The POPVOX Blog

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

  2. 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.



  3. 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.

     

     

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

     

  6. 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. 

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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

  11. 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:

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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. 

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

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

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

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.