|An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
8th Congressional District of Massachusetts
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|January 28, 2011
My committee and subcommittee assignments were finalized this week as the House continued organizing for the session. I will continue my work on Transportation & Infrastructure and Financial Services and am looking forward to the challenges that the 112th Congress will no doubt present. I am especially looking forward to my new role as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations within Financial Services. This subcommittee is responsible for investigating and overseeing all of the programs and agencies that fall under the jurisdiction of the committee, and reviewing existing laws to determine if changes need to be made.
House Republicans have advocated for ending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and limiting the authority of the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by the financial regulatory reform legislation passed last year. I expect that some of our subcommittee work will involve scrutiny of these institutions and of the reform bill overall. I am always open to compromise and willing to talk about making improvements to existing programs and laws.
I will vigorously oppose, however, efforts to weaken or roll back this vital legislation and will continue to advocate for maintaining access to affordable mortgages and meaningful consumer protections. I also had the opportunity to serve as Ranking Member on the Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment but Caucus Rules prevent Members from serving as the top Democrat on more than one subcommittee.
The House voted this week on H.Res. 38: a Resolution to reduce spending through a transition to non-security spending at fiscal year 2008 levels. As I have said repeatedly, I strongly support taking real action to reduce our deficit. That is one of the reasons why I voted against giving tax cuts to the wealthy. But we have to be honest about how we address that deficit. For starters, why are we exempting a large chunk of the federal budget by keeping the Defense Department out of this discussion? Secretary Gates has proposed billions in cuts.
Should we take every suggestion he has without reviewing them? Of course not. But we shouldn’t dismiss them without debate. Furthermore, by simply cutting everything back to 2008 levels, we are ignoring the reality of today’s circumstances. How will the agencies charged with implementing financial regulatory reform do more with much less? What happens to health care reform? What about programs that help our most vulnerable citizens with housing, heat and food during these still difficult economic times? This resolution is also completely lacking in substance. It doesn’t contain any numbers and has no specific information. It is symbolism and nothing more. I voted NO. The resolution passed and the entire vote is recorded below:
State of the Union
This week President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address to Congress. Much has been made of the initiative to encourage bipartisan seating in the chamber. While clearly a symbolic gesture, it was a well intentioned good faith effort to increase the level of cooperation between parties. Of course, it doesn’t really matter where you sit to hear a speech; it matters where you stand on the issues raised in that speech. And as you know, there are wide areas of disagreement. Although the new Congress has barely been in session a month, the House has already voted to repeal health care reform and Republican leadership is pushing for steep cuts to the budget. While we certainly face tough economic realities regarding federal funding, I firmly believe that it is irresponsible to sacrifice much-needed federal programs that create jobs and innovation in the name of so-called “fiscal responsibility.” Democrats and Republicans will have much to discuss as the new Congress moves forward.
Committee on Organization, Study and Review
For a number of years, I have served as Chairman of the Democratic Caucus’ Committee on Organization, Study and Review. This committee periodically reviews Caucus rules and recommends changes when necessary. We are particularly active at the beginning of each Congress, as Caucus rules are adopted. This week I hosted a meeting for all Democratic Members. We conducted an overview of the existing rules and began a discussion about areas that may be subject to revision. I look forward to hearing from my colleagues about any recommendations they may have for changes to the rules. This will be an ongoing discussion throughout the year.
What’s Up Next Week
A District Work week has been scheduled. Next votes will occur on Tuesday February 8th.