The POPVOX Blog

  1. POPVOX Daily Digest - November 19, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    Drilling permits, AIDS funding in the House:

    The House started work on legislation meant to speed up the federal approval process for oil and gas drilling permits on federal land: H.R. 1965 — the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act. The bill sets a 60-day deadline by which the government has to decide on these permits.

    The House voted on three amendments, with more to go on Wednesday before passing the bill.

    The House also approved S. 1545, the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act, which extends the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. By voice vote, members approved this bill to extend the government's main global HIV/AIDS relief program.

    Defense Authorization in the Senate:

    The Senate was in to consider S. 1197, the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes defense programs for 2014.

    Several amendments are likely to be considered this week and maybe next week. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 43-55 against a Republican amendment that would have prevented the Obama administration from shutting down terrorist detention facilities in Cuba.

  2. POPVOX Daily Digest - November 18, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The Senate finished up work on a key pharmaceutical policy bill, and started work on a defense policy bill:

    The Senate also passed two bills by unanimous consent:

    • S 1471 a bill that allows the government to remove the remains of people from national cemeteries if those buried committed certain crimes.
    • S 1545 The PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act, extending federal HIV/AIDS programs for five years. The House is expected to consider this bill Tuesday. 

    The House passed several bills in a quick Monday session:

    • HR 2061 The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA), which is designed to make it easier to keep track of federal spending.This is a bipartisan bill, and it passed 388-1; the only member voting against it was Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).
    • HR 272 a bill naming a future Department of Defense outpatient clinic after Gen. William Gourley. This bill passed in a 388-0 vote.

    Three bills were approved in voice votes:

    • HR 3343 a bill allowing the District of Columbia to provide a salary for its Chief Financial Officer that can be as high as that of the Vice President or other senior executive service officials in the government.
    • HR 3487 a bill extending the authority of the Federal Election Campaign Act to impose civil penalties for certain violations.
    • SCR 25 a bill allowing the use of Emancipation Hall to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Native American code talkers.

     

     

     

  3. What about HR 4646?

    "HR 4646" has consistently been a popular bill search term on POPVOX, even though no current bill numbered HR 4646 exists. POPVOX users searching for HR 4646 tell us that they are looking for an Obama Administration proposal that would create a 1% tax on debit card usage and banking transactions. For the most part, they heard about this bill from a mass email forwarded to them.

    The Obama Administration has not proposed or recommended placing a 1% tax on financial transactions. In fact, the rumor has been so widely circulated, that Snopes even covered it.

    The 1% transaction tax proposal has been previously introduced -- but not in this Congress.

    Representative Chakah Fattah introduced the 1% transaction tax in his bill, the Debt Free America Act. In the 111th Congress, this bill received the bill number HR 4646. (Read comments from POPVOX users.) In the 112th Congress, Rep. Fattah re-introduced the Debt Free America Act on March 16, 2011 with the bill number HR 1125

    This post was originally written by Peter Cook, and published on April 25, 2012. 

  4. The Week Ahead: Nov. 18 - 22

    From our Hill Sources: While the debate over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, continues to dominate conversations in Washington, Congress will move on to other issues this week. The House will consider three big energy bills, while the Senate will deal with pharmaceutical and defense policy.

    In the House

    The House will vote on three energy bills:

    The House will also take up several suspension bills, including:

    • HR 2061Digital Accountability and Transparency Act: designed to make it easier to keep track of federal spending.
    • HR 3343A bill prohibiting the total compensation of the District of Columbia's Chief Financial Officer from exceeding the compensation of the Vice President.
    • HR 3487A bill extending the authority of the Federal Election Campaign Act to impose civil penalties for certain violations.
    • SCRes 25A resolution allowing the use of Emancipation Hall to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Native American code talkers.

    In the Senate

    The Senate will meet Monday to finish work on one bill, and move on to the NDAA.

    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. The POPVOX Top 20: Nov. 8 - 14

    One Subject Per Bill, Please!

    This week, POPVOX users had the One Subject at a Time Act on their minds.This bill would require that each bill enacted by Congress be limited to only one subject. POPVOX users on many occasions have shared their frustration with us about bills encompassing so many different issues, so it's not surprising that 96 percent of people support this bill.

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Nov. 8 - 14

    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 1664#1 One Subject at a Time Act: to end the practice of including more than one subject in a single bill by requiring that each bill enacted by Congress be limited to only one subject, and for other purposes.

      442 Support | 21 Oppose

    • HR 3350#2 Keep Your Health Plan Act: to authorize health insurance issuers to continue to offer for sale current individual health insurance coverage in satisfaction of the minimum essential health insurance coverage requirement.

      312 Support | 67 Oppose

    • S 815#3 Employment Non-Discrimination Act: to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

      30 Support | 329 Oppose

    • S 1663#4 Write the Laws Act: to end the unconstitutional delegation of legislative power which was exclusively vested in the Senate and House of Representatives by article I, section 1 of the Constitution of the United States, and to direct the Comptroller General of the United States to issue a report to Congress detailing the extent of the problem of unconstitutional delegation to the end that such delegations can be phased out, thereby restoring the constitutional principle of separation of powers set forth in the first sections of the Constitution of the United States.

      330 Support | 22 Oppose

    • HR 3353#5 Extend Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act: To amend the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to extend the period during which supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits are temporarily increased.

      53 Support | 280 Oppose

    • HR 3368#6 Veterans Day Off Act: To require employers to provide veterans with time off on Veterans Day.

      175 Support | 148 Oppose

    • S 356#7 Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act: to ensure that women seeking an abortion are fully informed regarding the pain experienced by their unborn child.

      86 Support | 194 Oppose

    • HR 1518#8 PAST Act: To amend the Horse Protection Act to designate additional unlawful acts under the Act, strengthen penalties for violations of the Act, improve Department of Agriculture enforcement of the Act

      145 Support | 109 Oppose

    • HR 3431#9 American Families United Act: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to promote family unity.

      111 Support | 94 Oppose

    • S893#10 Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act: to provide for an increase, effective December 1, 2013, in the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans.

      185 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HJR 101#11 A Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to limit the number of consecutive terms that a Member of Congress may serve.

      173 Support | 23 Oppose

    • S 604#12 Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act: to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to relocate to Jerusalem the US Embassy in Israel.

      136 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 3348#13 Obamacare Choice Act: to make the individual health insurance mandate voluntary in 2014.

      90 Support | 23 Oppose

    • S 1671#14 A bill to delay the implementation of the individual health coverage mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

      68 Support | 44 Oppose

    • S 409#15 A bill to add Vietnam Veterans Day as a patriotic and national observance.

      77 Support | 32 Oppose

    • S 1665#16 Read the Bills Act: to preserve the constitutional authority of Congress and ensure accountability and transparency in legislation.

      104 Support | 5 Oppose

    • HR 2417#17 Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act: To amend the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system and electric infrastructure critical to the defense and well-being of the United States against natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse (”EMP”) threats and vulnerabilities.

      99 Support | 8 Oppose

    • HRes 32#18 A Resolution expressing support for the designation of the Friday after Thanksgiving as the National Day of Recognition for Veterans Families.

      67 Support | 22 Oppose

    • HR 154#19 Veterans' Medal for Distinguished Public Service: to establish a Department of Veterans Affairs Medal for Distinguished Public Service to honor veterans who make remarkable and distinguished contributions to their communities.

      67 Support | 19 Oppose

    • HR 318#20 A bill to authorize a Wall of Remembrance as part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and to allow certain private contributions to fund that Wall of Remembrance.

      77 Support | 5 Oppose

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

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

  6. POPVOX Daily Digest - November 13, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    House passes changes to Asbestos Trust

    The House spent the day on a bill to address fraudulent asbestos injury claims, which passed in a party-line vote:

    Republicans said the bill would ensure that asbestos trusts established to pay out injury claims have enough money for legitimate claims, citing evidence that some people are making multiple claims. These trusts were set up by Congress to pay out claims and exempt companies from further liability.

    Democrats disputed that there is significant fraud and said the bill threatens the privacy of claimants. Under the legislation, trusts would have to file quarterly reports detailing who has sought compensation and who has been paid.

    The House passed it 221-199. The bill is opposed by the Obama administration, and the Democratic Senate is unlikely to consider it.

    The House also passed a resolution stating Congressional support for the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. H.Res. 196 passed in a voice vote.

    Senate Drug Safety bill delayed

    The Senate was in to continue debate on H.R. 3204, the Drug Quality and Security Act. This bill is meant to strengthen the ability to trace the origin of prescription drugs back to their source.

    No progress was made, however, as Republicans are seeking a vote on an amendment from Sen. David Vitter, which would force Congress to explain which of its staff must buy insurance under ObamaCare. Democrats oppose the amendment.

  7. POPVOX Daily Digest - November 12, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House was in and passed several suspension bills:

    Passage of these Senate bills sends the legislation to the White House for President Obama's signature into law.

    • HR 2871 a bill modifying the various judicial districts in southern Mississippi. This bill passed 401-1.
    • HR 2922 a bill allowing Supreme Court police officers to protect members of the Court outside the grounds of the Court. This bill passed 399-3.

    The Senate voted to extend funds for Children's Hospitals that provide Graduate Medical Education:

  8. PRESS CLIP: How Popvox Can Improve National Dialogue

  9. Issue Spotlight: Honoring Veterans Day

    In honor of Veterans Day, Nov. 11, POPVOX is spotlighting veterans legislation. We hope you will take a moment to review this partial list of veterans bills (divided by issue areas) and weigh in. POPVOX will deliver your comments to your Members of Congress. And for those of you who are veterans, thank you for your service to our country.

    • History An armistice to stop fighting during World War I -– known at the time as “The Great War” –- went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, and in 1938, the day became a federal holiday. The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. In 1954, after World War II's historic mobilization of our armed forces and the Korean war, Congress changed "Armistice Day" to honor all veterans. (Learn more)

    Bills Related to Veterans Day

    Weigh in on these bills that have been introduced related to veterans.

    Honoring Veterans

    • HR 3368Veterans Day Off Act: To require employers to provide time off on Veterans Day. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 154Veterans Medal For Distinguished Public Service: To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a Department of Veterans Affairs Medal for Distinguished Public Service to honor veterans who make remarkable and distinguished contributions to their communities.
    • HR 111Filipino Veterans Of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act: To award a Congressional gold medal, collectively, to the Filipino Veterans of World War II, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.
    • HRes 32 A resolution: Expressing support for the designation of the Friday after Thanksgiving as the National Day of Recognition for Veterans’ Families.
    • S 409A bill to add Vietnam Veterans Day as a patriotic and national observance.
    • HR 318A bill to authorize a Wall of Remembrance as part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and to allow certain private contributions to fund that Wall of Remembrance.
    • HRes 138A resolution expressing support for designation of a “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day”.

    Veterans Employment

    • HR 3442 Jobs for Veterans Clearinghouse Act: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make grants to eligible non-profit entities to establish clearinghouses for local information about employment opportunities and services for veterans. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 3395 VOW to Hire Heroes Extension Act: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the work opportunity credit for hiring veterans. (And S 1624 in the Senate.) -- Just Introduced --
    • S 430Veterans Small Business Opportunity and Protection Act: to amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance treatment of certain small business concerns for purposes of Department of Veterans Affairs contracting goals and preferences.
    • S 6Putting Our Veterans Back To Work Act: to reauthorize the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, to provide assistance to small businesses owned by veterans, to improve enforcement of employment and reemployment rights of members of the uniformed services.
    • S 778A Bill: to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to issue cards to veterans that identify them as veterans and to work with national retail chains that offer veterans reduced prices on pharmaceutical and consumer products to ensure that such chains recognize the above cards when offering such prices.
    • S 495Careers for Veterans Act: to amend title 38, United States Code, to require Federal agencies to hire veterans, to require States to recognize the military experience of veterans when issuing licenses and credentials to veterans
    • HR 1357A bill: To amend the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 to improve the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program by providing assistance under such program for certain training programs that are considered less than full-time.
    • HR 1316A Bill:To amend title 38, United States Code, to specify the responsibilities of the Directors and Assistant Directors of Veterans’ Employment and Training.

    Veterans Education

    • HR 3399Veterans Education Counseling Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain clarifications and improvements in the academic and vocational counseling programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 3384Veterans' Entry to Apprenticeship Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that veterans may attend pre-apprenticeship programs using certain educational assistance provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 179Franchise Education for Veterans Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to allow certain veterans to use educational assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs for franchise training.
    • S 514A bill: to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide additional educational assistance under Post-9/11 Educational Assistance to veterans pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, math, or an area that leads to employment in a high-demand occupation.
    • HR 331A Bill: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to permit the centralized reporting of veteran enrollment by certain groups, districts, and consortiums of educational institutions.
    • HR 595Veterans Education Equity Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide equity for tuition and fees for individuals entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are pursuing programs of education at institutions of higher learning. (And S 262 in the Senate.)
    • HR 3056Warriors’ Peer-Outreach Pilot Program Act: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on the provision of outreach and support services to veterans pursuing higher education under the Post 9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Veterans Health

    • S 1581Survivors of Military Sexual Assault and Domestic Abuse Act: to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide counseling and treatment for sexual trauma to members of the Armed Forces, to require the Secretary to screen veterans for domestic abuse, to require the Secretary to submit reports on military sexual trauma and domestic abuse. -- Just Introduced --
    • S 1583Mental Health Support for Veteran Families and Caregivers Act: to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct an education program and peer support program for the education and training of family members and caregivers of veterans with mental health disorders. -- Just Introduced --
    • S 1588A Bill: to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand eligibility for reimbursement for emergency medical treatment to certain veterans that were unable to receive care from the Department of Veterans Affairs in the 24-month period preceding the furnishing of such emergency treatment. -- Just Introduced --
    • S 1602Toxic 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. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 3387Classified Veterans Access to Care Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the mental health treatment provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans who served in classified missions. -- Just Introduced --
    • S 1586Enhanced Dental Care for Veterans Act: to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve dental health care for veterans. -- Just Introduced --
    • S 1604Veterans Health Care Eligibility Expansion and Enhancement Act: to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand and enhance eligibility for health care and services through the Department of Veterans Affairs. -- Just Introduced --
    • S 1578A Bill: to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to cover the costs associated with the care of veterans at medical foster homes. -- Just Introduced --
    • S 131Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act: to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the reproductive assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to severely wounded, ill, or injured veterans and their spouses.(And HR 958 in the House.)
    • HR 2510 Veterans Exposed To Toxic Chemicals: To direct the Secretary of Defense to establish within the Department of Defense centers of excellence in the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions relating to exposure to open burn pits.
    • HR 241 Veterans Timely Access To Healthcare act: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish standards of access to care for veterans seeking health care from Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities.
    • HR 543 Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act: This bill includes as part of the Republic of Vietnam its territorial seas for purposes of the presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure by veterans to certain herbicide agents while in Vietnam.
    • HR 257Veterans Health Equity Plan: To amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that veterans in each of the 48 contiguous States are able to receive services in at least one full-service hospital of the Veterans Health Administration in the State or receive comparable services provided by contract in the State.(And S 49 in the Senate.)
    • S 422Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act: to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 and title 38, United States Code, to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and to expand access to such care and services (And HR 921 in the House.)
    • HR 834Veterans’ Efficiencies Through Savings Act: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct cost-benefit analyses for the provision of medical care by the Department of Veterans Affairs in certain geographic areas served by multiple Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities.
    • HR 1134A Bill: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a grant program and pilot program designed to improve the delivery of health care to veterans residing in rural areas.
    • HR 2063A Bill: To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the health care provided to veterans of World War II at facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Veterans Homelessness and Housing

    • S 1580Ensuring Safe Shelter for Homeless Veterans Act: to amend title 38, United States Code, to require recipients of per diem payments from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the provision of services for homeless veterans to comply with codes relevant to operations and level of care provided. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 3422Veterans Homebuyer Accessibility Act: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit for veteran first-time homebuyers and for adaptive housing and mobility improvements for disabled veterans. -- Just Introduced --
    • S 62Check the Box for Homeless Veterans Act: to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate overpayments of tax as contributions and to make additional contributions to the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund
    • S 287Helping Homeless Veterans Act: to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand the definition of homeless veteran for purposes of benefits under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (And HR 897 in the House.)
    • HR 825Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act: To exclude from consideration as income under the United States Housing Act of 1937 payments of pension made under section 1521 of title 38, United States Code, to veterans who are in need of regular aid and attendance.
    • HR 1305A Bill: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide clarification regarding eligibility for services under the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
    • HR 1885Veterans Home Loan Refinance Opportunity Act: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow eligible veterans to use qualified veterans mortgage bonds to refinance home loans

    Disabled Veterans

    • S 1584Veterans Homebuyer Accessibility Act: to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide replacement automobiles for certain disabled veterans and members of the Armed Forces. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 3383Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend to all veterans with a serious service-connected injury eligibility to participate in the family caregiver services program. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 3443Streamlining Support for Veterans and Military Caregivers Act: To amend titles 38 and 37, United States Code, to expand eligibility for certain caregiver services provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and to modify the Department of Defense special compensation program to make eligible members of the uniformed services with serious injuries or illnesses and to exempt payments of such compensation from taxation. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 164 A Bill: To amend title 10, United States Code, to permit veterans who have a service-connected, permanent disability rated as total to travel on military aircraft in the same manner and to the same extent as retired members of the Armed Forces entitled to such travel. (And S 346 in the Senate.)
    • HR 333Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act: To amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated less than 50 percent to receive concurrent payment of botHRetired pay and veterans’ disability compensation, to eliminate the phase-in period for concurrent receipt, to extend eligibility for concurrent receipt to chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service and requires a limited reduction in retired pay for qualified disability retirees with less than 20 years of retirement-creditable service.
    • HR 183Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act: This bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program for assessing the effectiveness of addressing post-deployment mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms through a therapeutic medium of service dog training and handling for veterans with disabilities.
    • HR 369Reducing Barriers to Veterans’ Benefits Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a presumption of service connection for certain veterans with tinnitus or hearing loss.
    • HR 569Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act: Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase, as of December 1, 2013, the rates of veterans' disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. Requires each such increase to be the same percentage as the increase in benefits provided under title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act.
    • S 140Honoring Promises to Service-Disabled Veterans Act: to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the work opportunity credit to certain recently discharged veterans, to improve the coordination of veteran job training services between the Department of Labor, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense, to require transparency for Executive departments in meeting the Government-wide goals for contracting with small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans
    • HR 1284Veterans Medical Access Act:To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for coverage under the beneficiary travel program of the Department of Veterans Affairs of certain disabled veterans for travel for certain special disabilities rehabilitation (And S 633 in the Senate.)

    Veterans and Firearms

    • HR 577 Veterans Second Amendment Program: To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the conditions under which certain persons may be treated as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes. (And HR 602 in the House, S 572 in Senate.)
    • HR 449 Veterans Heritage Firearms Act: To provide an amnesty period during which veterans and their family members can register certain firearms in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

    Other Bills

    • HR 3408A Bill:To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to educate certain staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs and to inform veterans about the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights. -- Just Introduced --
    • HR 966Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act:To exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas (And S 461 in the Senate.)
    • HR 153Veterans Outreach Improvement Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the outreach activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to state or county veterans agencies for state and local outreach services.
    • HR 733Access to Veterans Benefits Improvement Act: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain employees of Members of Congress and certain employees of State or local governmental agencies with access to case-tracking information of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    • HR 1759A Bill: To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress quarterly reports on the timeliness in which the Department of Veterans Affairs receives certain information from other departments or agencies of the United States.
    • HR 1372A Bill: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a registry of certain veterans who were stationed at or underwent training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada.
    • S 1262Veterans Conservation Corps Act: to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a veterans conservation corps.
    • HR 3007A Bill: To amend title 38, United States Code, to require States to recognize the military experience of veterans when issuing licenses and credentials to veterans. (And S 492 in the Senate.)

    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 Week Ahead: Nov. 11 - 15

    From our Hill Sources: The House returns this week to consider a new bill related to Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. And the Senate will be considering a drug safety bill.

    In the House

    After many attempts to repeal all or part of ObamaCare, the House returns this week to consider a new bill that appears to have momentum in light of difficulties with the Affordable Care Act rollout.

    • HR 3350Keep Your Health Plan Act: This bill would allow insurance companies to continue offering the same plans that do not meet minimum requirements of the law.

    The Scoop from our Hill Sources: As implied by the title of the bill, Republicans say the legislation is needed to ensure one of President Obama's main promises about the law comes true — that people can keep their plan if they like it. The House will vote on this bill Friday, and all eyes will be on the Democrats, to see how many join the vote. Many are feeling pressure to make some change to the law, and some Democrats have proposed a similar bill in the Senate, the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act (S 1642). 

    On other issues, the House will also consider two tort reform bills:

    Members of the House will also consider up to six suspension bills:

    In the Senate

    The Senate will work on a House-passed bill this week:

    According to bill sponsors, the bill would "protect traditional pharmacies and clarify FDA’s authority over the compounding of human drugs while requiring the agency to engage and coordinate with states to ensure the safety of compounded drugs" and "create a uniform national standard for drug supply chain security to protect Americans against counterfeit drugs while eliminating needless government red tape." (Source: House Energy & Commerce Committee)

    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. The POPVOX Top 20: Nov. 1 - 7

    Want to get this Top 20 List via email? Send Rachna an email at rachna@popvox.com

    ENDA Tops the List

    This week, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was the most popular bill among POPVOX users. This bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in companies and all levels of government, and would be enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It would exempt only religious organizations and the military. The Senate passed ENDA on Thursday, but it's not clear if the House will consider it.

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Nov. 1 - 7

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

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

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

  12. POPVOX Daily Digest - November 6, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    ENDA Progresses in Senate; Vote Thursday

    This week the Senate has made considerable progress toward passing a bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identification in the public and private sectors. The bill is expected to pass Thursday.

    • S 815The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) gives the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the right to enforce new rules that prohibit discrimination against people based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

      On Wednesday, Senate Democrats set up a final vote on the bill for Thursday afternoon. A procedural vote on Monday passed 61-30. If those numbers hold, the 60 votes in favor of the bill will be enough to prevent a filibuster.

      No Republican has spoken out against the bill on the Senate floor, though several are expected to vote against it Thursday.

      Democrats rewarded some of the Republican supporters of the bill by allowing votes on their amendments. On Wednesday, the Senate approved one from Sen. Rob Portman aimed at preventing legal retaliation against religious groups that would be exempt from ENDA's provisions. Portman's language was approved by unanimous consent, shortly after the Senate agreed by unanimous consent to formally proceed to the bill.

      On Thursday, the Senate will vote on another proposal from Sen. Pat Toomey that would broaden those religious exemptions.

    Davis-Bacon Change Passes Senate, Now Goes to White House

    Separately, the Senate approved a House-passed bill this week that would move authority to enforce the Davis-Bacon Act to the Department of Labor. Davis-Bacon is the law that requires people working on federal contracts to be paid prevailing local wages. That bill passed the Senate Tuesday by unanimous consent, after an easy House vote in September, and it now heads to the White House to be signed into law.

    Domestic Violence Protections for Veterans

    On Wednesday, the Senate also passed S. 287, The Helping Homeless Veterans Act. The bill lets veterans receive benefits from the Department of Veterans' Affairs when in a domestic violence situation.

    House Vote Coming on Health Plan Rules

    The House is out for the week, but Republicans say they will soon vote on a bill from Rep. Fred Upton that would ensure people can keep their health plan. The bill is H.R. 3350, The Keep Your Health Plan Act, a response to reports of cancelled health insurance plans under ObamaCare's (ACA's) new insurance standards.

  13. The Week Ahead: Nov. 4 - 8

    From our Hill Sources: The Senate is in this week to consider a bill that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The House is out all week.

    In the Senate

    The Senate will work on:

    • S 815Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA: This bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in companies and all levels of government, and would be enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It would exempt only religious organizations and the military.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources: Every Senate Democrat has cosponsored the bill, and Democrats are hoping to advance the bill on Monday, by voting to end debate on a motion to proceed to the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said ENDA is one of the bills he wants to advance this month. Others include a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and a bill authorizing Defense programs.

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

  14. The POPVOX Top 20: Oct. 25 - 31

    Abortion, Affordable Care Act and Veterans Issues Top This Week's List

    This week, an abortion bill, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act was the most popular bill among POPVOX users -- not surprising given a federal appeals court decision which reinstated most of Texas' new restrictions on abortions. POPVOX users also weighed in on bills related to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). In fact, more than a dozen bills related to the rollout and the problem-riddled healthcare.gov have been introduced in recent weeks. (See the full list.)

    Another priority in Congress and among POPVOX users has been veterans. According to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 711,000 pending veterans claims. More than half of these have been pending for more than four months. This past week, the House passed a bill (HR 2189) that would create a commission or task force to research the backlog and propose solutions by 2015. The bill now must be considered by the Senate.

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Oct. 25 - Oct. 31

    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 356#1 Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act: to ensure that women seeking an abortion are fully informed regarding the pain experienced by their unborn child.

      141 Support | 185 Oppose

    • HR 3342#2 Practice What You Preach Act: To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide for health insurance coverage for the President through an Exchange in the same manner as for Members of Congress.

      273 Support | 22 Oppose

    • HR 3301#3 North American Energy Infrastructure Act: 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.

      163 Support | 118 Oppose

    • HR 992#4 Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act: To amend provisions in section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act relating to Federal assistance for swaps entities.

      18 Support | 258 Oppose

    • HR 2189#5 Establishing a commission on VA disability claims: would establish a commission or task force charged with examining the root causes of the Department of Veterans Affairs disability claims backlog and providing solutions for ending it by 2015.

      223 Support | 27 Oppose

    • HR 3212#6 Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act: To ensure compliance with the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction by countries with which the United States enjoys reciprocal obligations, to establish procedures for the prompt return of children abducted to other countries.

      228 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 2374#7 Retail Investor Protection Act: To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to provide protections for retail customers.

      62 Support | 160 Oppose

    • HR 3199#8 Safe Military Bases Act: To safeguard military and civilian personnel on military bases by repealing bans on military personnel carrying firearms.

      202 Support | 14 Oppose

    • HR 3309#9 Innovation Act: To amend title 35, United States Code, and the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act to make improvements and technical corrections.

      185 Support | 20 Oppose

    • HJR 99#10 A Resolution relating to the disapproval of the President's exercise of authority to suspend the debt limit, as submitted under section 1002(b) of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 on October 17, 2013.

      151 Support | 14 Oppose

    • HR 3197#11 SHARE Act: To protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.

      90 Support | 16 Oppose

    • HR 3350#12 Keep Your Health Plan Act: To authorize health insurance issuers to continue to offer for sale current individual health insurance coverage in satisfaction of the minimum essential health insurance coverage requirement.

      98 Support | 7 Oppose

    • HR 3431#13 American Families United Act: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to promote family unity

      61 Support | 40 Oppose

    • S 604#14 Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act: to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel.

      90 Support | 5 Oppose

    • HR 1405#15 A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to include a notice of disagreement form in any notice of decision issued for the denial of a benefit sought, to improve the supervision of fiduciaries of veterans under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

      87 Support | 3 Oppose

    • HR 3305#16 Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act: To improve the circulation of $1 coins, to remove barriers to the circulation of such coins.

      51 Support | 35 Oppose

    • HR 2337#17 Lake Hill Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act: To provide for the conveyance of the Forest Service Lake Hill Administrative Site in Summit County, Colorado.

      10 Support | 63 Oppose

    • HR 1742#18 Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act: o exclude from consideration as income under the United States Housing Act of 1937 payments of pension made under section 1521 of title 38, United States Code, to veterans who are in need of regular aid and attendance.

      68 Support | 4 Oppose

    • HR 3080#19 Water Resources Reform and Development Act: To provide for improvements to the rivers and harbors of the United States, to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources.

      14 Support | 54 Oppose

    • HR 623#20 Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act: To provide for the conveyance of certain property located in Anchorage, Alaska, from the United States to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

      53 Support | 14 Oppose

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

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

  15. Issue Spotlight: healthcare.gov

    The Affordable Care Act website, healthcare.gov, which enables Americans in 36 states to comparison shop and purchase private insurance, launched on Oct. 1 with major problems. This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before Congress about the website. While some Members of Congress are calling for her resignation, others have introduced bills that would delay or exempt individuals from deadlines.

    Bills Related to the Affordable Care Act Rollout and Healthcare.gov Problems

    Weigh in on these bills that have been recently introduced after the Affordable Care Act's Oct. 1st rollout and the launch of healthcare.gov.

    • HR 3425 A bill: To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to delay the individual health insurance mandate and any penalties for violating the individual mandate until after there is a certification that the healthcare.gov website is fully operational.
    • HR 3420 A bill: To require any communication using Federal funds to advertise or educate the public on certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 to state that such communication was produced at taxpayer expense.
    • HR 3419 A bill: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exempt certain small businesses from the employer health insurance mandate and to modify the definition of full-time employee for purposes of such mandate.
    • HR 3406 If You Like Your Health Care Plan You Can Keep It Act: To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to ensure that individuals can keep their health insurance coverage.
    • HR 3376 Fairness for Lost Coverage Act: To provide a 12-month exemption from the health insurance mandate for individuals whose employer-sponsored health plan coverage or individual health insurance coverage is terminated for a plan year beginning during 2014.
    • S 1629 “Show Your Exemption” Act : to require the disclosure of determinations with respect to which Congressional staff will be required to obtain health insurance coverage through an Exchange.
    • HR 3429 A bill: To protect personal and financial information by requiring certain certifications by entities awarded funds under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for the operation of a Navigator program or certain other Exchange activities.
    • HR 3373 Healthcare.gov Spending Accountability Act : To prohibit incurring further obligations with respect to the healthcare.gov website without offsetting savings.
    • HR 3367 A bill: to delay the application of the health insurance provider annual fee until 2016 and to provide a process to return to consumers any amounts attributable to the expected application of the annual fee to 2014 or 2015.
    • HR 3362 Exchange Information Disclosure Act: to require transparency in the operation of American Health Benefit Exchanges. (And in the Senate, S 1590.)
    • HR 3359 Delay Until Fully Functional Act: To provide for a delay of the individual mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act until the American Health Benefit Exchanges are functioning properly. (And in the Senate, S 1592.)
    • HR 3358 Fairness for Individuals Using Exchange Websites Act: To provide for an exemption from the individual mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for individuals residing in States in which the Exchange Websites are not fully functional.
    • HR 3350 Keep Your Health Plan Act: To authorize health insurance issuers to continue to offer for sale current individual health insurance coverage in satisfaction of the minimum essential health insurance coverage requirement.
    • HR 3348 Obamacare Choice Act : to make the individual health insurance mandate voluntary in 2014.
    • HR 3338 Fairness In Failed Federal Exchange Act: To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide, because of problems relating to the operation of Exchanges, for a hardship exemption from the individual mandate for months of noncoverage.

    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: Snowden, Government Surveillance, Secret Courts and the Fourth Amendment

    Update: Additional Surveillance Bills Introduced

    11/1/13: Two bills related to the NSA were recently introduced -- and are getting attention on the Hill. The FISA Improvements Act (S 1631) was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Oct. 31, and may be considered by the full Senate. Weigh in and share your voice:

    • S 1599 USA FREEDOM Act: seeks to restore Americans’ privacy rights by ending the government’s dragnet collection of phone records and requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability with respect to domestic surveillance authorities, according to the bill sponsor. (Also, HR 3361 in the House.)
    • S 1631 FISA Improvements Act: increases privacy protections and public transparency of the National Security Agency call-records program in several ways, while preserving the operational effectiveness and flexibility of this vital national security program, according to bill sponsor.

    Edward Snowden

    8/15/13: We've been watching Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old former National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA employee, who leaked details of top-secret US government mass surveillance programs to the press. In June, federal prosecutors charged Snowden with espionage and theft of government property. And now he is a "refugee" in Russia.

    In response, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce (R-CA), stated, "Those who are entrusted with the security of our country must be held to the highest standard of accountability. There is no excuse for actions that endanger the lives of Americans at home and abroad." And, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), explained, "Edward Snowden will potentially do great damage to U.S. national security interests and the information he is leaking could aid terrorists and others around the world who want to do real harm to our country."

    • SRes 198 A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the Government of the Russian Federation should turn over Edward Snowden to US authorities.

    Snowden's actions ignited a much larger conversation about the constitutionality of federal online surveillance programs and the Fourth Amendment. It also shed light on secret courts known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA Court), which oversee surveillance warrant requests against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the US by federal law enforcement agencies.

    Members of Congress have introduced several bills related to government surveillance, the secret courts and the Fourth Amendment. It's clear that Congress needs to hear from its constituents. Weigh in on these bills, and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress.Updated 8/15/13

    Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment Legislation

    • HR 2818 Surveillance State Repeal Act: to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
    • HR 2736 Government Surveillance Transparency Act: "would allow companies to publicly disclose the volume and type of information they are ordered to turn over to federal intelligence agencies. Right now companies are barred from acknowledging when they are required to turn over information to the National Security Agency under some sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," according to the bill sponsor.
    • HR 2849 Privacy Advocate General Act: To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish an Office of the Privacy Advocate General.
    • S 1168 Restore Our Privacy Act: to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to limit overbroad surveillance requests and expand reporting requirements.
    • S 1452 Surveillance Transparency Act: to enhance transparency for certain surveillance programs authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • HR 3035 Surveillance Order Reporting Act: to permit periodic public reporting by electronic communications providers and remote computer service providers of certain estimates pertaining to requests or demands by Federal agencies under the provisions of certain surveillance laws where disclosure of such estimates is, or may be, otherwise prohibited by law.
    • HR 2399 LIBERT-E Act: According to bill sponsors, it "restricts the federal government’s ability under the Patriot Act to collect information on Americans who are not connected to an ongoing investigation. The bill also requires that secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court opinions be made available to Congress and summaries of the opinions be made available to the public."
    • S 1182 A bill: to modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to require specific evidence for access to business records and other tangible things, and provide appropriate transition procedures.
    • S 1215 FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act: to strengthen privacy protections, accountability, and oversight related to domestic surveillance conducted pursuant to the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
    • HR 2603 Relevancy Act: To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow access to certain business records only if an investigation relates to a specific individual or specific group of individuals.
    • S 1121 Fourth Amendment Restoration Act: To stop the National Security Agency from spying on citizens of the US.

    Secret Courts Legislation and Secret Laws

    • S 1460 FISA Judge Selection Reform Act: to create two additional judge positions on the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and modify the procedures for the appointment of judges to that court.
    • HR 2440 FISA Court in the Sunshine Act: To require the Attorney General to disclose each decision, order, or opinion of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that includes significant legal interpretation of section 501 or 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 unless such disclosure is not in the national security interest of the US.
    • HR 2761 Presidential Appointment of FISA Court Judges Act: To require Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges.
    • HR 2586 FISA Court Accountability Act: to provide for the designation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • HR 2475 Ending Secret Law Act: To require the Attorney General to disclose each decision, order, or opinion of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that includes significant legal interpretation of section 501 or 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 unless such disclosure is not in the national security interest of the US.

    Snowden and Security Clearance Legislation

    • S 1276 Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement (SCORE) Act: According to bill sponsors, it "improves oversight of the security clearance process, calls for the government to fire background check investigators and suspend others - including contractors - who falsify reports, and forces the government to update its policy determining which positions require a security clearance."

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

  17. POPVOX Daily Digest - October 31, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

     The Senate was in Thursday to set up votes next week on a bill mean to end workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    • S 815The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would structurally to end discrimination against gay, lesbian and trans-gender people just the way the Americans with Disabilities Act sought to end discrimination against people with disabilities.

      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that a vote to end debate on a motion to proceed to the bill would take place Monday evening.

    The Senate also quickly passed H.R. 2094, which boosts grants to states so schools can train people to help children with asthma. And, it passed a bill the House has already approved to name a Florida-based Department of Veterans Affairs building after deceased former Rep. Bill Young.

    Those votes ended the Senate's week. The House was out, and will remain out until after next week.

  18. POPVOX Daily Digest - October 30, 2013

    From our Hill Sources:

    The House met Wednesday to pass a resolution disapproving of the debt ceiling increase.

    House Republicans pushed the so-called "disapproval resolution," H.J.Res. 99, as a way to protest the raising of the debt ceiling. It passed 222-191, but the vote is nothing more than a protest vote, as the Senate has already rejected a GOP resolution.

    Congress effectively gave Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling when it passed the bill ending the government shutdown.

    The House also passed a bill that would change a much-discussed provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

    • HR 992The Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act would let banks use certain financial instruments known as swaps.(passed in a 292-122 vote.)

      Banks can already use some of these swaps, but Dodd-Frank requires others to be parked in a non-bank institution. Many experts believe that was a mistake, since those non-bank institutions are less regulated by the federal government.

    The Senate is focused on nominations all week, but it did pass two bills by unanimous consent just before leaving for the day.

  19. The Hill 101: Conference Committees

    Why does Congress create “conference committees”?

    Conference committees are set up when the House and Senate have passed two different versions of a bill. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution requires that both chambers pass the exact same language before a bill can be presented for the President's signature and become law.

    Conference Committtee

    One version of a bill passed the House. One version passed the Senate. Now both chambers must come together on a combined version that can pass both houses and be signed into law by the President.

    How does a Conference work?

    1. The House and Senate appointed conferees to negotiate the combined version (a conference report.)
    2. A majority of House conferees and a majority of Senate conferees must sign the conference report.

    How does Congress vote on conference reports?

    1. Both the House and Senate must vote on the same version of the conference report.
    2. The Conference report must be publicly available before a vote — 48 hours in the Senate, 3 days in the House.
    3. In the Senate, filibuster rules apply (so 60 votes are needed to “end debate” and proceed to a vote.)
    4. In the House, the conference report gets one hour of debate, and then a vote.
    5. Conference reports can’t be amended and get an “up or down vote.”

     

    (As with everything in Congress, there are exceptions. For more information, see “Conference Committee and Related Procedures: An Introduction” from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.)

    Read more articles on "The Hill 101"

  20. POPVOX Daily Digest - October 29, 2013

    The House met to consider several suspension bills, and a bipartisan bill to alter pending regulations under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

    • HR 2374 The Retail Investor Protection Act A bill that bill would require the Department of Labor to wait for the Securities and Exchange Commission before regulating financial advisers.

      The Department of Labor is considering rules that would require more advisers to adhere to a "fiduciary" standard, or a standard that requires them to act on the best interest of their clients.

      Supporters of the bill argue that these rules would affect advisers used by average people, and would increase the cost of making stock trades online and seeking advice. The bill passed 254-166, with 30 Democratic votes.

      The Obama administration opposes the bill, which makes it unlikely the Senate will take it up.

    The House also debated a resolution disapproving of President Obama's decision to suspend the debt ceiling.

    House Republican leaders are expected to allow a vote Wednesday on this resolution, H.J.Res. 99. However, House passage would not have any effect on the debt ceiling, as the Senate on Tuesday voted against advancing similar language. The Senate voted 45-54, which effectively killed the resolution.

    The resolution is a way for Republicans to say they oppose the suspension of the debt ceiling, but Democratic opposition means there is no chance the measure will be approved by Congress.

    Also today, the House passed four bills involving land exchanges between the federal government and state and local governments. Each of these passed in a voice vote:

    The Senate was also in and voted 55-44 in favor of the nomination of Richard Griffin to be the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.