The POPVOX Blog

  1. POPVOX Daily Digest - October 1, 2013 (Part 2)

    From our Hill sources:

    House Attempts "Piecemeal" Approach to Government Funding

    On the first full day of the Shutdown, House Republicans said they would try to pass smaller spending bills and send them to the Senate.

    The plan was meant as a way to fund some of the areas of government that people are likely to notice soon. The GOP proposed funding veterans programs, national parks, and the District of Columbia government.

    But Democrats balked and said they would not allow Republicans to cherry-pick which programs will be open and which will be closed during the shutdown.

    Republicans tried to pass the bills under a suspension of the rules, which would need a two-thirds majority and thus require Democratic support. A few dozen Democrats supported each bill, but wasn't enough, and the bills failed.

    On Wednesday, the House is likely to try again under regular order, which will allow them to pass by a simple majority.

    But even then, Senate Democrats say they'll reject the bills. That's likely to leave the House and Senate without a clear way forward after two days of shutdown.

    The bills are:

    Senate Requests Farm Bill Conference

    Elsewhere today, the Senate requested a conference with the House on another matter — the farm bill. (H.R. 2642). That request could get the two sides talking about agriculture and nutrition programs, even as they're stuck on 2014 spending.

    But this issue isn't easy either. A House-passed nutrition bill calls for a $40 billion cut to food stamps, while the Senate has offered just $4 billion in cuts.

     

  2. POPVOX Daily Digest - October 1, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    Congress is meeting today, and has nothing on its agenda other than trying to find a deal to end the government shutdown that took place this morning.

    However, it's not clear at all how a deal might be found. The House's last move was to request a House-Senate conference on a short-term spending resolution for the first few weeks of fiscal year 2014.

    The Senate quickly rejected that request this morning. Senate Democrats continue to oppose any talks that involve GOP demands to defund, delay or undermine ObamaCare.

    Last night, the Senate's last move was to send over a "Clean CR" that would have funded the government for six weeks, through November 15, 2013.

    The last spending resolution passed by the House early Tuesday morning would delay the individual insurance mandate for a year, and prevent any senior government officials using ObamaCare insurance exchanges from getting subsidies to buy insurance.

    At this point, no one is sure what happens next with the Shutdown.

    Check out "Showdown Ends in Shutdown" for more on the procedure that brought us to this point.


    The House and Senate did get some legislative work done on Monday.

    • HR 3210 The Pay Our Military Act. Both the House and Senate approved this bill, and it was signed by President Obama. It ensures members of the military and related civilian personnel and contractors will continue to be paid during the government shutdown.
    • HR 3174 ensuring extra federal funding to rebuild roads damaged by recent flooding in Colorado. Both chambers passed this bill as well.
    • HR 1566 The Senate passed this bill to extend visas for Iraqi citizens who helped the United States' military during the war. The House could consider it this week.
  3. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 28, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    House advances Continuing Resolution

    The House voted early Sunday morning to send the short-term spending bill back to the Senate with changes, with just two days left before a government shutdown.

    The late vote would seem to increase the chances of a government shutdown, as Democrats in the Senate say they will strip out two controversial pieces of the House bill and President Obama has indicated that he would veto the approach passed by the House.

    The resolution delays ObamaCare for a year, and eliminates the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices included in the Affordable Care Act. It inserts language related to the also resets the spending bill to fund the government through December 15, longer than the November 15 date that the Senate passed.

    The first amendment (delay of Obamacare, including all taxes, for one year) passed 248-174.

    The second amendment (repeal of the medical device tax) passed 231 - 192.

    The Senate has indicated it won't return until Monday afternoon. At that point, Democratic leaders have implied that they will quickly remove the health-related language.

    That will leave Congress deadlocked once again over 2014 funding, with just hours to go before funding for the discretionary parts of the government runs out at the end of Monday.

    House advances bill to pay military in case of a government shutdown

    In a separate vote, the House also passed a bill containing appropriations to ensure that members of the military would be paid in the event of a government shutdown.

    The bill passed unanimously, 423 - 0.

    Also passed: State Department Appropriations

    In a separate vote, the House also passed a bill to authorize appropriations for the Department of State for fiscal year 2014.

    The bill passed 384 - 37.

  4. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 27, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

     Hot Potato Returns to the House

    The Senate passed a continuing spending resolution for 2014, sending the hot potato back to a House that will meet over the weekend to decide what to do about it.

    The Senate considered a House-passed resolution, H.J.Res. 59, that had language defunding ObamaCare in it.

    On Friday, the Senate voted 79-19 to end debate on the bill. Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans warned that this procedural vote would allow Senate Democrats to take out the ObamaCare language.

    Sure enough, the Senate then voted 54-44 to take out the language. And then, the Senate again voted along party lines, 54-44, to pass the bill.

    House Republicans planned to meet Saturday to discuss next steps. GOP leaders are under pressure to re-attach ObamaCare language, but doing so would risk a government shutdown, since it's not clear whether the Senate would have enough time to act.

    The resolution as it stands now funds the government through November 15. Without any congressional action, the federal government would partially shut down after Monday, September 30.

    Also on Saturday, the House is expected to vote on two suspension bills:

    The House may also consider a resolution that would allow members to consider legislation on the floor on the same day that the Rules Committee approves a rule for that legislation. Normally, the House can only act a day after the Rules Committee acts.

    This resolution would allow members to speed up consideration of either a new House spending bill, or a bill relating to the debt ceiling.

  5. The POPVOX Top 20: Sept. 20 - 26

    The Federal Spending Bill is the Top Issue of the Week

    The Continuing Resolution (HJRes 59) is the top bill among POPVOX users this past week. Not surprising since its fate will decide whether the federal government shuts down on October 1st. 

    Here's a recap of the Shutdown Showdown: Last week, the House passed their Continuing Resolution, which would fund the government through Dec. 15 -- but also defund Obamacare and would require the government to prioritize interest payments on the debt in the event of a shutdown. Today, the bill is being considered by the Senate -- and will likely pass and be sent back to the House without the Obamacare provision. Then the House will have to decide whether to accept those changes, or tweak it again. On POPVOX, more than two in three support the Continuing Resolution with the defunding Obamacare provision. (Learn more about the Shutdown Showdown.) 

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Sept. 20 - 26

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

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

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

  6. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 26, 2013

    From our Hill Sources:

    Senate Fails to Speed UP Consideration of Continuing Resolution

    The Senate tried to speed up the timing of the next procedural vote on a short-term 2014 spending resolution, but failed.

    The fight came to a head when Republican and Democratic senators ganged up on Sen. Ted Cruz, and asked him to allow a vote Thursday night. Those who want to speed up the process are hoping to give the House more time to react to the Senate bill, which is not expected to include House-passed language to defund ObamaCare.

    Cruz refused to budge, and said he wants the vote to happen Friday so people have an easier time watching it. That prompted Republicans and Democrats to charge Cruz with grandstanding for publicity.

    Nonetheless, Democrats had no choice but to schedule the vote for Friday. That will be a vote to end debate on the bill, and Cruz and some other Republicans are expected to oppose it, fearing that the next step will be to take out the ObamaCare language.

    A final vote on the spending resolution is also expected Friday.


     

    House Passes Bills on Sleep Apnea Testing for Truck Drivers and Disclosure Waivers for Condos

    • HR 3095 requiring government rules related to sleep apnea testing for truck drivers to be adopted only after a formal rule-making process takes place. Passed 405-0.
    • HR 2600 exempting condominiums from the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. Passed 410-0.
  7. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 25, 2013

    From our Hill Sources:

    The Continuing Resolution

    Senate Voted 100-0 to Proceed to the Continuing Resolution 

    After a 21-hour filibuster from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the Senate held procedural vote to advance the short-term spending bill for 2014.

    The vote was on a motion to end debate on a motion to proceed to the House spending bill. Because that bill includes language to defund ObamaCare, everyone — including Cruz — supported the vote, which passed 100-0.

    That vote set up the next step, a vote to proceed to the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) passed that by voice vote Wednesday night.

    Up Next: Ending Debate (Cloture) 

    Next is a vote to end debate on the bill itself, something Reid set up for Friday. That "cloture" vote, which needs 60 votes to pass, is the one Cruz and other Republicans are expected to oppose, because they know the final vote will be on a version that strips the ObamaCare language by a simple majority vote.

    Nonetheless, Democrats are still expecting to get 60 votes, which would set up a vote to pass the bill Saturday, again by a simple majority vote.

    A Senate process that ends Saturday sets up the likelihood of a last-minute scramble in the House to either pass the Senate version or amend it again.

    Other Senate Business

    Aside from work on the spending bill today, the Senate passed a handful of other measures by voice vote:

    House Passes Suspension Bills

    The House was also in and passed two suspension bills:

    • HR 1961 extending an exemption that the Delta Queen -- a steamship with national landmark status -- gets from federal fire safety rules.This bill passed 280-89.
    • HRes 354 a Senate-amended House bill that requires the government to auction off its helium supplies. This bill passed 367-0, and heads to the White House next.
  8. The Shutdown Showdown Part 1

    You Know You're In Washington, DC When...

    I'm sitting at a coffee shop in Dupont Circle and people are chatting about whether the federal government will shut down next week. Someone behind the counter says, "I don't watch the news. Can someone tell me what's going on?" Several "wifi hobos" (you know, the ones that sit at coffee shops for the wifi) add their opinion on what will happen. Everyone agrees that there's a 50 percent chance there will be a shutdown.

    Recap of the Government Shutdown Showdown

    Last week, the House passed this "Continuing Resolution":

    Now, the bill is being considered by the Senate. Senate Democrats want to strip out the Obamacare and interest payment provisions and send it back to the House. If they can do it, House Republicans will have to decide whether to accept those changes, or tweak it again.

    Enter Senator Ted Cruz. Beginning at 2:41pm on Tuesday, Senator Cruz (R-Texas) took to the Senate floor to deliver a lengthy speech and announced his intention to "speak against Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand." (If it's technically not a filibuster because of the Senate's procedural rules, can it be called a "fauxlibuster"?) As of 9am this morning, Senator Cruz was still standing -- and had even channeled Darth Vader. (Watch his "Mike Lee, I am your father" moment.)

    House cancels their weekend. The uncertainty over how the week will proceed has already led the House to cancel its weekend, in case they must work on the spending bill before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

    The only things we know for certain is (1) the government will be forced to shut down if a spending bill isn't passed by Sept. 30; and (2) the Democrats don't like the House-passed resolution.

    In Case the Government Shuts Down

    The federal government has shut down 17 times since a new budgeting process was put into place in 1976. Both Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan dealt with six shutdowns each. The most recent shutdown came in 1996 -- for three weeks! If there is a shutdown this time, it may mean millions of federal employees getting furloughed, national parks closing, and even delays to passports, visas and Social Security and Medicare payments. Servicemembers may not get paid in time either -- and veterans may not get their benefits. (Letter to President from House Members.) A federal government shutdown may also mean a District of Columbia government shutdown. (Letter from Del. Eleanor Norton (D-DC).) Ironically, a shutdown wouldn't necessarily shut down Obamacare.

    Already, several bills have been introduced in the event the government shuts down. If you're part of the 50 percent of people at this coffee shop who think the government might shut down, then it's a good time to share your views on POPVOX and alert your friends and networks.

    • S 1543 A bill to appropriate such funds as may be necessary to ensure that members of the Armed Forces, including reserve components thereof, and supporting civilian and contractor personnel continue to receive pay and allowances for active service performed when a funding gap caused by the failure to enact interim or full-year appropriations for the Armed Forces occurs, which results in the furlough of non-emergency personnel and the curtailment of Government activities and services. Just introduced!
    • S 1541 Military Pay Protection Act: to appropriate such funds as may be necessary to ensure that members of the Armed Forces, including reserve components thereof, and supporting civilian and contractor personnel continue to receive pay and allowances for active service performed when a Governmentwide shutdown occurs. Just introduced!
    • HR 3152 Pay Our Veterans and Seniors First Act: To prohibit Members of Congress, the President, the Vice President, and the head of any Executive department from receiving pay for any period in which there is a Government shutdown and to provide for payments to seniors, military and veterans during a Government shutdown. Just introduced!
    • HR 3166 A bill to appropriate such funds as may be necessary to ensure certain important functions of the Government continue during a Governmentwide shutdown. Just introduced!
    • HR 3160 Government Shutdown Fairness Act: to reduce the annual rate of pay of Members of Congress if a Government shutdown occurs during a year. Just introduced!
    • HR 3100 DC Government Shutdown Avoidance Act: To amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to make local funds of the District of Columbia available for use by the District during any portion of a fiscal year in which no Federal law appropriating local funds for the fiscal year is in effect, at the rates of operation provided under the local budget act for the fiscal year. Just introduced!

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

  9. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 24, 2013

    From our Hill Sources

    The Senate made no progress on a continuing resolution to keep the government open after the current one expires September 30. Several Republicans launched a talking filibuster targeting the Affordable Care Act ("ACA" or "ObamaCare") in the afternoon, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

    Cruz has said he would fight to maintain language in the House-passed continuing resolution that would defund ObamaCare. As he started Tuesday afternoon, he said he would stand and talk under he can't stand up anymore.

    But Cruz's speech was more along the lines of a delaying tactic, not one that threatened to permanently block the continuing resolution. Senate Democrats on Monday set up a vote to end debate on a motion to proceed to the bill, and that vote must happen by Wednesday at the latest.

    Regardless of when Republicans stop speaking, the Senate is expected to gather 60 votes in favor of ending debate on the motion to proceed on Wednesday. After that, the Senate will have to vote on a motion to proceed to the bill, after which it can start work on the legislation itself.

    At that point, Democrats are expected to try to strip the ObamaCare language, and also change the bill to fund the government through November 15, not December 15. Democrats want a shorter extension in order to force Congress to more quickly reach a long-term spending agreement.

  10. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 23, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    Senate CR procedural maneuvers begin

    The Senate was in just long enough to provide a peek at the partisan fighting that will happen this week on a continuing resolution and funding for the Afforable Care Act, or "ObamaCare."

    In the afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz asked the Senate for unanimous consent to approve the House-passed continuing resolution for 2014, H.J.Res. 59, which defunds ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid objected.

    Cruz then asked the Senate to agree that any amendment to the resolution must be passed with a 60-vote majority. With this request, Cruz was trying to make sure Democrats don't pass an amendment to the resolution to take out the ObamaCare language, and pass it with a simple-majority that would not need Republican support.

    Reid objected to that as well, leaving the Senate to hold a vote on whether to proceed to the resolution, which could happen by Wednesday. It will take 60 votes to proceed to the resolution, a tally that seems very possible given that not all Senate Republicans are in favor of Cruz's hardline position on maintaining the House's ObamaCare provisions.

    The Senate also passed H.R. 1412, the Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act, which is meant to help people transition from the military to the private sector. The Senate passed the bill with a few amendments, which means the House will have to consider the bill again.


     

    The House was not in session.


     

  11. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 20, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    House Passes Continuing Resolution (Defunds ACA, includes "Full Faith & Credit" language

    The House approved H.J.Res. 59, which funds the government through December 15, a goal most members support. The resolution also defunds ObamaCare, something Democrats in the Senate oppose.
     

    The House passed the bill 230-189, with just one Republican "no" vote.

    When the Senate returns next week, it is expected to try to remove this language, and send it back to the House. The House will then have to decide if it can live with the Senate's adjustments, a decision that could prove tricky for House Republican leaders.

    Congress is rushing to finish the bill by September 30, which is when funding for the government runs out.


    House Passes Timber Bill

    Also Friday, the House passed a less-controversial bill that would reformulate the government's forest management system.

    H.R. 1526, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, calls for increased timber harvests on public lands, which supporters say would lead to job creation and also help remove timber that can end up as fuel for wildfires.

    Members passed this bill 244-173, and it won the support of 17 Democrats.



    The Senate was out Friday.



     

  12. The POPVOX Top 20: Sept. 13 - 19

    Food Stamps Tops Priority List on POPVOX

    The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act (HR 3102) was the most popular bill on POPVOX in the past week. Three in four POPVOX users told Congress that they support the bill. The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act would reauthorize federal nutrition programs but make significant cuts to the food stamp program. According to POPVOX's Hill Sources, the bill is essentially the nutrition title of the farm bill that failed to move forward earlier this year. However, it would cut $40 billion from federal nutrition programs, a bigger cut than what was in the earlier bill. About $20 billion would cut by narrowing eligibility for food stamps, and another $20 billion would be cut by ending eligibility for people who aren't working or looking for work.

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Sept. 13 - 19

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

    • HR 3102#1 Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act: To amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.

      437 Support | 153 Oppose

    • S 1490#2 Delaying the implementation of Obamacare.: A bill to delay the application of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

      461 Support | 59 Oppose

    • HR 3086#3 The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act: To permanently extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

      441 Support | 12 Oppose

    • HJR 58#4 House Resolution Prohibiting the use of funds available to any US Government department or agency for the use of force in, or directed at, Syria by the United States Armed Forces.

      402 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HJR 62#5 Stability, Security, and Fairness Resolution: Making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2014.

      332 Support | 55 Oppose

    • HR 3093#6 Union Bailout Prevention Act: To exclude individuals who receive health insurance coverage pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement from tax credits and reductions in cost-sharing under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

      325 Support | 34 Oppose

    • SJR 21#7 Senate Resolution Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons

      13 Support | 318 Oppose

    • HR 3092#8 Missing Children's Assistance Reauthorization Act: To amend the Missing Children’s Assistance Act.

      194 Support | 59 Oppose

    • HR 1526#9 Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act: To restore employment and educational opportunities in, and improve the economic stability of, counties containing National Forest System land, while also reducing Forest Service management costs, by ensuring that such counties have a dependable source of revenue from National Forest System land, to provide a temporary extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.

      64 Support | 177 Oppose

    • S 1494#10 Child Care Infant Mortality Prevention Act: to amend the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 to improve child safety and reduce the incidence of preventable infant deaths in child care settings.

      26 Support | 175 Oppose

    • HR 2907#11 National Guardsmen and Reservists Parity for Patriots Act: to ensure that members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces who have served on active duty or performed active service since September 11, 2001, in support of a contingency operation or in other emergency situations receive credit for such service in determining eligibility for early receipt of non-regular service retired pay.

      160 Support | 9 Oppose

    • HR 2775#12 No Subsidies Without Verification Act To condition the provision of premium and cost-sharing subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act upon a certification that a program to verify household income and other qualifications for such subsidies is operational.

      126 Support | 16 Oppose

    • HR 2818#13 Surveillance State Repeal Act: To repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

      127 Support | 4 Oppose

    • HR 3018#14 Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act: To increase the excise tax and special occupational tax in respect of firearms and to increase the transfer tax on any other weapon.

      9 Support | 117 Oppose

    • S 1335#15 Sportsmen's Act: to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.

      24 Support | 82 Oppose

    • S 1392#16 Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act: to promote energy savings in residential buildings and industry.

      19 Support | 71 Oppose

    • HR 2682#17 Defund Obamacare Act: To prohibit the funding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

      80 Support | 6 Oppose

    • HCR 53#18 House Resolution urging all parties to the conflict in Syria to work through the United Nations and with the international community to hold the Assad regime accountable and resolve the crisis in Syria through a negotiated political settlement.

      29 Support | 45 Oppose

    • HR 687#19 Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act: To facilitate the efficient extraction of mineral resources in southeast Arizona by authorizing and directing an exchange of Federal and non-Federal land.

      30 Support | 42 Oppose

    • SJR 22#20 Senate Resolution to promote a diplomatic solution in Syria

      23 Support | 47 Oppose

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

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

  13. POPVOX Daily Digest -September 19, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House had a busy Thursday, passing a bill that would cut billions from the federal food stamp program and moving ahead with a short-term 2014 spending bill.

    • HR 3201The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act , which would cut $39 billion from the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

      The bill would eliminate a waiver allowing extended food stamp access for adults who are not working. Democrats said jobs are not always available, which means millions of people would be at risk of losing needed benefits.

      House passage of the bill could lead to a House-Senate conference on a final farm bill in the coming weeks. But the conference could be rocky — the Senate is proposing a $4 billion cut, about one tenth the size of the House cut.

    • HJ Res 59 The Continuing Appropriations Resolution: This is the short-term spending bill (Continuing Resolution) for 2014. On Thursday, the House approved a rule that will allow members to debate the measure on Friday, and probably pass it.

      In its current form, the resolution funds the government through December 15, a goal most members support. But it would also defund ObamaCare and instruct the government to prioritize interest payments on the debt if a government shutdown takes place.

      Democrats spent the day warning that tying spending to ObamaCare runs the risk of a government shutdown, as the Democratic Senate and the Obama administration oppose that language.

      However, some Republicans said the Senate has the option of passing a different version of the resolution, which implies last-minute negotiations on spending that would take place next week. The House now plans to be in next week to start those talks.

    On Thursday evening, the House also began work on H.R. 1526, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act. A final House vote on that bill is expected Friday.

  14. PRESS CLIP: HOW POPVOX HELPS PEOPLE SCREAM LESS, THINK SMARTER ABOUT POLITICS

  15. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 18, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    House GOP Moves Ahead with Continuing Resolution

    House Republicans decided to move ahead with a plan to pass a short-term spending resolution this week for 2014, and include language that would defund ObamaCare for the next year. The decision means a likely House vote on the language this week.

    The Republican plan is to pass a resolution to fund the government through mid-December. Attached to that resolution would be language defunding the 2010 healthcare law, and language requiring the Treasury Department to prioritize interest payments on the national debt if the government is shutdown due to lack of a spending deal.

    The resolution would have to pass the Senate, which would likely remove language defunding the healthcare law. Some are predicting a legislative showdown in the Senate if members of the minority part decide to use procedural delays to fight a CR without the defunding language.


    House Approved Two Suspension Bills

    In the meantime, the House approved two bills Wednesday. They are:

    • HR 761 the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act. This bill is meant to ease the approval process for mineral production in the country, something Republicans say is needed to ensure the U.S. has a steady supply of strategic minerals.

      Democrats mostly opposed the bill by saying it would have bad environmental effects, and applies to almost any mined substance, not just critical minerals. Nonetheless, the House approved it in a 246-178 vote.

    • HR 301 H.R. 301 — a bill to create a special envoy for religious freedom in Asia. This bill passed 402-22.

     


    Senate Continues to Work on Energy Efficiency Bill

    The Senate was also in, and continued work on S. 1392, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act.



  16. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 17, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House was in and made quick work of four suspension bills that had only marginal opposition.

    The bills were:

    • H.R. 2449 authorizing the extension of a civil nuclear agreement between the U.S. and South Korea. Passed 407-0.

     

    The Senate was also in, discussing S. 1392, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, but it made no progress on an agreement on which amendments to consider.

     

     

  17. The Week Ahead: Sept. 16 - 20

    From our Hill Sources:  Congress returns with just a few weeks left before government funding runs out, and with no obvious answers for how to fund federal operations after September.

    2014 Federal Spending

    The Scoop from our Hill Sources: House Republicans will spend much of the week working with their own members on a way forward to fund federal operations. GOP leaders have proposed passing a short-term spending bill that forces the Senate to vote on funding Obamacare for the year. But many Republicans rejected this approach last week as one would result in a token vote against Obamacare, and want to force a real shutdown of the healthcare law.

    It's not clear whether the House will be able to move ahead with a bill this week; many expect it to happen next week. Republicans have warned that work might be needed the week of September 23, which was originally planned as a recess week.

    Food Stamps

    House Republicans will move ahead with another controversial bill this week, one that would reauthorize federal nutrition programs but make significant cuts to the food stamp program.

    • HR 3102Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act: To amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.

    The scoop from our Hill Sources: This bill is essentially the nutrition title of the farm bill that failed to move forward earlier this year. However, it would cut $40 billion from federal nutrition programs, a bigger cut than what was in the earlier bill. About $20 billion would cut by narrowing eligibility for food stamps, and another $20 billion would be cut by ending eligibility for people who aren't working or looking for work. Those changes are expected to run into loud opposition from Democrats this week.

    Land Use

    The House will take up three key land use bills as well:

    • HR 1526Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act: To restore employment and educational opportunities in, and improve the economic stability of, counties containing National Forest System land, while also reducing Forest Service management costs, by ensuring that such counties have a dependable source of revenue from National Forest System land, to provide a temporary extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.
    • HR 761National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act:  to streamline the permitting process for the development of critical minerals, including rare earth elements that are prized for their various industrial uses.
    • HR 687Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act:  authorizes a land exchange to help facilitate the opening of a copper mine.

    Also in the House

    A few other non-controversial suspension bills are also up this week:

    • HR 1410Keep the Promise Act: prevents approval of any new casinos in the Phoenix metropolitan area, in order to enforce a compact on casino expansion with Indian tribes.
    • HR 1003A bill to improve consideration by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission of the costs and benefits of its regulations and orders.
    • HR 2449A bill authorizing the President to extend an agreement between the U.S. and South Korea on civil uses of nuclear energy.
    • HR 301A bill establishing a special envoy to promote religious freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.
    • S 793 Organization of American States Revitalization and Reform Act to support revitalization and reform of the Organization of American States.
    • HR 3092Missing Children's Assistance Reauthorization Act to fund the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

    In the Senate

    The Senate is in all week as well, but so far only has plans to work on:

    • S 1392Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act: would promote energy-efficient building designs.

    Military Action in Syria

    In his weekly address on Saturday, President Obama followed up on his address to the nation on Tuesday and said there is the possibility for a diplomatic solution in Syria, partially because of the credible threat of US military force. "And if diplomacy fails, the United States and the international community must remain prepared to act," he stated. (Read his weekly address.) While Congress has postponed a vote on the use of military force, several bills have been introduced in related to Syria. See the full list of bills.

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

  18. Issue Spotlight: Syria

    On Tuesday night, President Obama addressed the nation about the situation in Syria. He explained why he has called for military strikes in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons, laid out his reasons for asking Congress to authorize the use of force, and described how the threat of US action has created the potential for a diplomatic breakthrough. (Read his full remarks.) The majority of POPVOX users agreed with the President in seeking Congressional authorization based on their response to HConRes 40.

    Meanwhile, Congress returned from recess on Sept. 9 and is already considering several other proposals. Weigh in on the Senate's Joint Resolution, the President's draft proposal and other bills on Syria, listed below. POPVOX will deliver your messages to Congress.

    The Senate's Resolution Authorizing Military Force

    On Sept. 4, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a Joint Resolution, "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons." This resolution would put more limits on a possible action than President Obama had initially requested in his draft legislation.

    The resolution, drafted by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN), passed the Committee in a 10-7 bipartisan vote on Sept. 4. (Watch Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez's remarks.) The resolution now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

    The President's Proposal Seeking Authorization for Military Action

    On Aug. 31, President Obama announced that any military involvement would be of "limited duration and scope." "This would not be an open-ended intervention," he said. "We would not put boots on the ground." The President also announced that he will seek Congressional approval before any military action against Syria. The majority of POPVOX users agree the President should seek Congressional authorization based on their response to HConRes 40.

    President Obama sent a letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate with draft legislation that would authorize the use of the US military "in connection with the conflict in Syria."

    • Draft The President's draft legislation authorizing military action in Syria: "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to -- (1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors) within, to or from Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or (2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons." (Read the full draft.)

    Newly Introduced Bills

    (Introduced since Sept.)

    Background

    On Aug. 30, Secretary of State John Kerry said "President Obama has spent many days now consulting with Congress and talking with leaders around the world about the situation in Syria." He added that he believes, "as President Obama does, that it is also important to discuss this directly with the American people." (Read Kerry's remarks.)

    As Secretary Kerry spoke, the Obama Administration released an unclassified summary of the attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21 killing at least 1,429 Syrians, including 426 children. And he urged Americans to "read for yourselves the verdict reached by our intelligence community about the chemical weapons attack the Assad regime inflicted on the opposition and on opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods." (See the Administration's assessment.)

    Earlier in August, President Obama announced more than $195 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Syria to provide "life-saving food, medical care, and relief supplies for people affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria." The US has provided over $1 billion in humanitarian aid since the Syrian crisis began. The US is the single-largest contributor of humanitarian assistance for the people of Syria, helping 3.5 million people across all 14 governorates in Syria, "through all possible channels" including the United Nations, international and non-governmental organizations, and local Syrian organizations.

    Previously Introduced Bills

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

     

  19. The POPVOX Top 20: Sept. 6 - 12

    Military Action in Syria is the Top Issue Among POPVOX Users

    Once again this week, the vast majority of POPVOX users weighed in opposing US military action in Syria. In the past week, 96% of POPVOX users opposed the Senate Resolution authorizing military force against the Government of Syria, and 97% opposed President Obama's draft proposal.

    On Tuesday night, President Obama addressed the nation about the situation in Syria. He explained why he has called for military strikes in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons, laid out his reasons for asking Congress to authorize the use of force, and described how the threat of U.S. action has created the potential for a diplomatic breakthrough. (Read his full remarks.) The majority of POPVOX users agreed with the President in seeking Congressional authorization based on their response to HConRes 40.

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Sept. 5 - 12

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

    • SJR 21#1 Senate Resolution Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons

      47 Support | 1,113 Oppose

    • HR 2775#2 No Subsidies Without Verification Act To condition the provision of premium and cost-sharing subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act upon a certification that a program to verify household income and other qualifications for such subsidies is operational.

      416 Support | 66 Oppose

    • S 617#3 Syria Democratic Transition Act: to provide humanitarian assistance and support a democratic transition in Syria.

      4 Support | 290 Oppose

    • S 856#4 Syria Stabilization Act: A bill to foster stability in Syria.

      2 Support | 289 Oppose

    • Syria#5  The President's Draft Legislation Authorizing Military Action in Syria: President Obama sent draft legislation to Congress that would authorize use of the US military "in connection with the conflict in Syria."

      8 Support | 283 Oppose

    • HR 3018#6 Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act: To increase the excise tax and special occupational tax in respect of firearms and to increase the transfer tax on any other weapon.

      7 Support | 261 Oppose

    • S 1335#7 Sportsmen's Act: to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.

      117 Support | 120 Oppose

    • HR 2507#8  War Powers Protection Act : To restrict funds related to escalating United States military involvement in Syria.

      205 Support | 7 Oppose

    • HR 2501#9 Congressional Accountability and Oversight in Syria Act: To authorize assistance to conduct military or paramilitary operations in Syria,

      9 Support | 188 Oppose

    • HR 2648#10 Prohibiting firearms sales to certain classes of high-risk individuals.: to prohibit the sale or other disposition of a firearm to, and the possession, shipment, transportation, or receipt of a firearm by, certain classes of high-risk individuals.

      8 Support | 169 Oppose

    • HR 2959#11 National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act: to provide a national standard in accordance with which nonresidents of a State may carry concealed firearms in the State.

      165 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 2465#12 Recognizing Gun Violence as a Public Health Emergency Act: To require the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service to submit to Congress an annual report on the effects of gun violence on public health.

      8 Support | 159 Oppose

    • HR 2910#13 Gun Violence Prevention and Reduction Act: To protect American children and their families from the epidemic of gun violence by banning access to certain weapons, strengthening the Nation's mental health infrastructure, and improving the understanding of gun violence.

      8 Support | 153 Oppose

    • HR 2818#14 Surveillance State Repeal Act: To repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

      157 Support | 4 Oppose

    • HJR 58#15 House Resolution Prohibiting the use of funds available to any United States Government department or agency for the use of force in, or directed at, Syria by the United States Armed Forces.

      148 Support | 7 Oppose

    • HR 2907#16 National Guardsmen and Reservists Parity for Patriots Act: to ensure that members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces who have served on active duty or performed active service since September 11, 2001, in support of a contingency operation or in other emergency situations receive credit for such service in determining eligibility for early receipt of non-regular service retired pay.

      139 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HRes 3018#17 A resolution expressing disapproval over the gun violence plaguing America's communities, and calling on the Congress to enact comprehensive gun reforms that reduce gun violence.

      6 Support | 117 Oppose

    • HCRes 40#18 A resolution: expressing the sense of Congress that the President is prohibited under the Constitution from initiating war against Syria without express congressional authorization and the appropriation of funds for the express purpose of waging such a war.

      121 Support | 1 Oppose

    • S 1337#19 Crime Gun Tracing Act: to promote the tracing of firearms used in crimes

      2 Support | 96 Oppose

    • HR 2682#20 Defund Obamacare Act: To prohibit the funding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

      85 Support | 4 Oppose

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

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

  20. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 12, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    House Passes Eligibility Check for Obamacare Subsidies

    The House was in Thursday and quickly passed a bill that would put a hold on health insurance subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

    (H.R. 2775) The No Subsidies Without Verification Act, calls for a system of verifying the eligibility of subsidies available under the ACA. Republicans said the bill is needed because the Obama Administration gave some states flexibility in how they verify eligibility, which the GOP says could create opportunities for fraud and overpayments.

    Democrats said the bill is an over-reaction, as the Administration's flexibility only applies to a small group of people that may not undergo a full check for eligibility. They added that even if some payments are made to ineligible people, the money can be reclaimed through the IRS.

    The House passed the bill 235-191. The Senate is not expected to consider it.


    Energy Efficiency Bill in Senate

    The Senate was in session all day, but made no progress toward passing (S. 1392) the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. The bill is aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, including by requiring changes to building codes.

    Senate leaders are looking for an agreement on amendments, but will likely have to wait until next week to make progress.