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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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April 1, 2011

Happy Opening Day to Red Sox Nation and Happy April Fools Day — and no, the first item in today's e-update is not a joke:

Budget

I don't really know what to write about the bill that passed in the House this afternoon, H.R. 1255: The Government Shutdown Prevention Act. This bill proposes to "deem" H.R.1 enacted into law if communication on the budget is not received from the Senate by April 6th. H.R.1 is the budget bill passed by the House that contained $100 billion in cuts from the President's FY 2011 budget. It has already been rejected by the Senate.

Not only is this bill a complete waste of floor time, it is also clearly unconstitutional. As I am sure you realize, the way the legislative process works is that a bill has to pass BOTH the House and the Senate and THEN be signed by the President before it is a law. I'm pretty sure they still teach that in elementary school. I voted NO. Shockingly, this unconstitutional bill passed in the House and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

221

15

1

3

DEMOCRAT

0

187

0

5

TOTAL

221

202

1

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

10

0

0

Housing

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 839: the HAMP Termination Act. This legislation ends the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which helps struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by modifying their mortgages and is the fourth housing program eliminated by the House this year. More than 600,000 families have been able to stay in their homes because of this program. Once again, rather than proposing an alternative bill or suggesting changes to the existing program, the Republican-led House simply voted to eliminate it. I spoke on the floor about this legislation, which you can view here. I voted NO. H.R. 839 passed and the entire vote is recorded below.

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

234

2

0

4

DEMOCRAT

18

168

1

5

TOTAL

252

170

1

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

10

0

0

Libya

On Monday evening President Obama addressed the nation about the United States' ongoing engagement in Libya. Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates also held a briefing for Members of Congress this week. While I do appreciate the Administration's willingness to finally communicate with Congress about Libya, I remain concerned that a vote was not held on this matter.

Article I, section 8 of the Constitution, and the War Powers Act of 1973, state that unless a crisis threatening our security requires immediate action, only Congress may authorize the use of force. I firmly believe that the Constitution entrusts Congress, not the President acting alone, to decide when to put U.S. troops in harm's way.

I signed onto legislation this week directing the President to cease operations in Libya unless and until Congress passes a resolution authorizing the use of force. It is not too late for a vote and I urge the President to seek one. I spoke with WBUR on Tuesday morning about this matter. You may listen to the interview here.

Please note that my concerns are not limited to Libya and President Obama - my concerns apply to any and all Presidents, past and future. The framers of our country were right to clearly deny ANY individual the power to take us into a war. Not President Obama, not President Bush (either of them), not any President past, present or future.

FAA

This week the House considered H.R. 658: the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011. I offered my legislation, the Baggage Fee Fairness Act, as an amendment to H.R. 658. Unfortunately, in a clear demonstration of the power of special interests, the big airlines defeated this common sense consumer fairness proposal. My bill would have simply required that airlines refund passengers' baggage fees if their luggage is lost, damaged or delayed. It also required more prominent disclosure of baggage fees when consumers obtain ticket price information on the internet or over the phone. The airline industry complained that the bill was too burdensome to them and fought my amendment.

H.R. 658 reduces FAA funding by $4 billion to 2008 levels. The Airport Improvement Program which provides grants to airports so that they may make safety and operational improvements is cut by $2 billion. This cut will result in the loss of 70,000 jobs.

H.R. 658 also repeals a National Mediation Board (NMB) ruling regarding union organizing. Under the existing rule, only actual votes cast are counted when workers hold an election to determine if a union should be formed. With the repeal of this ruling, the NMB will be forced to count all eligible employees regardless of whether they vote. An eligible person who is unable to vote or chooses not to vote is automatically counted as voting against forming a union. This is just one more attempt to weaken unions. I voted NO. H.R. 658 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

221

11

0

8

DEMOCRAT

2

185

0

5

TOTAL

223

196

1

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

1

Citizens United v. FEC

The SEC just issued a "no action letter" in a dispute between Home Depot and its shareholders, telling Home Depot that they have to allow an advisory shareholder vote on corporate political expenditures. This is great news and very similar to a bill I introduced last Congress in response to Citizens United: H.R. 4790, the Shareholder Protection Act. I wrote about the SEC decision today on Blue Mass Group, which you can read here: http://www.bluemassgroup.com/diary/22431/sec-does-the-right-thing-on-corporate-political-spending.

TARP

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) or as some like to call it, the "bailout bill", officially turned a profit this week. The program has been much maligned but it is now clear that TARP did what it was supposed to do, and taxpayers have been made whole. In fact, we made money. I am enclosing a link to Treasury's website which has more detailed information.

Facebook

I recently established an "official" Facebook page. If you are on Facebook and would like to check it out or "like" the page, you can visit facebook.com/RepMichaelCapuano.

What's Up Next Week

The Continuing Resolution to fund the government expires at midnight on Friday April 8th. Work continues on seeking a compromise to prevent a shutdown.


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

P.S. I welcome your feedback on our e-Updates. Please let me and my staff know what you think of this service by e-mailing our office.


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and
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DC Office:

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DC Office Phone:

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