My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Oklahoma as they deal with the aftermath of the devastating tornado. We mourn the lives taken and hope that those who lost precious family members can find some comfort knowing that so many of us are holding them in our hearts. The citizens of Oklahoma will need our help in the days and weeks ahead. Homes have been leveled, neighborhoods devastated and schools destroyed. I hope that Congress will act quickly to deliver aid where it is so clearly needed.
This week the House considered H.R. 3: Northern Route Approval Act. This legislation bypasses the President and deems the Keystone XL Pipeline approved. Final reviews required under both the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act would not be completed under H.R. 3. An initial environmental impact statement (EIS) was done for this project, but the proposed route of the pipeline changed since that work was completed. So this bill basically endorses the pipeline without a thorough analysis of its real impact. This bill also has implications for other projects. If a thorough environmental review can be waived for the Keystone XL pipeline, it sets a troubling precedent. I voted NO. H.R. 3 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:
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Yesterday the House considered H.R. 1911: Smarter Solutions for Students Act. On July 1st, interest rates on federal student loans will double without Congressional action and this bill represents the Republican plan to address the pending increase. Democratic leadership has named this bill the "Making College More Expensive Act" because if enacted, the impact on students would be worse than just letting the rate double on July 1st. That's because H.R. 1911 ties student loan interest rates to 10-year Treasury notes and adds 2.5%. Rates would be reset every year and borrowers could not lock in a rate for the life of the loan, as they can now. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report concluding that H.R. 1911 would create an additional $3.7 billion in interest charges over ten years. CRS also took the interest rates projected by the Congressional Budget Office and applied them to a hypothetical student borrowing the maximum allowed over 5 years. That student would end up paying $1,832 more over the life of their loans if H.R. 1911 became law, than he/she would pay if Congress did nothing and let the interest rate double in July. I voted NO. H.R. 1911 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:
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This week I introduced the "Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2013" (TRIPRA) with my Republican colleague Rep. Peter King, extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) for ten years. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many insurance companies excluded terrorism events from their insurance policies, 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 in 2014.
TRIA currently requires companies to offer terrorism coverage to commercial policyholders and cover losses up to $100 million. After that point, the federal government would provide assistance. TRIA also establishes a mechanism for the government to recover funds that are paid out. Since its enactment, TRIA has ensured the availability of affordable terrorism risk insurance in the marketplace and thereby fostered continued urban and real estate development.
Unfortunately, steps like extending TRIA are necessary because, despite our best efforts, it is just not possible to prevent every terrorist attack in an open society, as we so tragically saw last month in Boston. Because we cannot guarantee a terrorism free world, we must do what we can to be prepared.
What's Up Next Week
A district work period has been scheduled for next week.
Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services