The Week Ahead: May 18 – 22

From our Hill Sources: Thinking about a road trip this summer? The Highway Trust Fund is set to expire, jeopardizing funding for highway infrastructure. The House is also set to consider veterans legislation and bills related to innovation. Meanwhile, the Senate is working on “fast-track” trade authority.

Repairing Highways and Infrastructure Projects

The Highway Trust Fund is set to expire at the end of May. The Fund is the federal government’s account—funding largely by a tax on gas—that pays for state and federal infrastructure projects. Until 2008, the Highway Trust Fund was paid for exclusively by user fees, and since then, Congress has authorized additional money on a nearly annual basis.

From our Hill Sources: Last year, Congress passed a patch, which expires at the end of this month, after which the Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money in July. Republican leaders in Congress are likely to put another funding extension to a vote next week, which would give them more time to negotiate a longer-term highway funding bill. Some Democrats in Congress are saying they will reject the short-term bill and want to work instead on a long-term solution.

The President’s 2016 Budget proposes a six-year, $478 billion infrastructure funding plan. It is funded by a one-time, 14-percent corporate tax on profits held overseas, estimated at up to $2 trillion. The White House predicted the tax would bring in approximately $238 billion over five years. 

The House will vote on a short-term transportation funding bill this week:

Highway and Transportation Funding Act (HR 2353 and S 1350 in the Senate)

Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) To provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund. According to the bill sponsor: “while highway and transit program spending authority expires at the end of the month, the Highway Trust Fund has sufficient resources to fund its obligations through the end of July. It was our preference to move an extension through the end of the year, but we will need more time to reach a bipartisan agreement on offsets. This legislation will allow transportation spending to continue through July, while we work towards a next step to close the Trust Fund’s shortfall. Doing so will require our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to be constructive in working towards a solution. Only then will we be able to produce a plan that gives states the certainty they need to build the roads, bridges, and other infrastructure our communities and economy need to thrive.” (Read bill text)

Related Bills in Congress

Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act (HR 1846)

Sponsor: Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) —Bipartisan— “Allows all transportation funding proposals to be considered, while simultaneously ensuring the trust fund remains solvent for no less than 10 years. In order to sustain the trust fund in the near-term, the legislation indexes the gas and diesel user fees to inflation—raising roughly $27.5 billion and providing funding for our infrastructure needs for 1.7 years. In order to help reach a truly long-term funding solution, this legislation would create a bipartisan, bicameral Transportation Commission no later than September 1, 2015. This group would be charged with determining a path forward for sustainable funding, and would be advised to consider all options.” according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

Move America Act (S 1186)

Sponsor: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) —Bipartisan— “Would expand tax-exempt private activity bonds and create a new infrastructure tax credit, giving states significant flexibility to pursue infrastructure projects that are badly needed across the country,” according to the Senate Finance Committee. “Greater use of private capital through public-private partnerships (“P3s”) could serve as a helpful addition to increased federal infrastructure spending through the infrastructure trust funds. P3s provide two major benefits: the private investment provides an injection of upfront capital financing, and the risk-transfer to private parties can bring increased efficiency to the design, construction, and maintenance process. While not all projects are feasible for P3s, they can play a helpful, additive role for public infrastructure, in concert with robust public funding.” (Read bill text)

Invest in Transportation Act (S 981)

Sponsor: Sen. Paul (R-KY) —Bipartisan— “Would strengthen the US economy and create jobs by allowing companies to voluntarily return their foreign earnings to the United States at a tax rate of 6.5 percent. The rate is only for repatriations that exceed each company’s average repatriations in recent years, and funds must have been earned in 2015 or earlier. Companies would have up to five years to complete the transfer.” “The interstate highway system is of vital importance to our economy. All across the country, bridges and roads are deficient and in need of replacement. We can help fund new construction and repair by lowering the repatriation rate and bringing money held by US companies back home. This would mean no new taxes, but more revenue, and it is a solution that should win support from both political parties,” according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act (HR 680)

Sponsor: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) “Would phase in a nickel a gallon tax increase over each of the next three years on gasoline and diesel. Of all the proposals being circulated on Capitol Hill, this is simplest, easiest to pass, and the only one giving long term stability,” according to the bill sponsor. “As President Reagan said when he led a similar effort in 1982, it won’t increase the deficit or increase taxes due on April 15. Instead, it will be paid for by the gas tax user fee that has supported the Highway Trust Fund since 1956.” (Read bill text)

Gas Tax Replacement Act (HR 309)

Sponsor: Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) “Would replace the chronically-underperforming federal gas tax with a life-cycle assessment-based carbon tax on gasoline and diesel fuels that will accurately reflect the carbon emissions of the fuel,” according to the bill sponsor. “The Gas Tax Replacement Act would take our nation in a bold new direction and stabilize the chronically-underfunded Highway Trust Fund, which states and municipalities rely on to repair crumbling roads and bridges, expand transit rail service, and support a growing economy. Further, the Gas Tax Replacement Act would help spur advancements in clean energy technology, reduce carbon pollution, and fight climate change here at home and abroad.” (Read bill text)

Veterans Legislation and VA Choice

As we approach Memorial Day, the House will be voting on several bills related to veterans this week. In addition, the House and Senate held hearings last week on the VA Choice Program, which was passed into law last year to enable veterans to seek health care outside of the Veterans Administration (VA). In question is a regulation that bars veterans from using a private care program if they live within 40 miles of a VA clinic. Since the program was launched in November, nearly 8 million VA Choice cards were issued to veterans—but only 48,642 appointments have been made, according to testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

A bill addressing this regulation has been introduced in the House to address the issue, but hasn’t yet passed through the Committee process:

HR 1909

Sponsor: Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to use existing authorities to furnish health care at non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities to veterans who live more than 40 miles driving distance from the closest medical facility of the Department that furnishes the care sought by the veteran. (Read bill text)

Veterans Bills to be voted on by the House

Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act (HR 474)

Sponsor: Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) —Bipartisan— Extends through FY2020 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) homeless veterans reintegration programs. (Those programs provide job training, counseling, and placement services to homeless veterans to expedite their reintegration into the labor force.) Makes eligible for participation in those programs: (1) homeless veterans, (2) veterans who are participating in the VA supported housing program for which rental assistance is provided under the United States Housing Act of 1937, and (3) veterans who are transitioning from being incarcerated. (Read bill text)

Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act (HR 1038)

Sponsor: Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) Would ensure that specific disciplinary actions remain within the employee’s record as long as they are with the Department, according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Relief Act (HR 1313)

Sponsor: Rep. Jerry McNerney (R-CA) “Would protect small businesses owned by disabled veterans in the event that the business owner passes away, by providing a transition period during which the business would keep its SDVOSB status and any federal contracts associated with that status. The transition period would last 10 years after the veteran-owner’s death, if the veteran were either 100% disabled or died from a service-connected disability. The transition period would last 3 years in all other cases,” according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

BRAVE Act (Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act) (HR 1382)

Sponsor: Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) —Bipartisan— “Would allow the Secretary of the VA to give preference to companies that have high concentrations of veteran employees when awarding VA contracts, which will reward companies that make it a priority to provide veterans with meaningful employment opportunities and incentivize other companies to do the same,” according to the bill sponsor.  (Read bill text)

Veteran’s ID Card Act (HR 91)

Sponsor: Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) —Bipartisan— “Enables all veterans to obtain an ID card through the VA at no cost to the US taxpayer,” according to the bill sponsor. Currently, the VA only offers ID cards to those who have served at least 20 years in the Armed Forces or those who receive medical care for a service-connected disability. This leaves a large population of veterans who have served honorably with no easy way to prove their military service."   (Read bill text)

Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act (HR 1816)

Sponsor: Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) Amends the United States Housing Act of 1937 to exclude as family income for Department of Housing and Urban Development housing assistance purposes any Department of Veterans Affairs payments made to veterans in need of regular aid and attendance for expenses related to such aid and attendance. (Read bill text)

Innovation

In a memo to House Republicans, the House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), outlined the theme for the week: innovation. “Innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit are woven into our identity as Americans,” he explained. “We are the pioneers that always look beyond to the next frontier. From sending a man to the moon to leading the internet revolution, the world has always looked to America to lead into the future.” (Read the full memo.) In that vein, the House will consider the following bills:

American Super Computing Leadership Act (HR 874)

Sponsor: Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) —Bipartisan— “Amends the Department of Energy (DOE) High-End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004 to promote accelerated gains in “exascale” computing, computing whose speed approaches that of the human brain,” according to the bill sponsor.  (Read bill text)

Science Prize Competitions Act (HR 1162)

Sponsor: Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) —Bipartisan— “Promotes increased utilization of prize competitions within the federal government to create technological breakthroughs,” according to the House Science Committee. (Read bill text)

Research and Development Efficiency Act (HR 1119)

Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) —Bipartisan— “To have Federal research regulations reviewed for unjustified burdens, unnecessary requirements, and duplication and to recommend cost saving reforms,” according to the House Science Committee. (Read bill text)

International Science and Technology Cooperation Act (HR 1156)

Sponsor: Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) —Bipartisan— “To authorize the establishment of a body under the National Science and Technology Council to identify and coordinate international science and technology cooperation opportunities,” according to the House Science Committee. (Read bill text)

Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act (HR 1561)

Sponsor: Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) —Bipartisan— “To prioritize NOAA research on a focused program for improvement in weather forecasting and prediction of high impact weather events and to expand commercial opportunities for the provision of weather data,” according to the House Majority Leader. (Read bill text)

Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act (HR 1158)

Sponsor: Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) “Would improve management of the National Laboratories, enhance technology commercialization, and facilitate public-private partnerships,” according to the House Science Committee. (Read bill text)

American Research and Competitiveness Act (HR 880)

Sponsor: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) —Bipartisan— “To simplify and make the research & development tax credit permanent,” according to the House Majority Leader. (Read bill text)

Also in the House…

It’s also Appropriations season in Congress! This week, the House will consider:

Legislative Branch Appropriations Act (HR 2250)

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) “Provides annual funding for the offices of Members of the House of Representatives, the support agencies of Congress, security, services for visitors, and Capitol operations and maintenance. The total included for the House and joint operations, excluding Senate-only items, is $3.3 billion. This is the same as the 2015 level and $172.3 million below the President’s request. In all, funding for the House of Representatives has been reduced by 14% since Republicans gained its control in January 2011,” according to the House Appropriations Committee. (Read bill text)

The House will also consider:

Coast Guard Authorization Act (HR 1987)

Sponsor: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) —Bipartisan— “Authorizes Coast Guard and Federal Maritime Commission funding levels for two years, and includes provisions to improve Coast Guard mission effectiveness, help modernize the Service’s aging vessels and other assets, and reform U.S. maritime transportation laws,” according to the bill sponsors. “Authorizes the Coast Guard for Fiscal Year 2016 and 2017 at currently authorized levels, ensuring the Service has the resources it needs to successfully conduct its critical missions. Supports Coast Guard Servicemembers by ensuring Coast Guard officers and enlisted servicemembers receive access to the same benefits as their counterparts in the Department of Defense. Recapitalizes aging Coast Guard assets to ensure the Coast Guard has the tools to carry out its important missions and keep critically needed new aircraft, vessels, and related technology on schedule and on budget.” (Read bill text)

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S 178)

Sponsor: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TN) —Bipartisan— “Boosts support for and protection of victims of human trafficking by increasing law enforcement resources, enhancing victims’ services and increasing penalties on perpetrators,” according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text) —Passed by the Senate on April 22, 2015; now goes to the House for a vote.—

Trade Promotion Authority in the Senate

The Senate will be debating whether to give the President trade promotion authority, which would allow Congress to “fast-track” approval of trade agreements. With “fast-track” authority, the President would be able to negotiate agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and Congress would have to vote yes or no on the entire trade deal and would forego the ability to amend it.

Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (“Trade Promotion Authority” or TPA-2015) (S 995)

Sponsor: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) —Bipartisan— “Outlines 21st century congressional negotiating objectives that any administration – Republican or Democratic – must follow when entering into and conducting trade talks with foreign countries while also increasing transparency by requiring that Congress have access to important information surrounding pending trade deals and that the public receive detailed updates and see the full details of trade agreements well before they are signed. When the trade agreement meets the United States’ objectives and Congress is sufficiently consulted, the legislation allows for trade deals to be submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote, an incentive for negotiating nations to put their best offer forward for any deal. At the same time, the bill creates a new mechanism to withdraw TPA procedures and hold the administration accountable should it fail to meet the requirements of TPA,” according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

From our Hill Sources: To secure additional Democratic support, Senate leaders agreed to bring to a vote a customs and currency bill which would prevent countries from keeping their currency artificially low. The bill passed the Senate last week on a 78-to-20 vote. They also agreed to vote on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (S 1267), which passed by a 99-to-1 vote.

Senate Democrats also negotiated into the “fast-track” package consideration of the Trade Adjustment Assistance, a federal program that helps retrain workers who have lost their jobs because companies moving production overseas:

Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act (S 1268 and HR 1892 in the House)

Sponsor: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)  “Reauthorizes the TAA for Workers, TAA for Firms, and TAA for Farmers programs through June 30, 2021. Key components of the TAA for Workers program include: Trade Readjustment Assistance, a weekly payment to a worker who has exhausted his or her unemployment insurance benefits and enrolled in an eligible training program; occupational training; Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance, which provides a wage subsidy to eligible workers over the age of 50 to subsidize a portion of the wage difference between new wage and their old wage; and job search assistance and relocation allowances. Previous reauthorizations of TAA have been done with congressional action on international trade,” according to the Senate Republican Policy 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 a complex legislative system. —

The Equal Rights Amendment

By Rachna Choudhry, Updated 1/4/2015

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

The Equal Rights Amendment was First Proposed 90 Years Ago

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

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

The ERA Discussion Continues Today

In May 2015, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced joint resolutions that “would rejuvenate efforts to ratify an equal rights amendment (ERA) to the US Constitution.” Senator Cardin’s resolution, SJRes 15, would remove the deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment that has already been ratified by 35 states. Senator Menendez’s resolution, SJRes 16, “would begin the process anew, giving all states a fresh opportunity to voice their support for women’s equality,” according to the sponsors. Companion resolutions, HJRes 51 and HJRes 52 were introduced in the House by Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jackie Speier (D-CA).

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

ERA Resolutions Pending Before Congress

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


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

The Week Ahead: May 11 – 15

From our Hill Sources: The House will vote on legislation responding to the Obama Administration’s reforms of the Clean Water Act, funding for national defense programs, reforming NSA bulk data collection and an abortion ban. The Senate will consider “fast track” trade authority and Americans held in Iran. Also, a look at World War II legislation on the 70th anniversary of V-E Day. 

 

Making Changes to the Clean Water Act

The House will consider legislation responding to the Obama Administration’s proposed reforms of the Clean Water Act:

Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (HR 1732)

Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) “Will uphold the integrity of the federal-state partnership to regulate the Nation’s waters by preserving existing rights and responsibilities with respect to “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act,” according to the House Transportation Committee. “Gives the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers 30 days to withdraw the current proposed rule that defines “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, and charges them with developing a new proposed rule.” (Read bill text)

From our Hill Sources: According to the Obama Administration, clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act through a proposed rule “helps to protect clean water, safeguard public health, and strengthen the economy. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 focused on specific jurisdictional determinations and rejected the analytical approach that the Army Corps of Engineers was using for those determinations, but did not invalidate the underlying regulation. This has created ongoing questions and uncertainty about how the regulation is applied consistent with the Court's decisions. The proposed rule would address this uncertainty.” If the President were presented with this bill, his senior advisors are recommending that he veto it. (Read the White House statement)

The National Defense Authorization Act

Last week, the House Armed Service Committee held a marathon markup of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and national security programs of the Department of Energy. This legislation passed out of committee on a vote of 60 to 2, and is scheduled to for a vote in the House this week:

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (HR 1735)

Sponsor: Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) According to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), “in order to respond to an increasingly dangerous world from the terrorist threat in Africa and the Middle East to Russian aggression in Europe, the committee’s bill makes sure our military has the resources and capabilities it needs to keep America safe and defend our interests abroad. The bill: ensures our military has funding for national defense and overseas operations; makes sure our military personnel receive the benefits they need, deserve, and earned; authorizes and provides resources for cyber defense; updates our crumbling nuclear infrastructure; funds the purchasing of the most advanced missiles, planes, bombers, tanks, defense systems, and more; and supports joint US-Israeli missile defense against those who threaten instability in the region.” “This authorization institutes necessary reforms in the Department of Defense’s costly and duplicative acquisitions process,” according to House Majority Leader McCarthy (R-CA). “To accomplish that, the bill: reforms acquisitions strategy by streamlining the processes and reducing the number of legal certifications needed for acquisitions; empowers the workforce to allow our best military talent to serve in acquisition roles and increases training on markets; simplifies the chain of command to cut down on the multiple layers of bureaucracy.” “The NDAA also cuts wasteful expenditures and institutes much needed compensation reform. For the first time, our troops will be able to choose to either be grandfathered into the current retirement plan or contribute to a Thrift Savings Plan, which ensures that our servicemembers who serve for less than 20 years will still accrue retirement savings.” (Source: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy) (Read bill text)

20-Week Abortion Ban

The House plans to vote on a revised version of a bill that would prohib abortion after 20 weeks except in the case of rape—but would not require that the rape be reported to law enforcement as it previously mandated. The final text of the bill has not been released.

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HR 36)

Sponsor: Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) Prohibits the abortion from being performed if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater. “I am so grateful to all who have worked so hard to craft language that will now unite the pro-life base in a positive and effective way,” explained the bill sponsor. “This proposal is substantially stronger than the original bill, and it places the focus back upon protecting mothers and their innocent little pain-capable babies, from the beginning of the sixth month until birth.” (Read bill text)

From our Hill Sources: The bill was originally scheduled for a House floor vote in January but was pulled from consideration. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) actively opposed some of the language in the bill: “I remain disappointed that the concern for the language of mandatory reporting of rape to law enforcement held by House Republican women and many men were not addressed before our leadership made the decision to pull the bill from the House floor in the eleventh hour.”

Reforming NSA Data Collection

USA Freedom Act (HR 2048)

Sponsor: Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) To reform intelligence-gathering programs operated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). According to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the bill:

  • Ends bulk collection (“In place of the current bulk telephone metadata program, the USA Freedom Act creates a narrower, targeted program that allows the Intelligence Community to collect non-content call detail records held by the telephone companies, but only with the prior approval of the FISA Court. The records provided to the government in response to queries will be limited to two “hops” and the government’s handling of any records it acquires would be governed by minimization procedures approved by the FISA Court.”);
  • Prevents government overreach (“strengthens the definition of “specific selection term,” – the mechanism used to prohibit bulk collection – to ensure the government can collect the information it needs to further a national security investigation while also prohibiting large-scale, indiscriminate collection, such as data from an entire state, city, or even zip code.”);
  • Strengthens protections for civil liberties (“creates a panel of experts to advise the FISA Court on matters of privacy and civil liberties, communications technology, and other technical or legal matters.”). (Source: House Judiciary Committee) (Read bill text)

In the Senate

The Senate will consider a resolution regarding Americans held in Iran:

Freeing American Held in Iran (SConRes 16)

Sponsor: Sen. James Risch (R-ID) “Calls for the release of four Americans being held as political prisoners in Iran and directs the administration to use all diplomatic tools at its disposal to do that. One such tool, of course, is to refuse to lift sanctions without securing the American prisoners’ release,” according to the resolution sponsor. “The resolution calls for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini of Boise, as well as the release of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, former FBI agent Robert Levinson, and Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.” (Read resolution text)

On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to take a procedural vote ending debate on a motion to proceed to a House bill on tax exemptions, which the Senate will use as the legislative vehicle to consider “fast-track”:

Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (“Trade Promotion Authority” or TPA-2015) (S 995)

Sponsor: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) “Outlines 21st century congressional negotiating objectives that any administration – Republican or Democratic – must follow when entering into and conducting trade talks with foreign countries while also increasing transparency by requiring that Congress have access to important information surrounding pending trade deals and that the public receive detailed updates and see the full details of trade agreements well before they are signed. When the trade agreement meets the United States’ objectives and Congress is sufficiently consulted, the legislation allows for trade deals to be submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote, an incentive for negotiating nations to put their best offer forward for any deal. At the same time, the bill creates a new mechanism to withdraw TPA procedures and hold the administration accountable should it fail to meet the requirements of TPA,” according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

Also in the House…

The House will also vote on bills related to law enforcement officers:

Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act (S 665)

Sponsor: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) “Would encourage, enhance, and integrate Blue Alert programs through the United States. The Attorney General would establish a national Blue Alert communications network within the Department of Justice. The Blue Alert system could be used when a law enforcement officer is: (1) seriously injured or killed in the line of duty; (2) missing in connection with the officer’s official duties; or (3) an imminent or credible threat that an individual intends to cause the serious injury of death of a law enforcement officer is received,” according to the bill sponsor. “In December 2014, New York City Police Department officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were assassinated while sitting in their marked police patrol car in Brooklyn. This legislation is named after those officers in honor of the ultimate sacrifice that they made to serve and protect their fellow citizens.” (Read bill text)

Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act (HR 606)

Sponsor: Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) Ensures “that death benefits for family members of public safety officers killed in the line duty would not be subject to federal taxation,” according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

Defending Public Safety Employees Retirement Act (HR 2146)

Sponsor: Rep. David Reichert (R-WA) To allow Federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers to make penalty-free withdrawals from governmental plans after age 50. (Read bill text)

Fallen Heroes Flag Act (HR 723)

Sponsor: Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Allows the Representative of the immediate family of a deceased fire fighter, law enforcement officer, member of a rescue squad or ambulance crew, or public safety officer who died in the line of duty to provide the family, at their request, with a Capitol-flown flag, together with a certificate, signed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Representative providing the flag, which contains an expression of sympathy for the family. (Read bill text)

Commemorating World War II

In celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe, or V-E, Day on May 8, the skies over the National Mall played host to the largest-ever fly-over of World War II-era aircraft. These planes, often referred to as “warbirds,” flew in formation across the Mall, and over the World War II memorial. World War II witnessed tremendous growth in the size of American military aviation, from about 2,500 airplanes to nearly 300,000 by the war’s end. The flyover included trainer, bombers and fighter aircraft—but the highlight was to see the only flying B-29 Superfortress Fifi above the National Mall and the World War II memorial. (Check out the full lineup of warbirds or watch the webcast of the flyover.)

Bills Honoring World War II Veterans

Here are some proposals pending before Congress addressing World War II veterans:

Recognizing an “American World War II City” (HR 1512)

Sponsor: Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC) Will designate at least one city in the United States each year as an “American World War II City,” according to the bill sponsor. The legislation names Wilmington, NC as the first recognized city. (Read bill text)

“Ghost Army” Congressional Gold Medal (HR 2170)

Sponsor: Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known as the “Ghost Army,” a covert World War II unit that contributed to key Allied victories, including the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine River. “By deploying inflatable tanks, planes, and other vehicles, using radio trickery, impersonating other Army units, and employing other deceptive tactics, the Ghost Army diverted the attention of enemy forces and is credited with saving thousands of lives. The Ghost Army’s activities were classified for more than 40 years, and this legislation would provide the unit with long-delayed recognition,” according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

World War II Merchant Mariner Service Act (HR 1288)

Sponsor: Rep. GK Butterfield (D-NC) “Would expand the list of documents accepted by the US Department of Homeland Security to prove service and to grant honorary veterans status to a forgotten segment of the World War II Merchant Marine, the Coastwise Merchant Seamen. The bill would also award any commendations, ribbons, or honors earned during time of service, and provide burial benefits to these individuals that played such an invaluable role in the World War II efforts,” according to the bill sponsors. “Congress has previously passed laws to recognize the efforts of the Merchant Marine. However, these laws have failed to incorporate the entirety of those who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II, and have placed onerous and sometimes impossible criteria on these individuals to prove their service.” (Read bill text)

Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act (HR 44)

Sponsor: Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, (D-GU) Recognizes the suffering and the loyalty of the residents of Guam during the Japanese occupation of Guam in World War II. Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a Fund for the payment of claims submitted by compensable Guam victims and survivors of compensable Guam decedents. (Read bill text)

Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act (HR 483 and in the Senate, S 733)

Sponsor: Mark Takai (D-HI) “Would seek to expedite the process by which children of Filipino veterans are able to achieve US citizenship, by exemptions to the family visa program. President George H. Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990, which offered citizenship to Filipino veterans of World War II but did not include their immediate families, according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

Filipino Veterans Promise Act (HR 315 and S 151 in the Senate)

Sponsor: Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) “Will establish a process for all eligible Filipino veterans to receive the compensation they are entitled to for their service to the United States during World War II,” according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act (HR 563)

Sponsor: Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA) “Would provide surviving Merchant Marines who served during World War II with a modest benefit for their bravery and sacrifice. During World War II, more than 200,000 Americans served in the US Merchant Marines and aided our nation’s military efforts in both Europe and the Pacific. Thousands of our Merchant Mariners faced enemy attack and died at sea while hundreds more were captured and held as prisoners of war. Despite having the highest casualty rate of any US service during the war, they were not eligible to receive veteran’s benefits,” according to the bill sponsors. The legislation would provide a one-time lump sum of $25,000 to each of surviving WWII Merchant Marines. (Read bill text)


— 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 a complex legislative system. —

Photo credits: Air and Space Museum on Twitter; NASA Langley

The Week Ahead: May 4 – 8

From our Hill Sources: The House is in recess this week, but the Senate will continue to work on a bill that would require that an Iran nuclear deal be reviewed by Congress. Also, weigh in on horse legislation, a big issue after the Kentucky Derby. And Congress considers law enforcement accountability and the role of video recording and body cameras on officers.

In the Senate

In March 2015, Congress passed a resolution, SJRes 8, disapproving the National Labor Relations Board’s recently issued “representation case procedures” rule. According to the Obama Administration, these reforms would “help simplify and streamline private sector union elections, thereby reducing delays before workers can have a free and fair vote on whether or not to form or join a union. The rule allows for electronic filing and transmission of documents, ensures that all parties receive timely information necessary to participate in the election process, reduces delays caused by frivolous litigation, unifies procedures across the country, requires additional contact information be included in voter lists, and consolidates appeals to the Board into a single process.”

The President vetoed the resolution in March 2015, and the Senate may consider voting to override the President’s veto.

Congressional Disapproval of the National Labor Relations Board Representation Case Procedures Rule (SJRes 8)

Sponsor: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures. (Read resolution text)

The Senate will also continue consideration of a bill requiring Congressional review of any final nuclear agreement with Iran:

Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (S 615)

Sponsor: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) —Bipartisan— According to the bill sponsor: within five days of concluding a comprehensive agreement with Iran, the President must submit to Congress (1) the text of the agreement and all related materials, (2) a verification assessment on Iranian compliance, and (3) a certification that the agreement meets US non-proliferation objectives and does not jeopardize US national security, including not allowing Iran to pursue nuclear-related military activities. The president is prohibited from suspending, waiving or otherwise reducing congressional sanctions for up to 52 days after submitting the agreement to Congress. Following an initial review period of 30 days, the legislation includes an additional 12 if Congress passes a bill and sends it to the president. If the president vetoes the legislation, Congress would have an additional 10 days to override a veto. After the congressional review period, the president would be required to provide an assessment to Congress every 90 days on Iran’s compliance with the agreement. (Read bill text)

Horses

From our Hill Sources: With the Kentucky Derby this weekend, horses have been on the mind of constituents as well as Congressional staffers. Here’s a look at pending legislation related to horses.

Safeguard American Food Exports Act (HR 1942)

Sponsor: Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) —Bipartisan— To address the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting horses outside of the United States for human consumption, according to the bill sponsors. “For centuries, horses have embodied the spirit of American freedom and pride. To that end, horses are not raised for food—permitting their transportation for the purposes of being slaughtered for human consumption is not consistent with our values and results in a dangerously toxic product. My bipartisan bill seeks to prevent and end the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting thousands of horses a year for food.” 

Safe Transport for Horses Act (S 946)

Sponsor: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) —Bipartisan— Prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle (except a vehicle operated exclusively on rail or rails) containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. Prescribes civil penalties for persons who knowingly violate such prohibition. (Read bill text)

Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act (HR 152)

Sponsor: Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) Directs the Secretary of the Interior to enter into an agreement within 180 days with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Currituck County, North Carolina, and the state of North Carolina to provide for the management of free-roaming wild horses in and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. (Read bill text)

Horse Protection Amendments Act (S 1161)

Sponsor: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) To amend the Horse Protection Act to provide increased protection for horses participating in shows, exhibitions, or sales.

Preventing horse soring (S 1121)

Sponsor: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) —Bipartisan— 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. “Soring is inhumane, and this bipartisan legislation takes an important step toward stopping this abusive training tactic that intentionally inflicts pain on horses,” according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

Horse Transportation Safety Act (HR 1282 and S 850 in the Senate)

Sponsor: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) —Bipartisan— Prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle (except a vehicle operated exclusively on rail or rails) containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. Prescribes civil penalties for persons who knowingly violate such prohibition. (Read bill text)

Law Enforcement Accountability

Members of Congress have introduced legislation regarding police cameras in light of recent deaths at the hands of law enforcement—especially when video footage of the actual event have allowed the public to evaluate the assertions of those involved. In this Congress, several lawmakers have introduced bills related to law enforcement accountability, the right to record officers and body cameras.

Resolution on Americans’ Rights to Record Law Enforcement (HConRes 41)

Sponsor: Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA) Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of the United States have the Constitutional right to record law enforcement authorities, and they have the full protection of the law to the possession of the recording devices, and full protection of the law regarding data saved on the recording devices. (Read resolution text)

Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (Police CAMERA) Act (HR 1680 and S 877 in the Senate)

Sponsors: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Corinne Brown (D-FL) —Bipartisan— Would create a pilot grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies with purchasing or leasing body-worn cameras, according to bill sponsors. “Body cameras will benefit the brave men and women who serve in our police force and the people they protect,” said Sen. Paul. “The use of body cameras helps officers collect and preserve evidence to solve crimes, while also decreasing the number of complaints against police. The Police CAMERA Act will help state and local police departments access this new tool, while ensuring that the privacy rights of every civilian is respected.” 

Police Accountability Act (HR 1102)

Sponsor: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) “Would expand the Department of Justice’s authority to investigate wrongdoing by police by making it a federal crime for police officers to commit murder and manslaughter,” according to the bill sponsor. “Expanding authority under the “Police Accountability Act” would enable the DOJ to conduct murder investigations and bring charges in the event that states fail to do so. This way, civil rights investigations, while encouraged, would not be the only mechanism to necessary to hold police accountable.”  (Read bill text)

End Racial Profiling Act (HR 1933 and S 1056)

Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) To eliminate racial profiling by law enforcement. “Has a multi-pronged approach to healing the rift between community and law enforcement,” according to the bill sponsors. “It will eliminate the well documented problem of racial profiling by establishing a prohibition on the practice and mandating retraining and data collection by federal law enforcement agencies. The legislation also provides grants for the reinforcement and/or development of effective, positive policing practices. For the first time, this bill will make federal cause of action for racial profiling, meaning victims will be able to seek redress in a court of law.” 


— 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 a complex legislative system. —

Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank

The Export-Import Bank's authorization is set to expire on June 30, 2015—and the House and Senate must decide whether to reauthorize the Bank.

What is the Ex-Im Bank?

The Export-Import Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States. Its mission is to assist in financing the export of US goods and services to international markets. The Ex-Im Bank offers direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees and export credit insurance, as well as special financing programs.

2014 Export Value by Industry and Small Business

In FY 2014, the Export-Import Bank supported 164,000 US jobs through financing approximately $20.5 billion worth of exports. Nearly 90 percent of Ex-Im’s authorizations that year directly served small businesses, as defined by the Small Business Administration, according to the Bank President. Last year, the Bank supported manufacturing exports of nearly $16.6 billion. Sixty-eight percent of total authorizations in FY 2014 went to projects in developing markets, up from 62 percent in FY 2013. (Source: Ex-Im Bank's Chairman Fred Hochberg's testimony before the House Oversight Committee.)

(Graphic on the right: 2014 Export Value by Industry and Small Business, Export-Import Bank.)

The Export-Import Bank was established by executive order in 1934 and became an independent agency in 1945. In 2014, Congress temporarily reauthorized the Ex-Im Bank, which expires on June 30, 2015. This week, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, and Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules, will conduct its second joint hearing looking into the future viability of Export–Import Bank, which is up for reauthorization in June. During the first joint subcommittee hearing on April 15, “the Committees learned two key things: 1. the Obama Administration has failed to meaningfully comply with the requirements passed by Congress and signed into law as part of the reauthorization of Ex-Im in 2012 and 2. the Ex-Im Inspector General mentioned that future indictments at the bank are possible.”(Learn more.)

From our Hill Sources

Supporters of the Ex-Im Bank say that not reauthorizing “would be detrimental to the thousands of small businesses that work with the Export-Import Bank and would put export-dependent jobs in jeopardy.” A bipartisan group of governors sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging reauthorization of the bank. (Read the governors' letter.)

Business leaders have also been outspoken about the bank’s reauthorization. Boeing’s Chief Executive Jim McNerney said that his company may have to relocate US-based engineering and manufacturing jobs overseas if Congress eliminates funding for the Export-Import Bank. “Most of my engineering and manufacturing jobs are in the United States and I'd like to keep it that way. But without Ex-Im financing, you'd have to start asking the question” about where they should be, McNerney explained last week. “Boeing can survive, for sure … but the competitiveness dislocation would be significant. If Ex-Im goes away, you'd have the ‘Wild West.’” 

Several Members of Congress—mostly Republicans—urge that the Ex-Im Bank should not be reauthorized. They argue that the Ex-Im Bank doesn’t create jobs, citing a 1997 GAO study that found that government export finance assistance programs like Ex-Im “largely shift production among sectors within the economy rather than raise the overall level of employment in the economy.” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a 2016 Presidential candidate, recently explained: “The government should not be picking winners and losers when it comes to the free market. It doesn't level the playing field for U.S. exporters…. It doesn't create jobs.” 

Related Bills in Congress

Members of Congress are proposing reauthorizing the Bank, as well as reforming it—or eliminating it completely:

Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act (S 819)

Sponsor: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)—Bipartisan— (Four year reauthorization.) “Will reauthorize the Bank's charter until September 30, 2019, increase small business lending, support American jobs and minimize risk to taxpayers by enchancing bank oversight,” according to bill sponsors. “The bill reduces risk to taxpayers by requiring higher loan loss reserves; puts greater focus on small businesses by increasing the required lending to small businesses from 20% to 25%; and increases Oversight of Bank Practices. The bill creates a Chief Risk Officer and a Risk Management Committee to oversee the Bank's operations, requires the Inspector General to audit the Bank’s risk management procedures regularly, and creates a non-political Chief Ethics Officer to oversee ethics practices of Bank employees.”

Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act (HR 597)

Sponsor: Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) (Five year reauthorization.) To reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States. According to the bill sponsor, “legislative reforms include: increased capital requirements for loan-loss reserves to protect taxpayers from future defaults; reduced taxpayer exposure from $140 billion to $130 billion; parallel GAAP reporting; making the EX-IM Bank the lender of last resort; increased risk sharing by private sector lenders and exporters; enhanced multilateral negotiations to reign in official export credit from OECD countries as well as non-OECD countries like China; a clearly defined a role for the Chief Risk Officer and members of the Board of Directors that provides balance with the Bank’s Chairman; required independent audit of the Bank’s portfolio; and greater anti-corruption safeguards.” 

Promoting US Jobs through Exports Act (HR 1031)

Sponsor: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) (Seven year reauthorization.) Extends Ex-Im’s charter until the end of fiscal year 2022. “It also includes a number of important reforms to strengthen the Bank, including provisions to expand opportunities and refine Bank products used by small- and medium-sized businesses,” according to the House Financial Services Committee. “In addition, the legislation contains provisions to root out any possible opportunities for corruption and fraud and protect taxpayer investments in Bank-supported businesses. The measure establishes a permanent Chief Risk Officer, which is accountable to the Bank’s Board and responsible for all matters relating to managing and mitigating the Bank’s risk. The measure also directs the administration to take steps to bring all nations into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) framework for export credit assistance and seek World Trade Organization remedies for countries that violate international trade agreements.” “Finally, the proposal increases transparency by requiring the Bank to publicly display environmental assessment reports on its website no later than 15 business days after the Bank receives these documents, eliminating the cumbersome disclosure process currently in place. It does not contain controversial provisions included in other reauthorization measures that seek to overturn the administration’s guidelines preventing the Bank from financing for overseas power plants that do not adopt environmentally friendly technology.”

Promoting US Jobs through Exports Act (S 824)

Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) (Seven year reauthorization.) “Would provide long term certainty for small businesses by extending the Export-Import Bank through 2022, continuing the bank’s ability to provide businesses with tools they need to compete in the global marketplace and create American jobs,” according to the bill sponsor. “Would increase the Bank’s lending cap by $20 billion over that period, contingent on the Bank’s default rate remaining below two percent. It would also increase the Bank’s loans to small businesses by five percent.” 

Export-Import Bank Termination Act (HR 1605)

Sponsor: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) Abolishes the Export-Import Bank of the United States three years after enactment of this 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 a complex legislative system. —

 

The Week Ahead in Congress: April 27 – May 1

From our Hill Sources: It’s Appropriations Season! The House will work on two appropriations bills, to provide funding for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and also Energy and Water Development. The Senate will continue considering a bill that would require Congressional review of the Iran Nuclear deal. Here’s a look at what’s happening in Congress in the week ahead.

Armenian Remembrance Day

Last week marked the centennial of the Meds Yeghern, the first mass atrocity of the 20th Century. Beginning in 1915, the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire were deported and massacred. One and a half million Armenians died.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis identified the massacre as “the first genocide of the twentieth century.” (Read the Pope’s full remarks to Armenian pilgrims.) In addition, more than 20 countries and 43 US states have affirmed the Armenian genocide. However, President Obama has not. According to the President

This centennial is a solemn moment. It calls on us to reflect on the importance of historical remembrance, and the difficult but necessary work of reckoning with the past. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests. Peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past. We welcome the expression of views by Pope Francis, Turkish and Armenian historians, and the many others who have sought to shed light on this dark chapter of history.”

The United States previously officially recognized the Armenian Genocide through President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Proclamation in Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust. The House adopted similar resolutions in 1975 (HJRes 148) and in 1984 (HJRes 247).

Congress Responds

Last week, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, held a hearing to examine the “denialism of the Armenian genocide by the Government of Turkey.” As Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) explained, “the Armenian genocide is the only genocide of the 20th century in which a nation that was decimated by genocide has been subject to the ongoing outrage of a massive campaign of genocide denial, openly sustained by state authority. Sadly, the Turkish government has driven this campaign of denial, and has done so over a course of decades.” 

Some lawmakers in Congress are calling on President Obama to recognize this atrocity as a “genocide” and have introduced two resolutions:

Senate Resolution regarding the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (SRes 140)

Sponsor: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) —Bipartisan— “Calls for the following: To remember and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2015; That the President work toward an equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relationship that includes the full acknowledgment by the Government of the Republic of Turkey of the facts about the Armenian Genocide; That the President ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide relating to the Armenian Genocide,” according to the resolution sponsors

Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution (HRes 154)

Sponsor: Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) —Bipartisan— “Calls upon the Administration to work toward equitable, constructive and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey's full acknowledgement of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution will also establish a fair, just and comprehensive international record of this crime against humanity.” according to the resolution sponsors

A Woman on the $20 Bill

The Women on 20s (or “W20”) campaign—which aims to get a woman’s image on the $20 bill—has garnered thousands of online supporters. The campaign hopes to make the change by 2020, which marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. People voting on the campaign’s website have chosen Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller as the top candidates for the $20 bill.

Now there is similar legislation pending before Congress. “Not since the 19th century, when Martha Washington’s portrait was briefly featured on the $1 silver certificate, has there been a woman on U.S. paper currency. And yet throughout our history, countless women have accepted the call to serve as the heads of cabinet departments, in the halls of Congress, as Presidents and CEOs of industry, and as activists and public leaders fighting for justice and rights and protections under the law,” explained the bill sponsor.

Put a Woman on the Twenty Act (HR 1910)

Sponsor: Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) “Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to convene a special commission to receive public input and recommend an appropriate woman to receive the high honor of having her portrait on the United States twenty dollar note,” according to the bill sponsor

Women on the Twenty Act (S 925)

Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) “Would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to convene a panel of citizens to recommend a woman whose likeness would be featured on a new twenty dollar bill,” according to the bill sponsor. “Although our paper currency has been redesigned several times to improve legibility and prevent counterfeiting, the portraits on the seven main bill denominations have not changed in nearly a century. Those portraits were chosen by a special Treasury-appointed panel of citizens in the late 1920s.” 

It’s Appropriations Season

Each year, Congress considers several appropriations bills, which provide discretionary funding for numerous activities—for example, national defense, education, and homeland security—as well as general government operations. In recent years these measures have provided approximately 35% to 39% of total federal spending. The remainder of federal spending comprises direct (or mandatory) spending, controlled by House and Senate legislative committees. Committee and floor consideration of the annual appropriations bills occurs during the spring and summer months, but may continue through the fall and winter. (Source: Congressional Research Service)

This week, the House will consider two appropriations bills:

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2029)

Sponsor: Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) “The legislation contains funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, provide housing and services to military families, and help maintain base infrastructure. The bill also funds veterans’ benefits and programs. In total, the bill provides $76.6 billion in discretionary funding – $4.6 billion above the fiscal year 2015 level. This represents a 5.6 percent increase over the fiscal year 2015 level for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – including increases for health care, benefit claims processing, the Board of Veterans Appeals, medical and prosthetic research, and information technology. Of this funding, $58.7 billion was provided in the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill. Military construction is increased by $904 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, which allows for full funding of family housing, construction of hospitals and health facilities, and support for critical overseas investments,” according to the House Appropriations Committee

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (HR 2028)

Sponsor: Rep. Michael Simpson (R-ID) “The legislation provides annual funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the Department of Energy (DOE), and other related agencies. The bill totals $35.4 billion – $1.2 billion above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $633 million below the President’s request. This bill will help ensure the safety, security, and reliability of our nation’s nuclear stockpile, help drive this nation towards energy independence, and help improve the infrastructure that facilitates American commerce,” according to the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers

Also in the House…

Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act (HR 373)

Sponsor: Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) “Speeding access to public lands so accredited volunteer search groups can conduct searches for missing persons,” according to bill sponsors. “Requires that a decision on issuing a permit for accessing public lands be provided to groups within 48 hours of application and that groups are not responsible for obtaining an insurance policy given they waive federal government liability.” 

Directing the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail (HR 984)

Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)  “The story of the Ponca Chief Standing Bear is a story of strength, grace, and dignity in the protection of the most basic of human rights,” explained the bill sponsor. “I believe it is a story that needs to be told again and again, understood, and cherished by all Americans of coming generations. The establishment of the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail would honor both the courage and legacy of this brave individual and his contribution to the civil liberties of our nation.” 

Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act (HR 1324)

Sponsor: Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) —Bipartisan— “Would incorporate land parcels within the wedge into the Arapaho National Forest and authorize the federal government to acquire land in the designated area from willing landholders,” according to the bill sponsor. “This ‘wedge’ of undeveloped land is a perfect example of the natural beauty that makes Rocky Mountain National Park and the Arapaho National Forest such attractive destinations for visitors from across the nation and Colorado alike.” 

In addition, the House may consider the following bills:

Conference Report to SConRes 11, the FY 2016 Budget

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) In the Congressional budget process, Budget Committees report a concurrent resolution on the budget that sets each committee’s allocation of spending authority for the next fiscal year and aggregate spending and revenue levels for 5 years. However, this is not law and isn’t signed by the President. These budget allocations establish the framework to consider spending and revenue bills on the House and Senate floor.

From our Hill Sources: House and Senate negotiators are trying to finish up a budget agreement, reconciling the differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed budget. Then the House will vote on the bill.

Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (HR 1732)

Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) —Bipartisan— “Will require the withdrawal of the Administration’s flawed proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule—a rule that undermines the integrity of the rulemaking process and the long-standing federal-state partnership in regulating the Nation’s waters,” according to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act requires the withdrawal of the rule, and requires the agencies to engage in outreach to stakeholders, including holding a federalism consultation with the states and local governments, consulting with and soliciting recommendations from other affected stakeholders, and carefully considering all public comments before putting forward a new proposed rule—as should have been done under the rulemaking process.” 

In the Senate

This week, the Senate will continue considering a bill that would require Congressional review of the Iran Nuclear deal:

Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (S 615)

Sponsor: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) —Bipartisan— Sen. Bob Corker explained his bill on the Senate floor: “What this legislation does—and we will be talking about it a great deal over the next week—is four things: First of all, it forces the administration, in the event a final deal is agreed to, to bring all of those details to Congress, including the classified annexes we would likely not see until 6 months or so after an agreement is reached, without this legislation, if we can pass it. Secondly, it keeps the executive branch from being able to lift the congressionally mandated sanctions that we put in place, while we have a reasonable period of time to go through the documents that have been provided to us. Thirdly, it allows Congress to take a vote. The vote can take all kinds of forms. It can be a vote of approval. It also allows the leader to decide not to take a vote at all or we could take a vote of disapproval. If we decided that this was not something that was good for our country, not good for the Middle East, then we could cause this vote of disapproval to take place, and if it passed, it would keep the executive branch from being able to lift the congressionally mandated sanctions we have put in place. The fourth and very important component is that it causes us to know whether Iran is in compliance. This bill stipulates, if passed, that the President would have to certify to us every 90 days as to whether Iran is in compliance. If there are significant violations, on a 10-day basis, let us know that is taking place so we can respond accordingly.”  (Read bill text)

From our Hill Sources: The Senate will be using another bill, HR 1191, as the legislative vehicle. Senator Corker (R-TN), the bill’s sponsor, substituted the text of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (S 615) for the language of HR 1191, a bill that already was passed by the House. Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the bill by a 19-to-0 vote.


— 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 a complex legislative system. —

Armenian Remembrance Day

By Rachna Choudhry, 4/24/15

Today marks the centennial of the Meds Yeghern, the first mass atrocity of the 20th Century. Beginning in 1915, the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire were deported and massacred. One and a half million Armenians died.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis identified the massacre as “the first genocide of the twentieth century.” (Read the Pope’s full remarks to Armenian pilgrims.) In addition, more than 20 countries and 43 US states have affirmed the Armenian genocide. However, President Obama has not. According to the President

This centennial is a solemn moment. It calls on us to reflect on the importance of historical remembrance, and the difficult but necessary work of reckoning with the past. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests. Peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past. We welcome the expression of views by Pope Francis, Turkish and Armenian historians, and the many others who have sought to shed light on this dark chapter of history.”

 

The United States had previously officially recognized the Armenian Genocide through President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Proclamation in Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust. The House had adopted similar resolutions in 1975 (HJRes 148) and in 1984 (HJRes 247).

Congress Responds

Last week, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, held a hearing to examine the “denialism of the Armenian genocide by the Government of Turkey.” As Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) explained, “the Armenian genocide is the only genocide of the 20th century in which a nation that was decimated by genocide has been subject to the ongoing outrage of a massive campaign of genocide denial, openly sustained by state authority. Sadly, the Turkish government has driven this campaign of denial, and has done so over a course of decades.” 

Some lawmakers in Congress have been calling on President Obama to recognize this atrocity as a “genocide” and have introduced two resolutions:

Senate Resolution regarding the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (SRes 140)

Sponsor: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) —Bipartisan— “Calls for the following: To remember and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2015; That the President work toward an equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relationship that includes the full acknowledgment by the Government of the Republic of Turkey of the facts about the Armenian Genocide; That the President ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide relating to the Armenian Genocide,” according to the resolution sponsors

Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution (HRes 154)

Sponsor: Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) —Bipartisan— “Calls upon the Administration to work toward equitable, constructive and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey's full acknowledgement of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution will also establish a fair, just and comprehensive international record of this crime against humanity.” according to the resolution 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 a complex legislative system. —

Marijuana Legislation on “420 Day”

By Rachna Choudhry, 4/20/15

Today is April 20, known as 420 Day, which is now well-referenced in popular culture as referring to marijuana. Even the 2003 California state bill codifying the medical marijuana law voters had approved was named SB 420. While urban legend often points to police code as the origins, Ryan Grim, author of This Is Your Country On Drugs, disagrees. Instead, Ryan was able to trace the roots of 420 to a group of five San Rafael High School friends who coined the term in 1971—when marijuana was very much illegal.

Since then, public perception and public policy around marijuana has changed considerably. In November 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana use. And in 2013, US Attorney General Eric Holder said the US Justice Department is "deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time."  And in February 2015, Alaska and the District of Columbia also legalized recreational marijuana use. Oregon passed a similar law via ballot initiative, which goes into effect in July 2015. Additionally, 20 states and Washington, DC have passed laws allowing smoked marijuana to be used for a variety of medical conditions. (Learn more about DC’s marijuana initiative campaign and Congressional review.)

A Look at Federal Marijuana Policy

As the Office of National Drug Control Policy points out, "it is important to recognize that these state marijuana laws do not change the fact that using marijuana continues to be an offense under Federal law." However, in 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder in response to state marijuana laws said the US Justice Department is "deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time."

Throughout early American history, marijuana use was legal under both federal and individual state laws. In fact, from 1850 to 1941, cannabis was included in the United States Pharmacopoeia as a recognized medicinal. By the end of 1936, however, all 48 states had enacted laws to regulate marijuana.

The federal government's first attempt to regulate marijuana, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, made possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the US, but for medical and industrial uses. An excise tax was established for these permitted uses. In 1969, the Supreme Court held the Marijuana Tax Act to be unconstitutional. In 1970, with President Nixon's urging, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act placing marijuana in Schedule I—the most restrictive of five categories for substances with "no currently accepted medical use"—along with heroin, LSD, peyote and psilocybin (mushrooms). Drugs of abuse with recognized medical uses, including opium, cocaine and amphetamine, were assigned to Schedules II through V based on their potential for abuse. (Source: Congressional Research Service.)

Related Bills in Congress

As states take the lead in changing marijuana laws, several bills in Congress have been introduced to regulate marijuana at the federal level:

Small Business Tax Equity Act (HR 1855 and in the Senate, S 987)

“Would reconcile state marijuana laws and federal tax law" and "create an exception to Internal Revenue Code Section 280E to allow marijuana businesses operating in compliance with state law to take deductions associated with the sale of marijuana like any other legal business," according to the bill sponsor.

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (HR 1013)

“Removes marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transitions marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulates marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code governing “intoxicating liquors,” according to the bill sponsor.

Marijuana Tax Revenue Act (HR 1014)

“Creates a federal excise tax on non-medical marijuana sales and moves this quickly growing industry out of the shadows,” according to the bill sponsor. This bill would also “impose a federal excise tax on the sale of marijuana for non-medical purposes as well as apply an occupational tax for marijuana businesses. The bill would establish civil and criminal penalties for those who fail to comply, like those in place for the tobacco industry. The bill also requires the IRS to produce periodic studies of the marijuana industry and to issue recommendations to Congress. It phases in an excise tax on the sale by a producer (generally the grower) to the next stage of production (generally the processor creating the useable product). This tax is initially set at 10% and rises over time to 25% as the legal market displaces the black market. Medical marijuana is exempt from this tax.”

States' Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act (HR 262)

Would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exempt from civil forfeiture real property seized because of medical marijuana-related conduct in states where it is legal. “Allows medical marijuana patients and businesses–who are complying with state law–the ability to access and distribute marijuana free from federal interference,” according to the bill sponsor.

Veterans Equal Access Act (HR 667)

“Would make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana. Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a Veteran’s participation in a state medical marijuana program. The Act would authorize VA physicians and other health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions regarding the use of medical marijuana to veterans who live in medical marijuana states,” according to the bill sponsor.

Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act (HR 1635)

"To ensure that children with epilepsy and other debilitating seizure disorders have access to life-changing Cannabidiol (CBD) oil," according to bill sponsors. "Evidence shows that CBD oil has reduced the amount and duration of seizures in individuals suffering from epilepsy and other seizure disorders; however, CBD is currently banned for medical use at the federal level."

Accountability in Unemployment Act (HR 1136)

To require state laws to deny unemployment compensation to applicants unless they undergo drug testing and test negative — including marijuana. Requires a retest after a 30-day waiting period for applicants who test positive for any one of several specified drugs.


— 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 a complex legislative system. —

The Week Ahead in Congress: April 20 – 24

From Our Hill Sources: Congress has a busy week ahead. They will consider Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which would "fast track" trade deals. The Senate will vote on a bill requiring Congressional review of any final nuclear agreement with Iran. And the House will consider cybersecurity legislation that would enable companies to share information with each other and the federal government.

Trade Agreements

Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation in the House and Senate to establish “concrete rules for international trade negotiations to help the United States deliver strong, high-standard trade agreements that will boost American exports and create new economic opportunities and better jobs for American workers, manufacturers, farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs.” TPA expired in 2007.

From our Hill Sources: “Trade promotion authority”, or TPA, would allow the White House to make new trade deals with Asian and European nations, and have them considered by Congress in an expedited process with an 'up-or-down' vote. However, under these rules, the deals would not be amended or obstructed, and they get a simple up-or-down vote. This authority would make it easier for the Administration to negotiate trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Asian nations.

Currently, the United States has trade agreements in place covering about 10 percent of world trade. According to data from the World Bank, together TTIP and TPP would further open markets encompassing nearly 1.3 billion customers and approximately 60 percent of global gross domestic product.

Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (“Trade Promotion Authority” or TPA-2015) (S 995 and in the House, HR 1890)

Sponsor: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) “Outlines 21st century congressional negotiating objectives that any administration – Republican or Democratic – must follow when entering into and conducting trade talks with foreign countries while also increasing transparency by requiring that Congress have access to important information surrounding pending trade deals and that the public receive detailed updates and see the full details of trade agreements well before they are signed. When the trade agreement meets the United States’ objectives and Congress is sufficiently consulted, the legislation allows for trade deals to be submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote, an incentive for negotiating nations to put their best offer forward for any deal. At the same time, the bill creates a new mechanism to withdraw TPA procedures and hold the administration accountable should it fail to meet the requirements of TPA,” according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

From our Hill Sources: The House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on "expanding American trade with accountability and transparency" on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

Cybersecurity

The House will vote on bills related to cybersecurity:

Protecting Cyber Networks Act (HR 1560)

Sponsor: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) —Bipartisan— “Enables private companies to share cyber threat indicators with each other and, on a purely voluntary basis, with the federal government but not through the NSA or the Department of Defense, all while providing strong protections for privacy and civil liberties. At the same time, the bill makes clear that defense contractors can continue to share cyber threat information with the Department of Defense when required to do so by another law, regulation, or contract,” according to the House Intelligence Committee.

The bill also protects privacy by prohibiting the government from forcing private sector entities to provide information to the government and requires companies to remove personal information before they share cyber threat indicators with the government, according to the Committee. (Read bill text)

National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (HR 1731)

Sponsor: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) “This pro-privacy, pro-security bill ensures the sharing of cyber threats is transparent and timely. It strengthens the NCCIC’s (National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center) role as the lead civilian interface for the sharing of cybersecurity risks and incidents by providing liability protections for the voluntary sharing of cyber threat indicators and defensive measures with the NCCIC or private-to-private” and “granting liability protections for private companies to conduct network awareness of their own information systems,” according to the House Homeland Security Committee

According to the Committee, “in the current environment, companies do not feel they have adequate legal protections to share cyber threat indicators with the NCCIC. Industry needs a “safe harbor” where legal barriers are removed, appropriate privacy protections are in place, and companies are incentivized to be a full NCCIC participant.” (Read bill text)

Iran Nuclear Agreement Review

Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed a bill requiring Congressional review of any final nuclear agreement with Iran. It may be considered by the full Senate this week:

Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (S 615)

Sponsor: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) —Bipartisan— According to the bill sponsor: within five days of concluding a comprehensive agreement with Iran, the President must submit to Congress (1) the text of the agreement and all related materials, (2) a verification assessment on Iranian compliance, and (3) a certification that the agreement meets US non-proliferation objectives and does not jeopardize US national security, including not allowing Iran to pursue nuclear-related military activities. The president is prohibited from suspending, waiving or otherwise reducing congressional sanctions for up to 52 days after submitting the agreement to Congress. Following an initial review period of 30 days, the legislation includes an additional 12 if Congress passes a bill and sends it to the president. If the president vetoes the legislation, Congress would have an additional 10 days to override a veto. After the congressional review period, the president would be required to provide an assessment to Congress every 90 days on Iran’s compliance with the agreement. (Read bill text)

From our Hill Sources: Senator Corker (R-TN), the bill sponsor, was one of seven Republican Senators who did not sign a controversial letter to Iran’s leaders warning that Congress could invalidate any nuclear agreement. And last week, President Obama telephoned Senator Corker “to talk to him about the commitments that Iran had made,” according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “The President said to him what he has said publicly, which is that he certainly has a lot of respect for the way that Chairman Corker has approached the situation; they have obvious differences. But the President made the case to him once again that the President believes that this principled approach to diplomacy is the best way for us to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The conversation was not an opportunity for the two men to negotiate the terms of any sort of legislation, but rather just an opportunity for the President to speak directly to the chairman to underscore his view about the opportunity that now exists.” 

Human Trafficking Legislation

The Senate may also pick up its work on a bill to combat human trafficking, which stalled last month.

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S 178)

Sponsor: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) —Bipartisan— “Would empower law enforcement to further crack down on human traffickers in communities across the country while bringing about greater restitution and justice for victims. In addition to law enforcement provisions, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act helps victims rebuild their lives by using fines and penalties against perpetrators to improve the availability of restitution and witness assistance funds,” according to bill sponsors. (Bill text)

From our Hill Sources: The bipartisan bill, which was expected to pass without issue, hit a snag when Democrats noticed that it contained a provision extending the "Hyde Amendment" prohibition on using federal taxpayer funds for abortion-related services to the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund created by the bill. This would be a departure from past Hyde Amendment practice because fines imposed on traffickers, not federal taxes, finance the fund. While the Hyde amendment language was included in the bill that passed the Judiciary Committee in a bipartisan vote, Democrats said that it was not listed in the summary of changes they were provided and it went unnoticed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that a vote on Attorney General nominee, Loretta Lynch's, confirmation will not move forward until work on the human trafficking bill is completed. President Obama had nominated Lynch, a federal prosecutor, in November, and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved her nomination in February.

Also in the House…

The House will also vote on the following bills:

Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act (HR 1195)

Sponsor: Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) —Bipartisan— To direct the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to establish a Small Business Advisory Board to: (1) advise and consult with the CFPB in the exercise of its functions under the federal consumer financial laws regarding eligible financial products or services, and (2) provide information on evolving small business practices.

Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (HR 471)

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) —Bipartisan— “A critical and comprehensive approach to preventing prescription drug abuse by creating more collaboration between the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), drug distributors and pharmacies while maintaining patient access to important drugs. The bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the DEA to collaborate on the improvement of access and enforcement,” according to the bill sponsors

Energy Efficiency Improvement Act (S 535)

Sponsor: Sen. Robert Portman (R-OH) —Bipartisan— “Contains key energy efficiency provisions that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution,” according to the bill sponsors. Establishes a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption; exempts certain electric resistance water heaters used for demand response from pending Department of Energy regulation; requires federal agencies to coordinate with OMB, DOE, and EPA to develop an implementation strategy; and requires that federally-leased buildings without Energy Star labels benchmark and disclose their energy usage data, where practical. —Passed by the Senate on 3/27/2015. —

Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds (HConRes 21)

Sponsor: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) —Bipartisan— Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby.

Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds (HConRes 25)

Sponsor: Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) —Bipartisan— Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the National Peace Officers Memorial Service and the National Honor Guard and Pipe Band Exhibition.


— 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 a complex legislative system. —

Top 50 of the First 100 Days

The first 100 days of a new Congress has been an important benchmark since 1933—when Congress passed—and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law—15 bills. Today, April 15, marks the first 100 days of the 114th Congress.

By the Numbers

The first 100 days of this Congress included about 40 days in which Congress was actually in session; 24 days when it snowed; 20 bills passed by both the House and Senate; 2 official snow days when the federal government shutdown; 2 Presidential vetoes; and 1 averted government agency shutdown.

And Congress, in 100 days, introduced an impressive 3,125 bills and resolutions.

Here’s a look at the 50 most active bills among POPVOX users during these first 100 days of Congress. You can find all 3,125 bills and resolution on POPVOX.com.


Top 50 x 100 on POPVOX

Share your voice and POPVOX will deliver your message to your Members of Congress.

#1 Responsible Body Armor Possession Act (HR 378)

Sponsor: Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) To prohibit the purchase, ownership, or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians, with exceptions. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 67 Support | 3,746 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/14/2015.

#2 Fair Tax Act (HR 25)

Sponsor: Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) "To promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States," according to the bill summary. Repeals the income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift tax. Imposes a national sales tax on the use or consumption in the United States of taxable property or services. Sets the sales tax rate at 23% in 2017, with adjustments to the rate in subsequent years. Allows exemptions from the tax for property or services purchased for business, export, or investment purposes, and for state government functions. Prohibits the funding of the Internal Revenue Service after FY 2019.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 3,006 Support | 149 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on the first day of the Congressional session, 1/6/2015.

#3 Fair Tax Act (S 155)

Sponsor: Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) "To promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States," according to the bill summary. Repeals the income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift tax. Imposes a national sales tax on the use or consumption in the United States of taxable property or services. Sets the sales tax rate at 23% in 2017, with adjustments to the rate in subsequent years. Allows exemptions from the tax for property or services purchased for business, export, or investment purposes, and for state government functions. Prohibits the funding of the Internal Revenue Service after FY2019.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 1,469 Support | 91 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/13/2015.

#4 Keystone XL Pipeline Act (S 1)

Sponsor: Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) — Bipartisan — "Authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the US Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to US refineries, which includes 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. Upon passage, a presidential permit would no longer be needed to approve the project," according to the bill sponsors.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 555 Support | 233 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Passed by the Senate on 1/29/2015. Sent to the House for consideration. (The House passed its own version of the bill.) On 2/24/15, the President vetoed the bill, which became his third veto of his Presidency, and the Senate unsuccessfully attempted to override the President’s veto. The vote was 62 to 37

#5 Ammunition and Firearms Protection Act (HR 1365)

Sponsor: Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)  “Would prevent the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) from classifying M855 ammunition as armor-piercing and from instituting any ban on the sale and manufacture of ammunition that is intended, marketed, and sold for rifle use,” according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 743 Support | 37 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 3/16/2015.

#6 Authorizing a lawsuit against the President (HRes 11)

Sponsor: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) Providing for authority to initiate litigation for actions by the President or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the US Constitution with respect to the implementation of the immigration laws. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 576 Support | 102 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on the first day of the Congressional session, 1/6/2015.

#7 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015 (HR 240)*

Sponsor: Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)  Makes appropriations for the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015. “In total, the bill provides $39.7 billion in discretionary funding for DHS, an increase of $400 million compared to the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The bill prioritizes frontline security – including all operational, counterterrorism, and threat-targeting activities, and essential tactical equipment – and saves taxpayer dollars by reducing overhead costs and cutting funds for lower-priority programs. The bill also includes several approved amendments to limit the President’s recent actions on immigration and to require DHS to enforce current immigration laws,” according to the House Appropriations Committee.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 202 Support | 395 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Passed by the House and Senate; into law by the President on 3/4/2015.

#8 Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act (S 405)

Sponsor: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) —Bipartisan— “Includes a broad array of measures to enhance opportunities for hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts; reauthorize key conservation programs; improve access to public lands; and help boost the outdoor recreation economy,” according to the bill sponsors. Among the provisions in the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act are the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act; Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act; Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act; Farmer and Hunter Protection Act; Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act; Permits for Film Crews of Five People or Less; Equal Access to Justice Act and Judgment Fund Transparency; Transporting Bows Across National Park Service Lands; Making Public Lands Public; HUNT Act; Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization (FLTFA); North American Wetlands Conservation Act Reauthorization (NAWCA); and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Reauthorization. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 139 Support | 352 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/5/2015.

#9 Student Success Act (HR 5)

Sponsor: Rep. John Kline (R-MN)  Will replace No Child Left Behind and “reduce the federal footprint, restore local control, and empower parents and education leaders to hold schools accountable for effectively teaching students,” according to the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Replaces the current national accountability scheme based on high stakes tests with state-led accountability systems, returning responsibility for measuring student and school performance to states and school districts. Ensures parents continue to have the information they need to hold local schools accountable. Eliminates more than 65 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary programs and replaces this maze of programs with a Local Academic Flexible Grant, helping schools better support students. Protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by preventing the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other common standards or assessments, as well as reining in the secretary’s regulatory authority. Empowers parents with more school choice options by continuing support for magnet schools and expanding charter school opportunities, as well as allowing Title I funds to follow low-income children to the traditional public or charter school of the parent’s choice. Strengthens existing efforts to improve student performance among targeted student populations, including English learners and homeless children.” (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 93 Support | 390 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/3/2015, sent to the House floor for consideration on 2/24/2015 and pulled from consideration on 2/27/2015, leaving the bill as “unfinished business.”

#10 Repeal Executive Amnesty Act (S 129)

Sponsor: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)  To repeal executive immigration overreach, to clarify that the proper constitutional authority for immigration policy belongs to the legislative branch.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 429 Support | 48 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/8/2015.

#11 The President's Draft Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF)

Would not authorize long‑term, large-scale ground combat operations like those our Nation conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other, more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving US or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership. Would also authorize the use of US forces in situations where ground combat operations are not expected or intended, such as intelligence collection and sharing, missions to enable kinetic strikes, or the provision of operational planning and other forms of advice and assistance to partner forces. (Source: Letter from the President to Congress)

On POPVOX: 83 Support | 384 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: The President submitted his request on 2/11/2015.

#12 Western Great Lakes Wolf Management Act (HR 843)

Sponsor: Rep. John Kline (R-MN) —Bipartisan— To prohibit treatment of gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan as endangered species. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 55 Support | 411 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/10/2015.

#13 Defund Executive Amnesty Act (HR 227)

Sponsor: Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Prohibits the use of funds for certain immigration-related policies, including executive orders or any other executive policy issued after March 11, 2011, that provides for parole, employment authorization, deferred action, or any other immigration benefit or relief for individuals who are unlawfully present in the United States (with exceptions for asylum, temporary protected status, or cancellation of removal by an immigration judge).  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 391 Support | 50 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/8/2015.

#14 Repealing the Affordable Care Act (HR 596)

Sponsor: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 342 Support | 74 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/28/2015.

#15 Enterprise Secondary Reserve Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act (HR 1673)

Sponsor: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 390 Support | 2 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 3/26/2015.

#16 Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (HR 1013)

Sponsor: Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)  —Bipartisan— “Removes marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transitions marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulates marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code governing “intoxicating liquors,” according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 272 Support | 84 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/20/2015.

#17 Prevention of Executive Amnesty Act (HR 31)

Sponsor: Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL)  To prohibit the use of funds to implement the immigration policies set forth in the memoranda issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security on Nov. 20, 2014, or the memoranda issued by the President on Nov. 21, 2014. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 320 Support | 29 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on the first day of the Congressional session, 1/6/2015.

#18 Keystone XL Pipeline Act (HR 3)

Sponsor: Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) To approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 238 Support | 93 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Passed by the House on 1/9/2015. The Senate passed its version, and the two versions were reconciled before going to the President for consideration. The President vetoed the legislation, and the Senate was unable to override his veto.

#19 The “Clean” Department of Homeland Security Appropriations, 2015 (S 272)

Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)  “A complete, clean bill to fund DHS operations through the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2015. Shaheen and Mikulski used the House and Senate’s December DHS compromise to write their bill (S 272), and kept it free of extraneous policy riders that would threaten vital homeland security operations. DHS funding is set to expire at the end of February,” according to the sponsors. “Incorporates critical increases in funding and support for border security, cybersecurity, the Secret Service and other national security initiatives. The legislation would fully fund DHS operations for the remainder of FY 2015, and also includes complete disaster funding.” (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 42 Support | 280 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/27/2015.

#20 National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act (HR 402)

Sponsor: Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL) — Bipartisan — To provide a national standard in accordance with which nonresidents of a State may carry concealed firearms in the State.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 284 Support | 19 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/16/2015.

#21 Clay Hunt SAV Act (Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act) (HR 203)*

Sponsor: Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) — Bipartisan — Requires the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all VA mental health services for veterans. Addresses the shortage of mental health care professionals by authorizing the VA to conduct a student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists. Requires evaluations of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what’s working and what’s not working and make recommendations to improve care. Establishes a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning Servicemembers with accessing VA mental health care services. (Source: Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN)). (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 224 Support | 71 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/7/2015; passed by the House on 1/12/2015 and the Senate on 2/3/2015. Signed into law by the President on 2/12/2015.

#22 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (S 615)

Sponsor: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) —Bipartisan— Requiring congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran, according to the bill sponsors. “Would mandate the President submit the text of any agreement to Congress and prohibit the Administration from suspending Congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.” (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 223 Support | 61 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/27/2015; passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 4/14/2015, which is expected to be considered by the Senate.

#23 Free Trade With Cuba Act (HR 403)

Sponsor: Rep. Charlie Rengel (D-NY) “Would lift the long-standing embargo on trade with Cuba to give American companies their fair share,” according to the bill sponsor. Cuba sits 90 miles off the US coast and has a GDP of $60 billion.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 83 Support | 193 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/16/2015.

#24 Secure Our Borders First Act (HR 399)

Sponsor: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)  “The Secure Our Borders First Act will be the most significant and toughest border security bill ever set before Congress. We are putting fencing where fencing is needed and technology where technology is needed to ensure a smart, safe, and cost-effective border. We tell the government how to secure the border step-by-step, and put in place real penalties for ignoring the will of Congress,” according to the House Homeland Security Committee. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 184 Support | 78 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/16/2015.

#25 Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act (HR 37)

Sponsor: Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) A package of 11 bills introduced in the 114th Congress "which make it easier for small businesses to grow and hire, creating more opportunity for all," according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 199 Support | 57 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on the first day of the Congressional session, 1/6/2015. Passed by the House on 1/14/2015. Now goes to the Senate for consideration.

#26 Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act (S 269)

Sponsor: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) —Bipartisan— “Would impose economic pressure on Iran if international negotiations do not yield a final nuclear deal by June 30th, and impose a Congressional review period of 30 continuous session days in the event of a final deal,” according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 204 Support | 44 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/27/2015.

#27 The President’s FY 2016 Budget

According to the President, “The ideas I offer in this Budget are designed to bring middle-class economics into the 21st Century. These proposals are practical, not partisan. They’ll help working families feel more secure with paychecks that go further, help American workers upgrade their skills, so they can compete for higher-paying jobs, and help create the conditions for our businesses to keep generating good new jobs for our workers to fill. The Budget will do these things while fulfilling our most basic responsibility to keep Americans safe. We will make these investments and end the harmful spending cuts known as sequestration, by cutting inefficient spending, and closing tax loopholes. We will also put our Nation on a more sustainable fiscal path by achieving $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, primarily from reforms in health programs, our tax code, and immigration.” (Read the President’s full letter to Congress.)

On POPVOX: 40 Support | 208 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: The President submitted his budget to Congress on 2/2/2015.

#28 Limiting FCC authority over broadband Internet providers (HR 279)

Sponsor: Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH) “To ensure the Internet remains open and free from government interference by limiting the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority to regulate broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC has stated it plans to reclassify broadband Internet access as a public utility under Title II rather than an information service,” according to the bill sponsor. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 173 Support | 72 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/12/2015.

#29 Reissuing final rules related to the Gray Wolf (HR 884)

Sponsor: Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) — Bipartisan — To direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules relating to listing of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 55 Support | 190 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/11/2015.

#30 Tax Code Termination Act (HR 27)

Sponsor: Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) — Bipartisan — "Sunsets the current IRS tax code by December 31, 2019, and calls on Congress to approve a new federal tax system by July of the same year," according to the bill sponsor.

On POPVOX: 199 Support | 43 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on the first day of the Congressional session, 1/6/2015.

#31 Save American Workers Act (HR 30)

Sponsor: Rep. Todd Young (R-IN)  — Bipartisan — Would repeal the 30-hour definition of "full-time employment" in the Affordable Care Act and restore the traditional 40-hour definition, according to the bill sponsor.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 173 Support | 67 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on the first day of the Congressional session, 1/6/2015; and passed by the House on 1/8/2015. Now goes to the Senate for consideration.

#32 Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HR 36)

Sponsor: Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) — Bipartisan — “Seeks to afford basic protection to mothers and their unborn children entering the sixth month of gestation,” according to the bill sponsors. Prohibits the abortion from being performed if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater, except: (1) where necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury, excluding psychological or emotional conditions; or (2) where the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the result of incest against a minor, if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency, or if the incest has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 163 Support | 73 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Was scheduled for a House floor vote in January but was pulled from consideration. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) actively opposed some of the language in the bill: “I remain disappointed that the concern for the language of mandatory reporting of rape to law enforcement held by House Republican women and many men were not addressed before our leadership made the decision to pull the bill from the House floor in the eleventh hour.” 

#33 Repealing the Affordable Care Act (HR 370)

Sponsor: Rep. John Freming (R-LA)  To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 192 Support | 41 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/14/2015.

#34 Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act (HR 196)

Sponsor: Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) Would “require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ban so-called “paid prioritization” agreements between a broadband provider and a content provider,” according to bill sponsors.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 73 Support | 157 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/7/2015.

#35 Repeal Executive Amnesty Act (HR 191)

Sponsor: Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL)  Would “defund President Obama’s executive amnesty, including the memoranda issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Prohibit DHS or any other federal agency from using funds or fees made available to them to implement, administer, enforce, or carry out any amnesty policies established through executive memos. Among other things, it would cut off funding for the president's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty and the broader executive amnesty program announced on Nov. 20, 2014,” according to bill sponsors. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 204 Support | 24 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/7/2015.

#36 Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act (HR 52)

Sponsor: Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)  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, among them: 1. Residency requirement (The alien was physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding the date on which this provision was enacted and has maintained continuous physical presence since then); and 2. Community service (if older than 18, has performed at least 40 hours of community service.)  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 33 Support | 192 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/16/2015.

#37 Paying a Fair Share Act (The “Buffett Rule”) (HR 362)

Sponsor: Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)  To require an individual taxpayer whose adjusted gross income exceeds $1 million (high-income taxpayer) to pay a minimum tax rate of 30% of the excess of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income over the taxpayer's modified charitable contribution deduction for the taxable year (tentative fair share tax). Establishes the amount of such tax as the excess (if any) of the tentative fair share tax over the excess of: (1) the sum of the taxpayer's regular tax liability, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) amount, and the payroll tax for the taxable year; over (2) certain tax credits. Provides for a phase-in of such tax. Requires an inflation adjustment to the $1 million income threshold for taxable years beginning after 2016. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 68 Support | 154 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/14/2015.

#38 Recidivism Clarification Act (HR 1254)

Sponsor: Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) "Would address the excessive, severe, and irrational mandatory consecutive penalties that are added onto existing mandatory minimums in certain federal drug cases, a practice commonly known as “stacking.” The current stacking statute, 18 U.S.C. § 924, has led to grossly disproportionate, irrational, and excessive sentences that often do not fit the crime charged. The bill clarifies that sentences can only be “stacked” when the defendant is a “true recidivist”—meaning the defendant had a prior qualifying predicate conviction that had already been final. The bill would also provide relief to those who are already serving time under these unjust sentences, permitting them to petition for relief from excessive sentences, which a federal court, for the first time, will be able to grant in appropriate circumstances,” according to the bill sponsor,. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 157 Support | 65 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 3/4/2015.

#39 Secret Science Reform Act (HR 1030)

Sponsor: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)  “Requires that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to base its regulations on public data,” according to the House Science Committee. “Requires the EPA to base its decisions on information to which all scientists have access. This will allow the EPA to focus its limited resources on the highest quality science that all researchers can examine. And this will promote sound science and restore confidence in the EPA decision-making process.” (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 165 Support | 51 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/24/2015; and passed by the House on 3/18/2015.

#40 Fairness in Taxation Act (HR 389)

Sponsor: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) https://www.popvox.com/member/rep-janice-schakowsky-il Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) Would impose increased rates of tax with respect to taxpayers with more than $1,000,000 taxable income.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 61 Support | 154 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/14/2015.

#41 Immigration Rule of Law Act (S 534)

Sponsor: Rep. Susan Collins (R-ME)  Would permanently prohibit the Administration from implementing a series of policy initiatives with respect to deferred action, immigration, and enforcement that the President announced in November 2014. Would prohibit the Administration from both expanding eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which began in August 2012, and extending the deferral period from two years to three years. Would prohibit the Administration from approving the parents of US citizens or lawful permanent residents for deferred action. (Source: Congressional Budget Office) (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 185 Support | 28 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/23/2015 and considered by the Senate on 2/27/2015. The bill did not have enough support to end debate and failed a cloture vote.

#42 Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act (HR 38)

Sponsor: Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)  To prohibit the executive branch from exempting from removal categories of aliens considered under the immigration laws to be unlawfully present in the United States. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 189 Support | 22 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on the first day of the Congressional session, 1/6/2015.

#43 Marijuana Tax Revenue Act (HR 1014)

Sponsor: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)  “Creates a federal excise tax on non-medical marijuana sales and moves this quickly growing industry out of the shadows,” according to the bill sponsor. This bill would also “impose a federal excise tax on the sale of marijuana for non-medical purposes as well as apply an occupational tax for marijuana businesses. The bill would establish civil and criminal penalties for those who fail to comply, like those in place for the tobacco industry. The bill also requires the IRS to produce periodic studies of the marijuana industry and to issue recommendations to Congress. It phases in an excise tax on the sale by a producer (generally the grower) to the next stage of production (generally the processor creating the useable product). This tax is initially set at 10% and rises over time to 25% as the legal market displaces the black market. Medical marijuana is exempt from this tax.” (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 120 Support | 85 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 3/20/2015.

#44 Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act (HR 752)

Sponsor: Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT)  “bans the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition and are designed for shooting in mass,” according to the bill sponsor.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 9 Support | 193 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/5/2015.

#45 Protecting 2nd Amendment Rights Act (HR 1180)

Sponsor: Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL) “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) recently proposed a new regulation that would ban the manufacturing and sale of 5.56 mm/.223 caliber M855 “green tip” ammo commonly used for hunting and target shooting. Rooney’s bill, the “Protecting Second Amendment Rights Act,” would prohibit the ATF or any other federal agency from issuing or enforcing any new restriction or prohibition on the manufacture, importation or sale of ammunition in the United States,” according to the bill sponsor.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 193 Support | 4 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/27/2015.

#46 Uphold the Oath Americans Trust and Honor (OATH) Resolution (HRes 21)

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC)  “Would authorize legal action against the Administration for President Obama’s latest immigration overreach,” according to the bill sponsor.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 161 Support | 31 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/7/2015.

#47 Public Option Deficit Reduction Act (HR 265)

Sponsor: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) “It’s time to pursue legislation that builds upon Obamacare. The Public Option Deficit Reduction Act is just that type of legislation. It would save consumers even more money, offering premiums that are 5 to 7 percent lower than private insurance plans and decreasing our deficit by $158 billion over 10 years. The public option means more transparent, lower-cost health care for Americans. This would be a win for consumers, taxpayers and our economy,” according to the bill sponsor.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 46 Support | 146 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/9/2015.

#48 House Republican FY 2016 Budget (HConRes 27)

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)  Establishing the budget for the US Government for fiscal year 2016 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2025. A $3.8 trillion budget proposal, which balances the budget in less than 10 years without raising taxes; cuts $5.5 trillion in spending – higher than any previous House Budget Committee proposal; repeals Obamacare in full – including all of its taxes, regulations and mandates; and provides for a strong national defense through robust funding of troop training, equipment and compensation, according to the House Budget Committee. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 132 Support | 57 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 3/20/2015 and passed by the House on 3/25/2015.

#49 Home-Assembled Firearms Restriction Act (HR 376)

Sponsor: Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)  “Will ban the sale and purchase of “incomplete lower receivers,” which are easily purchased and converted into functioning firearms. Banning these transactions would severely reduce the number of untraceable weapons on our streets,” according to the bill sponsor.  (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 4 Support | 182 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 1/14/2015.

#50 Welcoming the Israeli Prime Minister (SRes 76)

Sponsor: Rep. John Cornyn (R-TX)  A resolution welcoming the Prime Minister of Israel to the United States for his address to a joint meeting of Congress. (Read bill text)

On POPVOX: 137 Support | 45 Oppose

Action in the 114th Congress: Introduced on 2/12/2015 and passed by the Senate on 2/26/2015.



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