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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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June 3, 2011

Tornadoes

My thoughts and prayers are with all those who endured Wednesday's tornadoes and fierce weather. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life. To the families who lost loved ones — please know that you are not alone. Your friends and fellow Massachusetts residents grieve with you. I will do everything I can to help recovery efforts as communities begin to assess and repair the damage done.

Disclosure

This week I wrote to President Obama expressing support for a draft executive order to require anyone submitting a bid for a federal government contract to disclose political contributions. Twenty four of my House colleagues joined me in sending the letter.

Federal contractors compete for contracts funded by taxpayer dollars. It's simply a matter of basic transparency to require the disclosure of any political contributions made and I applaud President Obama for taking steps to make that basic information available.

The White House recently drafted an executive order to require federal government contractors, as part of the application process, to disclose political spending from the past two years. The types of spending include: 1) direct contributions to candidates or parties made by the company, its officers, or subsidiaries and affiliates; and 2) contributions made to third-party organizations for use in independent expenditures or electioneering communications intended to affect federal elections.

This executive order, if finalized and implemented, would represent a big step forward. President Obama is right to address this current gray area, and he deserves to know that there is backing for such disclosure on Capitol Hill.

Debt Limit

On Tuesday the House voted on raising the debt limit. You have no doubt heard a great deal about this issue, and it will continue to dominate the discussion in Washington. Simply put, if Congress doesn't vote to raise the debt limit soon, the federal government will be considered in default of its debt. Leading economists are convinced that the debt limit must be raised because not taking action creates too much economic risk. The House vote Tuesday was simply to raise the debt limit and I voted YES because the economy is too fragile right now to risk uncertainty. Republicans brought this bill to the floor under suspension of the rules after the stock market had closed for the day in an effort to minimize the impact of the vote. As you can see from the vote totals, every Republican voted against the bill, basically to send a message that spending cuts must be included in any proposal to raise the debt limit. I think it is safe to say that every Member of Congress is willing to consider spending cuts but that wasn't an option with this vote. I certainly am more than willing to consider a combination of reasonable spending cuts and an increase in the debt limit, and I hope that an agreement can be reached soon on the debt limit. I voted YES on H.R. 1954 and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

0

236

0

3

DEMOCRAT

97

82

0

6

TOTAL

97

318

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

8

1

0

1

Appropriations

The House this week began consideration of the FY 2012 appropriations bills with H.R. 2017: Homeland Security Appropriations. This bill simply doesn't provide enough funding for important homeland security needs such as state grants to train and equip first responders, and firefighter assistance grants. Funding is set at $30 billion below FY 2011 figures. In this difficult budget environment, I understand that cuts will be necessary in virtually everything the federal government funds. However, the defense budget is being increased by $17 billion. Cuts to all the non-defense bills will be much steeper as a result of this refusal to even consider reducing defense spending. H.R. 2017 also combines 9 state and local security grants and reduces overall funding by a staggering 55%. This will impact a wide range of important homeland security initiatives such as port security, transit security and first responder assistance. I voted NO. H.R. 2017 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

214

20

0

5

DEMOCRAT

17

168

0

8

TOTAL

231

188

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

2

Libya

Today the House considered two measures on Libya. The first, H. Con, Res. 51 simply directs the President, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya within 15 days. I am a co-sponsor of this resolution.

Article I, section 8 of the Constitution, and the War Powers Act of 1973, states 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. The President has not yet fulfilled what I believe is his obligation to seek Congress' approval to continue military operations in Libya, and that is why I support this resolution.

I want to be clear that my concerns are not limited to Libya and President Obama — my concerns apply to any and all Presidents, past and future. I spoke on the floor about this which you may view here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyjM95y4API I voted YES. H. Con. Res 51 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

87

144

0

8

DEMOCRAT

61

121

0

11

TOTAL

148

265

0

19

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

7

2

0

1

The House today also considered Speaker Boehner's resolution, H. Res. 292, which states that the President shall not deploy U.S. Armed Forces on the ground in Libya. It calls on the President to report to Congress regarding the future use of U.S. forces in combat operations in Libya as well as provide a report on the mission since it began March 19. It does not call for the end of the NATO operation. The resolution is intended to put the House on record regarding Libya in the absence of a request by the President. The concern over how the U.S. entered into this conflict is bipartisan and widespread in the House. I voted NO on H. Res. 292 because it did not address the Constitutional issue that I am most concerned with. It passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

223

10

0

6

DEMOCRAT

45

135

0

12

TOTAL

268

145

0

18

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

2

7

0

1

Sudan

Recent violence in the Sudanese region of Abyei threatens the fragile peace between the North and the emerging independent South. Northern Sudanese recently bombed and invaded Abyei and President Bashir declared an end to the joint North and South Abyei administration. Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have refused to leave the disputed region, despite international calls from the United Nations, the United States, and other countries to remove troops and resolve issues diplomatically. These actions are blatant violations of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

To make matters worse, the UN reports that the North may be attempting to repopulate the area with non-resident members of the Misseriya. The people of Abyei have suffered severely, as the recent violence triggered a flood of internal displacement. This highlights the fragility of the peace process, and calls for immediate international attention. These violent invasions cannot be tolerated, and it is imperative that there be an immediate cessation of hostilities on all sides.

Congressman Payne and I, who are co-chairs of the Sudan Caucus, have called on Sudanese Armed Forces to immediately cease all offensive operations in the area. Unfettered access for the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is crucial to stabilizing the situation. Congressional attention must be paid to the failure of both the North and the South to end hostilities. President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir must meet immediately to agree on a way forward that restores calm. Both sides must recommit to a negotiated political settlement on the future status of Abyei. Continued violence threatens the fragile gains made in the peace process thus far.

What's Up Next Week

A District Work Period has been scheduled. The next votes will take place on Monday June 13th.


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

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and
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DC Office Phone:

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