The POPVOX Blog

  1. POPVOX Daily Digest - July 19, 2013

    Form our Hill Sources:

    The House was in session and passed legislation that would revamp the federal government's role in education.

    • HR 5 The Student Success Act.

      House Members passed this bill in a 221-207 vote, with 12 Republicans voted against it, and no Democrats supporting.

      Republicans are angry at the Obama administration's use of waivers from the No Child Left Behind act. The GOP says the Administration has used these waivers as leverage to get states to pursue its own education goals, not those of Congress.

      The bill removes the federal government from the setting school standards, letting states decide how to apportion money for underperforming schools and set their own metrics for teacher and school performance.

      Democrats argued that the federal role helps protect at-risk students.

      Despite House passage, the bill is unlikely to move beyond this point. Democrats in the Senate are working on a different bill, and President Obama has said he would veto the House bill.

  2. The POPVOX Top 20: July 12 - 18

    Delaying Obamacare Mandates Top Priority on POPVOX

    The House voted this week to delay parts of Obamacare, the 2010 health care law, after the Obama Administration decided to delay the employer insurance mandate. Not surprisingly, this issue was the top priority among POPVOX users over the past week. The Authority for Mandate Delay Act (HR 2667) would delay the requirement that companies must offer health insurance to its workers, and the Fairness for American Families Act (HR 2668) would delay the requirement that individuals must purchase health insurance.

    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 July 12 - 18

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

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

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

  3. POPVOX Daily Digest - July 18, 2013

    From our Hill Sources:

    In the House:

    The House was in to start work on a bill rewriting federal education policy.

    • HR 5 The Student Success Act.

      This legislation would give states more authority to set teacher qualification standards, take steps to improve schools, and direct funding as they see fit.

      Republicans say the bill is needed because the current No Child Left Behind law requires too much federal oversight, and states have already been granted dozens of waivers by the government due to restrictions under the current law.

      Democrats agree that the law needs reform, but say the bill goes too far the other way, and argued that some federal standards are needed to ensure state standards don't slip.

      House members debated the bill and considered several amendments. Final House passage is expected on Friday.

    In the Senate:

    The Senate confirmed the nomination of Tom Perez as the next Secretary of Labor. Perez won confirmation in a 54-46 vote. No Republicans voted to confirm.

    The Senate also approved the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, in a 59-40 vote.

    Both appointees were confirmed under an agreement reached earlier this week under which Democrats dropped two controversial nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.

  4. POPVOX Daily Digest - July 17, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    In the House:

    The House voted Wednesday to delay two health insurance mandates under the Affordable Health Act or "ObamaCare." Republicans brought the measures in response to the Obama Administration's decision to delay implementation of the employer mandate.

    In a 264-161 vote, the House voted for H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act. This bill would delay the requirement that all companies with more than 50 employees give those employees a health plan.

    In a 251-174 vote, the House also passed H.R. 2668, the Fairness for American Families Act. This bill would extend the same delay for the individual mandate, which requires everyone to buy an insurance plan.

    Republicans argued that Administration's delay of the requirement on large employers favored companies over regular people, arguing that if compliance is tough for companies, it would likely also be a challenge for individuals.

    Democrats said the two bills were just another attempt to repealing ObamaCare piece-by-piece.

    The bills have little chance of advancing further, as the Obama Administration has said it would veto, and the Senate is not expected to consider either bill.

    In the Senate:

    <p>The Senate was dealing with nominations all day. It approved Fred Hochberg to become the next head of the Export-Import Bank in an 82-17 vote, and held a procedural vote that could allow senators on Thursday to approve Tom Perez to be the next Labor Secretary.

     

  5. POPVOX Daily Digest - July 16, 2013

    From our Hill Sources:

    In the Senate:

    The Senate started the day with the possibility of making radical changes to the filibuster system, but ended with a deal allowing votes this week on several Obama administration nominations.

    Under the agreement, Democrats agreed to drop two controversial nominees to the National Labor Relations Board. The controversy with the nominees stemmed from their "recess appointment" by President Obama in January, 2012. In January 2013, the D.C. Circuit found that the Senate had not technically been in recess at the time, and therefore the appointments were invalid. (Noel Canning v. NLRB).

    With a deal reached, the Senate was able to confirm Richard Cordray to be the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. Other nominations will follow throughout the week.

    In the House:

    The House was also in, and passed three suspension bills:

    • HR 1848 The Small Airplane Revitalization Act Passed 411-0.

    • HR 2576 changing U.S. law to eliminate a requirement that certain pipeline standards do not have to be published online, to protect the intellectual property of standards-setting groups. Passed 405-2.

    • HR 2611 naming the Coast Guard headquarters building in Washington DC. Passed 411-0.

  6. POPVOX Daily Digest - June 15, 2013

    From our Hill Sources:

    In the Senate:

    Senators from both parties held a meeting lasting several hours on Senate procedures — specifically, whether they can agree to a deal that allows consideration of President Obama's nominations.

    Senators met for three and a half hours, but did not announce any agreement that would let Democrats pull back from their threat to change Senate rules in order to make it harder to filibuster nominees.

    With no deal in sight, the Senate seemed poised to hold a series of votes on Tuesday on seven nominations. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated that Senate leaders were still working on the issue into the night, meaning that the situation could change by Tuesday.

    Democrats have threatened the so-called "nuclear option," by which Democrats would change Senate rules on the filibuster by a simple majority vote. Normally, it would take a supermajority to change the rules -- changing them with only a simple majority would be seen as a dramatic departure from historical precedent.

    In the House:

    No votes were held in the House.

  7. The Week Ahead: July 15 - 19

    From our Hill Sources: The House looks at "Obamacare" once again, while the Senate works to confirm Obama Administration nominees. Senate Democrats may deploy the “nuclear option” -- which would allow 51 senators to change the Senate rules instead of the 67 "supermajority" that's normally required -- to approve cabinet nominees.

    In the House

    The House will vote this week to delay parts of the 2010 healthcare law. The bills are an attempt by Republicans to capitalize on the Obama administration's decision to delay the employer insurance mandate. The GOP says a similar delay is needed to give individuals a grace period from the mandate.

    The House may also take up:

    Votes on three suspension bills are also expected:

    In the Senate

    The Senate is planning a week filled with debate over the process for confirming Obama administration nominees. Republicans and Democrats will meet Monday night to hear Democratic complaints about the GOP's stonewalling of nominations, and Republican complaints about plans to make it harder to filibuster these nominations.

    The "Nuclear Option"

    Democrats have threatened to rewrite Senate rules to limit filibusters of cabinet nominations, and to do so by requiring only a majority vote for these changes instead of needing a supermajority. This "nuclear option" has outraged Republicans as a step toward fundamentally altering the right of the Senate to consider, and even delay, nominations.

    Tuesday may provide a glimpse into whether the two parties were able to find a way around their ongoing dispute. Senate Democrats have set up procedural votes on seven nominations, and say GOP attempts to filibuster them could result in an exercising of the "nuclear option."

    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.

  8. What to Watch in Congress - Week of July 14, 2013

    Veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell (@CharlieReports) joins us to highlight the big issues before Congress in the coming week.

    This week, the Senate contemplates the "nuclear option" on judicial nominees -- changing Senate rules to require only a majority vote, rather than sixty for Executive Branch nominees. The House will vote on two bills to delay provisions of the Affordable Care Act: the employer mandate (which the Administration has said it will delay) and the individual mandate.

    Weigh in on these bills:

  9. POPVOX Daily Digest - June 11, 2013

    From our Hill sources

    In the House:

    The House spent all day passing a farm bill that excludes nutrition programs for the needy, which led Democrats to protest the bill throughout the day.

    The House passed a slimmed-down version of the farm bill, H.R. 2609, because it was the only way to get the bill through the House. A version that included food stamps failed to pass the House in June, as dozens of Republicans rebelled against what they said was a costly, fraud-ridden program.

    Taking food stamps out of the bill let Republicans pass it relatively easily, although Democrats argued that this bill contains no guarantees that a food stamp bill will be forthcoming. They also noted that the Democratic Senate would oppose it, and that President Obama has threatened to veto the measure.

    Republicans said they were hopeful that a House-Senate conference might now be established, and possibly find agreement on a final bill that includes both commodity and food stamp programs.

    In the Senate:

    The Senate was in, but held no votes, other than passing a minor bill renaming part of the tax code after former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutichison.

    Democrats did, however, set up votes on seven Obama administration nominees, and indicated they might threaten to change the Senate’s filibuster rules if Republicans tried to block them through a filibuster.

    Democrats have indicated for the last several days that changes to Senate filibuster rules may be coming. But the way the rules might be changed is potentially controversial – Senate rules are normally changed through a super-majority, but Democrats are threatening to change the rules by simple majority, an option known as the “nuclear option” given how politically controversial it would be.

  10. The POPVOX Top 20: July 5 - 11

    Gun Bill To Prevent Five-Year-Olds from Firing Tops the Weekly List on POPVOX

    Once again, the Child Handgun Safety Act (HR 2567) topped the list of the most popular bills among POPVOX users. The bill would require that all guns sold in the US include technology to prevent the average five-year-old from firing it. More than nine in ten POPVOX users opposed the bill.

    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 July 5 - 11

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

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

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

  11. POPVOX Daily Digest - July 10, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    In the Senate:

    The Senate held a procedural vote on a student loan bill Wednesday, but as expected, it failed, sending senators back to the drawing board on how to handle the doubling of student loan rates that happened automatically on July 1.

    The Senate vote was procedural one -- whether to end debate on a motion to proceed to a bill, S. 1238, which would extend for another year the 3.4 percent interest rate on federally subsidized student loans. Sixty votes were needed, and the bill failed 51-49. 

    In the wake of that vote, Senate Democrats scrambled to find some compromise vote that might be able to get a vote this week.

    In the House:

    The House was in all day, considering amendments to the 2014 energy and water spending bill, H.R. 2609. Just before 11 p.m., the House finished up work and quickly passed the bill in a 227-198 vote.

    Democrats fought all week against the cuts in the bill to renewable energy programs, science research, and other cuts. But aside from a few tweaks in spending levels, the House rejected most other amendment proposals.

    House passage sends the bill to the Senate, where it is opposed by Democrats who are working on a bill that increases funding in these areas.

    Post updated at 3:14 AM ET July 11 to reflect late House vote.

  12. POPVOX Daily Digest - July 9, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    In the House:

    The House spent the day on amendments to a bill funding the Department of Energy and federal water projects for 2014.

    • HR 2609 The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

      The bill spends $30.4 billion in 2014, a cut compared to current levels.

      Democrats proposed several amendments Tuesday night that would boost funding for various science and renewable energy programs, but Republicans were on the road to rejecting most of these.

      The House is expected to be in a position to pass the bill by Wednesday or Thursday.

    In the Senate:

    The Senate was also in session, but had no major work to do until Wednesday, when it will hold a procedural vote on S. 1238, the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act, a Democratic plan to extend lower student loan interest rates for another year.

    The Senate did pass one resolution, S.Res. 151, which calls on Afghanistan to hold transparent elections.

  13. POPVOX Daily Digest - June 8, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House and Senate were in briefly Monday, their first day back from the July 4 recess.

    In the Senate:

    The Senate set up a procedural vote on S. 1238, the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act, which would keep the interest rate on subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent for another year.

    Democrats favor this bill from Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), but it doesn't seem likely that the Senate will be able to pass this bill, and may need a few weeks to figure out an alternative, if it can at all.

    A bipartisan group of senators support a bill that would peg the interest rate to the 10-year Treasury borrowing rate (S. 1241), which would keep rates lower than the current 6.8 percent for the next several years, but could allow rates to exceed that amount later on.

    By unanimous consent, the Senate also quickly passed S. 793, the Organization of American States Revitalization and Reform Act. This bill would require the State Department to set out a strategy for implementing requirements related to the Organization of American States.

    In the House:

    The House worked on three suspension bills, all of which passed easily:

  14. The Week Ahead: July 8 - 12

    From our Hill Sources: Congress returns, and will deal with the student loan interest rate this week, along with a spending bill for federal energy and water programs.

    Video to Watch: Watch veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell as he discusses immigration efforts in the House and other issues to watch. (Video)

    In the Senate

    The Senate adjourned in late June without passing a bill dealing with student loans, but is hoping to make progress this week. Two bills will be considered:

    • S 1238 The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act, which would lower the 6.8 percent interest rate on subsidized student loans back down to 3.4 percent for another year.
    • S 1241 The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, which would set the rate at that of the 10-year Treasury note plus 1.85 percent.

      The Scoop: The bipartisan bill is much closer to a version passed by the House in June. Passing it in the Senate would likely set up a House-Senate conference that would work to reach an agreement on a final bill. Passage of the one-year extension (The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act), however, could delay progress on the issue further, as House Republicans have indicated they are not likely to advance a simple extension.

    In the House

    In the House, members will deal with a major spending bill for 2014:

    The House will also consider:

    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. What to Watch in Congress - Week of July 7

    Veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell (@CharlieReports) joins us to highlight the big issues before Congress in the coming week.

    This week, much of the action is behind the scenes as House Republicans meet July 10 to discuss the road ahead for immigration efforts in the House.

    Also on July 10, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the Obama Administrations delay of the implementation of a key provision of the health reform legislation, the employer mandate.

    The Senate will try again on Student Loan rates, which doubled on July 1st.


    Weigh in on these issues:

     

     

     

     

     

     

  16. PRESS CLIP: Presenting the 2013 FASTCASE 50

  17. The POPVOX Top 20: June 28 - July 4

    Gun Technology Bill Tops the Weekly List on POPVOX

    This week on POPVOX, the Child Handgun Safety Act (HR 2567) topped the list of the most popular bills among POPVOX users. The bill would require that all guns sold in the US include technology to prevent the average five year old from firing it. More than nine in ten POPVOX users opposed the bill.

    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 June 28 - July 4

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

    • HR 2567#1 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.
    • S 744#2 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act: to provide for comprehensive immigration reform.
    • HJRes 50#3 A resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to parental rights.
    • HR 2408#4 A bill to prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloguing the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns.
    • HR 2533#5 A bill To impose a moratorium on conferences held by the Internal Revenue Service.
    • HR 2510#6 The Helping Veterans Exposed to Toxic Chemicals Act: To direct the Secretary of Defense to establish within the Department of Defense centers of excellence in the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions relating to exposure to open burn pits.
    • HJRes 29#7 A resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only.
    • HR 2437#8 Creating Jobs Through Cooperatives Act: To authorize the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a national program to create jobs and increase economic development by promoting cooperative development.
    • S 541#9 Safeguard American Food Exports Act: to prevent human health threats posed by the consumption of equines raised in the United States.
    • S 1149#10 Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act: to reauthorize the ban on undetectable firearms, and to extend the ban to undetectable firearm receivers and undetectable ammunition magazines.
    • HR 2417#11 Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage (SHIELD) Act: To amend the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system and electric infrastructure critical to the defense and well-being of the United States against natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse (”EMP”) threats and vulnerabilities.
    • NASA#12 Doubling Funding for NASA (sponsored campaign by Penny4NASA)
    • HR 1864#13 A bill to require an Inspector General investigation of allegations of retaliatory personnel actions taken in response to making protected communications regarding sexual assault.
    • HR 2403#14 Securing America’s Fair Elections (SAFE) Act: to permit a State to require an applicant for voter registration in the State who uses the Federal mail voter registration application form developed by the Election Assistance Commission under such Act to provide additional information as a condition of the State's acceptance of the form.
    • S 1088#15 The Student Non-Discrimination Act: to end discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools.
    • HR 1005#16 The Defund Obamacare Act: To deauthorize appropriation of funds, and to rescind unobligated appropriations, to carry out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
    • HR 2475#17 The Ending Secret Law Act: To require the Attorney General to disclose each decision, order, or opinion of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that includes significant legal interpretation of section 501 or 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 unless such disclosure is not in the national security interest of the United States.
    • HR 2375#18 Transparency and Accountability in Medicare Bidding Act: To delay for at least 6 months the implementation of round 1 recompete and round 2 of the Medicare durable medical equipment (DME) competitive bidding program and of the national mail order program for diabetic testing supplies to permit Congress an opportunity to reform the competitive bidding program, to provide for an evaluation of that program by an auction expert team.
    • HR 1094#19 The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act: To prohibit the sale or transport of equines and equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for human consumption.
    • HR 1893#20 The Keeping All Students Safe Act: To prevent and reduce the use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools.

    POPVOX Roundup

    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. 

  18. Issue Spotlight: "Made in the USA"

    July 2 was "Made in the USA" Day, so on this July 4th, POPVOX would like to highlight efforts in Congress to promote buying American-made products.

    But first, here's a recent proposal that passed the House: Last month, the House passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Michaud (ME) that would require any footwear provided to new members of the Armed Forces be made in America. Since 1941, the Department of Defense (DOD) has been required to provide clothing items for servicemembers that are produced in the United States. However, the DOD has circumvented this policy by issuing cash allowances to new recruits for their own purchase of athletic training shoes. (Learn more.) The Senate's version of the bill is still pending.

    "Made in the USA" Legislation

    Updated 8/15/13
    • HR 2664 Made in America Act: To direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a voluntary program under which manufacturers may have products certified as meeting the standards of labels that indicate to consumers the extent to which the products are manufactured in the United States. -- Recently Introduced --
    • S 63 Made In America Manufacturing Act: to require the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Labor to establish the Made In America Incentive Grant Program. (And HR 375 in the House.)
    • HR 194 Congressional Made in America Promise Act: To clarify the applicability of the Buy American Act to products purchased for the use of the legislative branch, to prohibit the application of any of the exceptions to the requirements of such Act to products bearing an official Congressional insignia.
    • HR 1480 Buy America Accountability Act: To amend chapter 83 of title 41, United States Code (commonly known as the Buy American Act), to require each department or independent establishment to conduct an annual audit of its contracts for compliance with such chapter.
    • S 1051 A bill to ensure that footwear furnished or obtained by allowance for enlisted members of the Armed Forces upon their initial entry into the Armed Forces complies with domestic source requirements. (And HR 2188 in the House.)
    • S 1214 All-American Flag Act: to require the purchase of domestically made flags of the United States of America for use by the Federal Government. (And HR 2355 in the House.)
    • HR 1817 American Steel First Act: To require certain Federal agencies to use iron and steel produced in the United States in carrying out projects for the construction, alteration, or repair of a public building or public work.
    • HR 2595 American Parks, American Products Act: To help ensure that all items offered for sale in any gift shop of the National Park Service or of the National Archives and Records Administration are produced in the United States. (And S 1384 in the Senate.)

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

  19. What to Watch in Congress - Week of June 30, 2013

    Veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell (@CharlieReports) joins us to highlight the big issues before Congress in the coming week.

    Look for Members in their districts for the July 4 holiday, hearing from contituents on: Immigration reform, Student Loans (see POPVOX issue spotlight), and Tax reform. (Read Senate Finance Committee June 27 "Dear Colleague" asking Senators for input on a "clean slate" for tax breaks.)

     

     

    Weigh in on these issues:

  20. POPVOX Daily Digest - June 27, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    In the Senate:

    After a few long weeks, the Senate finally passed a bipartisan immigration plan, sending the bill to the House.

    The Senate approved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, in a 68-32 vote. Fourteen Republicans supported the bill, almost enough for supporters to reach the 70 votes they were looking for.

    Passage in the Senate was never in doubt, but the addition of border security language helped the Senate make the case that the House should consider the bill. The border language was submitted by two Republican senators.

    Nonetheless, House Republican leaders said they would not be taking up the Senate passed bill, and indicated they would continue to work on a piecemeal approach to immigration. In the House, that will mean a heavy focus on border security — Republicans are already moving legislation on the border, and may hold a vote or votes by the end of the summer.

    In the House:

    The House was also in and passed two bills: