The POPVOX Blog

  1. PRESS CLIP: Cover Story: Women are squarely in the picture where law and technology combine

  2. The Week Ahead: March 24 - 28

    From our Hill Sources:  Congress returns after a week off with lots of work to do domestically and internationally. Domestically, Congress has to find a way to avoid a big cut to Medicare physician payments. Congress typically agrees on a "doc fix" bill to avoid these cuts, and now it has just one week to figure out the next delay. Internationally, both chambers are expected to work on legislation to aid Ukraine and sanction Russia.

    And we're expecting a "Nor’easter bomb” on Tuesday night. (Yes, that's actually a weather term used when low-pressure centers deepen at a particularly fast rate.) So check out POPVOX's snow photos.

    Aiding Ukraine — And Sanctioning Russia

    Both chambers are expected to work on legislation to aid Ukraine and sanction Russia:

    • S 2124

      Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act

      This Senate bill includes loan guarantees for Ukraine, millions of dollars to help promote democracy and security in Ukraine, and also calls for new sanctions against Russia.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources:  It also includes language that would shift money within the International Monetary Fund, which supporters say could be used to help Ukraine and other countries. But Republicans aren't keen on that idea, and Republican leaders in the House have their own bill that doesn't include IMF language:

    • HR 4278

      Ukraine Support Act

      This House bill would promote Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic institutions while sanctioning those who have sought to undermine Ukraine’s independence and stability, according to bill sponsors. Includes $50 million in assistance to support transparency, accountability, rule of law, economic diversification and anti-corruption programs; and codifies existing Executive Orders sanctioning individuals involved in the violence in Ukraine.    

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources:  The bill helps to "break Putin’s energy grip over Eastern Europe," according to the bill sponsors, by increasing natural gas exports to Europe.  

    "Doc Fix"

    Congress has to find a way to avoid a big cut — 24 percent — to Medicare physician reimbursements that will happen April 1. Medicare doctors are under a nearly constant threat of having their reimbursement rate cut under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which was created in 1997. But Congress has routinely delayed these cuts with so-called "doc fix" legislation. Congress typically agrees on a "doc fix" bill to avoid these cuts, and now it has just one week to figure out the next delay. Earlier this month, the House passed a doc fix bill that also delayed the individual health insurance mandate under Obamacare:

    • HR 4015

      SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act (Passed by the House.)

      This bill would repeal the part of the law that requires people to buy health insurance by the end of this month. Republicans support this change in order to make the law fair for individuals — the requirement for companies to provide health insurance has been delayed by the Obama Administration.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources: Democrats opposed this bill, so members are now expected to approve some kind of short-term fix. (No new bill has been introduced just yet — stay tuned!)

    Unemployment Insurance Benefits Extension

    The Senate may also take another crack at passing a bill to extend emergency unemployment benefits that expired late December — leaving two million people without benefits. Earlier in March, a bipartisan group of Senators agreed to a new proposal:

    • S 2148

      Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      This bipartisan agreement would reauthorize emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for five months with retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries going back to Dec. 28. According to Senators Jack Reed and Dean Heller, the $10 billion proposal is fully paid for using a combination of offsets that includes extending “pension smoothing” provisions from the 2012 highway bill (MAP-21), which were set to phase out this year, and extending customs user fees through 2024. 

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources:  Even if the Senate can finally pass this version, House Republicans have indicated they will still want to include language that somehow helps people find work. One idea could be House-passed language to reform federal job training programs.

      And last week, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies sent a letter to the Senate detailing the administrative burden on states with a retroactive extension of emergency unemployment compensation.

    Also in the House...

    The House has a few other bills up for a vote this week:

    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. The POPVOX Top 20: Mar 14 - 20, 2014

    This week, the Horse Protection Amendments Act (HR 4098) was the top bill on POPVOX. The bill would provide increased protection for horses participating in shows, exhibitions, or sales by establishing a single horse industry organization. The Horse Protection Amendments Act was recently introduced by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on Feb. 26 as an alternative to the PAST Act (HR 1518).

    Top 20 Bills of the Week

    Want to get this list via email? Sign up!

    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.

  4. POPVOX at the 2014 World Affairs Council "NextGen ChangeMakers" Event

    World Affairs Council 2014

    The POPVOX team was honored to join many civic tech friends at the 2014 World Affairs Council NextGen Changemakers event in San Francisco, sponsored by Google.

    "The NextGen Changemakers: Civic Innovation reception offers a platform for the exploration of innovative solutions to global problems" and this year higlighted "companies and organizations who are at the intersection of technology and civic life."

    These included: Change.org, Code for America, Institute for the Future, The San Francisco Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation, MapLight, POPVOX, Socrata

    A highlight of the evening was hearing the New York Times' columnist, Tom Friedman, discussing the challenges for leaders in the 21st Century:

    "Every leader today is in a two-way conversation, and it is incredibly noisy. ... how leaders learn to think through this noise is going to be one of the great leadership challenges at this time of enormous complexity in the world." (See video at 33:15.)

    Our goal at POVOX is not only to help the voices of people be heard but to help those in government discern signal from noise. That is why we verify that comments sent through POPVOX are from real people -- actual constituents -- and deliver messages in the way that can be most easily processed by Congress.

  5. What happened to H.R. 4160?

    In last week's "Week Ahead" post, we told you that H.R. 4160, the "Keep the Promise to Seniors Act", was scheduled for a vote. The vote didn't happen. It was pulled from consideration at the last minute -- so what actually happened with the H.R. 4160?

    The bill was introduced on March 6, by Rep. Renee Ellmers [R, NC-2]. It would have prohibited the Secretary of HHS from making policy or enforcing any parts of a proposed "Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs".

    That proposed rule, issued by the Administration on January 10, 2014, received over 7,000 comments during the official public comment period (including over 250 sent using POPVOX.) Days after the public comment period closed, the Administration announced that it would not move forward with the regulation.

    "Given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input, we do not plan to finalize these proposals at this time," CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner wrote to lawmakers, as reported in the New York Times.

    With the Administration's announcement, House Leadership "pulled" the bill from the calendar. "Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Republicans could bring up the bill, H.R. 4160, at a later date if the Administration decided to consider the rule again," reports The Hill.


    Check out some of the comments about the proposed rule that were sent to the Administration through POPVOX:

  6. The POPVOX Top 20: Mar 7 - 13, 2014

    This week's top bill was the Faithful Execution of the Law Act (HR 3973), which passed the House on Thursday. The bill would require federal agencies to submit reports to Congress whenever they decide against enforcing a law. The Obama Administration opposed the bill.

    The Top 20 Bills of the Week

    Want to get this list via email? Sign up!

    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 3973

      #1 Faithful Execution of the Law Act

      To amend section 530D of title 28, United States Code. Would force federal agencies to submit reports to Congress whenever they decide against enforcing a law.

      452 Support | 42 Oppose

    • HR 4138

      #2 ENFORCE the Law Act

      To protect the separation of powers in the US Constitution by ensuring that the President takes care that the laws be faithfully executed.

      431 Support | 42 Oppose

    • HR 4015

      #3 SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act

      To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate and improve Medicare payments for physicians and other professionals.

      336 Support | 38 Oppose

    • HR 3189

      #4 Water Rights Protection Act

      To prohibit the conditioning of any permit, lease, or other use agreement on the transfer, relinquishment, or other impairment of any water right to the United States by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture.

      332 Support | 28 Oppose

    • HR 3675

      #5 Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act

      To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide for greater transparency and efficiency in the procedures followed by the Federal Communications Commission.

      293 Support | 18 Oppose

    • S 2097

      #6 Responsible Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      To provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits.

      56 Support | 216 Oppose

    • S 2077

      #7 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      To provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits.

      50 Support | 212 Oppose

    • HR 311

      #8 Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship

      To direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to change the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule with respect to certain farms.

      181 Support | 42 Oppose

    • HR 2874

      #9 Women, Peace, and Security Act

      To ensure that the United States promotes women’s meaningful inclusion and participation in mediation and negotiation processes undertaken in order to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict and implements the United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.

      27 Support | 196 Oppose

    • HR 4112

      #10 Equal Rights and Access for the Women of South Sudan Act

      To require that activities carried out by the United States in South Sudan relating to governance, reconstruction and development, and refugee relief and assistance will support the basic human rights of women and women’s participation and leadership in these areas.

      27 Support | 187 Oppose

    • HR 4154

      #11 Russia Visa Sanctions Act

      To deny visas and entry to the United States to officials and employees of the Government of the Russian Federation due to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

      72 Support | 128 Oppose

    • S 1996

      #12 Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act

      To protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.

      64 Support | 117 Oppose

    • S 1917

      #13 Victims Protection Act

      To provide for additional enhancements of the sexual assault prevention and response activities of the Armed Forces.

      45 Support | 121 Oppose

    • HR 4118

      #14 SIMPLE Fairness Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to delay the implementation of the penalty for failure to comply with the individual health insurance mandate.

      137 Support | 20 Oppose

    • HR 4160

      #15 Keep the Promise to Seniors Act

      To prohibit further action on the proposed rule regarding changes to Medicare prescription drug benefit programs.

      123 Support | 20 Oppose

    • NASA

      #16 Doubling Funding for NASA and the Future Priorities of U.S. Involvement in Space

      Sponsored campaign* proposed by Penny4NASA- “Doubling NASA's budget to $37.5 billion would raise it to one percent of the total U.S. annual budget -- or a penny for every tax dollar. Such funding would ensure that NASA's initiatives, including manned and unmanned missions, continue to advance our understanding of the cosmos and produce scientific and technological breakthroughs that have tangible and positive impacts on daily life back home on Earth.”

      114 Support | 2 Oppose

    • S 1862

      #17 Monuments Men Recognition Act

      To grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Monuments Men, in recognition of their heroic role in the preservation, protection, and restitution of monuments, works of art, and artifacts of cultural importance during and following World War II.

      105 Support | 3 Oppose

    • HR 2947

      #18 International Women’s Freedom Act

      To express United States foreign policy with respect to, and to strengthen United States advocacy on behalf of, individuals persecuted and denied their rights in foreign countries on account of gender.

      16 Support | 89 Oppose

    • S 2068

      #19 Handgun Trigger Safety Act

      To provide for the development and use of technology for personalized handguns, to require that, within 3 years, all handguns manufactured or sold in, or imported into, the United States incorporate such technology.

      9 Support | 90 Oppose

    • S 2105

      #20 Gun-owner Registration Information Protection (GRIP) Act

      To prohibit the Federal funding of a State firearms ownership database.

      88 Support | 5 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 - March 13, 2014

    From our Hill Sources:

    In the House

    The House passed two bills today, including one that protests what Republicans have said is the Obama administration's disregard for laws passed by Congress.

    • HR 3973

      The Faithful Execution of the Law Act

      The bill would require federal agencies to tell Congress whenever they decide not to enforce federal law.

      Republicans say this transparent is necessary because the Obama administration has made numerous decisions to stop enforcing the law, in areas like healthcare, immigration and welfare.

      Democrats rejected it as a GOP messaging bill, but 18 Democrats supported it in the 244-171 vote.

    The House also passed a bill regarding water rights on federal lands:

    • HR 3189

      The Water Rights Protection Act

      The bill is meant to stop the federal government from requiring companies to hand over their water rights as a condition of operating on federal land.

      The Administration was considering this step, and has pulled back the requirement. Democrats to arguedthat the rule wasn't needed, but the bill passed 238-174, with 12 Democrats.

    The House also held a controversial vote on a resolution to censure House Oversight & Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. Democrats are mad at Issa for shutting down an IRS hearing last week without giving Democrats a chance to comment.

    Republicans moved to table the resolution, and that succeeded in a 217-173 vote. It was the second time this month that Republicans rejected a Democratic attempt to censure Issa.

    In the Senate

    The Senate passed a few measures before leaving for a week-long break, including a House-passed flood insurance bill and a childcare bill.

    • HR 3370

      The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

      The bill repeals reforms agreed to in 2012, and allows for smaller increases to federal flood insurance premiums.

      Members of both parties agreed that the 2012 law required premium hikes that would price many people out of their homes. Some Republicans said those reforms should stay in place in order to help eliminate the billions of dollars in debt the National Flood Insurance Program has accrued. The bill passed the House earlier this month, and it passed the Senate Thursday 72-22.

    • HR 1086

      The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act

      This bill reauthorizes federal grants to states for child care aid to low-income families, and it passed 97-1.

    The Senate also passed two other House-passed bills Thursday:

  8. POPVOX Daily Digest - March 11, 2014

    From our Hill Sources:

    In the House

    The House approved three bills that would create new exceptions to the requirement that people must buy health insurance under ObamaCare. All three bills received overwhelming Democratic support, which gives them some shot of being considered by the Senate:

    • HR 1814

      Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (EACH Act)

      The bill creates a new exemption to the requirement to buy healthcare — anyone with a firmly held religious conviction can opt out, if they send the IRS an affidavit noting their objection.

      The bill was passed with just a few weeks left before the individual mandate kicks in. Under the law, anyone able to buy a health plan must by the end of March.

      The House approved this bill by voice vote.

    • HR 3474

      The Hire More Heroes Act

      The bill lets people hire veterans without having them count as full time employees under ObamaCare, as long as the veterans are receiving federal health care under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

      Republicans said this bill would encourage the hiring of veterans, since it would let companies grow without crossing the threshold of 50 workers, after which a company must offer health insurance.

      The House approved this bill 406-1.

    • HR 3979

      The Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act.

      The bill ensures that volunteer emergency services providers are not required to be given healthcare under the law.

      The House approved this bill 410-0.

    The House passed several other suspension bills today, including:

    Also Tuesday, both the House and Senate passed resolutions condemning Russia for its military action in Ukraine:

    • HRes 499

      Ukraine Resolution

      A non-binding resolution that calls on the Obama administration to sanction Russia and expel it from the G-8. This passed 402-7.
    • SRes 378

      Ukraine Resolution

      Calling on Russia to withdraw from the Crimean peninsula. This passed by unanimous consent.

    In the Senate

    The Senate passed one additional bill on Tuesday:

    • HR 2019

      The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act

      Ending taxpayer funding for presidential nominating conventions, and uses the money now available to fund pediatric research.

      The bill was a project of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and the House approved the bill last year. Senate passage by unanimous consent sends it to President Obama for his signature. (Passed by voice).

    •  

  9. POPVOX Daily Digest - March 10, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

     As expected, the Senate easily passed a bill boosting protections for victims of sexual assault in the military:

    S. 1917 — the Victims Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill. Among other things, the bill eliminates a much-criticized defense that allows soldiers to lean on their good records to evade tougher penalties when charged with assault.

    The bill is less controversial than a bill from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that the Senate rejected last week, which would have taken decisions about prosecuting sexual assault outside the military's chain of command.

    The vote on S. 1917 was the only legislative work in the Senate today, although Democrats were planning to spend all night and all early Tuesday morning discussing the need to address climate change.

  10. The Week Ahead: March 10 - 14

    From our Hill Sources:  The House is back for another week of bills dealing with oversight of the Obama Administration, while the Senate will work on legislation dealing with sexual assault in the military, childcare funding, and several Executive Branch nominations.

    In the House

    Republicans argue that the Obama Administration selectively enforces laws passed by Congress, citing the Administration's decisions to delay implementation of several provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. This week, Republicans will try again to tweak Obamacare.

    Obamacare

    • HR 4015

      SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act

      This bill would repeal the part of the law that requires people to buy health insurance by the end of this month. Republicans support this change in order to make the law fair for individuals — the requirement for companies to provide health insurance has been delayed by the Obama administration.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources:  Republicans will also attach language to this bill that avoid cuts to Medicare physicians, also known as the "doc fix."

    Oversight Bills

    • HR 3973

      Faithful Execution of the Law Act

      Would force federal agencies to submit reports to Congress whenever they decide against enforcing a law.
    • HR 4138

      ENFORCE the Law Act

      (Or, the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law Act.) This bill would allow either the House or Senate to file a civil legal action against the administration for failing to enforce a law.
    • HR 3189

      Water Rights Protection Act

      Would stop the federal government from taking water rights from private owners.

    Also in the House

    Several suspension bills will also be taken up early in the week:

    In the Senate

    The Senate will have its hands full with Executive Branch nominations, but is expected to work on:

    • S 1917

      Victims Protection Act

      Would expand protections for people in the military from sexual assault. According to the bill sponsor, it includes:

       Stripping military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions;  

       Requiring civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case; 

       Assigning victims their own independent legal counsel to protect their rights and fight for their interests;

       Mandating dishonorable discharge for anyone convicted of sexual assault;

       Criminalizing retaliation against victims who report a sexual assault;

       Eliminating the statute of limitations in rape and sexual assault cases;

       Barring the "good soldier" defense for those accused of assault; and

       Reforming the "Article 32" pre-trial process, which came under particular scrutiny following a recent Naval Academy rape case, to better protect victims.

    The Senate may also consider:

    • S 1086

      Child Care and Development Block Grant Act

      Reauthorizes federal grants to ensure low-income families have access to childcare. The program was last reauthorized in 1996. According to the bill sponsor, the bill:  

       Requires states to devote more of their funding to quality initiatives, such as: training, professional development, and professional advancement of the child care workforce;

       Ensures that CCDBG providers meet certain health and safety requirements, related to prevention and control of infectious diseases, first aid and CPR, child abuse prevention; and

       Requires mandatory background checks for child care providers in the CCDBG program.

    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.

  11. Issue Spotlight: International Women's Day

    International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, according to internationalwomensday.com. The first National Women's Day was observed across the United States on February 28, 1909. However, the tragic 1911 Triangle Factory Fire in New York City that took the lives of more than 140 working women, became a catalyst for subsequent Women's Days, which was already growing as an internationally celebrated event. Only days before the Triangle Fire, more than one million women and men attended IWD rallies in Europe campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.

    On this International Women's Day, March 8, POPVOX is spotlighting a variety of bills related to women, internationally and in the United States. Weigh in on these bills on POPVOX and share with your friends and networks.

    International Women's Day: Related Bills

    Bill List Updated 3/8/14

    Women and International Affairs

    • HR 4112Equal Rights and Access for the Women of South Sudan ActTo require that activities carried out by the United States in South Sudan relating to governance, reconstruction and development, and refugee relief and assistance will support the basic human rights of women and women’s participation and leadership in these areas.
    • HR 3398Girls Count ActTo authorize the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the US Agency for International Development to provide assistance to support the rights of women and girls in developing countries.
    • HR 2947International Women’s Freedom ActTo express United States foreign policy with respect to, and to strengthen United States advocacy on behalf of, individuals persecuted and denied their rights in foreign countries on account of gender.
    • HR 3583Malala Yousafzai Scholarship ActTo expand the number of scholarships available to Pakistani women under the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program.
    • HR 3571 International Violence Against Women Act: To prevent international violence against women.
    • S 1942 Women, Peace, and Security Act: to ensure that the US promotes women’s meaningful inclusion and participation in mediation and negotiation processes undertaken in order to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict and implements the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. (And HR 2874 in the House.)
    • HRes 19 CEDAW: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Senate should ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

    Equal Rights Amendment

    (Learn more about the history of the ERA.)

    Women in the Workplace

    • HRes 507Women’s Economic Bill of RightsExpressing the sense of the House of Representatives in support of a women's economic bill of rights.
    • HR 2452Women’s Procurement Program Equalization ActTo amend the Small Business Act with respect to the procurement program for women-owned small business concerns.
    • S 84 Paycheck Fairness Act: amends the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) known as the Equal Pay Act to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages. (And HR 377 in the House.)
    • S 168 Fair Pay Act: to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin. (Allows payment of different wages under seniority systems, merit systems, systems that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production, or differentials based on bona fide factors that the employer demonstrates are job-related or further legitimate business interests.) (And HR 438 in the House.)
    • HR 951 Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs: To promote the economic self-sufficiency of low-income women through their increased participation in high-wage, high-demand occupations where they currently represent 25 percent or less of the workforce.
    • HRes 94 A resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding women's health and economic security.

    Women in STEM

    • S 1796STEM Gateways ActTo increase the participation of women, girls, and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, to encourage and support students from all economic backgrounds to pursue STEM career opportunities.(And HR 3690 in the House)
    • HR 1358 STEM Opportunities Act: To direct the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to carry out programs and activities to ensure that Federal science agencies and institutions of higher education receiving Federal research and development funding are fully engaging their entire talent pool.
    • S 288 Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act: to increase the participation of historically underrepresented demographic groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and industry.

    Women's Health

    Violence Against Women

    • HR 780Violence Against Indian Women ActTo authorize Indian tribes to exercise jurisdiction over crimes of domestic violence that occur in the Indian country of that tribe.
    • HR 1836Protect our Native Women ActTo enhance training and cooperation between law enforcement officers to respond to and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault in Indian country, to swiftly bring perpetrators to justice, to commission a GAO study.
    • HR 757 SAVE Native Women Act: To decrease the incidence of violent crimes against Indian women, to strengthen the capacity of Indian tribes to exercise the sovereign authority of Indian tribes to respond to violent crimes committed against Indian women.
    • HR 629 Violence Against Immigrant Women Act: To provide protections against violence against immigrant women.

    Women's History

    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.

  12. The POPVOX Top 20: Feb 28 - Mar 6, 2014

    This week, the SIMPLE Fairness Act (HR 4118) was the top bill on POPVOX -- and it was passed by the House on Wednesday. According to the bill's sponsor, it would eliminate the individual mandate tax penalty under the Affordable Care Act for one year. Eighty percent of POPVOX users support this bill (see the opinion map), which will now go to the Senate for consideration.  

    Top 20 Bills of the Week

    Want to get this list via email? Sign up!

    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 4118

      #1 SIMPLE Fairness Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to delay the implementation of the penalty for failure to comply with the individual health insurance mandate. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      331 Support | 82 Oppose

    • HR 2824

      #2 Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America

      To amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to stop the ongoing waste by the Department of the Interior of taxpayer resources and implement the final rule on excess spoil, mining waste, and buffers for perennial and intermittent streams.

      275 Support | 66 Oppose

    • HR 4098

      #3 Horse Protection Amendments Act

      To amend the Horse Protection Act to provide increased protection for horses participating in shows, exhibitions, or sales.

      234 Support | 103 Oppose

    • S 2036

      #4 Keeping All Students Safe Act

      To protect all school children against harmful and life-threatening seclusion and restraint practices.

      166 Support | 156 Oppose

    • S 2068

      #5 Handgun Trigger Safety Act

      To provide for the development and use of technology for personalized handguns, to require that, within 3 years, all handguns manufactured or sold in, or imported into, the United States incorporate such technology.

      22 Support | 283 Oppose

    • HR 3826

      #6 Electricity Security and Affordability Act

      To provide direction to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the establishment of standards for emissions of any greenhouse gas from fossil fuel-fired electric utility generating units. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      215 Support | 90 Oppose

    • S 1996

      #7 Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act

      To protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting.

      52 Support | 244 Oppose

    • HR 2126

      #8 Better Buildings Act

      To promote energy efficiency. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      50 Support | 227 Oppose

    • HR 3865

      #9 Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act

      To prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from modifying the standard for determining whether an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare for purposes of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      174 Support | 30 Oppose

    • S 1086

      #10 Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG)

      To reauthorize and improve the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990.

      40 Support | 163 Oppose

    • S 2077

      #11 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      To provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits.

      95 Support | 88 Oppose

    • HR 1847

      #12 Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act

      To improve the provisions relating to the privacy of electronic communications.

      169 Support | 5 Oppose

    • HR 2641

      #13 RAPID Act

      To provide for improved coordination of agency actions in the preparation and adoption of environmental documents for permitting determinations. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      109 Support | 42 Oppose

    • HR 4133

      #14 Small Business Attraction and Retention Act

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand the credit period for which an employer is eligible for the credit for employee health insurance expenses of small employers.

      27 Support | 119 Oppose

    • HR 4076

      #15 HHEATT Act

      To address shortages and interruptions in the availability of propane and other home heating fuels in the United States. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      109 Support | 31 Oppose

    • HR 2531

      #16 Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act

      To prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from asking taxpayers questions regarding religious, political, or social beliefs. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      110 Support | 11 Oppose

    • S 2038

      #17 Solutions to Long-Term Unemployment Act

      To provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits.

      53 Support | 57 Oppose

    • S 1982

      #18 Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act

      To improve the provision of medical services and benefits to veterans.

      93 Support | 12 Oppose

    • HR 3710

      #19 Medicare CGM Coverage Act

      To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) as durable medical equipment under Medicare.

      84 Support | 17 Oppose

    • HR 938

      #20 United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act

      To strengthen the strategic alliance between the United States and Israel. -- Passed the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      64 Support | 32 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.

  13. POPVOX Daily Digest - March 6, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    In the House:

    The House easily and quickly approved a new bill authorizing U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine, a response to this week's rapidly developing story of Russia's military intervention there.

    • HR 4152 A bill uses already available money to back $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Russia. Those guarantees are expected to be used to back Ukrainian expenditures during what is sure to be a tumultuous and unpredictable next few weeks.

      The House passed the bill 385-23, and with several Republicans voting against it.

    The House also passed two environmental bills today:

    Both bills were part of the GOP's effort this week to approve bills aimed at lowering the price of energy for homeowners.

    In the Senate:

    The Senate spent the afternoon sorting out which bill to advance to help reduce the incidence of sexual assault in the military.

    Senators. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) have had two competing measures before the Senate.

    Gillibrand's bill would have removed sexual assault cases from the military chain of command.

    With some Members stating that this approach was too drastic, the bill failed 55-45 in a procedural vote (60 were needed to end debate).

    As a result, the Senate is expected next week to pass McCaskill's bill, which would let sexual assault victims challenge military discharges. Despite the inter-party feuding over the two bills, McCaskill's language is not controversial and is expected to easily pass.

  14. POPVOX Daily Digest - March 4, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    In the House

    The House returned from its mini-winter holiday to pass a bill that makes adjustments to a series of flood insurance reforms from 2012.

    • HR 3370

      The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

      This bill is a response to complaints that the 2012 reforms increased flood insurance premiums more than anyone expected, and that these increases need to be cut back or thousands of people and businesses won't be able to afford flood insurance. The bill had broad appeal to members of both parties, but it took a few weeks of negotiating between GOP leaders and Democrats to arrive at a final bill. The bill as passed would repeal many of the 2012 reforms, and call for lower premium increases that have caps on how high they can rise each year.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources:

        The bill passed 306-91, and 86 of those "no" votes came from Republicans who argued that the bill undoes too much of the fiscal reforms achieved two years ago. The National Flood Insurance Program is $24 billion in debt, and these Republicans say higher insurance rates are needed to help reduce that debt.

         

        House passage sends the bill to a Senate that may now adopt the House bill in the coming weeks, even though the Senate had passed its own proposal back in January.

       

    The House also passed far less controversial bills dealing with energy, federal land use, and a non-binding resolution supporting protestors in Venezuela:

  15. The Week Ahead: March 3 - 7

    From our Hill Sources:  It's another busy week in the House, which will consider another Obamacare bill and energy deregulation legislation. In the meantime, the Senate will try to pass a bill reauthorizing childcare services for struggling families.

    In the House

    The House will again consider Obamacare this week:

    • HR 4118

      Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Law Equals (SIMPLE) Fairness Act

      This House bill was introduced Friday, and it would eliminate all penalties that people face this year for failing to buy an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources:  Republicans say individuals should be exempt from the law just as companies have been made exempt from the law. But Democrats are expected to see the bill as another attack, and the Senate is not expected to consider it once it passes the House.

    The House will also consider five energy-related bills during the week.

    Each would ease rules that the GOP says inhibits the production or transport of energy resources around the country, according to our Hill Sources.

    Two foreign affairs bills are also on the House agenda:

    Finally, the House will consider three land use bills:

    In the Senate

    In the Senate, members will spend some time approving various Executive Branch nominations. But they are also expected to try to advance:

    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.

  16. Issue Spotlight: Rare Disease Day

    Feb. 28 is National Rare Disease Day, which aims to "raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives." A disease or disorder is defined as rare in the US when it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time. (Learn more.) There are several bills in Congress addressing rare disease research and awareness.

    Bills Related to Rare Diseases

    We're spotlighting bills related to rare diseases. Weigh in and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress, guaranteed.

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

  17. The POPVOX Top 20: Feb 21 - 27, 2014

    In a bipartisan vote, the House passed the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act (HR 3865) -- the top bill of the week on POPVOX. The bill would prevent the IRS from implementing new rules that define what constitutes political activities for certain organizations.

    As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor explained from the House floor:

    “Those groups, including those known as 501(c)(4) organizations, are an important part of our democracy. Many of these groups are formed to specifically engage and educate our citizenry through candidate forums, debates, grassroots lobbying, voter registration, and other activities to promote the common good so America has an informed public. For over 50 years these organizations have been eligible to apply for a tax exempt status, but now that status is under threat from new regulations being proposed by the IRS."

    The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act (HR 3865) passed on a 243 to 176 vote with 229 Republicans and 14 Democrats voting for it. The vast majority of POPVOX users (94%) support the bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration.

    Top 20 Bills of the Week

    Want to get this list via email? Sign up!

    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 3865

      #1 Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act

      To prohibit the IRS from modifying the standard for determining whether an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare for purposes of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      598 Support | 40 Oppose

    • S 1982

      #2 Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act

      To improve the provision of medical services and benefits to veterans.

      551 Support | 71 Oppose

    • HR 2531

      #3 Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act

      To prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from asking taxpayers questions regarding religious, political, or social beliefs. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      445 Support | 14 Oppose

    • HR 1123

      #4 Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

      To promote consumer choice and wireless competition by permitting consumers to unlock mobile wireless devices. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      381 Support | 15 Oppose

    • HR 2804

      #5 ALERT Act

      To amend title 5, United States Code, to require the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to publish information about rules on the Internet. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      353 Support | 34 Oppose

    • HR 899

      #6 Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act

      To provide for additional safeguards with respect to imposing Federal mandates.

      352 Support | 26 Oppose

    • HR 4036

      #7 Eliminating the CIA's use of drones

      To prohibit the Central Intelligence Agency from using an unmanned aerial vehicle to carry out a weapons strike or other deliberately lethal action and to transfer the authority to conduct such strikes or lethal action to the Department of Defense.

      297 Support | 29 Oppose

    • HR 2530

      #8 Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act

      To improve transparency and efficiency with respect to audits and communications between taxpayers and the IRS. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      267 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 2417

      #9 Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage 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.

      257 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 1423

      #10 Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act

      To provide taxpayers with an annual report disclosing the cost and performance of Government programs and areas of duplication among them. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      228 Support | 13 Oppose

    • HR 3892

      #11 Student Loan Borrowers’ Bill of Rights Act

      To establish student loan borrowers’ rights to basic consumer protections, reasonable and flexible repayment options, access to earned credentials, and effective loan cancellation in exchange for public service.

      132 Support | 81 Oppose

    • HR 3308

      #12 Taxpayer Transparency Act

      To require a Federal agency to include language in certain educational and advertising materials indicating that such materials are produced and disseminated at taxpayer expense. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      181 Support | 7 Oppose

    • HR 4065

      #13 Smartphone Theft Prevention Act

      To require mobile service providers and mobile device manufacturers to give consumers the ability to remotely delete data from mobile devices and render such devices inoperable.

      52 Support | 93 Oppose

    • HR 4014

      #14 Prohibiting former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists

      To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit former Members of Congress from engaging in lobbying contacts.

      119 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 1944

      #15 Private Property Rights Protection Act

      "Would provide American citizens with the means to protect their private property from inappropriate claims of eminent domain. If a state or political subdivision of a state uses its eminent domain power to transfer private property to other private parties for the purpose economic development, the state would be ineligible for federal economic funds for two fiscal years following a judicial determination that the law has been violated," according to the bill sponsor. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      126 Support | 1 Oppose

    • HR 3370

      #16 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

      To delay the implementation of certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

      47 Support | 76 Oppose

    • HR 1847

      #17 Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act

      To improve the provisions relating to the privacy of electronic communications. "Requires the government to obtain a warrant or explicit written consent to read emails, text messages, or any other form of private electronic messaging," according to bill sponsor.

      116 Support | 2 Oppose

    • S 1862

      #18 Monuments Men Recognition Act

      To grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Monuments Men, in recognition of their heroic role in the preservation, protection, and restitution of monuments, works of art, and artifacts of cultural importance during and following World War II.

      110 Support | 7 Oppose

    • S 1731

      #19 Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act

      To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to permit Governors of States to regulate intrastate endangered species and intrastate threatened species.

      6 Support | 101 Oppose

    • HR 1211

      #20 FOIA Act

      To amend section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the Freedom of Information Act), to provide for greater public access to information. -- Passed by the House; now goes to the Senate for consideration. -- 

      100 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.

  18. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 27, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    In the House

    The House passed two major bills on Thursday, both focused on placing limits on the federal regulatory process.

    The first was the Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency Act, H.R. 2804. This bill would require federal agencies to report monthly on new rules they plan to issue, and more broadly would require more transparency and deeper analysis of the costs and benefits of federal rules.

    The bill passed 236-179, but Senate Democrats are not expected to consider it, and the Obama administration has said it would veto the bill.

    The second bill was H.R. 3193, the Consumer Financial Protection and Soundness Improvement Act. This bill would turn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau into a five-person commission — Republicans say that would provide better balance to an agency that they say has not acted in the best interests of consumers.

    The bill also subjects the CFPB to the regular appropriations process, and takes it out from under the Federal Reserve Board system.

    The bill is opposed by Democrats, which means the Senate is unlikely to take it up.

    In the Senate

    The Senate was in to consider a veterans benefits bill:

    The Senate couldn't muster enough votes to waive a budget point of order that was raised against it. Republicans said the bill would spend more than Congress has already agreed to spend, and Democrats tried to turn away the GOP challenge.

    Sixty votes were needed to waive the challenge, but only 56 votes were theree, which effectively killed the bill in the Senate.

  19. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 26, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    The House passed a bill that would delay a possible Internal Revenue Service rule that would put new limits on some tax-exempt groups.

    The House passed H.R. 3865, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act. The bill would delay a rule preventing 501(c )(4) organizations from organizing voter registration activities.

    Republicans say the rule is another example of the IRS trying to harass conservative tax-exempt groups. They say that as long as an investigation is ongoing into the IRS targeting scandal, which also involved delays faced by conservative groups, the rule should be held back.

    Democrats said Republicans were trying to prevent a common-sense rule that would limit election activities of some of the biggest conservative groups, many of which get money from unknown donors.

    While the controversial bill was passed by the House in a 243-176 vote, it's not expected to move in the Senate.

    The House also passed H.R. 1944, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, in a 353-65 vote. That bill would prohibit state and local governments from seizing private property to promote economic development.

    The bill is a reaction to a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that said these takings do not violate the Constitution. Supporters of the bill say that was a bad decision, and gives the government the power to take away ownership rights based only on the belief that another owner would make the property more profitable.

    Members passed a third bill, H.R. 3308, the Taxpayer Transparency Act.

    This legislation would require all federal government agencies to note in advertisements for their services that those ads were paid for at taxpayer expense. This bill passed in a voice vote.

  20. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 25, 2014

    The House passed a slew of government oversight bills on Tuesday, while the Senate officially started work on a veterans benefits bill.

    In the House

    The bills passed by the House on Tuesday fit the week-long theme of transparency and regulatory reform. Tuesday's bills were mostly noncontroversial suspension bills, but Republican leaders will call up more controversial oversight bills later in the week. All of the bills passed in the House today will go to the Senate, but as usual, it's not clear the Senate will consider any of them.

    Tax Transparency

    Three House bills related to oversight of the IRS and safeguarding taxpayer money, and all were passed by voice vote:

    The latter two bills are a response to the IRS actions revealed last year, in which officials subjected groups with political or conservative-sounding names to extra scrutiny in determinations of tax-exempt status.

    Oversight and Transparency

    The House passed two other bills from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

    Cell Phone Unlocking

    Finally, the House approved legislation that would let everyone "unlock" their cell phones in order to switch to the mobile carrier of their choice:

    • HR 1123

      Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

      This bill would extend an exemption under U.S. law that lets people unlock their cell phones. Today, only phones bought after early 2013 can be unlocked legally.

      The bipartisan bill passed 295-114, but dozens of Democrats voted against it after Republicans made a change to the bill. Democrats said that change could be seen as a hurdle to letting companies help people unlock their phones, but Republicans said the language was not a significant hurdle.

    In the Senate

    The Senate spent much of the day on nominations, but did advance a veterans benefits bill:

    • S 1982

      Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits Pay Restoration Act

      The bill would boost veterans benefits and looks to fix a cut in the growth rate of pensions for newly enlisted members of the military. But while those broad goals are supported, the bill risks stalling in the Senate, as Republicans want to change the way Congress pays for these benefits.

    The Senate also passed a House bill that would reauthorize a federal drought assessment program: