The POPVOX Blog

  1. The POPVOX Top 20: April 11 - 17, 2014

    This week, with one in four Americans waiting until the last day to file our taxes, it's no surprise that the top bill of the week was tax related! In fact, half of the bills on the Top 20 list were about taxation. (You can find even more tax related bills in our Income Tax Issue Spotlight.)

    Top 20 Bills of the Week

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    Here are the bills and proposals that POPVOX users weighed in on with Congress in the past week. Keep in mind that these numbers aren't aggregates of total support, but just what happened in the past seven days.

    • HR 1723

      #1 Fairness in Taxation Act

      To impose increased rates of tax with respect to taxpayers with more than $1,000,000 taxable income. Would create new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, according to the bill sponsor.

      95 Support | 384 Oppose

    • HR 4440

      #2 Horse Transportation Safety Act

      To amend title 49, United States Code, to prohibit the transportation of horses in interstate transportation in a motor vehicle containing 2 or more levels stacked on top of one another. *Bipartisan*

      350 Support | 77 Oppose

    • HR 352

      #3 Tax Code Termination Act

      To terminate the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Would abolish the Internal Revenue Code by December 31, 2015 and require Congress to approve a new federal tax system by July of the same year, according to bill sponsor. *Bipartisan*

      350 Support | 42 Oppose

    • S 994

      #4 DATA Act

      To expand the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 to increase accountability and transparency in Federal spending. *Bipartisan*

      378 Support | 10 Oppose

    • S 720

      #5 Buffett Rule Act

      To provide for taxpayers making donations with their returns of income tax to the Federal Government to pay down the public debt.

      228 Support | 116 Oppose

    • HR 4415

      #6 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      To provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits.

      53 Support | 253 Oppose

    • S 2235

      #7 Democracy Restoration Act

      To secure the Federal voting rights of persons when released from incarceration.

      55 Support | 232 Oppose

    • HR 4312

      #8 Public Online Information Act

      To establish an advisory committee to issue nonbinding governmentwide guidelines on making public information available on the Internet, to require publicly available Government information held by the executive branch to be made available on the Internet, to express the sense of Congress that publicly available information held by the legislative and judicial branches should be available on the Internet.

      209 Support | 24 Oppose

    • S 1251

      #9 Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Reauthorization Act

      To establish programs with respect to childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer. *Bipartisan*

      174 Support | 53 Oppose

    • HR 4374

      #10 Biological Implant Tracking and Veteran Safety Act

      To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to adopt and implement a standard identification protocol for use in the tracking and procurement of biological implants by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

      112 Support | 98 Oppose

    • HR 25

      #11 Fair Tax Act

      Promotes freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.

      203 Support | 15 Oppose

    • HR 2470

      #12 Making Work and Marriage Pay Act

      To establish the National Commission on Effective Marginal Tax Rates for Low-Income Families. Would establish a national commission to study how multiple federal and state benefit programs create disincentives for low-income families to work and can discourage marriage, according to bill sponsors. *Bipartisan*

      40 Support | 126 Oppose

    • HR 3508

      #13 Hearing Aid Specialists

      To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the qualifications of hearing aid specialists of the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs. *Bipartisan*

      135 Support | 10 Oppose

    • S 122

      #14 Fair Tax Act

      Promotes freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.

      129 Support | 12 Oppose

    • S 722

      #15 Simpler Tax Filing Act

      To require the Secretary of the Treasury to study the feasibility of providing certain taxpayers with an optional pre-prepared tax return. Would "pave the way for the Internal Revenue Service to provide many tax filers with a one-page tax return already filled out with the taxpayer’s information, known as a “simple return,” in turn saving American taxpayers billions in tax preparation fees," according to bill sponsors.

      32 Support | 108 Oppose

    • S 420

      #16 Tax Return Due Date Simplification and Modernization Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for the logical flow of return information between partnerships, corporations, trusts, estates, and individuals to better enable each party to submit timely, accurate returns and reduce the need for extended and amended returns, to provide for modified due dates by regulation, and to conform the automatic corporate extension period to longstanding regulatory rule.

      106 Support | 30 Oppose

    • HR 766

      #17 Paying a Fair Share Act

      Reduces the deficit by imposing a minimum effective tax rate for high-income taxpayers.

      34 Support | 94 Oppose

    • HR 4368

      #18 Keep Knives Out of Our Skies Act

      To prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from implementing proposed policy changes that would permit passengers to carry small, non-locking knives on aircraft. *Bipartisan*

      16 Support | 110 Oppose

    • S 2105

      #19 Gun-Owner Registration Information Protection Act

      To prohibit the Federal funding of a State firearms ownership database.

      108 Support | 18 Oppose

    • S 173

      #20 SMART Act

      To repeal the current Internal Revenue Code and replace it with a flat tax, thereby guaranteeing economic growth and fairness for all Americans.

      72 Support | 49 Oppose

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  2. Issue Spotlight: Taxes

    It's Tax Day, and if you're like most people, you've already filed your taxes. But one in four people wait until April 15th, according to a McClatchy-Marist Poll (4/14/14). Interestingly, a majority of people surveyed -- 56 percent -- said they paid "about the right amount" in federal taxes. Nearly 7 in 10 men expect refunds, while just 54 percent of women expect money back from the IRS.

    Regardless of how you feel about paying taxes, take a look at the proposals in Congress that would change income tax policies -- and how we file our taxes. Share your voice with Congress on this Tax Day 2014! 

    Changing Tax Policies...

    • HR 1723

      Fairness in Taxation Act

      To impose increased rates of tax with respect to taxpayers with more than $1,000,000 taxable income. Would create new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, according to the bill sponsor.
    • S 1287

      AMT Credits

      To raise the limitation on the election to accelerate the AMT credit in lieu of bonus depreciation for 2013. *Bipartisan*
    • S 720

      Buffett Rule Act

      To provide for taxpayers making donations with their returns of income tax to the Federal Government to pay down the public debt.
    • HR 766

      Paying a Fair Share Act (or the "Buffett Rule")

      Reduces the deficit by imposing a minimum effective tax rate for high-income taxpayers.
    • HR 2470

      Making Work and Marriage Pay Act

      To establish the National Commission on Effective Marginal Tax Rates for Low-Income Families. Would establish a national commission to study how multiple federal and state benefit programs create disincentives for low-income families to work and can discourage marriage, according to bill sponsors. *Bipartisan*
    • Draft

      Congressman Camp's draft of Tax Reform Act -- (No bill introduced yet!)

      Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released draft legislation, the Tax Reform Act. The proposal flattens the code by reducing rates and collapsing today’s brackets into two brackets of 10 and 25 percent for virtually all taxable income. Provides an inflation-adjusted standard deduction of $11,000 for individuals and $22,000 for married couples. Taxes long-term capital gains and dividends as ordinary income, but exempts 40 percent of such income from tax. Repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for individuals.

    ...Or Doing Away with Income Taxes

    • HR 25

      Fair Tax Act

      (Also S 122.) Promotes freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.
    • HJRes 104

      Repealing the 16th Amendment

      Proposing an amendment to the US Constitution to repeal the sixteenth article of amendment.
    • HR 352

      Tax Code Termination Act

      To terminate the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Would abolish the Internal Revenue Code by December 31, 2015 and require Congress to approve a new federal tax system by July of the same year, according to bill sponsor. *Bipartisan*
    • HR 1040

      Flat Tax Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide taxpayers a flat tax alternative to the current income tax system.
    • S 173

      SMART Act (Simplified, Manageable, And Responsible Tax Act)

      To repeal the current Internal Revenue Code and replace it with a flat tax, thereby guaranteeing economic growth and fairness for all Americans.

    Changing How We File Taxes

    • S 722

      Simpler Tax Filing Act

      To require the Secretary of the Treasury to study the feasibility of providing certain taxpayers with an optional pre-prepared tax return. Would "pave the way for the Internal Revenue Service to provide many tax filers with a one-page tax return already filled out with the taxpayer’s information, known as a “simple return,” in turn saving American taxpayers billions in tax preparation fees," according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 2530

      Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act

      To improve transparency and efficiency with respect to audits and communications between taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service. Requires the IRS to provide a substantive response to any written taxpayer correspondence within 30 days of receipt and sets a one-year deadline for completion of audits, according to bill sponsor.
    • S 669

      Free File Program Act

      To make permanent the Internal Revenue Service Free File program. *Bipartisan*
    • S 448

      Seniors’ Tax Simplification Act

      To allow seniors to file their Federal income tax on a new Form 1040SR. Simplifies tax filing with one form, 1040SR, for seniors who not only have income through social security but also have income through retirement benefits, interest, and capital gains, according to bill sponsor. *Bipartisan*
    • S 420

      Tax Return Due Date Simplification and Modernization Act

      To provide for the logical flow of return information between partnerships, corporations, trusts, estates, and individuals to better enable each party to submit timely, accurate returns and reduce the need for extended and amended returns, to provide for modified due dates by regulation, and to conform the automatic corporate extension period to longstanding regulatory rule. *Bipartisan*

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  3. Issue Spotlight: Horses

    Horses have long been a part of the American economy, culture and history. Beginning with Columbus's journey, horses were a key part of American exploration. In fact, some of the Iberian horses brought in the late 1400's escaped and became feral. Their relatives are now the mustangs found in western United States. (However, the horse family Equidae and the genus Equus evolved in North America and existed in prehistoric times.)

    By 1911, there were more than 23 million horses in the US, according to the Dept. of Agriculture. By the last horse census in 1959, there were only 4.5 million horses. But the number of horses since the 1960's has grown -- not for agricultural or transportation use -- but for sport, competition, recreation and companionship. A 2005 study found that there are 9.2 million horses in the US. (Source: USDA)

    Proposals in Congress

    Weigh in and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress. 

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  4. The POPVOX Top 20: April 4 - 10

    It was budget week in Congress! The House passed the Republican "Path to Prosperity" budget proposal, which would cut the federal budget by $5 trillion over the next ten year. It was also the most popular bill on POPVOX for the week, with two-thirds of POPVOX users in support. The House rejected alternative budget proposals introduced by the Democratic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

    Top 20 Bills of the Week

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    Here are the bills and proposals that POPVOX users weighed in on with Congress in the past week. Keep in mind that these numbers aren't aggregates of total support, but just what happened in the past seven days.

    • HCR 96

      #1 The Republican "Path to Prosperity" Budget

      Establishing the budget for the US Government for fiscal year 2015 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2016 through 2024. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. --

      294 Support | 149 Oppose

    • S 2193

      #2 Horse Protection Amendments Act

      To amend the Horse Protection Act to provide increased protection for horses participating in shows, exhibitions, or sales.

      179 Support | 245 Oppose

    • S 1737

      #3 Minimum Wage Fairness Act

      To provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage in three stages: $8.20 an hour six months after the bill is enacted, $9.15 an hour a year after enactment and to $10.10 an hour two years after enactment. Would also incrase the wage of tipped workers to $3.00 six months after the bill is enacted, and then up to 70% of the minumum wage for other workers.

      70 Support | 337 Oppose

    • S 2199

      #4 Paycheck Fairness Act

      To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex. Would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women doing the same work have a business justification and are truly a result of factors other than gender. Would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers, according to bill sponsors.

      77 Support | 303 Oppose

    • SRes 303

      #5 Doubling Alzheimer’s Research Funding by 2015

      A resolution declaring that achieving the primary goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease of the Department of Health and Human Services to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025 is an urgent national priority.

      269 Support | 79 Oppose

    • HR 4368

      #6 Keep Knives Out of Our Skies Act

      To prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from implementing proposed policy changes that would permit passengers to carry small, non-locking knives on aircraft.

      63 Support | 248 Oppose

    • HR 1871

      #7 Baseline Reform Act

      To amend the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to reform the budget baseline. Aimed at stopping automatic inflation increased in the budget each year. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. --

      241 Support | 55 Oppose

    • S 2195

      #8 Preventing Terrorists From Entering the US as UN Ambassadors

      to deny admission to the US to any representative to the United Nations who has been found to have been engaged in espionage activities or a terrorist activity against the US and poses a threat to United States national security interests.

      260 Support | 14 Oppose

    • HR 1872

      #9 Budget and Accounting Transparency Act

      To amend the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to increase transparency in Federal budgeting. Would put some of the off-budget items in the government back on-budget. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. --

      139 Support | 28 Oppose

    • HR 3470

      #10 Naval Vessel Transfer and Arms Export Control Amendments Act

      Would let the U.S. transfer Navy ships to other countries. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. --

      19 Support | 120 Oppose

    • HR 2575

      #11 Save American Workers Act

      Would change the healthcare law's definition of full-time worker — it currently says anyone working more than 30 hours a week is full time, but the bill would change that to anyone working more than 40 hours a week. --Passed by the House; goes to the Senate for consideration.--

      107 Support | 29 Oppose

    • S 2149

      #12 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      This bipartisan agreement would reauthorize emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for five months with retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries going back to Dec. 28. 

      20 Support | 105 Oppose

    • S 2105

      #13 Gun-Owner Registration Information Protection Act

      To prohibit the Federal funding of a State firearms ownership database.

      116 Support | 8 Oppose

    • HR 4307

      #14 Milk Freedom Act

      To authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.

      90 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 3979

      #15 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      The legislative vehicle for the Emergency Unemployment Benefits Extension Act in the House.

      57 Support | 40 Oppose

    • HR 4323

      #16 Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act

      To reauthorize programs authorized under the Debbie Smith Act of 2004 which offer grants to states to help process crimes.

      23 Support | 63 Oppose

    • HR 4098

      #17 Horse Protection Amendments Act

      To amend the Horse Protection Act to provide increased protection for horses participating in shows, exhibitions, or sales.

      27 Support | 59 Oppose

    • S 1008

      #18 Keep Knives Out of Our Skies Act

      To prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from implementing proposed policy changes that would permit passengers to carry small, non-locking knives on aircraft.

      18 Support | 65 Oppose

    • S 404

      #19 Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act

      To preserve the Green Mountain Lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington state. -- Passed the House and Senate; now goes to the President for his signature. --

      24 Support | 57 Oppose

    • HR 4308

      #20 Interstate Milk Freedom Act

      To prohibit Federal interference with the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.

      71 Support | 5 Oppose

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  5. Issue Spotlight: Equal Pay Day

    Equal Pay Day is a date chosen each year to symbolize how far into the current year women need to work to earn the same amount of money men earned during the previous year, according to the National Women's History MuseumOn this Equal Pay Day, April 8, 2014, POPVOX is spotlighting a variety of bills related to women's wages.

    Last week, and in time for Equal Pay Day, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing the Paycheck Fairness Act (S 2199), which aims to help close the wage gap between women and men working equivalent jobs. The wage gap costs women and their families $434,000 over their careers, according to bill sponsors. The Senate is expected to take up the bill in the coming weeks.

    Bills Related to Women's Wages

    Weigh in on these bills on POPVOX and share with your friends and networks.

    • S 2199

      Paycheck Fairness Act

      (And HR 377 in the House.) To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex. Would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women doing the same work have a business justification and are truly a result of factors other than gender. Would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers, according to bill sponsors.
    • S 168

      Fair Pay Act

      (And HR 438 in the House.) To prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin. Allows payment of different wages under seniority systems, merit systems, systems that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production, or differentials based on bona fide factors that the employer demonstrates are job-related or further legitimate business interests.
    • HRes 507

      Women’s Economic Bill of Rights

      Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives in support of a women's economic bill of rights.
    • HR 2452

      Women’s Procurement Program Equalization Act

      To amend the Small Business Act with respect to the procurement program for women-owned small business concerns.
    • HR 951

      Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs

      To promote the economic self-sufficiency of low-income women through their increased participation in high-wage, high-demand occupations where they currently represent 25 percent or less of the workforce.

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  6. The Week Ahead: April 7 - 11

    From our Hill Sources:  It’s Budget Week in the House! They'll work on the Republican budget for the fiscal year. In the Senate, it's all about unemployment insurance benefits and raising the minimum wage. And, it's "Equal Pay Day" on Tuesday.

    It's Budget Week!

    The House will work on the Republican budget for the fiscal year 2015. Republicans released their budget last week, and it would chop a little more than $5 trillion from spending that's now planned over the next 10 years. Several other budget proposals will be offered this week, but the House is expected to pass the main GOP budget by the end of the week. That budget is reflected in a resolution:

    Republicans also plan on passing two budget reform bills in the House this week:

    • HR 1871

      Baseline Reform Act

      To amend the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to reform the budget baseline. Aimed at stopping automatic inflation increased in the budget each year.
    • HR 1872

      Budget and Accounting Transparency Act

      To amend the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to increase transparency in Federal budgeting. Would put some of the off-budget items in the government back on-budget.

    Also in the House...

    The House will consider three suspension bills as well:

    Unemployment Insurance Benefits Extension

    The Senate is in: Senators will start on Monday by considering a bill extending unemployment benefits: 

    • HR 3979

      Emergency Unemployment Extension

      As amended by the Senate — this bill would extend unemployment benefits for five months. The bipartisan bill should pass in a late Monday vote.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources: It's not clear the House will consider it at all once passed by the Senate. Stay tuned!

    Raising the Minimum Wage

    After unemployment, the Senate may also look at a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10. Procedural motions on this bill are possible throughout the week.

    • S 1737

      Minimum Wage Fairness Act

      To provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage in three stages: $8.20 an hour six months after the bill is enacted, $9.15 an hour a year after enactment and to $10.10 an hour two years after enactment. Would also incrase the wage of tipped workers to $3.00 six months after the bill is enacted, and then up to 70% of the minumum wage for other workers.

    (Weigh in on other minimum wage proposals being considered by Congress.)

    Pay Equity

    Last week, and in time for Equal Pay Day (April 8), the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to help close the wage gap between women and men working equivalent jobs. The wage gap costs women and their families $434,000 over their careers, according to bill sponsors. The Senate is expected to take up the bill in the coming weeks:

    • S 2199

      Paycheck Fairness Act

      To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex. Would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women doing the same work have a business justification and are truly a result of factors other than gender. Would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers, according to bill sponsors.

    (See other bills related to women's wages in our Equal Pay Day Issue Spotlight.)

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  7. Issue Spotlight: Election Money and the First Amendment

    This week, the Supreme Court struck down the limit on the total amount of money wealthy donors can contribute to candidates and political committees. These limits, which were inflation-adjusted every election cycle, capped contributions to federal candidates at $48,600, and contributions to federal PACs and federal political party committees at $74,600.

    The Scoop on the Supreme Court Decision, McCutcheon v FEC

    In considering the case, McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission, the court had to decide whether the First Amendment trumps the government's interest in controlling who pay for elections and preventing corruption. In the end, the First Amendment prevailed. The 5-4 decision, the court held that campaign finance regulations violates free-speech rights.

    The court's main opinion "made clear that Congress may not regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics, or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others." Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders."

    The dissenting judges strongly disagreed -- so much so that Justice Stephen Breyer read aloud parts of his dissent from the bench. “The Court substitutes for the current two-year overall contribution ceiling of $123,000, the number infinity,” Justice Breyer remarked, which got a few chuckles. “If the Court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision may well open a floodgate,” he continued, referring to the decision which held that the government may not ban political spending by corporations. (Source: Scotusblog.com)

    What's Next for Campaign Finance Laws in Congress

    We can expect new legislative proposals in Congress. "The plurality opinion described several possible legislative approaches (without saying they were necessarily constitutional) to minimize the risks of circumvention of per-recipient contribution limits," explained POPVOX's advisor, Larry Gold. Among these suggestions include restricting transfers between federal candidates and political party committees; further restricting the ability to earmark a contribution for a particular use or ultimate recipient; and, implicitly, greater disclosure requirements. Stay tuned on POPVOX to see what Members of Congress will propose. In the meantime, here's a look at campaign finance bills already pending before Congress.

    Related Bills Introduced in Congress

    Here are bills that Congress has introduced related to money in political campaigns. Weigh in on POPVOX, and we'll deliver your message to Congress -- guaranteed. (How POPVOX works.)

    Introduced After the McCutcheon Decision

    • HR 4442

      Election Transparency

      To require all political committees to notify the Federal Election Commission within 48 hours of receiving cumulative contributions of $1,000 or more from any contributor during a calendar year.
    • HR 4397

      Real Time Transparency Act

      (And in the Senate, S 2207.) Would require that all contributions of $1000 or more be filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 48-hours. Under current law, a contribution of $1000 or more to a U.S. Senate campaign must be filed with the Secretary of Senate on a quarterly basis, and all other political action committee or campaign contributions of $1000 or more must be filed with the FEC on a quarterly basis. Currently, only contributions made within 20 days preceding the election must be disclosed within 48-hours, according to bill sponsors.

    Introduced before the McCutcheon Decision

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  8. The POPVOX Top 20: March 28 - April 3, 2014

    The Save American Workers Act (HR 2575) was POPVOX's top bill of the week. The SAW Act would repeal another piece of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare": it would change the health care law's definition of full-time worker from more than 30 hours to 40 hours per week. According to our "Hill Sources," Republicans say the current law is creating an incentive for companies to cut employee hours in order to dodge the employer mandate for full time workers. The bill passed in the House on April 3, 2014 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

    Top 20 Bills of the Week

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    Here are the bills and proposals that POPVOX users weighed in on with Congress in the past week. Keep in mind that these numbers aren't aggregates of total support, but just what happened in the past seven days.

    • HR 2575

      #1 Save American Workers Act

      Would change the healthcare law's definition of full-time worker — it currently says anyone working more than 30 hours a week is full time, but the bill would change that to anyone working more than 40 hours a week. --Passed by the House; goes to the Senate for consideration.--

      497 Support | 102 Oppose

    • HR 4307

      #2 Milk Freedom Act

      To authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.

      410 Support | 32 Oppose

    • HR 4291

      #3 FISA Transparency Modernization Act (or End Bulk Collection Act)

      To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to prohibit the bulk collection of call detail records.

      372 Support | 54 Oppose

    • HR 4308

      #4 Interstate Milk Freedom Act

      To prohibit Federal interference with the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption.

      384 Support | 27 Oppose

    • S 2134

      #5 Act to Ban Zohydro

      To withdraw approval for the drug Zohydro ER and prohibit the Food and Drug Administration from approving such drug unless it is reformulated to prevent abuse.

      33 Support | 294 Oppose

    • HR 942

      #6 Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act

      To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage and payment for complex rehabilitation technology items under the Medicare program.

      174 Support | 72 Oppose

    • HR 4302

      #7 Protecting Access to Medicare Act

      To amend the Social Security Act to extend Medicare payments to physicians and other provisions of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. --Passed by Congress, signed by the President.--

      82 Support | 159 Oppose

    • S Res 303

      #8 Doubling Alzheimer’s Research Funding by 2015

      A resolution declaring that achieving the primary goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease of the Department of Health and Human Services to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025 is an urgent national priority.

      229 Support | 8 Oppose

    • S 2149

      #9 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      This bipartisan agreement would reauthorize emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for five months with retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries going back to Dec. 28. 

      55 Support | 146 Oppose

    • S 2193

      #10 Horse Protection Amendments Act

      To amend the Horse Protection Act to provide increased protection for horses participating in shows, exhibitions, or sales.

      86 Support | 91 Oppose

    • HR 2023

      #11 Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act

      To direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a national strategic action plan to assist health professionals in preparing for and responding to the public health effects of climate change.

      16 Support | 156 Oppose

    • HR 4278

      #12 Ukraine Support Act

      To support the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

      30 Support | 137 Oppose

    • HR 1874

      #13 Pro-Growth Budgeting Act

      Would require the Congressional Budget Office to examine the broader economic impact of legislation, instead of just how much they cost the government.

      130 Support | 28 Oppose

    • HR 4152

      #14 Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act

      To provide for the costs of loan guarantees for Ukraine.  --Passed by Congress, awaiting the President’s signature.--

      18 Support | 140 Oppose

    • S 2183

      #15 United States International Programming to Ukraine and Neighboring Regions

      Would prioritize 24-hour programming to to eastern Ukraine, including Crimea, and Moldova, and to ethnic and linguistic Russian populations, as well as to Tatar minorities by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America.

      24 Support | 116 Oppose

    • HR 4138

      #16 ENFORCE the Law Act

      To protect the separation of powers in the US Constitution by ensuring that the President takes care that the laws be faithfully executed.

      121 Support | 7 Oppose

    • HR 4279

      #17 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authorization Act

      To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

      9 Support | 115 Oppose

    • HR 3973

      #18 Faithful Execution of the Law Act

      To amend section 530D of title 28, United States Code.

      112 Support | 4 Oppose

    • HR 1010

      #19 Fair Minimum Wage Act

      To provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage.

      20 Support | 90 Oppose

    • HR 419

      #20 Taiwan Policy Act

      To strengthen and clarify the commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan, as codified in the Taiwan Relations Act.

      86 Support | 14 Oppose

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

    *POPVOX invites organizations to create "sponsored campaigns" on POPVOX, which include policy principles and actionable items directed at Congress.

  9. POPVOX Daily Digest - April 1, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    The House passed two key bills today to aid Ukraine, and finally sent them to President Obama for his signature into law:

    • HR 4152

      The amended H.R. 4152, which calls for sanctions against Russia and offers security and financial aid to Ukraine.

      This is the bill the Senate approved last week, and the Senate passed it today 378-34.

    • S 2183

      S. 2183, which provides $10 million in funding to broadcast pro-democracy messages to Ukraine and other countries in the region.

      This was part of the House's Ukraine bill, and the Senate agreed to approve this language as part of its own bill last week.

    The House passed other bills today by voice vote:

    The Senate was in to consider Executive Branch nominations, but didn't pass any legislation on Tuesday.

  10. POPVOX Daily Digest - March 31,2014

    From our Hill sources:

    The Senate was in on Monday to pass a one year "doc fix" patch.

    Senators voted 64-35 in favor of H.R. 4302, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act. The bill avoids a 24 percent cut to the reimbursement rate of Medicare doctors that was due to take effect on Tuesday.

    Members of both parties, in the House and Senate, said Congress should pass a bill to permanently avoid these annual "doc fix" bills, but the parties can't agree on a way to pay for this change. As a result, Congress was left with yet another short-term answer, which will cost billions of dollars over the next decade, and which is paid for only by shifting money around a decade from now.

    Just before the final vote, the Senate voted to waive any and all budget points of order against the bill, which could have scuttled the measure in the Senate for failing to comply with various budget rules.

    President Obama was expected to sign the bill as early as Monday night to avoid the Medicare cuts.

    After those votes, the Senate adopted a motion to proceed to a bill extending emergency unemployment benefits for five months. As a result of that move, the Senate is in a position to pass this bill this week.

    The bill is an amended H.R. 3979, which the Senate changed to include a five month extension that now has a bipartisan way to pay for the extension.

    The House was out all day, but returns Tuesday.

  11. Issue Spotlight: Religious Freedom and Contraception Coverage

    The US Supreme Court considered one case dealing with three hot-button issues: the Affordable Care Act, religious freedom and women's access to contraception. Here's the scoop and some proposals in Congress related to women's access to contraception and religious freedom.

    We won't hear a decision from the Supreme Court until at least June, but stay tuned on POPVOX as the issue unfolds in Congress!

    The Scoop on the Supreme Court Case

    The Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare) requires that employers provide health care for their employees -- including all forms of contraception at no cost. Only certain religious organizations are exempted from this requirement. Hobby Lobby, a for-profit company, believes that they also should should be exempted because of the religious objections of the company's owners. Hobby Lobby doesn't have a problem with offering health insurance that offers birth control; they don't want to pay to cover emergency contraceptives (like Plan B or ella) or IUDs. (Source: SCOTUSblog.com)

    In hearing this case, the Supreme Court considered whether for-profit companies have a right to exercise religious freedom under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law that passed in 1993 and was signed by President Bill Clinton. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is aimed at preventing laws that substantially burden a person's free exercise of their religion. (If the question of whether a company is a “person” that can “exercise religion” rings familiar, you're right: the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision found that corporations have a right to free speech.)

    Hobby Lobby's lawyer, Paul Clement, in arguing that for-profit corporations may refuse to include contraception coverage in health plans under the Affordable Care Act based on religious objections, was bombarded with questions: What about employers who have religious objections to health plans that cover other basic medical procedures — blood transfusions, immunizations, medical products that include pork? And how does a for-profit corporation exercise religion? Whose religion, the shareholders' or owners? (Justice Sonia Sotomayor) Can an employer have a religious objection to complying with sex discrimination laws, minimum wage laws, family leave laws and child labor laws? (Justice Elena Kagan) Do employer rights trump those of workers? (Justice Anthony Kennedy) (Read the full transcript.)

    The Court also took into account the burden on the female employees at Hobby Lobby who won't receive the health insurance coverage they need -- and the religious burden on companies, given that they're not directly providing employees with contraception and aren't involved with an employee’s decision to use contraception. (Source: Pew Research) In arguing for the government, Solicitor General Don Verrilli said that the Supreme Court must specifically consider the effect that the exemption will have on Hobby Lobby’s female employees, who would not have access to contraceptive coverage. The Justices also pointed out that the government has exempted certain employers, including churches, religious non-profits and grandfathered companies, from the mandate for various reasons. (Source: Scotusblog)

    Related Bills in Congress

    Here are bills that Congress has introduced related to the religious freedom of employers and individuals. Weigh in on POPVOX, and we'll deliver your message to Congress -- guaranteed. (How POPVOX works.)

    • HR 973

      Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act

      To exempt employers from any excise tax and certain suits and penalties in the case of a failure of a group health plan to provide coverage to which an employer objects on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction.
    • HR 2993

      Taxpayer Conscience Protection Act

      To require States to report information on Medicaid payments to abortion providers. Would provide greater accountability of taxpayer funds that go to organizations that perform or promote abortions, according to bill sponsor.
    • HR 940

      Health Care Conscience Rights Act

      (And S 1204 in the Senate.) To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to protect rights of conscience with regard to requirements for coverage of specific items and services, to amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit certain abortion-related discrimination in governmental activities.
    • HR 3133

      Marriage and Religious Freedom Act

      (And S 1808 in the Senate) To prevent adverse treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage. Would prohibit discrimination through the federal tax code against individuals or institutions that exercise religious conscience regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman, according to the bill sponsor. 
    • S 143

      Health Care Provider and Hospital Conscience Protection Act

      To prohibit discrimination and retaliation against individuals and health care entities that refuse to recommend, refer for, provide coverage for, pay for, provide, perform, assist, or participate in abortions.
    • HR 2926

      Freedom to Pray Act

      To prohibit the revocation or withholding of Federal funds to programs whose participants carry out voluntary religious activities.

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  12. The Week Ahead: March 31 - April 4

    From our Hill Sources:  Congress returns this week to finish work on legislation dealing with Ukraine and Medicare doctor payments, and to begin work on legislation to extend emergency unemployment insurance. Another Obamacare bill is also up this week in the House.

    Aiding Ukraine — And Sanctioning Russia

    The Ukraine bill is nearly done, and is only awaiting action in the House:

    The House will also pass another Ukraine bill, which authorizes funds for pro-democracy television broadcasts to Ukraine:

    "Doc Fix"

    Without Congressional action, Medicare physician reimbursements will be cut by 24 percent starting Tuesday, April 1. Medicare doctors are under a nearly constant threat of having their reimbursement rate cut under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which was created in 1997. But Congress has routinely delayed these cuts with so-called "doc fix" legislation. Now the Senate has one day to vote on the bill, which was passed by the House:

    • HR 4302

      Protecting Access to Medicare Act

      Delays cuts to Medicare doctor reimbursements through March 2015.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources: The House passed this bill last week, in the face of Democratic complaints that the House should instead have passed a bill to permanently avoid these cuts. Despite those complaints, the Senate should be in a position to pass the bill Monday.

    Unemployment Insurance Benefits Extension

    The Senate will begin work on another bipartisan proposal to extend emergency unemployment benefits that expired late December — leaving two million people without benefits: 

    • S 2149

      Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      This bipartisan agreement would reauthorize emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for five months with retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries going back to Dec. 28. According to Senators Jack Reed and Dean Heller, the $10 billion proposal is fully paid for using a combination of offsets that includes extending “pension smoothing” provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21), which were set to phase out this year, and extending customs user fees through 2024. The bill would also prevent millionaires and billionaires from receiving the federal benefits.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources: Last week the Senate voted to end debate on this bill, which means senators should be able to finally pass it this week. While the Senate failed to pass two other UI extensions, this time, bipartisan support is stronger: the legislation has five Republican cosponsors who could help meet the 60-vote threshold for a filibuster. But Senate passage does not guarantee it will become law. House Republicans have only said they would consider an unemployment bill that also includes some form of reform to job training programs.

    The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare

    Another substantive bill in the House this week is one to repeal another piece of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare":

    • HR 2575

      Save American Workers Act

      Would change the healthcare law's definition of full-time worker — it currently says anyone working more than 30 hours a week is full time, but the bill would change that to anyone working more than 40 hours a week.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources: Republicans say the current law is creating an incentive for companies to cut employee hours in order to dodge the employer mandate for full time workers.

    Also in the House

    The House is out on Monday, but will work on several other bills throughout the week:

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  13. Issue Spotlight: The Equal Rights Amendment

    The debate over an Equal Rights Amendment began three years after women received the right to vote. We're spotlighting the issue today, because it's been recently re-introduced in this Congress. We hope you'll share your views on POPVOX -- and we'll deliver your message to Congress. (How POPVOX works.)

    The Equal Rights Amendment was First Proposed 90 Years Ago

    The Equal Rights Amendment -- proposing an amendment to the US Constitution that guarantees equal rights under the law for Americans regardless of their sex -- was first introduced in Congress in 1923. Almost 50 years later, Congresswoman Martha Griffiths (D-MI) filed a discharge petition on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1970 to send it directly to the House floor for a vote. (A discharge petition requires the signatures of a majority of House members to succeed. Learn more. And full disclosure: It's one of the POPVOX team's favorite legislative maneuvers and was even the star of Legally Blonde 2!)

    Congresswoman Griffiths was able to get the necessary 218 signatures on her discharge petition (see the signatures) in 1970, and the ERA was passed by the House that same day. In the Senate, however, opponents added an amendment to the ERA exempting women from the military draft, which Griffiths battled against. She introduced the ERA again in the next Congress, and it was passed by the House in 1971 and by the Senate in 1972. Congress also proposed state ratification by three-fourths of the states (38) within seven years, which was extended to 10 years. By 1982, the Amendment had the approval of 35 states -- three short to change the Constitution.

    The ERA Discussion Continues Today

    This week, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), along with 109 original co-sponsors, introduced a joint resolution to remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. "Only three more state legislatures need to join the 35 others that have already approved the ERA and I’m confident that will happen in the coming years but a deadline is simply not necessary -– it will be a setback to equality,” she explained.

    With nearly half of states today including some version of the ERA written into their state constitution, proponents of the Constitutional Amendment are supporting it to "provide the courts with clearer guidance" regarding discrimination on the basis of sex, according to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who proposed a bipartisan resolution in the Senate to remove the deadline.

    If either of these resolutions pass, then the ERA would become law if three additional states ratified it. (The states that haven't ratified it are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.)

    ERA Resolutions Pending Before Congress

    Weigh in on the Equal Rights Amendment -- and whether the deadline for ratification should be removed. POPVOX will deliver your message to your lawmakers.

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  14. The POPVOX Top 20: Mar 21 - 27, 2014

    This week's top bill on POPVOX was the Ukraine Support Act (HR 4278), which was passed by the House on Thursday. The legislation promotes Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic institutions while sanctioning those who have sought to undermine Ukraine’s independence and stability, according to bill sponsors.

    On passage of the bill, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Royce said: “We must target those guilty of aggression against Ukraine and stand by our allies and friends to ensure peace and security in Europe. Today’s critical legislation also seeks to end Russia’s ability to use its energy reserves to blackmail Ukraine and other countries by increasing U.S. energy exports. Passage of this bill by the House today demonstrates that our words do have meaning and sends a clear message of American resolve that will be heard in Kiev, in Moscow, and around the world.”

    Top 20 Bills of the Week

    Want to get this list via email? Sign up!

    Here are the bills and proposals that POPVOX users weighed in on with Congress in the past week. Keep in mind that these numbers aren't aggregates of total support, but just what happened in the past seven days.

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

    *POPVOX invites organizations to create "sponsored campaigns" on POPVOX, which include policy principles and actionable items directed at Congress.

  15. March Madness!

    It's March Madness on POPVOX! As a lobbyist, I loved visiting Congressional offices during NCAA Basketball Tournament season. Offices representing universities in the tournament would decorate to show their school pride. (Full disclosure: I did my fair share of trash-talking. Go Bruins!)

    We pulled together the top bills and what's currently trending for each Congressional District represented in the Sweet Sixteen. It's March Madness, POPVOX-syle! Weigh in -- and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress, guaranteed.

    The Sweet Sixteen — in Congress

    #11 Dayton vs. #10 Stanford

    Memphis, TN at 7:15pm, March 27



    #4 UCLA vs. #1 Florida

    Memphis, TN at 9:45pm, March 27



    #1 Arizona vs. #4 San Diego State

    Anaheim, CA at 10:17pm, March 27



    #6 Baylor vs. #2 Wisconsin

    Anaheim, CA at 7:47pm, March 27



    #1 Virginia vs. #4 Michigan State

    New York, NY at 9:57pm, March 28



    #3 Iowa State vs. #7 Connecticut 

    New York, NY at 7:27pm, March 28



    #8 Kentucky vs. #4 Louisville 

    Indianapolis, IN at 9:45pm, March 28



    #11 Tennessee vs. #2 Michigan

    Indianapolis, IN at 7:15pm, March 28

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  16. Issue Spotlight: NSA, Surveillance and the 4th Amendment

    Updated 3/25/14: Today, the House Intelligence Committee leadership introduced bipartisan legislation to end the NSA bulk telephone metadata program.

    • HR 4291 FISA Transparency Modernization Act: bipartisan legislation that ends bulk collection of metadata under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, including telephone, email, and internet metadata. Also codifies a ban on the bulk collection of bulk firearm sales records, library records, medical records, tax returns, educational records, and other sensitive personal records, according to bill sponsors. (Read bill text.)

    Meanwhile, President Obama, in a press conference in the Netherlands, said that he is considering options presented to him by the Intelligence Community about the telephone data program and is "looking forward to working with Congress to make sure that we go ahead and pass the enabling legislation quickly." (Read transcript.)

    Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment Legislation

    The Fourth Amendment states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    • S 1599 USA FREEDOM Act: seeks to restore Americans’ privacy rights by ending the government’s dragnet collection of phone records and requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability with respect to domestic surveillance authorities, according to the bill sponsor. (Also, HR 3361 in the House.)
    • S 1631 FISA Improvements Act: increases privacy protections and public transparency of the National Security Agency call-records program in several ways, while preserving the operational effectiveness and flexibility of this vital national security program, according to bill sponsor. -- Reported by Committee (Oct 31) --
    • S 1701 Freedoms and Privacy Act: to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to strengthen Fourth and Fifth Amendment Protections and freedoms of US citizens and ensure greater transparency and oversight of the ability of the Federal Government to collect information and conduct surveillance on the private lives of US citizens.
    • S 1621 Surveillance Transparency Act: to enhance transparency for certain surveillance programs authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • HR 3557 REAP Act: to provide increased protections for consumer or subscriber password information, and to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to provide that the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation may not access password information pursuant to an order under section 501 of that Act.
    • HR 3070 Surveillance State Repeal Act: To amend section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to reform access to certain business records for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations.
    • HR 3035 Surveillance Order Reporting Act: to permit periodic public reporting by electronic communications providers and remote computer service providers of certain estimates pertaining to requests or demands by Federal agencies under the provisions of certain surveillance laws where disclosure of such estimates is, or may be, otherwise prohibited by law.
    • HR 2818 Surveillance State Repeal Act: to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
    • HR 2736 Government Surveillance Transparency Act: "would allow companies to publicly disclose the volume and type of information they are ordered to turn over to federal intelligence agencies. Right now companies are barred from acknowledging when they are required to turn over information to the National Security Agency under some sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," according to the bill sponsor.
    • S 1452 Surveillance Transparency Act: to enhance transparency for certain surveillance programs authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • HR 2399 LIBERT-E Act: According to bill sponsors, it "restricts the federal government’s ability under the Patriot Act to collect information on Americans who are not connected to an ongoing investigation. The bill also requires that secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court opinions be made available to Congress and summaries of the opinions be made available to the public."
    • S 1215 FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act: to strengthen privacy protections, accountability, and oversight related to domestic surveillance conducted pursuant to the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • S 1182 A bill: to modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to require specific evidence for access to business records and other tangible things, and provide appropriate transition procedures.
    • HR 2603 Relevancy Act: To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow access to certain business records only if an investigation relates to a specific individual or specific group of individuals.
    • S 1168 Restore Our Privacy Act: to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to limit overbroad surveillance requests and expand reporting requirements.
    • S 1121 Fourth Amendment Restoration Act: To stop the National Security Agency from spying on citizens of the US.

    Transparency and Oversight of National Security Programs

    • HR 3881 Expansion of National Security Agency Oversight Act: to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to provide for more transparency of the programs carried out under that Act.
    • HR 3882 National Security Agency Accountability Act: to require the Comptroller General to produce annual reports on programs under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • HR 3880 National Security Agency Data Collection Review Act: to provide for the expiration of certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 on December 31, 2014
    • HR 3756 NSA Transparency Act: To provide for the public disclosure of information regarding surveillance activities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • S 1551 Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act: to reform the authorities of the Federal Government to require the production of certain business records, conduct electronic surveillance, use pen registers and trap and trace devices, and use other forms of information gathering for foreign intelligence, counterterrorism, and criminal purposes.
    • S 987 Free Flow of Information Act: to maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media.
    • HR 3436 A bill to require the Director of the National Security Agency and the Inspector General of the National Security Agency to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
    • HRes 350 A resolution establishing a select committee to investigate and report on the surveillance operations of the National Security Agency.
    • HR 2849 Privacy Advocate General Act: To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish an Office of the Privacy Advocate General.

    Secret Courts Legislation and Secret Laws

    Snowden's release of top-secret information also shed light on secret courts known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA Court), which oversee surveillance warrant requests against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the US by federal law enforcement agencies.

    • HR 3228 FISA Court Reform Act: To establish the Office of the Constitutional Advocate to provide advocacy in cases before courts established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • HR 3195 FISA Court Act: To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to provide for the designation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges by the President, majority of the Supreme Court, Speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives, and majority leader and minority leader of the Senate, and to provide for the public disclosure of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decisions.
    • HR 3159 Ensuring Adversarial Process in the FISA Court Act: To provide for the appointment of a public interest advocate in matters involving a significant legal interpretation or construction of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • S 1467 FISA Court Reform Act: to establish the Office of the Special Advocate to provide advocacy in cases before courts established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • HR 3103 Intelligence Oversight and Accountability Act: To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to modify the reporting requirements for decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
    • HR 2586 FISA Court Accountability Act: to provide for the designation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • HR 2475 Ending Secret Law Act: To require the Attorney General to disclose each decision, order, or opinion of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that includes significant legal interpretation of section 501 or 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 unless such disclosure is not in the national security interest of the US.
    • S 1460 FISA Judge Selection Reform Act: to create two additional judge positions on the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and modify the procedures for the appointment of judges to that court.
    • HR 2761 Presidential Appointment of FISA Court Judges Act: To require Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges.
    • HR 2440 FISA Court in the Sunshine Act: To require the Attorney General to disclose each decision, order, or opinion of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that includes significant legal interpretation of section 501 or 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 unless such disclosure is not in the national security interest of the US.

    Previous Updates

    Updated 2/11/14: President Obama delivered a speech on Jan. 17, 2014, announcing the outcomes of a broad-ranging review of US intelligence programs. He also issued a new presidential policy directive that lays out new principles on intelligence collection and executive branch oversight of signals intelligence activities. The President urged Congress to establish a panel of advocates from outside the government to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the FISA Court. In addition, he said he would seek Congressional authorization for a new program to collect meta-data related to telephone calls in bulk -- without the government holding the data. (See the White House fact sheet or watch his speech.)

    Since Edward Snowden's leaking of top-secret of data this summer, Members of Congress have responded to the NSA's surveillance and intelligence gathering by introducing many bills. Weigh in and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress.

    Updated 12/21/13: The NSA Recommendations

    President Obama has a lot of reading to do over his Christmas holiday! His "Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies" issued 300 pages of recommendations "to protect our national security and advance our foreign policy while also respecting our longstanding commitment to privacy and civil liberties." (Read thereport.) Over the next several weeks, the President will work with his national security team to study the Review Group’s report and determine which recommendations to implement, according to the White House

    Meanwhile, a federal judge this week found that the National Security Agency's program that collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional -- appearing to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

    Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system.

  17. POPVOX Daily Digest - March 25, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    In the House:

    The House passed one bill:

    • HR 2824 The Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act The legislation would halt a pending rulemaking by the Obama Administration to re-write of a coal mining rules last updated under the Bush Administration.

       

      Republicans say that it would hurt energy production and job creation if it were allowed to take effect. Democrats say the Republican legislation is really meant to keep the 2008 rule in place, which they say would lead to mountaintop removal mining and harm the environment.

      The House approved the legislation 229-192. The Obama Administration has threatened to veto the bill, so the bill is unlikely to move in the Senate.

    In the Senate:

    The Senate passed two bills, by unanimous consent, that the House approved on Monday:

    The Senate also indicated that it would consider the House Ukraine bill on Thursday:

    • HR 4152a bill to provide for the costs of loan guarantees for Ukraine.

      The bill is similar to the Senate bill that was under consideration — however, it does not include any language on reforming the International Monetary Fund. Republicans in the House opposed that language, and Democrats in the Senate agreed Tuesday to drop it for now.

      The House still has to pass the bill, which it may do on Thursday as well.

  18. POPVOX Daily Digest - March 24, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    In the Senate:

    The Senate held a procedural vote on Monday that will let the Senate continue working on Ukraine legislation.

    Senators voted 78-17 to end debate on a motion to proceed to the bill, which means the Senate can officially consider it, S. 2124. The bill would let the U.S. government back $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, spend $150 million on security and democracy building in Ukraine, and sanction Russians or others who undermine Ukraine's security.

    While the vote lets the Senate continue working on the bill, the bill faces an immediate hurdle in the House. Republicans oppose language in the Senate bill that would reform the International Monetary Fund. House GOP leaders are preparing a bill that aids Ukraine without reforming the IMF.

    In the House:

    The House passed two bills Monday in easy voice votes:

    Members also passed several bills naming post offices after deceased U.S. soldiers and other federal workers.

     

     

  19. PRESS CLIP: 10 women to watch in legal tech: Marci Harris

  20. PRESS CLIP: Cover Story: Women are squarely in the picture where law and technology combine