The POPVOX Blog

  1. POPVOX Daily Digest - June 3, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    In the House

    The House passed a handful of suspension bills on Monday, as well as a resolution honoring Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the New Jersey Democrat who died early Monday morning. He was 89.

    Legislation approved today was relative non-controversial, although one bill received some debate:

    • HR 1919The Safeguarding America's Pharmaceuticals Act. This bill sets up a unified traceability standard for pharmaceuticals to help prevent the spread of counterfeit drugs around the country.

      The bill passed in a voice vote, even though some Democrats said they preferred the Senate bill, which would create an electronic system for tracking all drugs around the country within 10 years. Some of these Democrats said they hope a House-Senate conference will bring the final bill closer to the Senate version.

    Other bills passed today in the House were:

    In the Senate

    The Senate was in and continued work on the farm bill, S. 954, by voting on a few amendments. But work on that bill will continue.

    The Senate also approved:

  2. The Week Ahead: June 3 - 7

    From our Hill Sources: Congress is back from from Memorial Day recess. Here's a look at what to expect.

    Video to Watch: Watch veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell as he discusses "what to watch" next week in Congress. (Video)

    Just one month left to solve this year's student loan crisis.

    Unless Congress acts, the interest rate on federally backed student loans will jump on July 1 from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. (Learn more in our Issue Spotlight.) The House has already passed a bill, the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, but Democrats disagree with the House approach, so this week the Senate will consider:

    • S 953 The Student Loan Affordability Act: This bill would keep the rate at 3.4 percent for another two years, and pays for it by raising taxes on tar sands oil producers, and closing loopholes like one companies use to lower taxable income by using profits to make interest payments.

      The scoop: Senate Democrats say their bill will help students avoid a costly doubling of interest rates. Republicans are likely to favor the House-passed bill.

    • HR 1911 Smarter Solutions for Students Act: The House bill would peg the rate to the 10-year Treasury note, plus 2.5 percent, permanently taking Congress out of the business of setting interest rates.

      The scoop: Democrats say this bill could allow rates to rise above 6.8 percent in the coming years. Republicans note that the House bill caps the rate at 8.5 percent and is structured similarly to a student loan proposal offered by President Obama.

    The Senate

    • S 954 The Farm Bill (or the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act): a five-year farm bill that would spend $955 billion over those five years.

      The scoop: The Senate will also continue to work on this bill this week. Senators have been working on amendments to this $955 billion, five-year bill, and are hoping to finish it this week.

    The House

    In the House, members will start work on spending bills for 2014, and are looking to pass two of the twelve annual bills this week. They are:

    Aside from those bills, the House will consider several suspension bills that will get less debate and will need a two-thirds majority to pass. They are:

    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.

  3. What to Watch in Congress - Week of June 2

    Each week, veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell joins us to talk about "what to watch" in the week ahead. 

    This week in the House, it's Appropriations, Drug Safety, and a bill to address sexual assault in the military. In the Senate: Farm Bill, student loans and then onto Immigration Reform.

    Tell Congress what you think about these 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.

  4. The POPVOX Top 20: May 24 - 30

    Immigration Reform Tops the List

    Nearly 2,000 people weighed in on the Gang of Eight's comprehensive immigration reform bill (S 744) this week. Nine in ten POPVOX users oppose the bill. This month, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, and it will be considered by the full Senate in June. 

    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 May 24 - 30

    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.

    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. 

  5. What to Watch in Congress - Week of May 26

    Veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell joins us weekly to highlight the big issues before Congress:

    Budget conference still in question.

    Student Loan bill has to pass by July 1 or rates double.

    Will Keystone approval get a vote in the Senate?

    House and Senate working on Farm Bill.

    Immigration reform likely to be the dominant issue through the summer.

  6. PRESS CLIP: Congress's Response to Sexual Assault in the Military

  7. Unique Memorial Day Flag Etiquette (Half staff until noon)

    Memorial Day is the only day in which flags are flown at half-staff for only part of the day -- to both honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives and to inspire those who continue in their stead. 

    Photo credit: www.flaginsider.com

    Photo credit: www.flaginsider.com

    On Memorial Day the flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

    The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all. Source: Wikipedia

    Hazel Lodevico-To'o has some more flag-flying tips for Memorial Day on the Glendora, CA Patch.


       
  8. The POPVOX Top 20: May 17 - 23

    Immigration Reform Tops the List

    More than 3,700 people weighed in on the Gang of Eight's comprehensive immigration reform bill (S 744) this week. Nine in ten POPVOX users oppose the bill. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, and it will be considered by the full Senate next month.

    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 May 17 - 23

    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.

    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. 

  9. POPVOX Daily Digest - May 22, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House:

    The House was in session to pass legislation approving the Keystone pipeline, while the Senate approved a resolution calling for the full enforcement of sanctions against Iran.

    • HR 3 The Northern Route Approval Act This bill would grant approval of the northern portion of the Keystone pipeline, removing the need for presidential approval. The bill reflects ongoing Republican criticism of President Obama, whom the GOP accuse of slow-walking the process.

      This bill won the support of 19 Democrats, less than a similar vote in 2011. The earlier bill set a deadline for Obama to act, and won the support of 47 Democrats. Democrats complained that the bill under consideration on Wednesday officially removed the President from the process.

      The White House has said it would veto the bill, and the Senate seems unlikely to consider the bill at all.

    The House also passed two suspension bills:

    The Senate:

    The Senate was in, and spent most of the day working on the farm bill, S. 954, although the Senate will not finish that bill this week.

    In a unanimous 99-0 vote, the Senate approved S. Res. 65, a resolution calling on the government to ensure that it fully implements economic sanctions against Iran.

    The Senate also passd The Stolen Valor Act by unanimous consent, which makes it a crime to falsely claim to have received military medals for financial gain. Senate passage sends the bill to the President for his signature. 

    Updated: May 23, 10:15 AM to reflect passage of the Stolen Valor Act.

     

  10. POPVOX Daily Digest - May 21, 2013

    From our Hill Sources:

    The House:

    The House on Tuesday marked the upcoming Memorial Day weekend by passing a handful of veterans-related bills. None were controversial, and all passed easily:

    • HR 570The American Heroes COLA Act, which provides for automatic cost-of-living adjustments for disabled veterans. The House passed this bill by unanimous consent.
    • HR 1344The Helping Heroes Fly Act, requires an expedited screening process at airports for injured veterans. Members approved this bill 413-0.
    • HR 1412The Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act, which reduces the costs to companies that hire veterans as part of a federal jobs program, and is meant to help encourage companies to hire more veterans. This bill passed 416-0.
    • HR 324 a billawarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the First Special Service Force for its actions in the Second World War. Members okayed this bill on a 415-0 vote.

    The House passed three other bills on Tuesday:

    • S 982The Freedom to Fish Act, which would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from blocking fishing rights in waterways in Tennessee and Kentucky. This bill passed by unanimous consent, and now goes to the White House for President Obama's signature into law.
    • SCR 16A resolution allowing the Capitol to be used for the presentation of a statue of Frederick Douglass. This was also approved by unanimous consent.

    The Senate:

    The Senate was also in Tuesday, and began amendment work on S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act, also known as the Farm Bill.

    Senators approved one Democratic amendment allowing soil and water conservation programs to be applied to Indian tribes. But the Senate likely has several amendments left to consider, and is not expected to be in a position to finish the bill this week.

     

     

  11. POPVOX Daily Digest - May 20, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House:

    The House was in Monday to consider two suspension bills, both of which passed in votes of 390-3.

    • HR 258The Stolen Valor Act, which would make it a crime to lie about earning military medals for financial gain. The bill is a response to a Supreme Court decision that said Congress cannot make lying a crime; that finding led the Court to strike down a broader law on this issue. However, the Court said Congress can criminalize lies about military medals when they are used for a financial gain. The bill passed in the House today includes that change in order to ensure it is constitutional.

      The House approved similar legislation last year, but the Senate never took it up.

    • HR 1073The Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act: This bill amends U.S. law to implement several international treaties and protocols that the U.S. approved in 2005.

      The various treaties are aimed at criminalizing terrorist acts against ships and offshore platforms, and criminalizing the smuggling of nuclear and other weapons by sea.

    The Senate:

    The Senate was in session Monday to start work on the farm bill, S. 954. No votes on amendments were taken, but could take place later in the week.

       

  12. The Week Ahead: May 20 - 25

    From our Hill Sources: The House and Senate are in for one last week before taking off for Memorial Day, and will use this time to work on issues like student loan interest rates, the Keystone pipeline and agriculture spending.

    Video to Watch: Watch veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell as he shares the back stories and "what to watch" next week in Congress. (Video)

    The Senate

    The Senate may spend time on the comprehensive immigration bill this week, but will start off with a five-year farm bill:

    • S 954 The Farm Bill (or the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act): a five-year farm bill that would spend $955 billion over those five years.

      The scoop: The Senate was able to pass a farm bill last year, but the House never considered a proposal on the floor, as Republicans are wary of its cost.

    The House

    The House will look at two major bills for the week:

    • HR 1911 Smarter Solutions for Students Act: This bill would permanently use the interest rate on 10-year government bonds as a basis for setting interest rates on federal student loans.

      The scoop: Congress needs to find some solution to the problem of student loan rates by this summer. Without legislation, the rates on new loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Republicans hope their bill provides a permanent fix. Democrats say the GOP bill could allow rates to rise up to the 8.5 percent cap, much higher than the 6.8 percent original rate.

    • HR 3 Northern Route Approval Act: This bill would remove the need for a presidential permit to construct the northern piece of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada.

      The scoop: Republicans have pushed this issue for years, while the Obama administration has delayed a final decision out of concerns for the environment.

    Members of the House will also consider a slew of "suspension bills," which need a two-thirds majority vote to pass:

    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. POPVOX Daily Digest - May 17, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House was in Friday, and passed one bill:

    H.R. 1062 — the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act. This GOP bill would require the Securities and Exchange Commission to apply extra scrutiny to their regulations, and withhold new rules unless their benefits outweigh their costs.

    For Republicans, the bill fits in with their deregulation theme. Democrats and the White House say the bill would make it more difficult to implement the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.

    The Senate is not likely to take it up and the White House has said it opposes the bill.

  14. What to Watch in Congress - Week of May 19

    Veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell talks background and highlights for the next week in Congress.

     

     

     

  15. The POPVOX Top 20: May 10 - 16

    "Obamacare" Repeal Tops the List in the Weekly Roundup

    More than 3,500 people weighed in on repealing "Obamacare" (HR 45) in this Congress. Three in four POPVOX users supported the repeal. And yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 229 to 195 in favor of repealing President Obama’s health-care law. It's the 37th time that the GOP-led House has tried to undo all or part of the legislation, but it likely won't be considered by the Senate.

    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 May 10 - 16

    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.

    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. 

     

  16. POPVOX Daily Digest - May 16, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House

    The House held its third vote since 2011 on the full repeal of ObamaCare.

    H.R. 45 — "Repeal Obamacare" legislation from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Republican leaders promised to give their caucus another shot at repealing ObamaCare a few weeks ago, after having to pull a bill that would have simply tweaked ObamaCare due to lack of GOP support.

    The bill passed 229-195, but just like in the last Congress, the Senate will not consider it, and the Obama administration has promised to veto it if it ever could escape Congress.

    The Senate

    The Senate was in session and spent most of the day debating and voting on Ernest Moniz, the next Energy Secretary. But the Senate did quickly pass S. 982, a bill that would stop the Army Corps of Engineers from blocking access to fishing waters.

     

  17. POPVOX Daily Digest - May 15, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The Senate

    The Senate finally finished work on a bill authorizing federal water and coastal restoration projects.

     

    • S 601 The Water Resources Development Act The water projects bill is seen as one that will help in flood mitigation and storm restoration efforts around the country. The bipartisan bill passed the Senate in a 83-14 vote.

      The bill does not include language on climate change that was seen as something that would lead to Republican opposition. Nonetheless, it's not clear how quickly the bill can be taken up and passed in the Republican-led House.

    • The House

      The House approved several suspension bills on Wednesday:

    • HR 356 The Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act allowing a land exchange between Utah and the federal government to benefit a Utah Indian tribe. Approved by unanimous consent.
    • HR 384 The Homes for Heroes Act which would create a new position at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to deal with homeless veterans. This bill passed 420-3.
    • HR 573 a bill to expand the coastal territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. Approved by unanimous consent.
    • HR 701 a bill to establish an October 31 deadline for new regulations expanding the ability of small companies to issue securities without registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This bill passed 416-6.
    • HR 767 a bill to rename an energy project in Montana. This bill passed 415-1.
  18. POPVOX Daily Digest - May 14, 2013

    From our Hill sources:

    The House

    Amid constant debate about the IRS, Benghazi, and the Associated Press scandals, the House passed a small group of suspension bills:

    • HR1580 affirming U.S. policy of supporting multi-stakeholder Internet governance, and opposing Internet control by government or governments. It passed unanimously, 413-0.
    • HR180 The National Blue Alert Act, which calls for the development of a system for relaying information about wounded or killed police officers.This also passed easily in a 406-2 vote.
    • SCR10 authorizing the use of the Capitol for the celebration of Hawaiian King Kamehameha's birthday. This met no opposition, and passed 411-0.

     

    The Senate

    The Senate made significant progress on S. 601, The Water Resources Development Act. It approved several amendments to this bill, which authorizes various water and coastal projects around the country. The Senate is expected to pass this bill Wednesday.

     

  19. The Week Ahead: May 13 - 17

    From our Hill Sources: The House returns this week to vote on a bill repealing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while the Senate continues work on a water resources bill. 

    Video to Watch: Watch veteran Washington reporter Charlie Mitchell as he shares the back stories and "what to watch" next week in Congress. (Video)

    The House

    • HR 45 Repealing the healthcare law: The House will yet again vote on a bill to "repeal Obamacare." Many Republicans have been asking for this vote all year as a chance to get new Members on the record as opposing the controversial law.

      The scoop: House leaders promised in April that a vote would come, after a failed attempt to pass legislation to adjust the law. House passage will once again give the GOP a chance to remind voters that they are fighting to repeal the law. But just as in the last Congress, House passage will likely be as far as the bill goes, with no indication that the Senate will consider it.

    • HR 1062 The SEC Regulatory Accountability Act: This bill would require the Securities and Exchange Commission to conduct an enhanced cost-benefit analysis for all regulations it issues, and also require the SEC to ensure that the benefits of a rule outweigh the costs.

    The House will also consider several suspension bills this week, all of which will get less debate time and be subject to a two-thirds majority vote. They are:

    • HR 180 A bill encouraging the development of plans for law enforcement to send out information when an officer is hurt or killed.
    • HR 356 The Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act: To clarify authority granted under the Act entitled “An Act to define the exterior boundary of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in the State of Utah, and for other purposes”.
    • HR 384 The Homes for Heroes Act: requiring the Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay closer attention to veterans' housing needs.
    • HR 573 A bill granting the Northern Mariana Islands the same coastal land rights as other US territories.
    • HR 701 A bill setting a fall deadline by which the Securities and Exchange Commission can exempt securities from regulation.
    • HR 767 A bill assigning regional Bureau of Land Management offices as Pilot Project offices under the Energy Policy Act.
    • HR 1580 A bill affirming US policy on Internet governance.
    • SCRes 10 A resolution authorizing the celebration of King Kamehameha's birthday in the Capitol Visitors Center.

    The Senate

    The Senate is also in session, but so far only has plans to continue its work on:

    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. "What to Watch" in Congress Next Week - with Charlie Mitchell

    Veteran Washington reporter, Charlie Mitchell, provides the back-stories and tells us "what to watch" next week in Congress.

    Bills mentioned:

    H.R. 45: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.


    S. 744: Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill


    S. 296: Uniting American Families Act of 2013


    S. 601: Water Resources Development Act of 2013