Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin - 2/10/17
February 10, 2017
Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter, where I will be sharing updates on what Congress is considering on the House Floor, legislation I’ve introduced or cosponsored, as well as reports on issues and events of importance to the families of the 8th Congressional District.
Friday, February 3, was our first in-person town hall of the 115th Congress at Milton High School. More than 400 people attended our discussion on “Keeping America Safe While Preserving Our Constitutional Rights.” You may remember that we also held a telephone town hall last month in response to President Trump’s executive actions and the agenda for the new Congress. These dialogues, forums, and interactions on social media are critical to ensuring that I hear directly from the people that I represent. These conversations are also important to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep our country safe and protect the rights enshrined in our Constitution. It seems that with each tweet, executive order, and cabinet appointment from the White House, there has been a growing sense of anxiety and concern regarding the direction of our Nation. We have much work to do to resist any efforts to diminish the rights guaranteed in our Constitution or weaken the democratic principles upon which this Country was founded. We had great questions and animated discussion during our Town Hall in Milton. I thank everyone who attended. If you missed it, the video from the Town Hall forum is available on my Facebook page.
One important way for the legislative branch to serve as a check on the executive branch is to conduct robust oversight. During the Financial Services Committee markup of the oversight plan for the 115th Congress, I offered an amendment to ensure there is proper oversight of potential conflicts of interest in President Trump’s cabinet nominees. A significant number of President Trump’s nominees are billionaires with extensive global financial entanglements, including Wall Street insiders from Goldman Sachs, executives from the oil and gas industries, and others. The personal and industry interests of those nominees and appointees may place their personal financial interests in conflict with the interests of the American people and U.S. taxpayers. My amendment noted that conflicts of interest at the Treasury Department and with federal financial regulators undermine the mission of federal agencies and the interests of working families. Congress has a responsibility to ensure that Trump’s cabinet acts in the best interest of the American people, not out of self-interest. While my amendment was supported by all the Democrats on the Committee, it was opposed by every Republican member. While the vote was disappointing, I will continue to call out Members of Congress to fulfill our duty to our constituents and hold President Trump’s nominees and appointees accountable.
In the midst of ensuring strong oversight of the executive branch, we must continue advancing an agenda that helps working families. This week, I joined 111 Members of Congress in introducing H.R. 947, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FAMILY ACT). America’s workers should have the ability to take time off when they need it most without worrying about losing their job or health insurance. Access to paid leave should not be dependent on where you live or work. The FAMILY Act would create a paid family and medical leave insurance program that meets the needs of our 21st century workforce. I am a proud original cosponsor and hope Congress will soon act on this important legislation.
While in Washington, D.C. this week, I had the chance to meet with Major General Paul LaCamera, the Deputy Commanding General of XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg. Major General LaCamera is a native of Westwood, Massachusetts and was commissioned in 1985 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He began his career with the 82nd Airborne Division. He has proudly served our country for over 30 years and I got the chance to get to know him during several of my visits to Iraq and Afghanistan where he served as the chief of Office of Security Cooperation- Iraq for U.S. Central Command. Major General LaCamera is widely respected by members of the Iraqi and Afghan coalition. We are fortunate to have Major General LaCamera’s leadership and courageous service to our nation.
In the wake of last month’s gas leak in Weymouth, I sent a letter to Spectra Energy signed by Mayor Robert Hedlund, State Senator Patrick O’Connor, State Representative Ronald Mariano, and State Representative James Murphy requesting that representatives of Spectra address the Weymouth Town Council following a significant gas leak at their Weymouth job site. Monday, February 6, was the Weymouth Town Council meeting with Spectra, which I attended to raise concerns about the gas leak on Spectra’s watch. The most troubling fact of this incident is that the Weymouth neighborhood first received notice of the gas leak from one of the neighbors who lived half a mile away and smelled a strong smell of natural gas. I received a Tweet shortly thereafter, but was never notified by Spectra. We may have an adversarial relationship with Spectra due to the fight over the proposed compressor station, which I remain convinced is a dangerous proposition. But even as we continue to fight that proposal, Spectra's facilities need to be run as safely as possible. We should demand it as neighbors and as citizens. The gas leak, which released 214,000 cubic ft. of natural gas, did not build confidence in the neighbors who were exposed to it. I have asked the chief public safety officer of the Commonwealth to do an investigation about whether this facility is being operated properly. If there is a danger there, we must mitigate it as much as possible with robust enforcement of the law. We need real-time warning protocols to be established within Spectra’s organization so it is not dependent on neighbors to notify the fire department in the event of a future gas leak or incident. We have a good team of public officials from Weymouth, Quincy, Braintree, and Abington who are working to protect affected communities adjacent to the Weymouth site, just as we have a strong coalition on the West Roxbury site. By working together, we can provide the maximum amount of protection under the law. I will continue to keep you updated on our efforts on pipeline issues.
Thank you for keeping in touch with our office and for keeping me informed about the issues that are important to you and your family.
God bless you and God bless these United States of America.