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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 15, 2011

Debt Ceiling

Negotiations over raising the debt ceiling are dominating discussion on Capitol Hill, as they should. President Obama has been meeting daily with leaders in the House and the Senate on both sides of the aisle. I think everyone at the table recognizes the urgency we face as a nation, but I am not at all convinced that everyone understands we all need to make sacrifices. As far as I am concerned everything should be part of the discussion. Any package must strike the right balance between cuts and revenue and should be a thoughtful and serious long term approach to solving our deficit problem, not a short term fix. So far though, not many Republicans have expressed willingness to compromise. I am troubled by this. I have no doubt that there will be many aspects of any eventual deal that I won't like. But if the package is balanced, I will have to consider voting for it. I don't hear that sentiment coming from many Members on the other side of the aisle. In fact, some have stated that by just agreeing to negotiate, they have already compromised. It is hard to believe how a responsible member of any legislative body could take that approach. I remain hopeful that a deal will be reached in time to pass the Congress before the August 2nd deadline.

Shareholder Protection

This week I filed the Shareholder Protection Act which requires a shareholder vote before corporate general treasury funds can be spent on political activity. You may recall that I filed this bill during the last Congress. It passed in the Financial Services Committee but didn't make it to the floor so I am trying again. This time, Senator Robert Menendez has introduced identical legislation in the Senate.

In January of 2010, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision found that corporations should be treated as "persons" for the purposes of free speech in election spending. As a result, corporations can now use unlimited funds on elections through independent expenditures and electioneering communications. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, corporations and businesses spent more than $1.3 billion dollars in the 2010 election cycle.

Shareholders deserve a say in how general treasury funds are used in political elections. It is their money after all. Shareholders should have the opportunity to cast a vote when money is being spent for political purposes with which they may or may not agree.

My bill requires:

  • Authorization from a majority of shareholders before a corporation can spend money from its general treasury on political activities;
  • A Board of Directors vote to authorize all expenditures over $50,000 within the overall budget approved by shareholders;
  • Individual board member votes and the details of approved expenditures will be disclosed online within 48 hours and to shareholders and the SEC on a quarterly basis.

The Supreme Court ruling has already increased the level of corporate participation in political campaigns. Congress can and should take action to ensure that the voice of the shareholder is not diminished.

Flood Insurance Reform

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 1309: Flood Insurance Reform Act. This legislation reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program for five years. More than 5 million home and business owners rely on this program for affordable flood insurance. I voted YES. You will see H.R. 1309 passed overwhelmingly, not a common outcome in the House these days:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

218

21

0

3

DEMOCRAT

188

1

0

0

TOTAL

406

22

0

3

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations

The House also continued consideration of appropriations bills, with H.R. 2354: FY 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. Not surprisingly, funding for this bill is less than the FY 2011 amount. We all understand that federal spending must be cut but for me it always comes down to how much and what those cuts say about our priorities. With that in mind, I could not support this bill. H.R. 2354 cuts funding for work that the Army Corps of Engineers does to help maintain our harbors, navigation channels and ports. $1 billion dollars was included in the Corps' diminished budget for disaster relief in the Mississippi and Missouri River basins after terrible flooding and tornadoes. I fully support this emergency funding: it is clearly needed. However, it is paid for by taking $1.5 billion away from high speed rail projects that have already been awarded funding, including money for Massachusetts. Yet in a different bill, money used to rebuild Iraq was designated as emergency and not offset, which makes no sense. This bill also cuts funding for research programs relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy. It cuts funding from vehicle efficiency programs, weatherization programs and initiatives to help make buildings more energy efficient. It also reduces funding for nuclear non-proliferation. I voted NO. H.R. 2354 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

209

21

0

9

DEMOCRAT

10

175

0

7

TOTAL

219

196

0

16

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

10

0

0

What's Up Next Week

At this writing, a floor schedule for next week has not yet been released.


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.


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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