The POPVOX Blog

  1. Issue Spotlight: Veteran's Health Care

    With two weeks left before August recess, Congress is feeling the pressure about passing a veterans' health bill that would ease wait time for veterans.Pass a bill or don’t come back from recess,” William A. Thien, the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, warned Congress. In June, the Senate and House passed their own versions of veterans health legislation to improve access to care. Since then, they've been negotiating the differences in order to send one bill to the President for his signature into law.

    The biggest sticking point is the cost. According to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who heads the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, "the Senate voted 93-3 to pay for this bill entirely with emergency funding as a cost of war," referring to the bipartisan bill he introduced with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). "It is imperative that the VA be able to hire the doctors and nurses and other medical personnel that are needed so that we do not have the same problems at the VA in years to come that we have today.”

    The House version would fund outside care for veterans only “to the extent that appropriations are available,” leaving most of the responsibility for funding the program to Congressional appropriators in the long term. 

    Newly Introduced Veterans' Health Bills

    Meanwhile, here are a few other bills recently introduced in Congress related to veterans' health: 

    • HR 5059

      Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act (S 2182 in the Senate)

      —Bipartisan— Improves access to care for troops and veterans by extending combat eligibility from 5 to 15 years. Sets up a review process for potentially wrongful discharges. (An unknown numbers of troops who struggle with mental health issues have been discharged for behavior often caused by invisible injuries.) Increases the capacity to meet demands for mental health care professionals by repaying medical school loans for psychiatrists who commit to long-term service in the VA. Requires an annual review of care programs within DOD and the VA to ensure resources are effectively combatting the problem. Requires the VA and DOD to ensure mental health care providers have special training to identify veterans at-risk for suicide. (Source: Sen. John Walsh (D-MT).)
    • HR 4816

      Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act (S 1602 in the Senate)

      Ensures the descendants of veterans whose illnesses are related to exposure to toxins are covered by the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense. instructs the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund treatment for descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxins while in combat or during their tours of duty. Toxins such as Agent Orange have been shown to cause birth defects in the children of military personnel who came in to contact with them either during the Vietnam War, in the storage and transportation of them, or by riding in aircraft that had been previous used to transport the toxins, according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 4810

      Veterans Access to Care Act

      —Bipartisan— Emergency legislation aimed at helping veterans receive timely access to medical care. Would require VA to offer non-VA care at the department’s expense to any enrolled veteran who cannot get an appointment within VA wait time goals or who lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility. Any care provided by a non-Department facility not under an existing VA contract would be reimbursed at the rate set by the VA, Tricare, or Medicare—whichever is greatest. The access portions of the bill would sunset two years after enactment of the bill. (Source: House Veterans Affairs Committee.) -- Passed by the House on June 10th; goes to the Senate for consideration. --
    • HR 5097

      Local Care For Veterans Act

      To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to allow certain veterans to participate in the Patient-Centered Community Care program.
    • HR 5047

      Continuing Care for Veterans Act (S 2467 in the Senate)

      To prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from altering available health care and wait times for appointments for health care for certain veterans.
    • HR 5022

      Enhanced Dental Care for Veterans Act (S 1586 in the Senate)

      Would ensure that all veterans have access to enhanced dental care, authorize a pilot program to utilize community-based clinics for more extensive dental work, and provide dental health education to encourage prevention.
    • HR 5007

      Restoring Accountability in Veterans Access to Health Care Act

      To assess staffing shortages at medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    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: Undocumented Children at the Border

    Unaccompanied Children Crossing the US-Mexico Border

    Background: Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minor children are arriving at the US-Mexico border. Close to 50,000 children have already crossed the border this year — and sources expect the number to reach a record 90,000 by the end of the year.

    Parents in Central American countries are sending their children across the border to escape the large amount of violence, corruption, political instability and poverty rampant throughout their countries. There is also misinformation about the Obama Administration’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program — which was initiated in 2012 — and gives a small amount of undocumented children short-term work authorization and protection from deportation. DACA, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, “does not apply to a child who crosses the US border illegally today, tomorrow or yesterday.” To be eligible for DACA, a child must have been in the United States prior to June 15, 2007 – seven years ago. Secretary Johnson issued an open letter to parents stating that the “long journey is not only dangerous; there are no “permisos,” “permits,” or free passes at the end.” (Read his letter)

    unaccompanied children chart

    (Source: DHS) 

    Status: Congress held a hearing on June 25 entitled: "An Administration Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Alien Minors.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to House Speaker Boehner requesting that the working group looking into the issue be a bipartisan effort.

    President Obama also urged Congress to work on immigration reform. The Senate had passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last year, and the President said that “our country and our economy would be stronger today if House Republicans had allowed a simple yes-or-no vote on this bill or, for that matter, any bill.” (Read the President’s remarks

    Rather than calling this an immigration issue, President Obama has referred to this has a “humanitarian crisis” because of the violent conditions that are present in their countries. On Tuesday July 8, the White House requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to deal with the humanitarian crisis to be used to increase border personnel in hopes of deterring further immigration. 

    Recently Introduced Bills

    Recently, several new bills were introduced in the House to directly address the problem of undocumented children crossing the border: 

    Expedited Processing of Children

    • HR 5114

      HUMANE Act (S 2611 in the Senate.)

      — *Bipartisan*— To facilitate the expedited processing of minors entering the United States across the southern border.

      Would treat all unaccompanied migrant children crossing our border with equality under the law, and allowing for voluntary reunification with family, whether they are from Mexico, Central America, or any other country; and allow unaccompanied migrant children who have a claim to remain legally in the United States to make this claim in court before an immigration judge within 7 days of the completion of Health and Human Services screening under the TVPRA of 2008. It authorizes up to 40 new immigration judges for this purpose. Requires immigration judges to make a determination as to whether an unaccompanied migrant child is eligible to remain in the United States within 72 hours of making their claim. Children who succeed in their claim will be allowed to remain in the United States in the custody of a sponsor while they pursue their legal remedies. Children who do not successfully make such a claim will be reunited with family in their home country. (Source: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX))

    • HR 5053

      Expedited Family Reunification Act

      To amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to provide for the expedited removal of unaccompanied alien children who are not victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons and who do not have a fear of returning to their country of nationality or last habitual residence.

      "Under current law, Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) from nations not contiguous with the United States are required to face a deportation hearing before they are returned home to their parents. Thousands of Central American children recently apprehended by CBP agents now face immigration courts and the prospect of being forced to live for years in foster care—away from their families, loved ones, and home nations—before being returned home," according to the bill sponsor. "The Expedited Family Reunification Act would amend existing statute to harmonize the way unaccompanied children are processed and allow immigration officials to coordinate with Central American governments to ensure the safe return of UACs to their families in their home countries."

    • HR 5079

      Repatriating all unaccompanied children, regardless of their country-of-origin

      To amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to provide for the repatriation of unaccompanied alien children.

      Under current law, unaccompanied children from Mexico or Canada can be screened within 48 hours and quickly repatriated back across the border if they are not a trafficking victim or have aclaim for asylum. However, children from other countries that are not contiguous with the US must go through a more formal and time consuming legal proceeding. In fact, unaccompanied children from countries other than Mexico (so-called OTM policy) are currently waiting 578 days on average for a hearing. Rep. Calvert’s bill would close the loophole by screening and repatriating all unaccompanied children, regardless of their country-of-origin, in the same process that has worked for unaccompanied children from Mexico and Canada. Source: Congressman Calvert (R-CA)

    • HR 5143

      Protection of Children Act

      To amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to provide for the expedited removal of unaccompanied alien children who are not victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons and who do not have a fear of returning to their country of nationality or last habitual residence.

    • HR 5137

      Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act

      To modify the treatment of unaccompanied alien children who are in Federal custody by reason of their immigration status.

      All unaccompanied alien minors will be placed in expedited removal proceedings so they can be almost immediately returned home, unless they have a legitimate credible fear of persecution in their home country; provides that the Secretary of State shall negotiate agreements with other countries regarding the safe repatriation of minors, just as the Secretary does now for countries contiguous to the US; and implements tougher standards for “credible fear” claims.Unaccompanied alien minors will not have preferred access to asylum that is not available to others.Gives Border Patrol access to federal lands. Provides additional immigration judges and ICE prosecutors. (Source: House Judiciary Committee)

    • HR 5121

      Restore Unalienable Rights Act

      To prohibit the indefinite detention of United States citizens and lawful resident aliens.

    • S 2632

      Expedited Processing

      To provide for the expedited processing of unaccompanied alien children illegally entering the United States. Requires mandatory detention of all unaccompanied minors upon apprehension by border agents. Gives unaccompanied minors the option to voluntarily return to their country of origin. Places unaccompanied aliens children affiliated with gangs in an “expedited” removal proceeding. Raises the standards for “credible fear of persecution” to “substantiated fear of persecution” for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum under the law. Places unaccompanied minors without claims for asylum on the next available flight to their home countries within 72 hours of an initial screening, barring cost, feasibility, repatriation agreements with the minors’ countries and the health and safety of the minor, according to bill sponsors. (Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is introducing the companion bill in the House.)

    • S 2619

      Children Returning on an Expedited and Safe Timeline Act (CREST Act)

      Requires unaccompanied children (UAC) from non-contiguous countries be given the same treatment as those from Mexico and Canada with respect to the option of voluntarily returning to their own country. Requires expedited removal of all undocumented immigrants that are stopped at the border attempting to enter the United States illegally, allowing law enforcement to return them to their home countries within days as opposed months or years. Requires mandatory detention of UAC until their cases are fully adjudicated, according to bill sponsors.

    Border Security

    • HR 4962

      National Border and Homeland Security Act

      To provide enhanced border security. Directs the Dept. of Homeland Security to finish the construction of fencing, and to provide for the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors to gain operational control of the southwest border; creates 6,000 new full-time positions for border patrol agents; better equips our border patrol agents to protect our national security by providing the advanced equipment necessary to scan for nuclear materials, according to bill sponsor.
    • HR 4882

      Southwest Border Protection Act

      Would assist in refocusing our border security programs and secure DHS and CBP’s focus on illegal smuggling of drugs, individuals, and other transnational criminal activities," according to the sponsor. Calls for the deployment of at least 10,000 members of the US National Guard at the request of any Governor of a State that shares a portion of the international border between the US and Mexico.

    • HRes 675

      House Resolution

      Supporting the Constitutional authority of the Governors of the States of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to take action to secure the international border of the United States within their States.

    Reducing Foreign Aid

    • HR 5141

      Unaccompanied Alien Children Assistance Control Act

      Would direct the President to reduce foreign aid from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico by $15,000 per child who originated from that particular country. The money saved by this bill could then be redirected to assist states with the rising costs of these children, as well as aid in border security efforts, according to the bill sponsor.

    • HR 5014

      Illegal Entry Accountability Act

      Would hold El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico accountable for illegal immigration by immediately suspending US foreign aid to these nations until Congress determines if they have taken sufficient action to mitigate unlawful US-Mexico border crossings by their citizens, according to bill sponsors.

    Transparency in Where these Children are Placed

    • HR 5118

      Transparent Report of Alien Children’s Safety Act

      To facilitate the expedited processing of minors entering the United States across the southern border. Would "direct the Attorney General in consultation with the Secretary of DHS to report to Congress and the American people on how many unaccompanied children have entered our country, where they’re being sent, how many of them have been given immigration hearing dates, and how many of them are showing up for these hearings," according to the bill sponsor.
    • HR 5138

      Our Communities, Our Choice Act

      Would "require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to hold a public hearing no sooner than 90 days after selecting potential locations. HHS must also consider input from State and local officials before issuing any grants to house these children," according to bill sponsors.

    • HR 5129

      UAC State Notification Act (S 2628 in the Senate)

      Would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to give states advanced notice when unaccompanied minors are to be placed in a state.  

    Addressing DACA and the President

    The Obama Administration’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program — which was initiated in 2012 — and gives a small amount of undocumented children short-term work authorization and protection from deportation. DACA, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, “does not apply to a child who crosses the US border illegally today, tomorrow or yesterday.” To be eligible for DACA, a child must have been in the United States prior to June 15, 2007 – seven years ago. However, Members of Congress are calling on the President to amend DACA.

    • S 2631

      Preventing Expansion of DACA

      To prevent the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program unlawfully created by Executive memorandum on August 15, 2012.

    • SRes 486

      Senate Resolution

      — *Bipartisan*— A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that President Obama should take immediate action to mitigate the humanitarian crisis along the international border between the United States and Mexico involving unaccompanied migrant children and to prevent future crises.

    Related Immigration Bills

    There are also renewed calls for comprehensive immigration reform:

    • HR 3163

      CIR ASAP Act

      "Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and submit to Congress a National Strategy for Border Security consistent with the progress already made by the Department of Homeland Security and aligned with a vision of effective and accountable enforcement for the 21st century; Requires DHS to meet certain requirements to ensure humane treatment of detainees, ensures adequate medical treatment, requires access to telephones, and increases protections from sexual and other abuse; Creates an employment verification system for employers to verify the work authorization of new hires; creates a legalization program for qualified undocumented immigrants (and their spouses and children)," according to bill sponsors

    • S 744

      Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

      -- Bipartisan -- To provide for comprehensive immigration reform. "Provides for border security measures that will achieve and maintain effective control in high risk areas of the Southern border; provides a path to citizenship for the 11.5 undocumented immigrants in the United States; creates a “Track One” merit based visa which will initially allocate 120,000 visas annually based on a points system; mandates E-Verify, provides additional worker protections, reforms the immigration court system and provides additional measures related to interior enforcement," according to bill sponsors.  -- Passed by the Senate on June 27, 2013; the House version of this bill is HR 15. -- 

    • HR 1525

      Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act

      To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to comprehensively reform immigration law. "Provides a path to earned access to legalization for those who meet certain eligibility requirements; the opportunity for young person’s brought to the United States as children to earn access to legalization and later citizenship and to serve in the military and attend college, which will help make our nation better and stronger; Promotes family reunification by increases in the allotment of family based immigrations visas," according to bill sponsors.

    • HR 4620

      Accountability in Immigration Detention Act

      To ensure the humane treatment of persons detained pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    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. The Week Ahead: July 21 - 25

    From our Hill Sources: The House will be considering children at the border, human trafficking, air travel, education -- and a resolution on Iraq. The Senate will be working on confirmations, but also will hold hearings on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, campaign finance reform and the Violence Against Women Act.

    Undocumented Children at the Border

    As tens of thousands of children from Central America have crossed the border to the United States, the President and Congress are putting forward many proposals to address the issue. Part of the discussion includes a 2008 law, which gives undocumented children from countries other than Mexico or Canada (that don't share a border with the United States) different protections when they are picked up after crossing the border. Under current law, unaccompanied children from Mexico or Canada can be screened within 48 hours and quickly repatriated back across the border if they are not a trafficking victim or have a claim for asylum. However, children from other countries must go through a more formal and time consuming legal proceeding. In fact, unaccompanied children from countries other than Mexico (so-called OTM policy) are currently waiting 578 days on average for a hearing. (Learn more.)

    President Obama has requested from Congress $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with the crisis. Meanwhile, dozens of bills have been introduced addressing this crisis, including:

    • HR 5114

      HUMANE Act

      — *Bipartisan*— To facilitate the expedited processing of minors entering the United States across the southern border. (Introduced in the Senate as S 2611)

      Would treat all unaccompanied migrant children crossing our border with equality under the law, and allowing for voluntary reunification with family, whether they are from Mexico, Central America, or any other country; and allow unaccompanied migrant children who have a claim to remain legally in the United States to make this claim in court before an immigration judge within 7 days of the completion of Health and Human Services screening under the TVPRA of 2008. It authorizes up to 40 new immigration judges for this purpose. Requires immigration judges to make a determination as to whether an unaccompanied migrant child is eligible to remain in the United States within 72 hours of making their claim. Children who succeed in their claim will be allowed to remain in the United States in the custody of a sponsor while they pursue their legal remedies. Children who do not successfully make such a claim will be reunited with family in their home country. (Source: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX))

    • See more bills related to undocumented children.

    Human Trafficking

    As Congress considers undocumented children at the border, the House will also vote on bills related to human and child trafficking:

    • HR 5081

      Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- Launches a review by the Interagency Task-Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking that will look into federal and state trafficking prevention activities. Requires an inventory of existing federal anti-trafficking efforts by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to make sure all federal agencies and programs work together and that federal resources are being targeted where needed. Improves existing Department of Justice grants, allowing the grants to also support shelters for survivors. Currently, there are just 200 beds available in the United States for underage victims, according to the bill sponsor.
    • HR 5076

      Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- Would "improve support provided specifically to runaway and homeless youth who are victims of sex trafficking," according to the bill sponsor
    • HR 4980

      Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- Reflects agreements reached between the House and Senate negotiators, reconciling differences on three bills previously approved by the House (HR 1896, HR 3205, and HR 4058) and the Senate Finance Committee (S 1876, S 1877, and S 1878).  The legislation is fully paid for, and includes numerous provisions that will encourage states to reduce the incidence of sex trafficking among youth in foster care, empower and promote normalcy for foster youth, quickly move more children from foster care into adoptive homes or the homes of relatives, and increase the amount of child support provided to families in which one parent is outside of the US.
    • HR 5135

      Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To direct the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to identify strategies to prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking and review trafficking prevention efforts, to protect and assist in the recovery of victims of trafficking.
    • HR 5116

      Human Trafficking Detection Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- Would require Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents responsible for monitoring travelers across US borders and through airports receive training to identify potential victims of human trafficking and report these cases to local law enforcement officials, according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 4449

      Human Trafficking Prevention Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to expand the training for Federal Government personnel related to trafficking in persons.
    • HR 2283

      Human Trafficking Prioritization Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To prioritize the fight against human trafficking within the Department of State according to congressional intent in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 without increasing the size of the Federal Government.
    • HR 5111

      Child Trafficking

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking.

    Air Travel and Airports

    The House will vote on:

    Technology and Innovation

    The House will vote on:

    International Affairs

    The House will also consider bills related to the Middle East: 

    • HR 4411

      Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- "Takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the threat posed by Hezbollah by imposing severe new sanctions on Hezbollah’s fundraising channels and restricting its ability to use its funds to support global terrorist activities. Dealing a blow to Hezbollah’s finances will reduce its capacity to sow instability in the Middle East and cut off a major source of terrorist support," according to the bill sponsor.
    • HCRes 105

      Resolution on Iraq

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To direct the President to remove US troops from Iraq within 30 days, or no later than the end of this year, except for those troops needed to protect US diplomatic facilities and personnel, according to the sponsors.

    Education

    The House will vote on several bills related to education and school financing -- including tax credits:

    Campaign Finance Reform

    On Tuesday, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing on a campaign finance reform bill. According to the bill sponsor, the DISCLOSE Act "would crack down on so-called 'dark money' by requiring organizations that spend money to influence elections to disclose their spending as well as their major sources of funding in a timely manner" after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

    • S 2516

      DISCLOSE Act

      Would "require political groups to list publicly their big donors, so voters can at least know who is trying to sway their opinions," according to bill sponsors. Requires any covered organization that spends $10,000 or more during an election cycle to file a report with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours, detailing the amount and nature of each expenditure over $1,000 and the names of all of its donors who gave $10,000 or more. Transfer provisions in the bill prevent donors from using shell organizations to hide their activities.

    Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

    On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a meeting on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

    • CRPD

      Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

      "The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an agreement by countries around the world to make sure that people with disabilities and people without disabilities are treated equally," according to the UN. "It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced."

    Violence Against Women and Gun Control

    On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on VAWA Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Giffords delivered a petition to Chairman Leahy requesting the hearing. Here are some related bills:

    Also in the House...

    In addition, the House will vote on the following:

    • HR 2430

      Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- Would make Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium a part of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.
    • HR 3802

      John Adams

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To extend the legislative authority of the Adams Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work in honor of former President John Adams and his legacy.
    • HR 3716

      Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To ratify a water settlement agreement affecting the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
    • HR 4508

      Extending water services

      To amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services
    • HR 4562

      Nebraska Irrigation

      To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska.

    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: July 11 - 17, 2014

    The top bill of the week, the Women's Health Protection Act (S 1696) was introduced to prevent regulations such as those in place in Texas and Wisconsin to "curtail reproductive health services for women," according to bill sponsors. On Tuesday, July 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, "Removing Barriers to Constitutionally Protected Reproductive Rights," on the Women’s Health Protection Act. Currently, three in four POPVOX users oppose the bill.

    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.

    • S 1696

      #1 Women’s Health Protection Act

      Would protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion by stopping restrictive regulations and laws -– such as those in place in states including Texas and Wisconsin -– intended to curtail reproductive health services for women. Would prohibit laws that impose burdensome requirements on access to reproductive health services such as requiring doctors to perform tests and procedures that doctors have deemed unnecessary or preventing doctors from prescribing and dispensing medication as is medically appropriate, according to bill sponsors.

      104 Support | 399 Oppose

    • HR 1981

      #2 Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act

      To require certain standards and enforcement provisions to prevent child abuse and neglect in residential programs.

      411 Support | 86 Oppose

    • HR 5058

      #3 Wild Horse Oversight Act

      Would give states and Indian Tribes the option to take over the management of wild horses and burros. Would preserve all protections under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, and simply allow states to implement horse and burro management plans that address the specific needs of their own state, according to bill sponsors.

      75 Support | 379 Oppose

    • HR 5021

      #4 Highway and Transportation Funding Act

      To provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund. -- Passed by the House on July 15th -- 

      147 Support | 258 Oppose

    • S 2578

      #5 Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act

      To ensure that employers cannot interfere in their employees’ birth control and other health care decisions.

      63 Support | 335 Oppose

    • HR 5034

      #6 Stop the EPA Act

      To provide for certain special congressional review procedures for EPA rulemakings.

      311 Support | 51 Oppose

    • S 2533

      #7 Agency PAYGO for Greenhouse Gases Act

      "Would limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to impose the costs of greenhouse gas (GHG) rules on other federal agencies without first providing an offset. Would prohibit the EPA from circumventing Congress to implement the President’s Climate Action Plan, including the EPA’s June 2, 2014 proposed regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants," according to bill sponsors.

      263 Support | 64 Oppose

    • HR 3513

      #8 Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act

      To end the use of body-gripping traps in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

      274 Support | 12 Oppose

    • S 2054

      #9 Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act

      To require certain standards and enforcement provisions to prevent child abuse and neglect in residential programs.

      242 Support | 41 Oppose

    • S 2432

      #10 Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act

      Would provide for the refinancing of certain Federal student loans. Would establish a program to allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates (3.86% interest rate compared to 7%) currently offered to new borrowers. The legislation is fully funded by enacting the Buffett Rule, which would limit special tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay lower effective tax rates than middle class families, according to bill sponsor.

      79 Support | 175 Oppose

    • S 2363

      #11 Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- A comprehensive Senate sportsmen’s bill that enhances opportunities for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation; improves access to federal lands and helps to boost the outdoor recreation economy, according to bill sponsors. -- Failed cloture in the Senate on July 10th -- 

      46 Support | 186 Oppose

    • HR 4582

      #12 Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act

      To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for the refinancing of certain Federal student loans.

      46 Support | 154 Oppose

    • HR 5031

      #13 STEM Education Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To define STEM education to include computer science, and to support existing STEM education programs at the National Science Foundation. -- Passed by the House on July 14th -- 

      50 Support | 117 Oppose

    • S 2550

      #14 Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To secure the Federal voting rights of non-violent persons when released from incarceration.

      113 Support | 53 Oppose

    • HR 4850

      #15 Coal Jobs and Affordable Energy Protection Act

      To prevent the EPA’s proposed regulations from taking effect until the Department of Labor certifies that the regulations would not cost jobs; the Congressional Budget certifies that the regulations would not result in any loss in the gross domestic product; the Energy Information Administration certifies that the regulations would not increase electricity rates; the Federal American Electric Reliability Corporation certifies that electricity deliver would remain reliable.

      122 Support | 31 Oppose

    • S 2414

      #16 Coal Country Protection Act

      To amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the regulation of emissions of carbon dioxide from new or existing power plants under certain circumstances. The bill would prevent the EPA’s proposed emissions rule from going into effect until the Department of Labor certifies that the rule will not cause a loss in the US GDP, the Department of Energy certifies that the rule will not increase electricity rates, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certifies that electricity delivery will remain viable.

      118 Support | 32 Oppose

    • S 2244

      #17 Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To extend the termination date of the Terrorism Insurance Program established under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002. -- Passed by the Senate on July 17th -- 

      12 Support | 136 Oppose

    • HR 3471

      #18 Women’s Health Protection Act

      Would protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion by stopping restrictive regulations and laws -– such as those in place in states including Texas and Wisconsin -– intended to curtail reproductive health services for women. Would prohibit laws that impose burdensome requirements on access to reproductive health services such as requiring doctors to perform tests and procedures that doctors have deemed unnecessary or preventing doctors from prescribing and dispensing medication as is medically appropriate, according to bill sponsors.

      37 Support | 104 Oppose

    • HR 4719

      #19 America Gives More Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend and expand the charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory. -- Passed by the House on July 17th -- 

      121 Support | 12 Oppose

    • HR 4882

      #20 Southwest Border Protection Act

      To achieve operational control of the international border between the United States and Mexico through the deployment of members of the National Guard in support of the United States Customs and Border Protection.

      121 Support | 11 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: 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.

  6. The Week Ahead: July 14 - 18

    From our Hill Sources: It's a full week in Congress -- as they address a possible "car-mageddon", another appropriations bill and terrorism risk insurance. The House will also consider making permanent a moratorium on the ability of state and local governments to impose new taxes on Internet access.  

    Science and Technology

    The House will vote on:

    • HR 5031

      STEM Education Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To define STEM education to include computer science, and to support existing STEM education programs at the National Science Foundation.
    • HR 1786

      National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization

      Promotes research that helps save lives, reduce injuries and lessen damage from windstorms, according to bill sponsors. Includes research and development at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 
    • HR 5035

      NIST Reauthorization Act

      To reauthorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
    • HR 5056

      Research and Development Efficiency Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To improve the efficiency of Federal research and development. Would establish a working group under the authority of the National Science and Technology Council for reviewing Federal regulations affecting research and research universities and making recommendations on how to streamline and eliminate duplicative Federal regulations.
    • HR 5029

      International Science and Technology Cooperation Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To provide for the establishment of a body to identify and coordinate international science and technology cooperation that can strengthen the domestic science and technology enterprise and support United States foreign policy goals.

    Car-mageddon?!?

    The Federal Highway Trust Fund is the source of federal transportation funding for all the states. It pays for the building, rebuilding and repair of highways and bridges — and it will run out of money in late August 2014. According to the Dept. of Transportation (DOT), “the United States is heading toward a dramatic slowdown — perhaps even a complete halt — this summer.” “Car-mageddon indeed,” says the DOT. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Foxx sent a letter to state Dept. of Transportation CEOs telling them that without Congressional action, “the Department will be forced to limit payments to manage the reduced levels of cash available in the Trust Fund.” (Read Secretary Foxx’s letter.)

    This week, the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees approved separate measures to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through May 31, 2015. And the House will vote on their version of the bill this week:

    • HR 5021

      Highway and Transportation Funding Act

      Would provide nearly $11 billion for highway funding -– allowing projects to move forward through May 31, 2015. “By funding surface transportation programs through May 2015, this legislation provides certainty and stability for states, while also providing Congress time to continue working on a long-term funding solution and a surface transportation reauthorization bill. A shorter extension would guarantee a manufactured crisis in December when some might be inclined to play politics with these issues or use them as vehicles for unrelated policies that should be subject to the full and open debate they deserve. This bill in no way precludes Congress from continuing to work on addressing a long-term funding solution, and a long-term reauthorization bill remains a top priority for the Transportation Committee,” according to the House Transportation Committee

      From our Hill Sources: The Senate version of the bill, the Preserving America’s Transit and Highways (PATH) Act would provided nearly the same amount of funding.

    Appropriations

    This week, the House will consider another 2015 appropriations bill. In the appropriations process, Congress decides the amount of money that will be spent on federal programs during the next fiscal year. (Check out POPVOX’s glossary on wonky Washingtonian words.)

    • HR 5016

      Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015

      “Provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other agencies. The bill totals $21.3 billion in funding for these agencies, which is $566 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the President’s request for these programs. The legislation prioritizes programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system, and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor-performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service – for reductions,” according to the House Appropriations Committee

    Federal Workers

    The House will consider several bills related to federal employees:

    Terrorism Risk Insurance Program

    The House and Senate will also begin considering reforms to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIA). In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, insurance companies stopped offering terrorism coverage as part of their commercial property policies. In response, Congress stepped in and created the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program to provide a narrow and targeted government backstop for this critical insurance coverage, according to the Senate Banking Commitee. The program has since been reauthorized by Congress twice and the existing TRIA program expires on Dec. 31, 2014.

    Women's Health

    The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on "removing barriers to constitutionally protected reproductive rights." Specifically, they will consider:

    • S 1696

      Women’s Health Protection Act

      Would protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion by stopping restrictive regulations and laws -– such as those in place in states including Texas and Wisconsin -– intended to curtail reproductive health services for women. Would prohibit laws that impose burdensome requirements on access to reproductive health services such as requiring doctors to perform tests and procedures that doctors have deemed unnecessary or preventing doctors from prescribing and dispensing medication as is medically appropriate, according to bill sponsors.

      From our Hill Sources: The bill has also been introduced in the House as HR 3471.

    Also in the House...

    The House will also vote on these bills:

    • HR 4195

      Federal Register Modernization Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- Would remove requirements to physically print the Federal Register and provide multiple copies of agency submissions to the Federal Register.
    • HR 1192

      Renaming Mammoth Peak

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To redesignate Mammoth Peak in Yosemite National Park as “Mount Jessie Benton Fre’mont”
    • HR 3086

      Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- "Keeps Internet access affordable, drives innovation, and promotes access to the Internet as a critical gateway to jobs, education, healthcare, and entrepreneurial opportunities." The bill specifically makes permanent the provisions of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, according to bill sponsors.

      From our Hill Sources: The Internet Tax Freedom Act placed a moratorium on the ability of state and local governments to impose new taxes on Internet access or to impose multiple or discriminatory taxes on e-commerce, since it was first enacted in 1998. The Senate version of the bill, S 1431, was introduced on Aug. 1, 2013 -- but hasn't yet received a vote.

    • HR 4719

      Fighting Hunger Incentive Act

      "Incentivizes restaurants, grocery stores, farmers and other businesses to contribute their excess inventory to local food banks and pantries by permanently extending the food inventory donation tax provision that expired at the end of last year," according to bill sponsors.

    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. The POPVOX Top 20: July 4 - 10, 2014

    This week, the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act was again the most popular bill on POPVOX. The bill incorporates a dozen other bills, including the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act (S 738), the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (S 1505), the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (S 1212) and the Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act (S 847). There are two versions of the bill: S 1996 was placed on the legislative calendar in February and hasn't been addressed since. S 2363, however, was considered on Thursday and failed to receive the necessary 60 votes on cloture to move toward a full floor debate and vote.

    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.

    • S 1996

      #1 Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- A comprehensive Senate sportsmen’s bill that enhances opportunities for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation; improves access to federal lands and helps to boost the outdoor recreation economy, according to bill sponsors. (Learn more about the bill.)

      21 Support | 1,195 Oppose

    • S 2363

      #2 Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting. -- Failed Cloture on July 10th -- 

      143 Support | 547 Oppose

    • HR 4289

      #3 Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require the Under Secretary for Management of the Department of Homeland Security to take administrative action to achieve and maintain interoperable communications capabilities among the components of the Department of Homeland Security. -- Passed the House on July 8th -- 

      27 Support | 255 Oppose

    • S 1102

      #4 Export-Import Bank Termination Act

      Abolishes the Export-Import Bank of the United States three years after enactment of this Act.

      256 Support | 22 Oppose

    • HR 4718

      #5 To make the permanent bonus depreciation

      Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the additional 50% depreciation allowance (bonus depreciation) for qualified property placed in service after December 31, 2013. Modifies the definition of "qualified property" to include qualified retail improvement property. Increases by $8,000 (with an annual inflation adjustment after 2014) the maximum allowable depreciation deduction for a passenger automobile (i.e., any 4-wheeled vehicle which is manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways and is rated at 6,000 pounds unloaded gross vehicle weight or less).

      83 Support | 167 Oppose

    • HR 4601

      #6 Deficit Reduction for Infrastructure, Value, and Efficiency Now Act

      To provide additional funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

      36 Support | 187 Oppose

    • HR 3486

      #7 Transportation Empowerment Act

      To empower States with authority for most taxing and spending for highway programs and mass transit programs.

      195 Support | 25 Oppose

    • HR 4653

      #8 US Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To reauthorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.  -- Passed the House on July 8th -- 

      23 Support | 162 Oppose

    • S 2517

      #9 Holding IRS Leadership Accountable Act

      A bill to prohibit bonuses to senior-level IRS executives until all Congressional requests for documents, including electronic communications, related to the investigation of IRS targeting of taxpayers are complete.

      162 Support | 8 Oppose

    • HR 4985

      #10 Stop Corporate Expatriation and Invest in America’s Infrastructure Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the rules relating to inverted corporations and to transfer the resulting revenues to the Highway Trust Fund.

      39 Support | 129 Oppose

    • HR 4882

      #11 Southwest Border Protection Act

      To achieve operational control of the international border between the United States and Mexico through the deployment of members of the National Guard in support of the United States Customs and Border Protection.

      141 Support | 7 Oppose

    • HR 4848

      #12 Repeal and Rebuild Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the gas tax and rebuild our roads and bridges.

      20 Support | 120 Oppose

    • S 1335

      #13 Sportsmen's Act

      A bill to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.

      10 Support | 123 Oppose

    • SRes 487

      #14 IRS Investigation Counsel Act

      A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. should appoint a special counsel or prosecutor to investigate the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the Internal Revenue Service.

      145 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HRes 649

      #15 Transmit Email Copies of IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner

      Directing the Secretary of Defense to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Department of Defense or the National Security Agency that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.

      118 Support | 8 Oppose

    • S 1505

      #16 Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- A bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to clarify the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency with respect to certain sporting good articles, and to exempt those articles from definition under that Act.

      104 Support | 19 Oppose

    • HR 4816

      #17 Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act

      To establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for the diagnosis, treatment, and research of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces, to provide certain services to those descendants, to establish an advisory board on exposure to toxic substances.

      99 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 4812

      #18 Honor Flight Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To amend title 49, United States Code, to require the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration to establish a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling to visit war memorials built and dedicated to honor their service.

      78 Support | 21 Oppose

    • HR 4923

      #19 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015

      Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015  -- Passed the House on July 8th -- 

      12 Support | 85 Oppose

    • HRes 588

      #20 Exit visas from Congo for adopted children

      Concerning the suspension of exit permit issuance by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents.  -- Passed the House on July 8th -- 

      20 Support | 73 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.

  8. Issue Spotlight: The Clean Power Plan

    On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency released the Clean Power Plan,  which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The Clean Power Plan will be implemented through a state-federal partnership under which states identify a path forward using either current or new electricity production and pollution control policies to meet the goals of the proposed program.  

    With POPVOX, you can now tell the EPA what you think about the Clean Power Plan -- and we'll deliver your message to the EPA as a "public comment."

    According to the EPA's release, by 2030, the plan will:

    1. - Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide;
    2. - Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent;
    3. - Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits; and
    4. - Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand.

    The Clean Power Plan will be implemented through a state-federal partnership under which states identify a path forward using either current or new electricity production and pollution control policies to meet the goals of the proposed program.

     

    On June 23, the Supreme Court maintained the EPA's power to regulate green house gas emissions with only minor restrictions. This ruling is in addition to another decision earlier this term that allowed the EPA regulate air pollution that drift across state borders. The EPA is now able to regulate 83% of sources related to greenhouse gas emissions. 

    Related Bills

    Both the Senate and the House introduced bills related to the Clean Power Plan, many preventing the plan from being implemented until certain conditions are met. Tell your Members of Congress what you think about related pending energy legislation listed below.

    • S 2533

      Agency PAYGO for Greenhouse Gases Act

      "Would limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to impose the costs of greenhouse gas (GHG) rules on other federal agencies without first providing an offset. Would prohibit the EPA from circumventing Congress to implement the President’s Climate Action Plan, including the EPA’s June 2, 2014 proposed regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants," according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 4850

      Coal Jobs and Affordable Energy Protection Act

      To prevent the EPA’s proposed regulations from taking effect until the Department of Labor certifies that the regulations would not cost jobs; the Congressional Budget certifies that the regulations would not result in any loss in the gross domestic product; the Energy Information Administration certifies that the regulations would not increase electricity rates; the Federal American Electric Reliability Corporation certifies that electricity deliver would remain reliable.
    • S 2414

      Coal Country Protection Act

      To amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the regulation of emissions of carbon dioxide from new or existing power plants under certain circumstances. The bill would prevent the EPA’s proposed emissions rule from going into effect until the Department of Labor certifies that the rule will not cause a loss in the US GDP, the Department of Energy certifies that the rule will not increase electricity rates, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certifies that electricity delivery will remain viable.
    • HR 5034

      Stop the EPA Act

      To amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for certain special congressional review procedures for EPA rulemakings.
    • HR 4799

      Clean Air Fairness Act

      To amend the Clean Air Act to give States adequate time to revise their State implementation plans to prevent emissions activity within such States from contributing significantly to nonattainment in, or interfering with maintenance by, any other State with respect to any national ambient air quality standard.
    • HR 4808

      Protecting Jobs, Families, and the Economy From EPA Overreach Act

      --*Bipartisan*-- Requires that specific criteria be met before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can impose any new regulations on the nation’s power plants, including the controversial new rule recently announced by the Obama Administration, according to the bill sponsors.
    • HR 4754

      Managed Carbon Price Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring a Federal emission permit for the sale or use of covered substances. Would reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions and to help American industry transition to clean sources of energy, according to bill sponsors.
    • S 2526

      Commonsense Legislative Exceptional Events Reform (CLEER) Act

      "Would streamline Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations intended to ensure that states and localities are not considered in violation of federal air-quality standards due to uncontrollable, naturally occurring events – otherwise known as “exceptional events” – such as the dust storms and wildfires that occur in Arizona," according to bill sponsors.
    • S 2514

      Ozone Regulatory Delay and Extension of Assessment Length (ORDEAL) Act

      "Would give the EPA more time to review and revise air quality standards, ensuring a more certain regulatory environment for state air-quality agencies and businesses, according to bill sponsors.

    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.

  9. The Week Ahead: July 7 - 11

    From our Hill Sources: The House and Senate are back from the July 4th recess, with a variety of issues to consider: international relations, homeland security, hunting and the outdoor recreational economy, and more. 

    International Issues

    The House will vote on:

    • HR 4653

      US Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To reauthorize the United States Commissions on International Religious Freedom.
    • HRes 588

      Addressing exit permits from the Congolese government for adopted children

      -- *Bipartisan* -- A resolution concerning the suspension of exit permit issuance by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents.

      From our Hill Sources: Since Sept. 2013, adoptions from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were suspended when the DRC stopped issuing exit permits to adopted children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents.Then, the Embassy of the DRC in Washington informed the State Department on April 24 that visa applications to the DRC from US adoptive families may be refused “in some cases.” Congolese officials said they may refuse visas based on reports of children adopted by US families being taken without proper documentation out of the DRC. (Learn more.)

    • HR 3488

      Preclearance Authorization Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To establish the conditions under which the Secretary of Homeland Security may establish preclearance facilities, conduct preclearance operations, and provide customs services outside the United States.

      From our Hill Sources: The bill would block the opening of a US Customs & Border Patrol pre-clearance facility in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    Homeland Security

    • HR 4007

      Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- "Authorizes the CFATS program, which issues and enforces security standards for high-risk chemical facilities, for two years while requiring certain vital chemical security goals be met within this time period. Specifically, the bill improves the certification process by allowing automatic re-approval of Alternative Site Security Plans and permitting third-party audits and inspections with the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The bill also seeks to eliminate the problem off-the-grid facilities by requiring DHS to coordinate with state and local entities in addition to industry associations, and requires DHS to implement a workable risk assessment and tiering methodology," according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 4263

      Social Media Working Group Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- "Expands both the membership and influence of the Department of Homeland Security’s Virtual Social Media Working Group. The new group will include representatives from the private sector and will be required to file a yearly report with Congress," according to the bill sponsors.
    • HR 4289

      Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To require the Under Secretary for Management of the Department of Homeland Security to take administrative action to achieve and maintain interoperable communications capabilities among the components of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Appropriations

    This week, the House will consider another 2015 appropriations bill. In the appropriations process, Congress decides the amount of money that will be spent on federal programs during the next fiscal year. (Check out POPVOX’s glossary on wonky Washingtonian words.)

    Hunting

    The Senate will vote on a bipartisan bill that enhances opportunities for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation; improves access to federal lands and helps to boost the outdoor recreation economy, according to bill sponsors:

    Also in the House...

    The House will also vote on these bills:

    • HR 1528

      Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- Would "clarify that registered veterinarians may transport and dispense controlled substances in the usual course of veterinary practice at sites other than their registered principal place of business, including into any state in which they are licensed. This is particularly important for veterinarians, who work with large animals or in rural areas, and need to be able to transport and dispense controlled substances on farms and elsewhere away from their offices," according to the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
    • HR 4812

      Honor Flight Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To establish a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling to visit war memorials built and dedicated to honor their service.
    • HR 803

      Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

      To reform and strengthen the workforce investment system of the Nation to put Americans back to work and make the United States more competitive in the 21st century. "WIOA is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will improve our nation’s workforce development system and help put Americans back to work. Now more than ever, effective education and workforce development opportunities are critical to a stronger middle class. WIOA creates a streamlined workforce development system by: eliminating 15 existing programs; applying a single set of outcome metrics to every federal workforce program under the Act; creating smaller, nimbler, and more strategic state and local workforce development boards," according to the House Education & Workforce Committee.
    • HR 4718

      Permanent Bonus Expensing Legislation

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify and make permanent bonus depreciation.

    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.

  10. The POPVOX Top 20: June 27 - July 3, 2014

    This week, the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act was the most popular bill on POPVOX. The bill incorporates a dozen other bills, including the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act (S 738), the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (S 1505), the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (S 1212) and the Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act (S 847).

    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.

    • S 1996

      #1 Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- A comprehensive Senate sportsmen’s bill that enhances opportunities for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation; improves access to federal lands and helps to boost the outdoor recreation economy, according to bill sponsors. (Learn more about the bill.)

      6 Support | 425 Oppose

    • SRes 487

      #2 Targeting of Conservative NonProfit Groups by the IRS

      A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Eric Holder should appoint a special counsel or prosecutor to investigate the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the Internal Revenue Service.

      275 Support | 27 Oppose

    • HRes 649

      #3 Transmit Email Copies of IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner

      Directing the Secretary of Defense to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Department of Defense or the National Security Agency that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.

      263 Support | 17 Oppose

    • S 2517

      #4 Holding IRS Leadership Accountable Act

      To prohibit bonuses to senior-level IRS executives until all Congressional requests for documents, including electronic communications, related to the investigation of IRS targeting of taxpayers are complete.

      242 Support | 19 Oppose

    • HR 5010

      #5 Smoke Act

      To provide greater clarity in the regulation of electronic nicotine delivery systems, including electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes, and hookahs. "Prohibits marketing, promotion, and advertising of electronic nicotine delivery systems or e-liquids that would increase usage of the products by children. Includes electronic nicotine delivery systems and e-liquids as products that can be regulated, like traditional cigarettes, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Amends the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act so that electronic nicotine delivery systems and e-liquids can also be regulated like tobacco cigarettes. Requires the FDA to establish dosage limits for electronic nicotine delivery systems and e-liquids no later than one year after enactment of the SMOKE Act. Requires the FDA to establish maximum levels of nicotine concentration and labeling requirements to clearly state the concentration of nicotine for e-liquids no later than one year after enactment of the SMOKE Act," according to the bill sponsor.

      18 Support | 235 Oppose

    • HRes 644

      #6 Condemning and Disapproving the Release of Taliban Leaders

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- Condemning and disapproving of the Obama administration’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and expressing national security concerns over the release of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists.

      233 Support | 18 Oppose

    • HRes 635

      #7 "Dog Ate My Taxes" Act

      Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must allow taxpayers the same lame excuses for missing documentation that the IRS itself is currently proffering.

      209 Support | 23 Oppose

    • HR 5008

      #8 Prohibit Funds to UN Democracy Fund

      Prohibits funds made available to any federal department or agency from being used to make U.S. voluntary contributions to the United Nations (U.N.) Democracy Fund.

      196 Support | 19 Oppose

    • HR 5014

      #9 Illegal Entry Accountability Act

      Directs the Secretary of State to suspend all US foreign assistance to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, except for assistance under the international narcotic control law enforcement program. Allows reinstatement of assistance only if Congress determines that Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have taken sufficient action to mitigate unlawful US-Mexico border crossings by their respective citizens.

      181 Support | 12 Oppose

    • HR 4958

      #10 Identify and Recover Sent E-mails (IRS) Act

      To provide monetary awards to any individual who provides information pertaining to the electronic communications sent by Lois Lerner during her employment at the Internal Revenue Service.

      142 Support | 20 Oppose

    • HRes 645

      #11 Transmit Email Copies of IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner

      Requesting that the President of the United States transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Executive Office of the President that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.

      150 Support | 12 Oppose

    • HR 4882

      #12 Southwest Border Protection Act

      To achieve operational control of the international border between the United States and Mexico through the deployment of members of the National Guard in support of the US Customs and Border Protection.

      149 Support | 12 Oppose

    • HRes 648

      #13 Transmit Email Copies of IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner

      Directing the Chairman of the Federal Election Commission to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Commission that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.

      148 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HRes 646

      #14 Transmit Email Copies of IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner

      Directing the Attorney General to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Department of Justice that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.

      145 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 4990

      #15 Justice for Children Act

      The Attorney General may appoint 70 additional immigration judges in addition to immigration judges currently serving as of the date of enactment of this Act.

      9 Support | 136 Oppose

    • HRes 647

      #16 Transmit Email Copies of IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner

      Directing the Secretary of the Treasury to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Department that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.

      133 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 4899

      #17 Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act

      To lower gasoline prices for the American family by increasing domestic onshore and offshore energy exploration and production, to streamline and improve onshore and offshore energy permitting and administration.

      113 Support | 21 Oppose

    • HR 4965

      #18 Pre-K for USA Act

      To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to award grants to improve childhood care and education for local governments and local educational agencies.

      9 Support | 92 Oppose

    • HR 6

      #19 Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To provide for expedited approval of exportation of natural gas to World Trade Organization countries.

      45 Support | 22 Oppose

    • S 2502

      #20 Global Development Lab Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To establish in the United States Agency for International Development an entity to be known as the United States Global Development Lab.

      4 Support | 61 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.

  11. Your Comments to Congress via POPVOX — Now part of our Nation’s Historical Record


    A 4th of July Message

    Dear POPVOX Friends,

    On behalf of our entire POPVOX Team, I want to wish you a very happy Independence Day, and share some exciting news. The Library of Congress is now archiving POPVOX content -- including your comments to Congress* -- for the official national historical record.

    We have been notified by the Library of Congress that POPVOX has been selected for inclusion in the official digital archives of the United States. (The full notice is posted below.) The Library of Congress preserves “the Nation’s cultural artifacts” and “materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people.” This mission extends to digital materials, and the Library has identified POPVOX as an important part of a collection of materials related to public policy topics and the historical record of the United States.

    The POPVOX team is extremely honored by this announcement. We set out nearly five years ago to create a site that would bring the “Voice of the People” to lawmakers in Washington and to aid legislators in making more informed decisions. Since then, approximately 400,000 POPVOX users like you — all verified constituents — have registered millions of comments on pending bills in Congress. From SOPA to the Second Amendment, Sequesters to Shutdowns, and tens of thousands of other bills working through the legislative process, POPVOX users have shared their voice and we’ve delivered each comment to Congress and aggregated them on POPVOX.com, sortable by state or Congressional district.

    We thank you for sharing your voice on POPVOX and look very forward to working with you in the future to bring new opportunities for participation, better information for legislators, and more tools for our 21st Century democracy.

    We wish you and your family a very HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!

    Marci, Rachna and the entire POPVOX Team

    * Please note that only information publicly available on POPVOX will be included in the the Library of Congress archive. Non-public information will not be accessed by the Library's scrapers.


    Notice to POPVOX from the Library of Congress Web Archiving Team:

    The United States Library of Congress has selected your website for inclusion in the Library's historic collection of Internet materials related to public policy topics. We consider your website to be an important part of this collection and the historical record.

    The Library of Congress preserves the Nation's cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them. The Library's traditional functions, acquiring, cataloging, preserving and serving collection materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people to foster education and scholarship, extend to digital materials, including websites.

    The following URL has been selected: http://www.popvox.com

    In order to properly archive this URL, and potentially other URLs of interest on your site, we may archive both this URL and other portions of your site, including public content that your page links to on third party sites such as Facebook, YouTube, etc. The Library of Congress or its agent will engage in the collection of content from your website at regular intervals and may include it in future collections. The Library will make this collection available to researchers at Library facilities and by special arrangement.

    The Library may also make the collection available more broadly by hosting the collection on the Library's public access website no earlier than one year after our archiving has been completed. The Library hopes that you share its vision of preserving web materials focusing on public policy topics and permitting researchers from across the world to access them.

    Our web archives are important because they contribute to the historical record, capturing information that could otherwise be lost. With the growing role of the web as an influential medium, records of historic events could be considered incomplete without materials that were "born digital" and never printed on paper. For more information about these web archive collections, please visit our website (http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/).


    FAQ about the LOC Web Archive:

    (Excerpts from http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/)

    What is the Library of Congress Web Archive?

    The Library of Congress Web Archive is a collection of archived websites grouped by theme, event, or subject area. Web archiving is the process of creating an archival copy of a website. An archived site is a snapshot of how the original site looked at a particular point in time. The Library’s goal is to document changes in a website over time. This means that most sites are archived more than once. The archive contains as much as possible from the original site, including text, images, audio, videos, and PDFs.

    How much of a website is collected in the archive?

    The Library’s goal is to create an archival copy—essentially a snapshot—of how the site appeared at a particular point in time. Depending on the collection, the Library archives as much of the site as possible, including html pages, images, flash, PDFs, audio, and video files, to provide context for future researchers. The Heritrix crawler is currently unable to archive streaming media, "deep web" or database content requiring user input, and content requiring payment or a subscription for access. In addition, there will always be some websites that take advantage of emerging or unusual technologies that the crawler cannot anticipate.

    How often and for how long will you collect my site?

    Typically the Library crawls a website once a week or once monthly, depending on how frequently the content changes. Some sites are crawled more infrequently—just once or twice a year.

    The Library may crawl your site for a specific period of time or on an ongoing basis. This varies depending on the scope of a particular project. Some archiving activities are related to a time-sensitive event, such as before and immediately after a national election, or immediately following an event. Other archiving activities may be ongoing with no specified end date.

    What will people see when they access the archived site?

    Your archived site will appear much like it was on the day it was archived. The Library tries to capture the content as well as the look and feel. In our interface on www.loc.gov/lcwa, there will be a banner at the top of the page that alerts researchers that they are viewing an archived version. The date that the site was archived also appears in this banner. In our newpresentation, the archived site will appear within a viewer that provides similar information. Researchers will be able to navigate the archived site much like the live web. Some items do not work in the archive, such as mailto links, forms, fields requiring input (e.g. search boxes), some multimedia, and some social networking sites.

    When will my archived site be available to researchers?

    Web archive collections are made available as permissions, Library policies, and resources permit. The Library will generally apply a one-year embargo from the last crawl before the collection is made available to researchers. This is due to production and cataloging work that occurs for each archived site. For collection release announcements please subscribe to our RSS feed by clicking on the subscribe button on this page, or by visiting http://www.loc.gov/rss.

     

  12. July 4th Update: "Car-mageddon", Ex-Im Bank, Children at the Border -- and Suing the President

    Happy July 4th!

    Congress may be out of session this week, but there are a plethora of issues on our radar this week including the fast approaching deadline for the Highway Trust Fund's funding renewal, the increasing number of undocumented children crossing the border, the Export-Import bank's charter expiring -- and House Speaker John Boehner's proposed lawsuit against the President. Learn more and weigh in on related pending legislation below.

    And, did we mention there's a heat wave in the Nation's Capital? It's 104 degrees today. Happy 4th of July!

    "Car-mageddon"?! Transportation Approps and Depleted Highway Funds

    What is it? The Federal Highway Trust Fund is the source of federal transportation funding for all the states. It pays for the building, rebuilding and repair of highways and bridges — and it will run out of money in late August 2014. According to the Dept. of Transportation (DOT), “the United States is heading toward a dramatic slowdown — perhaps even a complete halt — this summer.” “Car-mageddon indeed,” says the DOT. Learn more on the DOT's website

    Status: Last week, the Senate Finance Committee marked up the Preserving America’s Transit and Highways (PATH) Act, but hasn’t voted on the bill. (See bill summary.) Dept. of Transportation Secretary Foxx sent a letter to state Dept. of Transportation CEOs telling them that without Congressional action, “the Department will be forced to limit payments to manage the reduced levels of cash available in the Trust Fund.” (Read Secretary Foxx’s letter.)

    From Our Hill Sources: Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) agreed to delay a vote on the proposed $9 billion plan in order to have more time to address Republican concerns: Republican Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) says any increases in spending must be offset by corresponding cuts; Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) wants to eliminate federal transportation funding; while others want to increase gas and diesel taxes.

    Related Bills

    • HR 4985

      Stop Corporate Expatriation and Invest in America's Infrastructure Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the rules relating to inverted corporations and to transfer the resulting revenues to the Highway Trust Fund. Would "put an end to corporate expatriations and devote the resulting revenue to the Highway Trust Fund. It will raise $19.5 billion in revenue over ten years and keep the Trust Fund solvent as Congress works on a long-term funding solution," according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 4601

      Deficit Reduction for Infrastructure, Value, and Efficiency Now Act

      To provide additional funding for the Highway Trust Fund. "Would make a one-time payment of $5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to pay for transportation projects for the remainder of FY 2014, which ends Sept. 30, 2014.  At the same time, the bill would reduce the deficit by taking common sense steps to eliminate a costly and duplicative catfish inspection program, consolidate federal data centers, and force federal agencies to close long-empty bank accounts," according to bill sponsors.
    • S 2489

      American Jobs for American Infrastructure Act

      A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to ensure that sufficient funding is made available for the Highway Trust Fund. "Will ensure the Highway Trust Fund is able to meet its obligations through 2018...proposes paying for these essential infrastructure investments by ending tax breaks for multinational corporations that ship jobs overseas," according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 3486

      Transportation Empowerment Act

      To empower States with authority for most taxing and spending for highway programs and mass transit programs. "Transfers almost all authority over federal highway and transit programs to the states over a five-year period. Lowers the federal gas tax to 3.7 cents from 18.4 cents over the same time period," according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 4848

      Repeal and Rebuild Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the gas tax and rebuild our roads and bridges. "Repeal the federal gas tax (18.4 cents per gallon); Increase the tax on a barrel of oil that is processed into gasoline to $6.75 and index it to construction cost inflation and fleet fuel economy; Index the diesel tax to construction cost inflation and fleet fuel economy; Bond the new revenue to backfill the Highway Trust Fund shortfall; Support a $324 billion six-year reauthorization," according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 4834

      Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency,and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America Act

      -- Bipartisan -- To authorize highway infrastructure and safety, transit, motor carrier, rail, and other surface transportation programs. Provides "$199.2 billion over fiscal year 2015 – fiscal year 2018 for highways, compared to $40.9 billion authorized in fiscal year 2014; an increase of 70 percent over current investment levels in transit, by providing more than $72 billion over four years and dramatically increasing investment in all modes of transit, including buses; more than $19 billion in freight and passenger rail investments, including $9.5 billion over four years for Amtrak; and $9.5 billion to states for investment in high-speed and intercity passenger rail and to eliminate congestion on shared-use track; and $5 billion over four years for the TIGER discretionary program," according to bill sponsors.
    • S 2322

      MAP-21 Reauthorization Act

      -- Bipartisan -- A bill to reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs. "Reauthorizes the Federal-aid highway program at the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline level – equal to current funding plus inflation – for six years, from FY 2015 through FY 2020," according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 711

      Highway Trust Fund Reform Act

      To amend titles 23 and 49, United States Code, to repeal wage requirements applicable to laborers and mechanics employed on Federal-aid highway and public transportation construction projects. Will exempt federal highway construction projects from Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements.

    The Expiring Charter for the Export-Import Bank

    What is it? The Export-Import Bank was established by executive order in 1934 and became an independent agency in 1945. The Ex-Im Bank offers direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees and export credit insurance, as well as special financing programs. In 2012, Congress reauthorized the Ex-Im Bank, increasing its exposure limit from $100 billion to $140 billion. This authorization expires on Sept. 30, 2014. (Learn more.)

    Supporters of the Ex-Im Bank say that not re-authorizing “would be detrimental to the thousands of small businesses that work with the Export-Import Bank and would put 205,000 export-dependent jobs in jeopardy.”

    Status: On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing entitled "Corporate Necessity or Corporate Welfare?" on the expiring authorization for the Export-Import Bank. And, in a surprise move at the hearing, both Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) and Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) announced that they would be introducing bills to reform and reauthorize the Bank.  

    From Our Hill Sources: Several members of Congress argue that the Ex-Im Bank should not be reauthorized, while business groups say that would significantly impact US companies. 41 Republican Representatives sent Speaker Boehner (R-OH) a letter in favor of reauthorization of the Bank. However, Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Whip-elect Steve Scalise (R-LA) have both expressed opposition to reauthorizing the bank. Meanwhile, other Members of Congress want to abolish the Ex-Im Bank entirely.

    Related Bills

    Unaccompanied Children Crossing the Border

    What Is Happening? Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minor children are arriving at the US-Mexico border. Close to 50,000 children have already crossed the border this year — and sources expect the number to reach a record 90,000 by the end of the year.

    Parents in Central American countries are sending their children across the border to escape the large amount of violence, corruption, political instability and poverty rampant throughout their countries. There is also misinformation about the Obama Administration’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program — which was initiated in 2012 — and gives a small amount of undocumented children short-term work authorization and protection from deportation. DACA, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, “does not apply to a child who crosses the US border illegally today, tomorrow or yesterday.” To be eligible for DACA, a child must have been in the United States prior to June 15, 2007 – seven years ago. Secretary Johnson issued an open letter to parents stating that the “long journey is not only dangerous; there are no “permisos,” “permits,” or free passes at the end.” (Read his letter)

    Rather than calling this an immigration issue, Obama has referred to this has a “humanitarian crisis” because of the violent conditions that are present in their countries. On Monday, June 30th, President Obama asked Congress for an emergency $2 billion to address the problem. 

    unaccompanied children chart

    (Source: DHS) 

    Update: Congress held a hearing on Wednesday entitled: "An Administration Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Alien Minors.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to House Speaker Boehner requesting that the working group looking into the issue be a bipartisan effort.

    President Obama also urged Congress to work on immigration reform. The Senate had passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last year, and the President said that “our country and our economy would be stronger today if House Republicans had allowed a simple yes-or-no vote on this bill or, for that matter, any bill.” (Read the President’s remarks

    Related Bills

    To address this increase of unaccompanied alien children detained by federal agents, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced a bill:

    • HR 4882

      Southwest Border Protection Act

      Would assist in refocusing our border security programs and secure DHS and CBP’s focus on illegal smuggling of drugs, individuals, and other transnational criminal activities," according to the sponsor. Calls for the deployment of at least 10,000 members of the US National Guard at the request of any Governor of a State that shares a portion of the international border between the US and Mexico.

    There are also renewed calls for comprehensive immigration reform:

    • HR 3163

      CIR ASAP Act

      "Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and submit to Congress a National Strategy for Border Security consistent with the progress already made by the Department of Homeland Security and aligned with a vision of effective and accountable enforcement for the 21st century; Requires DHS to meet certain requirements to ensure humane treatment of detainees, ensures adequate medical treatment, requires access to telephones, and increases protections from sexual and other abuse; Creates an employment verification system for employers to verify the work authorization of new hires; creates a legalization program for qualified undocumented immigrants (and their spouses and children)," according to bill sponsors

    • S 744

      Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

      -- Bipartisan -- To provide for comprehensive immigration reform. "Provides for border security measures that will achieve and maintain effective control in high risk areas of the Southern border; provides a path to citizenship for the 11.5 undocumented immigrants in the United States; creates a “Track One” merit based visa which will initially allocate 120,000 visas annually based on a points system; mandates E-Verify, provides additional worker protections, reforms the immigration court system and provides additional measures related to interior enforcement," according to bill sponsors.  -- Passed by the Senate on June 27, 2013; the House version of this bill is HR 15. -- 

    • HR 1525

      Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act

      To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to comprehensively reform immigration law. "Provides a path to earned access to legalization for those who meet certain eligibility requirements; the opportunity for young person’s brought to the United States as children to earn access to legalization and later citizenship and to serve in the military and attend college, which will help make our nation better and stronger; Promotes family reunification by increases in the allotment of family based immigrations visas," according to bill sponsors.

    • HR 4620

      Accountability in Immigration Detention Act

      To ensure the humane treatment of persons detained pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    The House of Representatives Suing The President?

    In a letter to House members last week, Speaker John Boehner said that he would bring legislation to a vote to sue the President: “For years Americans have watched with concern as President Barack Obama has declined to faithfully execute the laws of our country – ignoring some statutes completely, selectively enforcing others, and at times, creating laws of his own… This shifts the balance of power decisively and dangerously in favor of the presidency, giving the president king-like authority at the expense of the American people and their elected legislators.”

    “I intend to bring to the floor in July legislation that would authorize the House of Representatives – through the House General Counsel and at the direction of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) – to file suit in the coming weeks in an effort to compel the president to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.” (Read the full letter)

    The President responded yesterday:

    “So far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every serious idea to strengthen the middle class. And as long as they insist on taking no action whatsoever that will help anybody, I’m going to keep on taking actions on my own that can help the middle class -- like the actions I’ve already taken to speed up construction projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs, and lift workers’ wages, and help students pay off their loans.” 

    “And they criticize me for this.  Boehner sued me for this.  And I told him, I’d rather do things with you, pass some laws, make sure the Highway Trust Fund is funded so we don’t lay off hundreds of thousands of workers.  It’s not that hard.  Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff.  So sue me. As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something.” (Read the President’s remarks)

    Related Bills

    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. The Hill 101: Talking to Your Reps in the District

    It's almost July 4th and Members of Congress are in their states and districts. Over the next few days, they will attend events, give a few speeches, and talk with constituents before heading back to Washington on July 9 for what may be a flurry of activity leading into the August recess.

    While town hall meetings are scheduled in August, much of the important summer legislative action takes place in July. Especially in years with midterm elections, July is an important month for finishing up legislative business. Here's a few tips on getting your message to your reps when they are home in the district this July:

    Some advocacy tips for interacting with Members in the district:

    1. Your story is your power: One of the most important tools in a legislator's toolbox is a story from a real constituent. If you are concerned about a particular issue, gather real information about how that issue is affecting your family, school, business, or community.

    2. Get your story "out there": Use POPVOX to get your story on the record. Share your letter on Facebook and Twitter or via email so that your friends and neighbors can help you amplify the message in your district.

    3. Schedule a meeting: Most members welcome the opportunity to meet about the issues with constituents in their district offices. As with any professional meeting, you can call or write to the office requesting the meeting. Come prepared with background information and leave-behind materials so that staffers can follow up on the discussion.

    4. Write a letter to your local newspaper: most Members of Congress read their local newspapers everyday. That is especially true when they are home in the district. Writing a letter about something up for debate in Congress, with a local perspective, is a great way to inform your neighbors and get the attention of your Member and their staff.

    5. Call into local talk radio: Over the Congressional break, chances are good that your Members of Congress are listening! It's a great time to call in and join the discussion.

    6. Attend an event and respectfully make your point when it is time for constituent input. A brief, to-the-point, heartfelt comment or question is much more effective than yelling or personal attacks. It is also very effective to bring a one-page summary of the issue to share with the legislator's staff member at the event.

    7. Say thanks! If you do get to talk with the legislator or staffer, follow up with an email or handwritten note to thank them for their time. Even if you disagree, you can say thank you for the discussion. Having that point of personal contact will help you check in on the status of the issue as it moves through the process.

    Keep in mind:

    1. Your legislators are members of your community. Even if you belong to different parties, you both still share common concerns. 

    2. Even if you disagree, your legislator is there to represent you. Your opinion matters!

    3. Legislators are humans. They respond to politeness and thank yous, just like anyone else. If you have a point to make, you will always be more successful by being genuine and respectful -- and you should expect to be respected too!
    There is no better way to celebrate July 4th then by exercising your right to make your voice heard on the issues that affect you. We at POPVOX are glad to help!

     

     

     

     

  14. Issue Spotlight: The IRS Emails

    In May 2013, Lois Lerner, the Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division, revealed that the IRS had been targeting nonprofit groups applying for 501(c)(4) tax exemption status for extra scrutiny based on certain words in their organization name. The criteria for increased scrutiny at first seemed to heavily favor conservative groups with terms such as “Tea Party” and “9/12” being phrases on the list to trigger increased scrutiny. However, liberal leaning groups such as those connected to the Occupy movement were also targeted. The House Ways And Means Committee has made redacted versions of the IRS's Be On The Lookout lists available online

    From 2010 to May of 2013, the IRS allegedly targeted certain nonprofit groups applying for tax exemption status. In May of 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report confirming the IRS had used these inappropriate criteria. Lerner stated that the IRS was apologetic for its action. She claimed the increased scrutiny was not centrally planned although the Treasury Inspector General’s report showed that she had been informed of the activities in June of 2011. Shortly after, the Obama Administration released statements deploring the IRS’s actions and Attorney General Eric Holder ordered the Justice Department to begin an investigation. 

    A Congressional investigation into Lerner’s actions is still ongoing, made more complicated by a computer crash in 2011 that Lerner and her lawyer claim erased two years' worth of emails that could give insight into the IRS’s actions. The scandal has been reignited in recent weeks with a series of bills introduced in the House that are targeting the receiving end of Lerner’s emails. Lerner’s lawyer sparred with House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa this past Sunday, claiming accusations that she is hiding something are “silly.”

    Bills Related to the IRS Email Investigation

    As the investigation continues, share your thoughts on the pending legislation regarding the scandal with your Members of Congress on POPVOX: 

    • SRes 487

      Resolution

      Expressing the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. should appoint a special counsel or prosecutor to investigate the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the Internal Revenue Service.
    • HRes 649

      Resolution

      Directing the Secretary of Defense to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Department of Defense or the National Security Agency that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.
    • HRes 648

      Resolution

      Directing the Chairman of the Federal Election Commission to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Commission that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.
    • HRes 647

      Resolution

      Directing the Secretary of the Treasury to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Department that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.
    • HRes 646

      Resolution

      Directing the Attorney General to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Department of Justice that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.
    • HRes 645

      Resolution

      Requesting that the President of the United States transmit to the House of Representatives copies of any emails in the possession of the Executive Office of the President that were transmitted to or from the email account(s) of former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011.
    • HR 4958

      Identify and Recover Sent E-mails (IRS) Act

      To provide monetary awards to any individual who provides information pertaining to the electronic communications sent by Lois Lerner during her employment at the Internal Revenue Service
    • S 2517

      Holding IRS Leadership Accountable Act

      To prohibit bonuses to senior-level IRS executives until all Congressional requests for documents, including electronic communications, related to the investigation of IRS targeting of taxpayers are complete.
    • HR 3865

      Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act

      To prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from modifying the standard for determining whether an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare for purposes of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
    • HRes 635

      The "Dog Ate My Taxes" Act

      Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must allow taxpayers the same lame excuses for missing documentation that the IRS itself is currently proffering.

    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.

  15. The POPVOX Top 20: Jun 20 - 26, 2014

    The most popular bill on POPVOX was about gas prices. The "Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act" would require the Administration to move forward with new offshore energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources -– including the Atlantic Coast and Pacific Coast. It would also require the Administration to conduct oil and natural gas leases sales that it has delayed or cancelled, including the Virginia Lease sale originally scheduled for 2011, according to bill sponsors. Four in five POPVOX users support the bill, which passed the House on Thursday.

    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 4899

      #1 Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act

      To lower gasoline prices for the American family by increasing domestic onshore and offshore energy exploration and production, to streamline and improve onshore and offshore energy permitting and administration. -- Passed by the House on June 26th. -- 

      278 Support | 66 Oppose

    • HR 4882

      #2 Southwest Border Protection Act

      To achieve operational control of the international border between the United States and Mexico through the deployment of members of the National Guard in support of the United States Customs and Border Protection.

      278 Support | 20 Oppose

    • HR 4816

      #3 Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act

      To establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for the diagnosis, treatment, and research of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces, to provide certain services to those descendants, to establish an advisory board on exposure to toxic substances.

      261 Support | 18 Oppose

    • HR 6

      #4 Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To provide for expedited approval of exportation of natural gas to World Trade Organization countries. -- Passed by the House on June 25th. --

      155 Support | 64 Oppose

    • HR 1098

      #5 Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize certain programs relating to traumatic brain injury and to trauma research. -- Passed by the House on June 24th. --

      60 Support | 149 Oppose

    • S 2509

      #6 International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To ensure compliance with the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to establish procedures for the prompt return of children abducted to other countries.

      163 Support | 34 Oppose

    • HR 4810

      #7 Veteran Access to Care Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts for the provision of hospital care and medical services at non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for Department of Veterans Affairs patients with extended waiting times for appointments at Department facilities. -- Passed by the House on June 10th. --

      118 Support | 3 Oppose

    • HR 4631

      #8 Combating Autism Reauthorization Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To reauthorize certain provisions of the Public Health Service Act relating to autism. -- Passed by the House on June 24th. --

      62 Support | 47 Oppose

    • HR 412

      #9 Nashua River Wild and Scenic River Study Act

      To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the mainstem of the Nashua River and its tributaries in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for study for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. -- Passed by the House on June 23rd. --

      24 Support | 81 Oppose

    • HR 4870

      #10 Department of Defense Appropriations Act

      Appropriates funds for FY2015 for the Department of Defense (DOD) for: military personnel; operation and maintenance , including for the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, environmental restoration, overseas humanitarian, disaster, and civic aid, former Soviet Union cooperative threat reduction, and the DOD Acquisition Workforce Development Fund; procurement, including for aircraft, missile, weapons, tracked combat vehicles, ammunition, shipbuilding and conversion, and purchases under the Defense Production Act of 1950; research, development, test, and evaluation; and Defense Working Capital Funds; the Defense Health Program; drug interdiction and counter-drug activities; the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System Fund; the Intelligence Community Management Account; and overseas deployments and related activities, including military personnel, procurement, and National Guard and Reserve equipment. -- Passed by the House on June 20th. --

      86 Support | 18 Oppose

    • HR 3548

      #11 Improving Trauma Care Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To amend title XII of the Public Health Service Act to expand the definition of trauma to include thermal, electrical, chemical, radioactive, and other extrinsic agents. -- Passed by the House on June 24th. --

      77 Support | 26 Oppose

    • HR 4092

      #12 Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to establish the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy as the lead Federal agency for coordinating Federal, State, and local assistance provided to promote the energy retrofitting of schools. -- Passed by the House on June 23rd. --

      27 Support | 74 Oppose

    • HR 1281

      #13 Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- Amends the Public Health Service Act to extend and revise a grant program for screening, counseling, and other services related to heritable disorders. Expands eligible grantees to include a health professional organization and an early childhood health system. -- Passed by the House on June 24th. --

      32 Support | 64 Oppose

    • S 2363

      #14 Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.

      72 Support | 21 Oppose

    • HR 4080

      #15 Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To amend title XII of the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize certain trauma care programs. -- Passed by the House on June 24th. --

      61 Support | 29 Oppose

    • S 2312

      #16 National Guard Technician Equity Act

      To amend titles 5, 10, and 32, United States Code, to eliminate inequities in the treatment of National Guard technicians.

      82 Support | 6 Oppose

    • HJRes 47

      #17 Prohibiting the Physical Desecration of the US Flag

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

      50 Support | 34 Oppose

    • S 1681

      #18 Intelligence Authorization Act

      To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2014 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System. -- Passed by the House and Senate on June 24th; now goes to the President for his signature. --

      12 Support | 72 Oppose

    • HR 4801

      #19 Impact of Thermal Insulation

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To require the Secretary of Energy to prepare a report on the impact of thermal insulation on both energy and water use for potable hot water. -- Passed by the House on June 23rd. --

      23 Support | 60 Oppose

    • HR 3301

      #20 North American Energy Infrastructure Act

      --*BIPARTISAN*-- To require approval for the construction, connection, operation, or maintenance of oil or natural gas pipelines or electric transmission facilities at the national boundary of the United States for the import or export of oil, natural gas, or electricity to or from Canada or Mexico. -- Passed by the House on June 24th. --

      57 Support | 21 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.

  16. Issue Spotlight: Rare Diseases and Orphan Drugs

    A disease or disorder is defined as rare in the US when it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time (or less than 5 per 10,000 in the community). An orphan drug may be a completely new product or an approved drug that's being used in the new context of a rare disease. A drug or biologic must be designated an "orphan drug" through an FDA approval process. To date, more than 1,700 drugs and biologics have been designated as orphan drugs -- with more than 300 achieving marketing approval. (Source: FDA

    There are thousands of rare diseases without treatments -- and Congress has proposed several bills related to rare diseases, orphan drugs and R&D. Weigh in, and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress, guaranteed.

    Bills Related to Rare Diseases and Orphan Drugs

    • HR 1591

      CAL Undiagnosed Diseases Research and Collaboration Network Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for the establishment and maintenance of an undiagnosed diseases network. Would help individuals and military Service Members and Veterans who have unexplained symptoms and medical problems by establishing an undiagnosed diseases registry. Currently there is not a registry that helps physicians and researchers diagnose and treat those with unexplained conditions, according to the bill sponsor.
    • S 1128

      Preserving Access to Orphan Drugs Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- (Also HR 2315) To clarify the orphan drug exception to the annual fee on branded prescription pharmaceutical manufacturers and importers. Would eliminate unnecessary regulatory hurdles placed on the development of innovative new therapies for rare diseases and conditions, according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 3116

      MODDERN Cures Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To promote the development of meaningful treatments for patients. Would encourage the development of drugs abandoned in the development process by creating a new category of drugs known as dormant therapies for compounds with insufficient patent protection that offer the promise to treat conditions with unmet medical needs, according to the bill sponsor.
    • HR 4592

      Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia Diagnosis and Treatment Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To amend the Public Health Service Act to improve the diagnosis and treatment of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. Would establish a resource center for health professionals; support outcomes research studies to establish evidence-based consensus guidelines; provide for cost-effectiveness analysis of treating HHT, including reduced expenditures from the Medicare and Medicaid programs; and enable the HHT Clinical and Research Consortium to support training for scientists and health professionals and HHT genetic testing research, according to the bill sponsor.
    • HR 225

      National Pediatric Research Network Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- (Also S 424) A bill to amend title IV of the Public Health Service Act to provide for a National Pediatric Research Network, including with respect to pediatric rare diseases or conditions. Would authorize up to 20 National Pediatric Research Consortia, with each consortium partnering with numerous satellite facilities, allowing a large number of participating institutions, according to bill sponsors.
    • HCRes 31

      Supporting Rare Pituitary Disease Awareness

      Expresses support for rare pituitary disease awareness, and a substantial national commitment to improving diagnostics and cures for rare pituitary diseases and quality of life for afflicted patients.

    Bills Related to R&D

    • HR 3005

      Medical Testing Availability Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To amend chapter V of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to permit the sale of, and access to, “research use only” products in diagnostic tests.
    • HR 4438

      American Research and Competitiveness Act

      -- *Bipartisan* -- To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to simplify and make permanent the research credit. Under this legislation, "the R&D tax credit would apply equally to all companies that perform research and development in the United States. It is strengthened and modernized by increasing the alternative simplified credit rate to 20 percent from 14 percent, allowing companies to increase their current R&D spending, while attracting new R&D spending, which will help create new jobs," according to bill sponsors. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. --
    • HR 2629

      Fostering Innovation Act

      To provide an exemption for low-revenue companies from certain SEC regulations. Would amend the filing status classifications in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 12b-2 to allow companies with public floats below $250 million or revenues below $100 million to qualify as non-accelerated filers, according to the bill sponsor.
    • S 1720

      Patent Transparency and Improvements Act

      -- *Bipartisan* --  Would increase transparency in patent ownership, customers who are sued for patent infringement by allowing the case against them to be stayed while the manufacturer litigates the suit, target the widespread sending of frivolous demand letters, and improve resources for small businesses that are targeted in patent infringement suits, among other provisions, according to bill sponsors.

      Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took the bill off the Committee's agenda. "There is not sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal," he explained, "I am taking the patent bill off the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda." "If the stakeholders are able to reach a more targeted agreement that focuses on the problem of patent trolls, there will be a path for passage this year and I will bring it immediately to the Committee."

    • HR 3309

      Innovation Act

      -- *Bipartisan* --  To amend title 35, United States Code, and the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act to make improvements and technical corrections. According to the bill sponsor, "the bill targets abusive patent litigation behavior and not specific entities with the goal of preventing individuals from taking advantage of gaps in the system to engage in litigation extortion. It does not attempt to eliminate valid patent litigation. This legislation does not diminish or devalue patent rights in any way." -- Passed by the House on Dec. 5, 2013. --

    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. The Week Ahead: June 23 - 27

    From our Hill Sources: It's a busy week for the House and Senate. The House will be working on a variety of issues, from brain trauma to autism research. They'll also consider several bills related to energy, oil and gas. Meanwhile, the Senate will consider several appropriations bills, as well as a package of hunting and land conservation bills.

    Trauma Care and Brain Trauma

    The House will vote on:

    • HR 1098

      Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Reauthorizes traumatic brain injury (TBI) surveillance activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), grants for services and support for individuals and family members coping with a TBI, and extends an interagency program for basic and clinical trauma research led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.
    • HR 3548

      Improving Trauma Care Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Amends the definition of the term “trauma” for the purposes of trauma care grants authorized in title XII of the Public Health Service Act to include burns or injuries resulting from extrinsic agents (such as chemical or radioactive exposure) in addition to those caused by mechanical force, according to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.
    • HR 4080

      Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act

      — *Bipartisan*— The goals of these trauma programs are to provide grants to states for planning, implementing, and developing trauma care systems and establishing pilot projects to design, implement, and evaluate innovative models of regionalized emergency care and trauma systems, according to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.

    Children’s Health

    The House will vote on:

    • HR 1281

      Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Would extend several activities related to newborn screening for genetic, metabolic, hormonal, and functional conditions -- such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and critical congenital heart disease, according to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.
    • HR 4631

      Autism CARES Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Authorizes $260 million years annually over five years for research into autism and urges federal agencies to examine and anticipate needs for autistic children who are “aging out” of current programs and need different assistance as adults, according to the bill sponsor.

    Oil and Gas

    As summer approaches, Congress will be considering oil and gas prices, as well as other energy issues. This week, they will vote on:

    • S 2086

      Reliable Home Heating Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Would allow governors greater autonomy when they declare emergencies, without the need for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to declare that a disaster exists beyond the existing 30-day declarations that are available to governors, according to bill sponsors. — Passed by the Senate on May 21st. —
    • HR 4092

      Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Would establish a Department of Energy clearinghouse to disseminate information about available federal programs and financing mechanisms that may be used to support energy efficiency, distributed generation, and energy retrofitting projects for schools, according to the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
    • HR 4801

      Thermal Insulation Impact Study

      — *Bipartisan*— To require the Secretary of Energy to prepare a report on the impact of thermal insulation on both energy and water use for potable hot water
    • HR 4899

      Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act

      Requires the Administration to move forward with new offshore energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources – including the Atlantic Coast and Pacific Coast; requires the Administration to conduct oil and natural gas leases sales that it has delayed or cancelled, including the Virginia Lease sale originally scheduled for 2011; and increases offshore energy production by establishing fair and equitable revenue sharing of offshore revenues for all coastal states, including US territories, according to bill sponsors.
    • HR 6

      Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Would help clear the backlog of export applications currently pending at the Department of Energy. The legislation provides that DOE must issue a decision on any application no later than 90 days of enactment or the end of the application's comment period.

      From our Hill Sources: The bill sponsor, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), introduced this bill in response to Russia’s recent aggression and DOE’s slow export approval process, to expedite exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) to our allies.

    • HR 3301

      North American Energy Infrastructure Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Would create a more modern and efficient cross-border approval process for oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines that traverse the borders of the United States. It also consolidates and standardizes the cross-border approval process for oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines, replacing and superseding the current processes that have been created in an ad hoc fashion through multiple Executive Orders, according to the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

    Also in the House...

    The House will also vote on:

    • S 1044

      World War II Memorial Prayer Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Would direct the Interior Secretary to install a plaque or inscription at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. honoring the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the nation on June 6, 1944, according to the bill sponsor. -- Passed by the Senate on June 5th. --
    • HR 4002

      Miami Tribe

      To revoke the charter of incorporation of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma at the request of that tribe.
    • HR 412

      Nashua River Wild and Scenic River Study Act

      Would authorize the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a study on the Nashua River and two of its tributaries, the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers, to determine their eligibility for designation as Wild & Scenic Rivers, according to the bill sponsor.
    • HR 4413

      Customer Protection and End User Relief Act

      — *Bipartisan*— Would "reauthorize and improve the operations of the CFTC, as well as address concerns relating to protecting customers from another market failure such as MF Global and Peregrine Financial," according to the House Agriculture Committee.
    • S 1681

      Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2014

      The bill authorizes funding for the US intelligence community and provides numerous legal authorities and requirements. According to bill sponsors, the bill authorizes funding for counterterrorism; counterproliferation; intelligence collection on critical threats; advanced information technology infrastructure to improve analysis and information sharing; and improvements to security measures to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Also requires the general counsel of each intelligence agency to notify the congressional intelligence committees of any significant legal interpretation of the Constitution or federal law affecting intelligence activities conducted by the agency, to include any significant interpretations resulting from opinions of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). — Passed by the Senate on June 12. —

    The House will also hold hearings about two emerging issues:

    The Growing Problem of Unaccompanied Children Crossing the Border (House Homeland Security Committee Hearing)

    To address this increase of unaccompanied alien children detained by federal agents, Congressman Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced a bill:

    • HR 4882

      Southwest Border Protection Act

      "Would assist in refocusing our border security programs and secure DHS and CBP’s focus on illegal smuggling of drugs, individuals, and other transnational criminal activities," according to the sponsor. Calls for the deployment of at least 10,000 members of the US National Guard at the request of any Governor of a State that shares a portion of the international border between the US and Mexico.

    The Troubling Case of Meriam Ibrahim (House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing)

    The hearing date isn't not yet set. (See Committee page.) However a bill has been introduced in the House, HR 4821, and Senate, S 2474. The bills would grant Meriam Ibrahim and her two children, Martin and Maya, permanent legal status in the United States.

    Background: Meriam Ibrahim is the Sudanese woman who, along with her two small children, has spent the last 5 months imprisoned in Khartoum on charges of adultery and apostasy for her marriage to a non-Muslim and refusal to denounce Christianity. Her husband is a naturalized US citizen. She has been sentenced to death and Sudanese authorities have shown no signs of releasing her, according to the bill sponsor, Congressman Tom Cotton (R-AR).

    In the Senate

    Appropriations

    The Senate must work on the appropriations bills passed by the House. (In the appropriations process, Congress decides the amount of money that will be spent on federal programs during the next fiscal year.) This week, the Senate will consider a $120 billion spending bill that funds the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. They first need to agree on procedure, specifically about amendments, so stay tuned.

    Hunting

    The Senate will vote on a bipartisan bill to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting:

    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.

  18. The POPVOX Top 20: Jun 13 - 19, 2014

    With Flag Day just a few days ago, the most popular issue on POPVOX this week was related to the American Flag. HJRes 47 proposes an amendment to the US Constitution giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. (Although it does not specifically ban the desecration of the US flag, it would give Congress explicit power to do so.) Support for the amendment was mixed -- with 55% of POPVOX users supporting the amendment.

    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.

    • HJRes 47

      #1 Prohibit the Physical Desecration of the US Flag

      --*Bipartisan*-- Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

      175 Support | 127 Oppose

    • HR 4816

      #2 Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act

      To establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for the diagnosis, treatment, and research of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces, to provide certain services to those descendants, to establish an advisory board on exposure to toxic substances.

      266 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 4810

      #3 Veteran Access to Care Act

      --*Bipartisan*-- To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts for the provision of hospital care and medical services at non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for Department of Veterans Affairs patients with extended waiting times for appointments at Department facilities.

      266 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 4807

      #4 Cold War Service Medal Act

      --*Bipartisan*-- To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who served honorably during the Cold War.

      181 Support | 49 Oppose

    • HR 4870

      #5 Department of Defense Appropriations Act

      Appropriates funds for FY2015 for the Department of Defense (DOD) for: military personnel; operation and maintenance , including for the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, environmental restoration, overseas humanitarian, disaster, and civic aid, former Soviet Union cooperative threat reduction, and the DOD Acquisition Workforce Development Fund; procurement, including for aircraft, missile, weapons, tracked combat vehicles, ammunition, shipbuilding and conversion, and purchases under the Defense Production Act of 1950; research, development, test, and evaluation; and Defense Working Capital Funds; the Defense Health Program; drug interdiction and counter-drug activities; the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System Fund; the Intelligence Community Management Account; and overseas deployments and related activities, including military personnel, procurement, and National Guard and Reserve equipment.

      143 Support | 68 Oppose

    • HR 4806

      #6 Pause for Safety Act

      According to the bill sponsor, would encourage states to take the following steps to help prevent gun violence: ensure that families and others can go to court to seek a gun violence prevention order to temporarily stop someone close to them who poses a threat to himself, herself or others from purchasing a firearm; ensure that a court can issue a gun violence prevention warrant that would allow law enforcement to take temporary possession of firearms that are in an individual’s possession if the court determines that the individual poses a threat to himself, herself or others; and ensure that law enforcement makes full use of all existing state and local gun databases when assessing a tip, warning or request from a concerned family member or other close associate.

      17 Support | 155 Oppose

    • HRes 261

      #7 Disposal of the flag

      --*Bipartisan*-- Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Members of Congress should support and promote the respectful and dignified disposal of worn and tattered American flags.

      134 Support | 31 Oppose

    • S 2312

      #8 National Guard Technician Equity Act

      To amend titles 5, 10, and 32, United States Code, to eliminate inequities in the treatment of National Guard technicians.

      143 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 3601

      #9 Parental Notification and Intervention Act

      To provide for parental notification and intervention in the case of an unemancipated minor seeking an abortion.

      127 Support | 26 Oppose

    • SJRes 37

      #10 Parental Rights Constitutional Amendment

      A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to parental rights.

      100 Support | 20 Oppose

    • HR 4707

      #11 Funding Gun Violence Prevention Research

      To fund research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on gun violence prevention and firearms safety. Calls for $10 million each year for six years beginning in fiscal year 2015. President Obama included $10 million in his budget proposal released in March, according to the bill sponsors.

      9 Support | 106 Oppose

    • HR 2355

      #12 All-American Flag Act

      --*Bipartisan*-- To require the purchase of domestically made flags of the United States of America for use by the Federal Government.

      105 Support | 6 Oppose

    • S 2450

      #13

      --*Bipartisan*-- To improve the access of veterans to medical services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. --This bill has been incorporated into HR 3230.--

      96 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 4821

      #14 Relief of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, Martin Wani, and Maya Wani

      Would grant Meriam Ibrahim and her two children, Martin and Maya, permanent legal status in the United States. Background: Meriam Ibrahim is the Sudanese woman who, along with her two small children, has spent the last 5 months imprisoned in Khartoum on charges of adultery and apostasy for her marriage to a non-Muslim and refusal to denounce Christianity. Her husband is a naturalized US citizen. She has been sentenced to death and Sudanese authorities have shown no signs of releasing her, according to the bill sponsor, Congressman Tom Cotton (R-AR).

      74 Support | 30 Oppose

    • HR 1692

      #15 Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act

      --*Bipartisan*-- To require the development of a comprehensive strategy to end serious human rights violations in Sudan, to create incentives for governments and persons to end support of and assistance to the Government of Sudan, to reinvigorate genuinely comprehensive peace efforts in Sudan.

      9 Support | 94 Oppose

    • S 2445

      #16 Pause for Safety Act

      According to the bill sponsor, would encourage states to take the following steps to help prevent gun violence: ensure that families and others can go to court to seek a gun violence prevention order to temporarily stop someone close to them who poses a threat to himself, herself or others from purchasing a firearm; ensure that a court can issue a gun violence prevention warrant that would allow law enforcement to take temporary possession of firearms that are in an individual’s possession if the court determines that the individual poses a threat to himself, herself or others; and ensure that law enforcement makes full use of all existing state and local gun databases when assessing a tip, warning or request from a concerned family member or other close associate.

      8 Support | 94 Oppose

    • HR 4783

      #17 Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act

      To protect individuals by strengthening the Nation’s mental health infrastructure, improving the understanding of violence, strengthening firearm prohibitions and protections for at-risk individuals, and improving and expanding the reporting of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

      9 Support | 81 Oppose

    • HR 4784

      #18 End Purchase of Firearms by Dangerous Individuals Act

      Expands the disqualifying mental health criteria to prevent a person from purchasing a gun if a mental health professional determines that the individual is likely to cause serious harm to themselves or others; encourages states to establish systems for mental health professionals to voluntarily report patients meeting strict dangerousness standards into the FBI’s NICS system; and protects patients’ privacy rights and allowing professionals to fully evaluate their own patient’s needs, according to the bill sponsor, Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI).

      11 Support | 78 Oppose

    • S 2424

      #19 Veterans Choice Act

      --*Bipartisan*-- Provides veterans with more choice and flexibility, while bringing much-needed accountability and transparency to VA operations. All veterans enrolled for care at VA will receive a Choice Card to allow them to receive care from a non-VA provider, according to bill sponsor, Senator McCain.

      79 Support | 3 Oppose

    • SCRes 37

      #20 Shimon Peres Congressional Gold Medal ceremony

      A concurrent resolution authorizing the use of the rotunda of the United States Capitol in commemoration of the Shimon Peres Congressional Gold Medal ceremony. --Passed June 17, 2014--

      28 Support | 51 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.

  19. Issue Spotlight: American Oil

    Former Vice-President Al Gore recently wrote in an article for Rolling Stone that President Obama has signaled that he will kill the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. With escalating violence in Iraq set to increase gas prices in the US, petroleum energy policy is once again on the headlines. 

    Legislation to approve the contruction and maintenance of the Keystone XL Pipeline has already passed the House: 

    We're spotlighting other bills related to the production and consumption of oil in the US. Weigh in and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress. (How POPVOX works.)

    Oil Taxes

    • HRes 4753

      IMPACT Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide incentives for clean energy and to repeal fossil fuel subsidies for big oil companies.
    • HRes 4326

      HEATR Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a refundable credit against income tax to assist individuals with high residential energy costs.
    • S 2279

      Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to terminate certain energy tax subsidies and lower the corporate income tax rate.
    • S 307

      Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act

      To reduce the Federal budget deficit by closing big oil tax loopholes.
    • S 2059

      Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling Tax Credit Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit for the purchase of heating and cooling equipment which meets the Energy Star program requirements and is used in certain high-cost energy communities.

    Incentivizing Domestic Production

    • HRes 4349

      Crude Oil Export Act

      To repeal the crude oil export ban under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, repealing the authority of the President to restrict exports of coal, petroleum products, natural gas, or petrochemical feedstocks.
    • S 2170

      American Energy Renaissance Act

      To free the private sector to harness domestic energy resources to create jobs and generate economic growth by removing statutory and administrative barriers.
    • HRes 1190

      Keep America’s Oil Here Act

      To provide that the Secretary of the Interior may accept bids on any new oil and gas leases of Federal lands (including submerged lands) only from bidders certifying that all oil produced pursuant to such leases, and all refined petroleum products produced from such oil, shall be offered for sale only in the United States.

    Renewable Practices

    • S 344

      Regulating Ethanol

      To prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from approving the introduction into commerce of gasoline that contains greater than 10-volume-percent ethanol.
    • HRes 4553

      Fossil Energy Encouragement and Accountability Act

      —Bipartisan— To authorize appropriations for fossil energy research and development programs at the Department of Energy
    • HRes 4051

      REFUEL Act

      —Bipartisan— To amend the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to establish a competitive grant program for renewable fuel infrastructure.
    • HRes 4648

      Renewable Energy Jobs Act

      To provide for the establishment of a pilot program to train individuals for employment in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries
    • S 2003

      Renewable Energy Parity Act

      —Bipartisan— Amends the Internal Revenue Code to extend the energy tax credit to solar energy, fuel cell, microturbine, combined heat and power system, small wind energy, and thermal energy properties the construction of which begins before January 1, 2017.

    Keystone Pipeline and Drilling In Alaska

    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.

  20. Issue Spotlight: Net Neutrality

    In May, the Federal Communications Commission voted to move forward on a new net neutrality proposal. It is now seeking feedback from the public during a comment period. After that, the FCC will write a final set of rules and vote on them. (Read the comments written by POPVOX users.)

    What is Net Neutrality?

    Net neutrality is the concept that all Internet data should be treated equally. (The term was coined in 2003.)

    Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast or Verizon can control how you access content. For example, ISPs could strike deals for preferential treatment, creating Internet "fast lanes" for additional fees. And right now, there is no regulation of how ISPs treat traffic from different websites.

    In 2010, the FCC enacted Open Internet rules preventing Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against content online. But in January 2014, the DC Court of Appeals struck down these rules. The court said the FCC does not have the authority to require ISPs to treat traffic equally — and told the FCC it needed to rewrite the rules. (Source: FCC)

    The FCC is Seeking Public Input on Internet Regulations

    According to the FCC, "there are no rules on the books to prevent broadband providers from limiting Internet openness by blocking content or discriminating against consumers and entrepreneurs online.” The FCC is deciding how best to protect and promote an open Internet and is seeking public input. (Source: FCC)

    The FCC is considering proposing Internet regulations that would allow online content providers to create special deals with Internet service providers, which some believe would undermine net neutrality. For example, ISPs like Comcast or Verizon would be able to negotiate with content providers like Amazon or Netflix for faster delivery of their content. (The previous FCC regulations would not have allowed this.)

    In addition, the FCC is seeking public feedback on whether broadband service should be considered a public utility. If so, it could be regulated in a stricter manner, including a ban on preferential deals.

    Weigh in with POPVOX, and we'll deliver your message to the FCC. (How POPVOX works.) Then read the comments written by POPVOX users.

     

    What’s Next for Net Neutrality?

    Once the FCC’s public comment period ends, the agency will weigh the feedback from people and issue experts and then issue final regulations, probably at the end of the year.

    Congress too has been weighing in on net neutrality. House Republican leaders sent FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler a letter urging the commission to drop consideration of new federal “net neutrality” regulations that would undermine a free and open Internet and hurt our economy at the same time.

    Democrats in Congress introduced legislation that would restore the Open Internet Rules struck down by the DC Circuit Court in January prohibiting broadband Internet service providers from engaging in discriminatory behavior or blocking content. The bill would restore the rules until the FCC takes final action. Weigh in and POPVOX will deliver your message to your Members of Congress.

    In May, Republican Congressman Bob Latta introduced a bill that would limit the FCC's authority to regulate the Internet:

    • HR 4752

      Limiting the FCC's Authority (HR 4752)

      To limit the authority of the Federal Communications Commission over providers of broadband Internet access service. Would "ensure the Internet remains open and free from government interference by limiting the FCC's authority to regulate broadband under Title II of the Communications Act," according to bill sponsor, Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH).

    On June 17, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced bicameral legislation to require the FCC to ban “paid prioritization” agreements between a broadband provider and a content provider:

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