The POPVOX Blog

About the viral email… REAL bills about reforming Congress (Please pass the potatoes...)

'Tis the season for families, big dinners and political discussions! Finally, a chance to discuss all of those forwarded emails in person -- over egg nog or latkes or football.  

We at POPVOX send our best wishes for your celebrations. Here's a little present from our team: breaking down the "most asked about" forwarded email of the year, the "Congressional Reform Amendment." We hope it spices up your holiday discussions... and please, if your relatives start discussing something pending in Congress -- tell them about POPVOX!  

Many have written into the POPVOX team asking about the "Congressional Reform Act of 2011" or the "28th Amendment."  As explained by several sources (SnopesFactCheck, UrbanLegends) the Congressional Reform Act is not really a bill.  It has never been introduced in Congress.  However, there are several actual bills that are similar to those described in the many forwarded emails.  We hope you will weigh in on these bills and let Congress know what you think:

  • CONGRESSIONAL PAY
  1. H.R.343 from Rep Matheson, Jim, eliminates automatic pay adjustments for Members of Congress. 
  2. H.R. 187, Congressional Pay Reform Act of 2011 from Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-2), which eliminates automatic pay adjustments for Members of Congress and requires that any vet to raise Congressional pay be adopted by a recorded vote so as to reflect the vote of each Member. 
  3. H.R.204, Congressional Pay Cut Act from Rep Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8), which reduces the rate of basic pay for each Member of Congress by 5%, rounded to the nearest multiple of $100 
  4. H.R.1454, Congressional Pay Accountability Act of 2011 from Rep Randy Hultgren (IL-14), which provides that in years for which Congress does not pass all regular appropriations bills before the beginning of the year, compensation for Members of Congress is placed in escrow until such bills are passed; and compensation is reduced by 25% for each pay period until such bills are passed. 
  • CONGRESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
  1. H.R.1866Members of Congress Tax Accountability Act of 2011 from Rep Jason Chaffetz [UT-3], requires Members of Congress to include in their annual financial disclosure reports the amount of any delinquent tax liability owed to the United States or any state or local government entity. 
  • CONGRESSIONAL HEALTH CARE
  1. H.R.360 from Rep Michael Burgess, which provides for participation in the (health insurance) Exchange  (established in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) of the President, Vice-President, Members of Congress, political appointees, and congressional staff. 
  • CONGRESSIONAL PENSIONS
  1. H.R.2397 Congressional Retirement Age Act of 2011 from Rep Schilling, Robert T. prohibits a Member of Congress serving on or after the enactment of this Act from being eligible for an annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), unless he or she is separated from the service after attaining retirement age under the Social Security Act and completing five years of service
  2. H.R.2913from Rep Coffman, Mike [CO-6], provides for the termination of further retirement benefits for Members of Congress, except the right to continue participating in the Thrift Savings Plan. 
  3. H.R.2652from Rep Coble, Howard [NC-6], provides that Members must complete 12 years of creditable service in order to be vested in an annuity under the Federal Employee Retirement System 
  4. H.R.2162 and S.1261, Congressional Integrity and Pension Forfeiture Act of 2011, from Rep Robert J. Dold, [IL-10], Requires forfeiture of pension benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) to the President, Vice President, or an elected state or local government official, in addition to Members of Congress, upon conviction of a serious public corruption crime. Expands the list of such crimes that would require a pension forfeiture. 
  • TERM LIMITS
  1. H.J.RES.20 from Rep Todd Platts (PA-19), Proposing a Constitutional amendment to limit the number of consecutive terms that a Member of Congress may serve. 
  2. H.J.RES.71 from Rep David Schweikert (AZ-5) Proposing a Constitutional amendment limiting the number of terms that a Member of Congress may serve to 3 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate. 
  3. S.J.RES.1 from Sen David Vitter (LA), A joint resolution proposing a Constitutional amendment relative to limiting the number of terms that a Member of Congress may serve. 
  4. S.J.RES.11 from Sen DeMint, Jim [SC], A joint resolution proposing a Constitutional amendment relative to limiting the number of terms that a Member of Congress may serve to 3 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate.
  • INVESTMENTS BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

In addition, the "STOCK Act" has been getting a lot of publicity due to a recent 60 Minutes story. There are three versions:

  1. Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) (S 1903) prohibits commodities and securities trading based on nonpublic information relating to Congress, and requires additional reporting by Members and employees of Congress of securities transactions. 
  2. Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (S 1871) prohibits commodities and securities trading based on nonpublic information relating to Congress, and requires additional reporting by Members and employees of Congress of securities transactions. 
  3. Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) (HR 1148) prohibits commodities and securities trading based on nonpublic information relating to Congress, and requires additional reporting by Members and employees of Congress of securities transactions. 
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