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Public Statements

Congressman Capuano's E-Update

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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE

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October 1, 2004

Recent House Votes
The House took up the issue of gay marriage this week, with a vote on H.J. Res 106: a Constitutional Amendment on Same Sex Marriage. The exact text of the amendment is copied below:

Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

I voted NO - Quite simply, this amendment would enshrine discrimination in the Constitution. The entire House vote is recorded below.

Although a majority of members voted for this amendment, it failed to advance because all proposed amendments to the Constitution must receive 2/3 of the vote in both the House and the Senate.

For more information on this legislation, visit http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:h.j.res106:/
To read my remarks on this legislation from the House floor, visit http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?r108:10:./temp/~r108J5c8zh:e172505: and scroll down or search for my name.

Transportation
Once again, Republican leaders in Congress failed to complete legislation reauthorizing the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. Instead, Congress passed an eight-month extension and it is unlikely that significant progress will be made until after the New Year. Although reauthorization passed overwhelmingly in both the House (at $284 billion) and the Senate (at $318 billion), the President is insisting that the cost of the bill not exceed $256 billion. Most members on both sides of the aisle believe that this amount is far too low to address the significant infrastructure needs our communities are facing all across the country. Since Republican leaders in Congress do not want to send the President a bill he may veto in an election year, they decided instead to do nothing. This delay is costing our states literally millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

Continuing Resolution
Today is the first day of the federal fiscal year. Congress did not complete work on 12 of the 13 spending bills necessary to fund the government so a continuing resolution was passed yesterday. Although the House finished all but one of the spending bills, the Senate is much farther behind. This continuing resolution takes us through November 20th. Unfortunately, little will be accomplished in the weeks leading up to the November election. In fact, Congress will most likely adjourn at the end of next week. Republican leaders in the Congress, who set the legislative agenda, seem unwilling to focus on the work that we must complete, like spending bills and transportation legislation. Instead, they force debate on politically charged issues, like gay marriage, that have no chance of becoming law this year.

Terrorism Insurance
The House Financial Services Committee, of which I am a member, passed legislation Wednesday extending the "Terrorism Risk Insurance Act" for an additional two years. The bill contained an amendment I offered that also makes terrorism reinsurance coverage available to group life insurance policies. I felt it was important that, as Congress works to extend this critical legislation, we also protect the men and women working in the buildings, not just bricks and mortar. The legislation passed unanimously and now moves to the full House for consideration.

Sudan
On Wednesday I met with Amnesty International Executive Director Dr. William Shultz, who recently returned from Sudan. He visited villages in South Darfur where the fighting is still going on, as well as overcrowded refugee camps. It is clear that the UN resolution is doing little to curb the Janjaweed militia fighters since the government of Sudan remains an active participant in the genocide. I recently co-sponsored a bill that imposes sanctions on the government of Sudan and lays out standards that must be met before these sanctions are lifted. Furthermore, this bill instructs the U.S. Representative to the U.N. to urge the Security Council to impose sanctions on the Sudanese government, to stop importing oil from Sudan and to impose an arms embargo. It also contains $450 million to stop the genocide and to provide humanitarian assistance.

Help for the Disabled
This week I introduced a bill inspired by Somerville resident Joe Keane. Joe was severely injured in the line of duty while training for the Merchant Marine years ago. As a result, he receives a personal attendant allowance from the Federal government, which helps Joe maintain his independence. Unfortunately, the attendant allowance is capped at $1500 per month, an amount that has not changed since 1990, despite the obvious increase in costs. My bill would increase the monthly cap to $4000 per month. It also establishes an automatic biennial update so that those individuals who receive the allowance do not have to return to Congress every time inflation outpaces the cost of care.

What's Up for Next Week
Next week the House may consider appropriations bills, additional spending for hurricane relief and legislation implementing some of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

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