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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts


8,285 subscribers

September 20, 2013

Washington Navy Yard

My deepest sympathies to the families who lost loved ones so tragically at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning. I hope those who were wounded recover quickly. I want also to extend my thanks to the first responders who rushed in to save lives and stop the violence. There are many questions surrounding this senseless attack and officials are working diligently to understand how something like this could have happened. As the investigation moves forward, let us continue to keep the families who have lost so much in our hearts.

Continuing Resolution

Today the House passed H.J. Res. 59, a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through December 15th. If they had put forward a bill containing a straightforward funding extension to give negotiators more time to work out a budget compromise, it probably would have passed with little debate. Of course, nothing is that simple in this House. The measure also includes the 42nd attempt to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). H.J. Res. 59 specifically prohibits money from being spent to implement health care reform. The bill also directs the Treasury Department to prioritize payments if the debt limit is not increased. This would force the government to prioritize paying foreign creditors like China ahead of paying Social Security benefits and other bills. This approach is irresponsible, impractical and unjust. The President has already stated he will veto this bill and it is equally clear that the Senate will not pass it.

Unfortunately, the path forward is uncertain at this point. The federal fiscal year ends in ten days, but no agreement on funding the government after September 30th seems within reach.

I came to Washington with the full understanding that an effective and responsible legislator must compromise on occasion in order to make progress for the American people. Over the years there have been plenty of bills, large and small, that I would have written differently if given the opportunity. For every piece of legislation, I must weigh its positive aspects with provisions that I have questions about. That is how I determine how I will cast my vote. Itís a pretty straightforward approach.

Unfortunately, there are too many House members today who have forgotten the fundamental nature of a legislative body. With all of the serious challenges facing our country, the House has chosen 42 times to take essentially the same vote. Speaker Boehner himself, after the Supreme Court decision upholding the ACA, declared: ďObamacare is the law of the landĒ. Yet still, the House votes over and over again to undermine or thwart it. Now, there are some Republicans willing to shut the government down in an attempt to get what they have failed to get despite their endless machinations. Itís shockingly irresponsible. I voted NO. H.J. Res. 59 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

228

1

0

3

DEMOCRAT

2

188

0

10

TOTAL

230

189

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

0

Nutrition Assistance

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 3102: Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act. This legislation funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which has historically been included in the Farm Bill. You may recall, however, that the House reauthorized the Farm Bill over the summer without including the SNAP program. At the time, many Republicans objected to the Farm Bill because, although it cut nutrition assistance by more than $20 billion, they didnít think those cuts were deep enough. So SNAP funding was removed from the Farm Bill with the promise of returning to the issue in the fall.

Well, Republican leadership did fulfill their commitment to revisit SNAP with H.R. 3102. This time, they slashed the program by nearly $40 billion, double the cuts originally proposed over the summer. If H.R. 3102 becomes law, almost 4 million people will lose food assistance. Almost half of those currently receiving this help are children. Moreover, this legislation also imposes some troubling restrictions. Unemployed adults would potentially lose access to SNAP after three months if they cannot find at least a part-time job. Unemployment remains a persistent problem in this country and it often takes people many months to find work. The federal government should not be taking help away from some of the people who need it the most. The Administration has already promised to veto H.R. 3102. I voted NO. H.R. 3102 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

217

15

0

1

DEMOCRAT

0

195

0

5

TOTAL

217

210

0

6

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

0

TRIA

Yesterday I testified at a Financial Services Committee hearing on the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). I introduced legislation reauthorizing TRIA for 10 years along with my Republican colleague Rep. Peter King. TRIA is not perfect but it is the best solution we currently have.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many insurance companies stopped offering terrorism coverage altogether after sustaining more than $40 billion in losses. As a result, Congress passed TRIA in 2002. The law created a federal backstop to make terrorism insurance available and to protect against terrorism related losses in the event of another attack. The measure has twice been extended and is set to expire at the end of 2014.

TRIA currently requires private insurance companies to offer terrorism coverage to commercial policyholders and cover losses up to $100 million. After that point, the federal government would be available as a backstop for the private sector. Since its enactment, TRIA has ensured that terrorism risk insurance is available and affordable. TRIA also established a mechanism for the government to recoup funds that are paid out. Outside of minor administrative costs, TRIA has not cost taxpayers any money to date.

Immediately after 9/11, billions of dollars worth of development projects were stalled or delayed, and hundreds of thousands of construction jobs were lost. Since its enactment and with each extension, TRIA has fostered continued economic and real estate development.

The attacks this spring at the Boston Marathon were a stark reminder that terrorism remains very real and very difficult to predict. As the horrific scenes on Boylston Street unfolded, many of us realized that an attack can happen anywhere, at any time, changing and disrupting our daily lives in the blink of an eye.

I told my colleagues on the committee that TRIA is a program with bipartisan support. There is some disagreement over how long to extend TRIA, but nearly 60% of the Financial Services Committee believes that TRIA should be extended in its current form and they have co-sponsored legislation to accomplish that goal. Congress has a great deal of important legislation to debate. Extending TRIA is something that most of us agree on so a lengthy debate that takes up precious floor time really shouldnít be necessary. The Committee should decide how long to extend TRIA and get it done. I wish TRIA didnít have to be extended but the unfortunate reality is that the program is necessary. I anticipate additional hearings on TRIA and hope it can soon be scheduled for a House vote.

Whatís Up Next Week

The House returns on Wednesday September 25th to continue debating how to fund the government after the end of the month.

Mike


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

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