer tax credit. Buyers entering into a contract to purchase a home by April 30th had until June 30th to complete a sale to be eligible for the $8,000 tax credit. Many homebuyers have been experiencing difficulty meeting the closing deadline despite good faith efforts to complete the sale. In Massachusetts alone, the National Association of Realtors estimates that almost 4,000 homebuyers will have had trouble closing by June 30th. H.R. 5623 extends that deadline until October 1st to give homebuyers more time to complete the transaction. I voted YES. H.R. 5623 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

244

0

0

10

REPUBLICAN

165

5

0

8

TOTAL

409

5

0

18

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

Unemployment

On Thursday the House considered H.R. 5618: Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act. This measure extends unemployment benefits through November 30th and retroactively compensates those who began losing benefits at the end of May. The House previously passed an extension as part of a larger bill. The Senate considered several versions of this bill but Senate Republicans have blocked all of them over the past four weeks. Although the Senate has already adjourned until mid July, the House yesterday took up a simple expansion of benefits, hopeful that the Senate will find enough votes to restore benefits to many families who are depending on these funds to make ends meet. I voted YES. H.R. 5618 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

241

11

0

3

REPUBLICAN

29

142

0

7

TOTAL

270

153

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

Supplemental Appropriations

Last night the House considered the FY 2010 Supplemental Appropriations bill. The Senate has passed its own supplemental funding bill and the House used that as its base. A series of amendments were considered and voted on. If the amendment passed, it was added to the base bill. One amendment focused on domestic spending including money for Pell Grants, teachers, border security and emergency food assistance. All of the spending in this amendment is fully offset. I voted YES on this amendment and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

236

15

0

4

REPUBLICAN

3

167

1

7

TOTAL

239

182

1

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

The other amendments focused on the war in Afghanistan and included a proposal to completely eliminate military funding from the bill; a proposal to direct funds only to the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and a proposal requiring a vote of Congress if the President delays his stated goal of drawing down troops beginning in July of 2011. All of these amendments failed. I could not support efforts to end military funding because we obviously need funds to keep our troops safe and bring them home. Only 25 Members voted for this amendment. I did strongly support the other amendments but there were simply not enough votes in the House yet. I hope we get there soon because it is long past time to bring our men and women in uniform home. They continue to make immense sacrifices for us, and these wars have gone on long enough. I am very disappointed that the other amendments failed.

Health Care Reform

This week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a website at www.healthcare.gov to provide user-friendly information on available private and government health insurance plans.† This website was required as part of the health care reform passed this spring.† As implementation of the law progresses, the website will show the specific cost and benefit information for each plan.

Additionally, as of July 1st, HHS will offer a new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), offering coverage to uninsured Americans who have been unable to obtain health coverage because of a pre-exiting health condition.† Now states can begin accepting applicants into the high-risk insurance pools that were also established with the health reform bill.† These pools will act as a bridge for patients with pre-existing conditions to receive coverage before insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.† These services will be available for Massachusetts residents, and information regarding qualification is also available at HealthCare.gov.†

What's Up Next Week

A District Work period is scheduled for next week. Next votes are anticipated on Tuesday July 13th.


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

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and
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