The POPVOX Blog

  1. 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.

  2. The Hill 101: What is a "Continuing Resolution"

    A continuing resolution, or a "CR" for short, is legislation that allows the federal government to keep operating and spending money when regular appropriation acts have expired and new authority has not yet been enacted.

    A CR is enacted as a joint resolution, which must pass both the House and Senate and be signed by the President. It can run for an entire fiscal year, just a few weeks, or even days. Usually the CR specifies the rate at which spending can occur, in most cases extending operations at current levels. (See: GAO Budget Glossary, Senate glossary)

    The Government Accountability Organization (GAO) in a 2013 report:

    Because CRs only provide funding until agreement is reached on final appropriations, they create uncertainty for agencies about both when they will receive their final appropriation and what level of funding ultimately will be available. Effects of CRs on federal agencies differ based in part on the duration and number of CRs and may vary by agency and program. CRs include provisions that prohibit agencies from beginning new activities and projects and direct agencies to take only the most limited funding actions. Congress can provide flexibility for certain programs and initiatives through the use of legislative anomalies, which provide funding and authorities different from the standard CR provisions.

    For more information, see: "Continuing Resolutions: Overview of Components and Recent Practices," from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

  3. POPVOX Daily Digest - Sept 11, 2013

    From our Hill Sources:

    Syria Vote on Hold in the Senate

    The Senate on Wednesday officially gave up the idea of pursuing a resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria, and moved to consider a bill on energy efficiency.

    With talk of a Russia-brokered deal to get Syria to give up its chemical weapons, there is no longer any immediate need for a Syria resolution from Congress. However, Syria continues to be the subject of debate in the House and Senate, which are both looking for progress from Russia and Syria in the coming days and weeks.

    Some have suggested that a resolution might be written allowing military force to be used if there is not significant progress on Syria. 

    Related: Issue Spotlight: Syria


    Senate Moves to Energy Efficiency Bill

    In the meantime, however, the Senate has taken up 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.

    The Senate quickly approved a motion to proceed to the bill on Wednesday.


     

    House GOP Pursues Subsidy Check for ObamaCare; Veto Threat

    In the House, members made progress on a bill aimed at blocking ObamaCare subsidies for the purchase of insurance.

    The No Subsidies Without Verification Act (H.R. 2775), requires the administration to impose a full income verification check system on people seeking subsidies. The bill is meant to ensure the subsidies don't go to ineligible people.

    The Obama Administration has said it would veto the bill.

    Republicans say that the Administration will allow people to claim subsides without first checking for eligibility. The Administration says these fears are over-exaggerated, and are incorrectly based on a July regulation that gives states flexibility when implementing the law.

    The House passed a rule for this bill Wednesday, and is expected to approve it on Thursday.

    The House was originally scheduled to complete work on this bill Wednesday. However, the schedule changed when GOP leaders said they would not seek a vote this week on a continuing spending resolution for 2014.

    Related: House Republicans' Fall 2013 Legislative Agenda


    House Delays Vote on Continuing Resolution

    The Continuing Resolution, which was supposed to receive a vote this week, authorizes spending through December 15, but also includes language aimed at shutting down spending on ObamaCare.

    House leaders delayed the vote in a move that was seen to indicate insufficient votes from Republicans to ensure passage.

    Many House Republicans argued that the Senate would be able to strip out the ObamaCare language. These Members want GOP leaders to do more to terminate funding for the 2010 healthcare law. 

    Related: The Hill 101: What is a Continuing Resolution?

  4. House Republicans' Fall 2013 Legislative Agenda

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent the following memo to House Republican colleagues outlining the legislative agenda for fall 2013. (PDF version.) POPVOX annotated the memo with links to pertinent bills. Weigh in and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress.

    MEMORANDUM

    To: House Republicans

    From: Eric Cantor

    Date: Friday, September 06, 2013

    RE: September and October Legislative Agenda


    As we return from five weeks of meetings with constituents, small businesses, and local leaders, the House will be confronted with a number of serious issues ranging from federal spending levels to Syria, to Obamacare to domestic energy. In addition, we will continue to focus on America's working middle class as they lose ground when Washington wastes their tax dollars on out-of-control programs, Obamacare increases their insurance premiums and slashes their hours at work, and their energy prices rise.

    We must, as always, remain focused on our conservative policies that can help grow the economy, lessen the burden of government and provide opportunity for working middle class families. Many families are distressed. Countless parents don’t remember the last time their employer could afford to give them a raise. Many fear their full-time job will become a part-time job. And many don’t have a job at all. And healthcare costs are rising.

    Many of these middle class families feel squeezed out and don’t feel the government is paying attention to their needs, and that their voices don’t matter. Well their voices matter to us, and we’re going to fight for them this month and every month after with an agenda focused on economic security and opportunity for working middle class families.

    While this memo is not exhaustive of the issues the House will deal with in the fall, the outline below will give you a sense of what to expect over the next two months. I look forward to hearing your input in shaping our conservative agenda.

    Appropriations

    As the new fiscal year begins at the end of the month we find ourselves needing a short-term CR due to the Senate’s failure to pass even a single appropriations bill. Enactment of a CR at sequester levels would contain $64 billion in less spending compared to the current funding levels President Obama signed into law a mere five months ago. In signing a CR at sequester levels, the President would be endorsing a level of spending that wipes away all the increases he and Congressional Democrats made while they were in charge and returns us to a pre-2008 level of discretionary spending.

    Debt Limit

    The administration announced that it expects to run out of borrowing authority by mid-October. While we do not know the precise date of when that authority will lapse, the House will act to prevent a default on our obligations before that point. Over the past three decades during times of divided government, increases in the debt limit have been accompanied by major spending, fiscal, and regulatory reforms and I expect that model to play out once again. Gramm-Rudman, the Congressional Review Act, and the Budget Control Act all were enacted on previous increases of the debt limit. Therefore, House Republicans will demand fiscal reforms and pro-growth policies which put us on a path to balance in ten years in exchange for another increase in the debt limit.

    Syria

    Understanding that there are differing opinions on both sides of the aisle, it is up to President Obama to make the case to Congress and to the American people that this is the right course of action. Members should expect a robust debate and vote on an authorization of use of military force pertaining to Syria in the next two weeks.

    Related Bills:

    Nutrition

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has ballooned since President Obama took office with one in seven Americans now receiving food stamps. As SNAP has grown, working middle class families are footing the $80 billion bill for a safety net gone well beyond assistance to children, seniors, and the disabled. That is why, with Chairman Lucas, a working group of our conference came together to address the major problems to reform SNAP while still preserving the safety net for those who truly need it. The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act restores the intent of the bipartisan welfare reforms adopted in 1996 by ensuring that work requirements for able-bodied adults without children are enforced - not waived - and eliminates loopholes exploited over the last few years to avoid the program’s income and asset tests. It also empowers states to engage able-bodied parents in work and job training as part of receiving food stamps to help move them to self-sufficiency. Most importantly, no individual who meets the income and asset guidelines of the SNAP program and is willing to comply with applicable work requirements will lose benefits as a result of these reforms. It is expected that these simple reforms will save taxpayers an estimated $40 billion over ten years.

    Related Bills:

    • HR 3055 PRIDE Act: To reform the Federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) so that States have the option of conducting pilot projects to require that able-bodied individuals participate in work activities as a condition of receiving benefits under such program.
    • HRes 90 Expressing the sense of the House that the Committee on Agriculture should not propose any reduction in the availability or amount of benefits provided under the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) in effect under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, and that the House of Representatives should reject any proposed legislation that includes any provisions that reduce the availability or amount of benefits provided under SNAP.

    Obamacare

    As the Speaker outlined in July, the House will hold a series of strategic votes throughout the fall to dismantle, defund, and delay Obamacare. The coalition supporting Obamacare cracks when forced to vote on the most unpopular aspects of the law. Remember, we have successfully forced the president to sign seven bills into law that either repeal parts of or significantly reduce spending on his signature law. And earlier this summer, 22 and 35 House Democrats voted to delay the individual and employee mandates, respectively.

    We have seen in recent months that Obamacare is unworkable as the administration has missed half the deadlines in the law, according to a report published by CRS. Most recently, the administration has delayed the mandate on insurance companies that caps out-of-pocket insurance costs. As the October 1st implementation approaches, we will continue to pursue the strategy of systematically derailing this train wreck and replacing it with a patient-centered system which removes Washington from health care decisions.

    Related Bills:

    • HR 2682 Defund Obamacare Act: To prohibit the funding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
    • HR 2775 No Subsidies Without Verification Act would prohibit any federal subsidies for Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges from being provided until there is a system in place that verifies eligibility as outlined by current law, according to the bill sponsor. (House vote this week.)

    Immigration

    We know that the current legal immigration system is broken and should be fixed in a deliberate and responsible manner. That is why the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees have produced a number of specific bills which the House may begin considering this fall. Before we consider any other reforms, it is important that we pass legislation securing our borders and providing enforcement mechanisms to our law enforcement officials.

    Related Bill:

    Domestic Energy

    The working middle class is struggling under the weight of increased energy costs all while the United States has enough natural gas and newly discoverable oil finds to meet our energy needs for almost a century. We must focus on expanding our energy production in an environmentally friendly way to lower the price of energy for all Americans. That is why we will consider Bill Flores’s bill, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act (H.R. 2728). This bipartisan legislation prohibits the Interior Department from enforcing federal hydraulic fracturing regulations in any state that already has existing regulations and recognizes states’ rights to regulate this type of activity.

    While energy is certainly a jobs issue, for millions of American families it is a pocketbook issue -- working middle class families who in 2001 spent 12% of their earnings to pay for their energy bills, today spend 21% of their income on the same bill. According to the research firm IHS Global Insight, shale energy production, which could not be done successfully without hydraulic fracturing, has created billions of dollars in additional revenues for federal, state and local governments, helped American consumers save an average of $926 annually per household, and supported more than 1.75 million jobs in 2012. Throughout the fall, House Republicans will continue to bring environmentally friendly energy legislation like this to the floor to bring down the cost of energy, create jobs for the middle class, and make the United States more energy independent.

    Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act

    For over 100 years, the federal government has managed our national forests while sharing with impacted local communities a percentage of management revenue. Chairman Doc Hastings’s bill, Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526), renews the government’s commitment to rural communities, improves forest health, and will help prevent catastrophic wildfires which threaten millions of Americans through proactive measures. The bill also provides a short-term extension of the Secure Rural Schools payments program.

    WRRDA

    The Water Resource Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA)* is model for a new way to do business here in Washington and I applaud Chairman Bill Shuster and his committee for developing a bill with much needed reforms. The legislation cuts federal red tape and bureaucracy, streamlines the project delivery process, improves competiveness, strengthens water resources infrastructure, and promotes fiscal responsibility. Most importantly, WRRDA contains no earmarks. It also increases transparency, accountability and Congressional oversight in reviewing and prioritizing future water resources development activities without ceding Constitutional Congressional authority to the executive branch.

    *This bill isn't available on POPVOX yet. (Read bill text.)

    Kids First Research Act

    H.R. 2019, The Kids First Research Act, introduced by Gregg Harper, Tom Cole, and Peter Welch clearly reflects Congressional priorities in funding: medical research before political parties and conventions. In the era of limited federal resources, it is critical that we set the right priorities and now more than ever our priority should be medical breakthroughs that help children who are suffering from diseases and disorders like autism, juvenile diabetes, Down syndrome, and cancer. This bipartisan bill eliminates the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and diverts the remaining money, approximately $130 million, to expand pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health. Autism Speaks, Children's Hospital Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are among the more than three dozen groups which support passage of this bill. It is no secret that Healthcare costs coupled with our nation's demographic trends disproportionately cloud the fiscal outlook for the federal government. By promoting cures, this legislation also reflects a long term commitment to fiscal balance.

    Oversight

    In September and October, House committees will continue to hold an out-of-touch government in Washington accountable. Congressional oversight that exposes abuses, such as political targeting by the IRS, is the first step in restoring trust in government, controlling spending, and reforming Washington. Working middle class families deserve a government that is working for them, not against them.

    As I detailed in a memo to you last month, House committees are actively pursuing over 150 inquires. While the IRS and Benghazi investigations remain priorities, the committees continue to focus on wasteful spending, job-killing regulations including the implementation of Obamacare and the administration's energy policies, and national security.

    Related Bills:

    • HR 2022 The A bill to prohibit the implementation or enforcement of any requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act until certifications are made that taxpayer information is not and will not be used for targeting any individual or group that provides information to the Internal Revenue Service for political reasons or on the basis of political views.
    • HR 2565 STOP IRS Act: To provide for the termination of employment of employees of the Internal Revenue Service who take certain official actions for political purposes.
    • HRes 306 House resolution establishing a select committee to investigate and report on the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
    • Govt Abuse See the House Republican #StopGovtAbuse Initiative legislation

    Conclusion

    This fall’s legislative agenda is aimed at promoting our conservative solutions that produce results for all Americans. We will need to address additional issues this fall, including a review of our intelligence programs and cyber security. A variety of other items are likely to be considered and members will receive weekly schedule updates at our conference meetings. Upon return to Washington, if we stay focused on our solutions and how they can benefit all Americans dealing with their every day challenges, I am convinced we will achieve more significant policy victories in the months ahead.

    Thank you for all the hard work you do on behalf of your constituents and all Americans.

    Eric

  5. POPVOX Daily Digest - September 9, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The Senate:

    On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided not to move ahead with a vote on a resolution authorizing military force against Syria.

    Reid said he has the votes to proceed to the resolution, although it's still unclear if the Senate can pass it. Reid said a delay would give President Obama more time to make his case in favor of a military action.

    A procedural vote is expected as early as Wednesday in the Senate, one day after Obama makes a prime time address to the country on Syria.

    Also Monday, U.S. officials seemed open to working with Russia on a deal that would force Syria to give up its chemical weapons. That could remove the need for any vote in Congress, or might require Congress to vote on new language if Syria agrees to some new conditions.

    The House:

    The House was in briefly, and passed two bills:

  6. The Week Ahead: Sept. 9 - 13

    From our Hill Sources: Congress is back on Monday from August recess, and it faces two big issues in its first full week of work: Syria and 2014 federal spending.

    Military Action in Syria

    The Senate seems likely to take the lead on Syria this week, as it's expected to vote on a bipartisan resolution:

    • SyriaThe Senate's Joint Resolution, "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons" (S.J.Res. ___): to authorize the limited and specified use of the US Armed Forces against Syria. The resolution allows up to 90 days of military action against Syria, and due to a bipartisan amendment in committee, it allows the administration to take steps to change the "momentum on the battlefield" to help Syrian rebels.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources: This resolution passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a close 10-7 vote, and the Obama Administration will be pushing senators to support it before this week's vote. It's not yet clear if the Senate can pass the resolution given scant public support for a new military campaign, even one that the Administration says would be very limited and would not involve ground troops. Meanwhile, House leaders have indicated they would let the Senate act first, and might consider Syria language later in the month. There's also a chance the House doesn't vote at all, particularly if the Senate fails to pass its language.

    2014 Federal Spending

    The House will take the lead on 2014 spending, by considering a short-term continuing resolution. The plan is to allow the government to operate for the first few months of the new fiscal year, so Congress can spend time working on a debt ceiling agreement.

    As of Friday, the House had not revealed the text of the continuing resolution it hopes to pass.

    Also in the House

    Also in the House, leaders will call up:

    • ObamacareThe No Subsidies Without Verification Act: would prohibit any federal subsidies for Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges from being provided until there is a system in place that verifies eligibility as outlined by current law, according to the bill sponsor.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources: This bill reflects Republican disapproval of an Obama administration decision not to verify eligibility of people receiving subsidies. Many Republicans said failing to see if people qualify for these subsidies will only lead to more demand for the payments, which would drive up the costs of Obamacare.

    Finally, the House will consider several suspension bills early in the week, including several Senate land use 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.

  7. PRESS CLIP (VIDEO): Obama seeks support for proposed military action in Syria

  8. The POPVOX Top 20: Aug 30 - Sept. 5

    Military Action in Syria is the Top Issue Among POPVOX Users

    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." While not a formal resolution, we posted the draft on the POPVOX platform -- and more than 2,500 people weighed in. POPVOX users overwhelmingly oppose military action in Syria -- 96% to 4%.

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Aug. 30 - Sept. 5

    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.

    • Syria#1  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."

      109 Support | 2451 Oppose

    • HR 2507#2  War Powers Protection Act : To restrict funds related to escalating United States military involvement in Syria.

      808 Support | 15 Oppose

    • HCRes 40#3 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.

      795 Support | 22 Oppose

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

      19 Support | 785 Oppose

    • HR 2501#5 Congressional Accountability and Oversight in Syria Act: To authorize assistance to conduct military or paramilitary operations in Syria,

      38 Support | 715 Oppose

    • HR 2818#6 Surveillance State Repeal Act: To repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

      702 Support | 23 Oppose

    • S 1336#7 A bill: to amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to permit States to require proof of citizenship for registration to vote in elections for Federal office.

      638 Support | 26 Oppose

    • S 617#8 Syria Democratic Transition Act: to provide humanitarian assistance and support a democratic transition in Syria.

      19 Support | 644 Oppose

    • HR 3018#9 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.

      10 Support | 564 Oppose

    • S 1038#10 End Racial Profiling Act: to eliminate racial profiling by law enforcement.

      51 Support | 464 Oppose

    • HR 2465#11 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.

      20 Support | 440 Oppose

    • HR 2959#12 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.

      389 Support | 43 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.

      21 Support | 407 Oppose

    • HR 3016#14 Jobs for Urban Sustainability and Training in America Act: to provide grants to cities with high unemployment rates to provide job training, public works, and economic development programs.

      22 Support | 241 Oppose

    • HR 1327#15 Free Syria Act: To improve United States humanitarian and other assistance to the Syrian people, facilitate the transition of Syria to a democratic government, provide for United States support to the post-Assad government.

      9 Support | 230 Oppose

    • Obamacare#16 Defunding Obamacare in a Spending Bill: Urging members of Congress to sign on to Rep. Mark Meadows's letter committing to defunding Obamacare in any spending bill this Fall. (Sponsored campaign* by Heritage Action.) 

      234 Support | 4 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.

      5 Support | 176 Oppose

    • HR 2503#18 A bill to prohibit the obligation or expenditure of funds to provide military assistance to opposition forces in Syria.

      174 Support | 1 Oppose

    • S 1201#19 Protecting Americans from the Proliferation of Weapons to Terrorists Act: to restrict funds related to escalating United States military involvement in Syria.

      141 Support | 2 Oppose

    • HR 2432#20 To prohibit the obligation or expenditure of funds made available to any Federal department or agency for any fiscal year to provide military assistance to any of the armed combatants in Syria absent express prior statutory authorization from Congress.

      140 Support | 1 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. 

  9. Press Clip: House Greets Syria War Resolution With Intense Skepticism; Vote Could Go Down

  10. PRESS CLIP: Informal polls show deep opposition to Syria intervention

  11. PRESS CLIP: Announcing The Disrupt SF Hackathon Judges And A Ton Of New Prizes

  12. Press Clip: PopVox helps members of Congress hear from voters

  13. Issue Spotlight: Labor Day

    It's Labor Day! In June 1894, Congress passed an act declaring the first Monday in September Labor Day and a legal holiday. Labor Day was created by the nation's labor movement and dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers, according to the US Department of Labor.

    This Labor Day 2013 marks the centennial of the US Department of Labor -- and a new Labor Secretary Tom Perez. He linked the significance of Labor Day with Wednesday's 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington:

      "In his Wednesday speech, President Obama challenged us to address widening income inequality that is eroding the American Dream, invoking the marchers of 50 years ago who were engaged in that same struggle for economic justice. I join the president in the call for a higher minimum wage. It’s not just a moral imperative; it’s economic common sense. When we put more money in working families’ pockets, it boosts consumer demand, helping small businesses and jump-starting the entire economy."

    Here are some bills related to the minimum wage:

    Labor and Employment Legislation

    Job Training

    Workplace Rights

    • HR 675 Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act: To extend protections to part-time workers in the areas of employer-provided health insurance, family and medical leave, and pension plans.
    • S 665  Protecting America's Workers Act: to expand coverage under the Act, to increase protections for whistleblowers, to increase penalties for high gravity violations, to adjust penalties for inflation, to provide rights for victims or their family members.
    • HR 645 Equal Employment for All Act amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to prohibit the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purposes of making adverse employment decisions.
    • HR 946 National Right-to-Work Act preserves and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities
    • HR 1373 Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act To improve compliance with mine safety and health laws, empower miners to raise safety concerns, prevent future mine tragedies.

    Work & Family

    Wages

    • HR 438 Fair Pay Act amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin.
    • HR 2013 Davis-Bacon Repeal Act To repeal the wage rate requirements commonly known as the Davis-Bacon Act.

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

  14. Issue Spotlight: Marijuana

    In November 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana use. This week, US Attorney General Eric Holder said the US Justice Department is "deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time." 

    Meanwhile, 18 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws allowing for the medical use of marijuana. California led the way in 1996 when its voters passed Proposition 215, legalizing medical marijuana. This state-level activity is prompting greater interest in federal marijuana legislation. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on Sept. 10 to discuss “Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws.” And nearly a dozen bills have been introduced in the US Congress.

    History of Marijuana Laws

    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.)

    Marijuana and Hemp Legislation in Congress

    And nearly a dozen bills have been introduced in the US Congress -- and Congress needs to hear from its constituents. (List updated 8/7/13)

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

  15. The POPVOX Top 20: Aug 23 - 29

    Defunding Obamacare is the Top Priority of POPVOX Users

    Once again, defunding Obamacare was the top priority among POPVOX users in the past week. The proposal urges members of Congress to sign on to a letter by Congressman Mark Meadows committing to defunding Obamacare in any spending bill this Fall. Close to 6,000 people have shared their voice about the Meadows letter -- and the vast majority are supporting it -- through a POPVOX sponsored campaign* by Heritage Action. Congressman Meadows delivered the letter to Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor last week, but is still seeking additional support.

    Want to be a part of the POPVOXnation conversation? Please join us on Facebook or Twitter. It's a great way to stay connected with the POPVOX team and Congress. Thanks for using POPVOX!

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Aug 23 - 29

    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.

    • Obamacare#1 Defunding Obamacare in a Spending Bill: Urging members of Congress to sign on to Rep. Mark Meadows's letter committing to defunding Obamacare in any spending bill this Fall. (Sponsored campaign* by Heritage Action.) 

      901 Support | 31 Oppose

    • HR 2818#2 Surveillance State Repeal Act: To repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

      680 Support | 6 Oppose

    • HR 3018#3 A bill: to amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to permit States to require proof of citizenship for registration to vote in elections for Federal office.

      299 Support | 35 Oppose

    • HRes 306#4 A resolution providing for the consideration of the resolution (HRes 36) establishing a select committee to investigate and report on the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

      301 Support | 22 Oppose

    • HR 3018#5 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.

      12 Support | 311 Oppose

    • S 1426#6 Password Protection Act: to prohibit employers from compelling or coercing any person to authorize access to a protected computer.

      276 Support | 28 Oppose

    • HR 3018#7 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.

      11 Support | 272 Oppose

    • HR 2682#8 Defund Obamacare Act: To prohibit the funding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

      262 Support | 19 Oppose

    • HJR 56#9 The Equal Rights Amendment resolution proposing an amendment to the US Constitution relative to equal rights for men and women.

      45 Support | 220 Oppose

    • HR 3016#10 Jobs for Urban Sustainability and Training in America Act: to provide grants to cities with high unemployment rates to provide job training, public works, and economic development programs.

      41 Support | 187 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.

      201 Support | 27 Oppose

    • HR 3014#12 Fresh Start Act: To permit expungement of records of certain nonviolent criminal offenses.

      61 Support | 165 Oppose

    • HCRes 40#13 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.

      204 Support | 6 Oppose

    • HR 2910#14  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.

      15 Support | 182 Oppose

    • HR 2465#15 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.

      14 Support | 177 Oppose

    • HR 2648 #16 A bill 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 | 120 Oppose

    • S 1337 #17 Crime Gun Tracing Act: to promote the tracing of firearms used in crimes.

      7 Support | 114 Oppose

    • HR 2665 #18 A bill to ensure secure gun storage and gun safety devices.

      4 Support | 92 Oppose

    • HR 2356#19 We Are Watching You Act: To provide for notification to consumers before a video service collects visual or auditory information from the viewing area and to provide consumers with choices that do not involve the collection of such information.

      77 Support | 9 Oppose

    • HR 2464#20 Improving Gun Safety Standards Act: To amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to remove the exclusion of pistols, revolvers, and other firearms from the definition of "consumer product" in order to permit the issuance of safety standards for such articles by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

      2 Support | 83 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. 

  16. Issue Spotlight: Cruise Ships

    Cruises are a big industry. More than 10 million cruise passengers embarked on cruises from US ports in 2012, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. However, several high profile incidents and outbreaks of illness has resulted in Congress taking a closer look at the industry.

    Congress has proposed several bills to address cruises, which we're highlighting. Weigh in on these proposals and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress, guaranteed.

    Cruise Ship Legislation

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

  17. Issue Spotlight: The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

    Fifty years ago today, more than 200,000 people came to the nation's capital for the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." However, the stated goals of the demonstration were much broader, including "a comprehensive civil rights bill" that would do away with segregated public accommodations; "protection of the right to vote"; mechanisms for seeking redress of violations of constitutional rights; "desegregation of all public schools in 1963"; a massive federal works program "to train and place unemployed workers"; and "a Federal Fair Employment Practices Act barring discrimination in all employment". (Source)

    On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King stood at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. (See photos from Life Magazine.) The 1963 march was organized by Bayard Rustin, a key advisor to Dr. King, who helped inform him of the Gandhian philosophy of nonviolence. (Weigh in on a resolution honoring Rustin.)

    President Obama reflected on the march in a proclamation:

    "Today, we remember that the March on Washington was a demonstration for jobs as well as freedom. The coalition that brought about civil rights understood that racial equality and fairness for workers are bound together; when one American gets a raw deal, it jeopardizes justice for everyone. These are lessons we carry forward -- that we cannot march alone, that America flourishes best when we acknowledge our common humanity, that our future is linked to the destiny of every soul on earth."

    The 50th Anniversary March on Washington

    Last weekend, several organizations, led by the National Action Network, convened a march on Washington as a "continuation of the efforts 50 years ago." They called to attention a broader set of issues, listed below, than did Dr. King 50 years ago. POPVOX would like to identify a few bills related to the issues raised during last weekend's march that are currently being considered by Congress.

    Weigh in on these bills and POPVOX will deliver your message to your lawmakers. Please keep in mind that this list is a small sampling of the bills being considered by Congress related to these issues. Visit the POPVOX Bills Page to find more bills.

    Jobs & the Economy, Including Unemployment

    Voting Rights and Claims of Voter Fraud

    • S 1336 to permit States to require proof of citizenship for registration to vote in elections for Federal office.
    • HR 2829 Restoring Important Voter Eligibility Requirements to States Actto require an applicant for voter registration for elections for Federal office to affirmatively state that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for voting in such elections as a condition of completing the application, to require States to verify that an applicant for registering to vote in such elections meets the eligibility requirements for voting in such elections prior to registering the applicant to vote.
    • HJR 44 A resolution proposing an amendment to the US Constitution regarding the right to vote.
    • HR 376 Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act: to allow all eligible voters to vote by mail in Federal elections.
    • S 123 Voter Empowerment Act: to modernize voter registration, promote access to voting for individuals with disabilities, protect the ability of individuals to exercise the right to vote in elections for Federal office
    • HR 281 Voter Access Protection Act: to prohibit a state or local election official from requiring an individual to: (1) present a photo identification (or a copy if voting by mail) as a condition for receiving or casting a ballot in any election for federal office, or (2) cast a provisional ballot solely on the grounds that the individual does not present a photo identification at the polling place.

    Workers' Rights

    Criminal Justice and Sentencing, Stand Your Ground Laws and Gun Violence

    Women's Rights

    • HR 438 Fair Pay Act: to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin.
    • HR 377 Paycheck Fairness Act: to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex.

    Immigration

    LGBT Equality

    • S 815 ENDA: to prohibit the employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • HR 2523 Respect for Marriage Act: To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.

    Environmental Justice Among Minority Communities

    Youth, Including Student Loans

    • S 1170 Youth Jobs Act: to provide for youth jobs
    • S 1066 Federal Student Loan Refinancing Act: to allow certain student loan borrowers to refinance Federal student loans.
    • HR 1330 Student Loan Fairness Act: To increase purchasing power, strengthen economic recovery, and restore fairness in financing higher education in the United States through student loan forgiveness, caps on interest rates on Federal student loans, and refinancing opportunities for private borrowers.

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

  18. The POPVOX Top 20: Aug 16 - 22

    Defunding Obamacare is the Top Priority of POPVOX Users

    Defunding Obamacare was the top priority among POPVOX users in the past week. The proposal urges members of Congress to sign on to a letter by Rep. Mark Meadows committing to defunding Obamacare in any spending bill this Fall. Nearly 5,000 people have shared their voice in support of defunding Obamacare in a spending bill through a sponsored campaign* by Heritage Action.

    Want to be a part of the POPVOXnation conversation? Please join us on Facebook or Twitter. It's a great way to stay connected with the POPVOX team and Congress. Thanks for using POPVOX!

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Aug 16 - 22

    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.

    • Obamacare#1 Defunding Obamacare in a Spending Bill: Urging members of Congress to sign on to Rep. Mark Meadows's letter committing to defunding Obamacare in any spending bill this Fall. (Sponsored campaign* by Heritage Action.) 4,781 Support | 5 Oppose
    • HR 2682#2 Defund Obamacare Act: To prohibit the funding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 1,094 Support | 43 Oppose
    • HR 2910#3  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. 94 Support | 469 Oppose
    • HRes 318 #4 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. 27 Support | 501 Oppose
    • HR 2959#5 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. 465 Support | 60 Oppose
    • HR 2465#6 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. 89 Support | 407 Oppose
    • HR 2665 #7 A bill to ensure secure gun storage and gun safety devices. 25 Support | 454 Oppose
    • HR 3018#8 Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the excise tax and special occupational tax in respect of firearms and to increase the transfer tax on any other weapon. 24 Support | 442 Oppose
    • S 1337 #9 Crime Gun Tracing Act: to promote the tracing of firearms used in crimes, and for other purposes. 25 Support | 439 Oppose
    • HR 2648 #10 A bill 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. 25 Support | 437 Oppose
    • S 744 #11 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act: to provide for comprehensive immigration reform. 15 Support | 390 Oppose
    • S 1335#12 Sportsmen's Act: to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting. 154 Support | 72 Oppose
    • Rules #13 The Salmon Rule: A proposal recommending that House Members vote against any rule governing debate in the US House of Representatives if the bill did not have the support of the majority of the majority. This standard was known as the "Hastert Rule," and has now been supported by Rep. Matt Salmon. (Sponsored campaign* by Heritage Action.) 204 Support | 5 Oppose
    • HR 2464#14 Improving Gun Safety Standards Act: To amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to remove the exclusion of pistols, revolvers, and other firearms from the definition of "consumer product" in order to permit the issuance of safety standards for such articles by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 10 Support | 179 Oppose
    • HR 2812#15 Justice Exists for Us All Act: To encourage States to prohibit "stand your ground" laws and require neighborhood watch programs to register with local law enforcement agencies and the Department of Justice, to direct the Attorney General to study such laws. 9 Support | 147 Oppose
    • HR 2625 #16 Student Protection Act: To protect the rights of children. 133 Support | 6 Oppose
    • S 1212 #17 Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act: to amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to facilitate the establishment of additional or expanded public target ranges in certain States. 123 Support | 5 Oppose
    • HR 2567 #18 Child Handgun Safety Act: To require that all handguns manufactured, sold in, or imported into, the United States incorporate technology that precludes the average five year old child from operating the handgun when it is ready to fire.6 Support | 118 Oppose
    • HR 2799 #19 Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act: To establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, recreational shooting 13 Support | 100 Oppose
    • HR 2405 #20 Firearm Recidivist Sentencing Act: to clarify the circumstances under which the enhanced penalty provisions for subsequent convictions apply. 6 Support | 101 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. 

  19. PRESS CLIP: The Debate Over the ERA Continues

  20. PRESS CLIP: Proposed Law Would Permit Pets on Amtrak Trains