The POPVOX Blog

  1. President's Day Poll Results

    On President's Day, we asked POPVOX users which Founding-Father President they thought would most likely be a POPVOX Power User. (Yes, we know that the Internet didn't exist when our Founding Fathers were huddled in Philadelphia hammering out the foundation of our country. But still...) We wanted to have a little fun and invite our users to flex their historic knowledge. Here are the results, and the clever and thoughtful comments from POPVOX users. (Read Founding Father Fun Facts.)

    President Thomas Jefferson Wins!

    Thomas Jefferson

    1. I can just see him with a glass of red wine writing the most eloquent personal comments in his letters to Congress.

      -- Anonymous

    2. I read that he was very organized like me. He applied logic unlike any politicians today.

      -- Anonymous

    3. Why not ? There weren't that many founding father's :-) He was the author of the Declaration of Independence and a wheeler dealer with France :-)

      -- Dennis

    4. Ah, because he said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" - and, if not blood, at least POPVOX spills digital ink! :)

      -- Christopher

    5. Braininess, endless curiosity and red wine: such a combination would find PopVox irresistible.

      -- Larry

    6. Jefferson was curious, cerebral, and an inventor. He, like Ben Franklin, developed and used technology to enhance his life and the lifestyle of others.

      -- Anonymous

    7. Anybody that can sit down and write out our laws that have stood for over 200 years (well till Obama and his cronies came along) would in my opinion use everything at his disposal including POPVOX to protect our valued laws!

      -- Anonymous

    8. Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence with the biggest handwritten signature. Having no qualms about anyone knowing who was a signator. he would use POPVOX today but probably more prolifically than many of the users.

      -- William

    9. Because he was a cool dude who had a pulley behind the fireplace in the dining room. It went straight down to the wine cellar. He would ring a bell and lower the pulley and the guys down there would load her up and send it back up to Jefferson. That happened a lot. No wonder he painted that room chrome yellow. (Yuck!)

      -- Meryl

    10. He was an inventor, scientist, and years ahead of his contemporaries.

      -- Anonymous

    11. If Thomas Jefferson wrote the declaration of independence he sure hell would be sitting here clicking away at the voting buttons and hammering out letters to congress...

      -- Alin

    12. Because he was a scientist and a reformer.

      -- David

    13. Thomas Jefferson was a man ahead of his time & well versed in science & a rational thinker.

      -- Roger

    14. The founders generally had a healthy skepticism about the opinions and political inclinations of the "masses." The Constitution is designed to prevent the "tyranny of the majority" as someone called it. But Jefferson was much more of a populist than the others. He was the only one who supported the French Revolution for example. If any of the founders would've used Popvox it would've been him.

      -- Anonymous

    15. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. Thomas Jefferson Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. Thomas Jefferson I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way. Thomas Jefferson Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

      -- Roy

    16. I am sure Tom would have a lot to tweet about on the internet being the author of the Declaration of Independence and Minister to France.

      -- Joan

    17. Was most concerned about Federal Overreach.

      -- Anonymous

    18. I think Jefferson had such a range of interests and loved to be up-to-date. He was an inventor at heart and would have loved using the internet to research. With his well-developed sense of politics, he would have used POPVOX all the time. If he wasn't making the news, he'd be keeping tabs on the latest developments. And he'd have an opinion (or two) about them to share.

      -- Anonymous

    19. Thomas Jefferson believed in the writing of the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms it evokes. Jefferson was the last President that believed that the Constitution was for and by the People.

      -- Cathy

    20. Jefferson was a kind of Renaissance man; he was well read and well educated. He was not a proponent of a strong central government; he believed the States should have more say. He would have embraced the genius of POPVOX, bringing the Bills up for vote in Congress directly to the American people so they may have their say.

      -- Mary

    21. Educated, deliberate, involved, patriotic.

      -- Jim

    22. He was always willing to try something new -- whether it was sending Louis and Clark on an expedition across uncharted territory or living in Paris. Monticello was open to all visitors, especially if you were just a regular American wanting to chat with him. And he loved red wine!

      -- Rachna

    23. Apparently President Thomas Jefferson was never a fan of formal affairs, and was often reported to have worn his pajamas while meeting with Foreign dignitaries. More power to PAJAMAS!!

      -- Namratha

    James Madison

    1. Mr. Madison was very curious and eager to learn, and tried to base his decisions on the best available information.

      -- Doug

    2. Young and involved

      -- Lindsey

    3. Having drafted the Constitution for Virginia, he already had a pretty good handle on what to paint on a larger canvas. It seemed to be working fairly well for Virginia, let's try it for a few more states and see what it does NATIONALLY.

      -- Gary

    4. I wonder how many people know George Washington was AGAINST a bill of rights?

      -- Anonymous

    5. Why not? Seriously, being a strong proponent of the Constitution -- demonstrated not only through his previous experience with governing documents but also his authorship of some of the Federalist Papers -- and the rights guaranteed within for individuals, the "men [and women] on the street," if you will, would make him an ideal user for POPVOX.

      -- Anonymous

    6. I know that there is a University in Virginia relation to the $5,000 bill so it was either Thomas Jefferson (although as a Hokie I can't seem to recall which University our beloved Jefferson was involved in ;) or James Madison. Fun. Thanks! Cheers.

      -- Jonathon

    7. Child prodigy. Would have Zen-like understanding of POPVOX.

      -- Anonymous

    Alexander Hamilton

    1. Of all the F.Fs. listed above, I think A.H are most analytical in decision making.

      -- Andy

    2. Because he was interested in informing the public about what government was doing.

      -- Jim

    3. Alexander Hamilton possessed fewer credentials than his competitors, and POPVOX would enable him to promote his beliefs.

      -- RY

    4. Because he was the author of the Federalist Papers and worked hard to get support of the new Constitution.

      -- Mona

    5. As author of the Federalist Papers Hamilton would never be at a loss for words. He'd be ready to both describe and defend point by point all aspects of the Constitution and make it understandable for any American who would listen.

      -- Robert

    George Washington

    1. Which of our Founding-Father Presidents would most likely be a POPVOX Power User and why? In my opinion George Washington would most likely be a POPVOX Power User. Why would George Washington most likely be a POPVOX Power User? George Washington was the first President of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States he presided over the convention that drafted the United States Constitution which made him acutely aware for what we patriots were fighting for. The first veteran with a pension and 100% service connected health benefits. He was, in my opinion, the first exceptional American and therefore, the most exceptional Founding-Father. He was the right man, at the right time, for the right reason. Listen to his words. It was not his duty that drove he will against the odds; it was love for America, as a father of the nation. He is an exceptional President who was first an American. For example, in Washington's Farewell Address of 1796, he recommended that we frequently reviewed, some of his sentiments, as if on POPVOX. He said, these sentiments, are the result of much intense reflection between offensives, of no inconsiderable observations, and which appear to him “all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people”. As a 100% service connected disable veteran, I can testify to the fact that this is a common thought of soldiers preparing for battle. The American people, as one people with unity of our government and our love of liberty is the main pillar in the edifice of our real independence “; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.” The Senate is now considering restoring military pension cuts, S 1963. And this was the most popular issue on POPVOX this past week. I can see many Gorge Washington like Power User, as I read their comments. The “melting pot”, originally was a metaphor used poetically to address the question, "What then is the American, this new man?” answered in 1782. Today, I belief it is a historical reality base on fact that, Capitalism as a renewable fuel that is the most responsible for producing a most unique heterogeneous society of exceptional people of all cultures. These were what our Founding-Father, surrounded, suppressed and exploited by imperialistic big government exceptional British-American dreamers. Becoming more successful with the diversity of cultures, from around the world, blending into a new harmonious society was not equivalent to a new race, but unique and exceptional to its progenitor’s entire common unified dream. America was, as a melting pot of constitutional metal, over a flame of liberty, ignited from a spark of independent flint stone and fueled by a uniquely exceptional renewable energy. This Renewable American energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources which are bicultural and are focused by a common believes in a creator. A truth , like beam of light, as a God given rights or naturally occurring events on a human timescale like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, geothermal heat and all of its newly constitutionally free and independent people whose cultures aetiology is replenished naturally via constitutional legal Immigration. Like moths to a light, legal immigrants are renewed with the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Independence and legal immigration is a result of a number of common factors, including economic and/or political reasons, family reunification, natural disasters or the wish to change one's standard of living voluntarily and against man will to suppress in others, everywhere else. Legal Immigrants want, respect and defend a Constitutionally protected American Capitalism. This gives us, from a common trait of self-interest the ability to pursue happiness, an, “all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people” a common self-reliant culture of independent and indivisible individuals called “Americans”, found exceptionally only in America. President George was the first patriot to earn the title of the first American. Washington was hailed as "father of his country" even during his lifetime. Washington is an idol of Americanism that can stand, timelessly as a representative of what an American patriot will always fight to be, A FREE MAN! Americans will always be contrasted, not by their skin, size, sex, age, etc., etc…but by their will from his principles as a self-reliant independent and indivisible individuals who fight for liberty. It is the content of their character. General Gorge Washington led the first volunteer special forces troops that represented those that supported the Declaration of Independence, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence. What POPVOX Power User today, is not willing to mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor to appealing to the American people for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these States, solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States. Let Gorge Washington be the President most likely to be the first original POPVOX Power User.

      -- Francisco

    John Adams

    1. After reviewing the fun facts you provided, I chose John Adams because he clearly understood what most of us would like to believe defines our government - that is that the government should exist to serve the general public and not just the people who can afford a seat at the table.

      -- Jane

    2. Love of country , Country more important than self.

      -- John

    3. Research and getting to the bottom of the true issues.

      -- Anonymous

    Benjamin Franklin

    1. Franklin was just a citizen, however, he was very active in his government. I believe that he would use POPVOX as the easiest way to convey his wishes to his senators and congressmen.

      -- Jonathan

    2. Inventor, creator, innovator - as a newspaper printer, he'd appreciate instant communications!

      -- Anonymous

    3. He was a scientist & innovator. Not President, but certainly a founding father.

      -- Anonymous

    Gouverneur Morris

    1. Though little remembered today, Morris actually drafted most of the text of the Constitution, particularly the preamble, which begins, "We the people." If there's a more "popvox" phrase, I'd like to know what it is.

      -- Anonymous

    Ronald Reagan

    1. The best president I know of.

      -- Diane

    Abraham Lincoln

    1. He's gifted.

      -- Anonymous

    Other Comments

    1. America's Founding Fathers were loyal to the country they set up to live under a Constitution that provided establishing freedom, peace, and liberty for all individuals equally. The amazing equality about the US Constitution is the right to defend oneself against the enemy and to own private property, both of which is unheard of under a monarchy and a dictatorship.

      -- Kay

  2. The POPVOX Top 20: Feb 14 - 20, 2014

    There's a new top bill on POPVOX this week. The Student Loan Borrowers’ Bill of Rights Act (HR 3892), which would "ensure that America’s students benefit from basic consumer protections," according to bill sponsor, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-24). Nearly three in four POPVOX users support this bill. (See the opinion map.) The Senate version of the bill, S 1803, was introduced in December 2013.

    Top 20 Bills of the Week

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    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 3892

      #1 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.

      152 Support | 60 Oppose

    • HR 4014

      #2 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.

      203 Support | 9 Oppose

    • HR 1123

      #3 Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

      To promote consumer choice and wireless competition by permitting consumers to unlock mobile wireless devices.

      189 Support | 1 Oppose

    • S 1982

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

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

      125 Support | 10 Oppose

    • S 1981

      #5 Open Internet Preservation Act

      To provide that the rules of the Federal Communications Commission relating to preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices shall be restored to effect until the date when the Commission takes final action in the proceedings on such rules that were remanded to the Commission by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

      87 Support | 40 Oppose

    • S 1862

      #6 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.

      117 Support | 4 Oppose

    • HR 3982

      #7 Open Internet Preservation Act

      To provide that the rules of the Federal Communications Commission relating to preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices shall be restored to effect until the date when the Commission takes final action in the proceedings on such rules that were remanded to the Commission by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

      68 Support | 33 Oppose

    • HR 3448

      #8 Small Cap Liquidity Reform Act

      To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to provide for an optional pilot program allowing certain emerging growth companies to increase the tick sizes of their stocks.

      13 Support | 87 Oppose

    • S 460

      #9 Fair Minimum Wage Act

      To provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage.

      23 Support | 67 Oppose

    • HR 562

      #10 VRAP Extension Act

      To provide for a three-month extension of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

      78 Support | 5 Oppose

    • S 1963

      #11 Repeal Bipartisan Budget

      To repeal section 403 of the Bipartisan Budget Act.

      71 Support | 11 Oppose

    • HR 3658

      #12 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.

      63 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 7

      #13 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act

      To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.

      38 Support | 20 Oppose

    • HR 392

      #14 Student Privacy Protection Act

      To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to direct local educational agencies to release secondary school student information to military recruiters if the student’s parent provides written consent for the release.

      49 Support | 7 Oppose

    • HR 1010

      #15 Fair Minimum Wage Act

      To provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage.

      13 Support | 43 Oppose

    • HR 3590

      #16 SHARE Act

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

      30 Support | 26 Oppose

    • HR 3193

      #17 Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act

      To amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to strengthen the review authority of the Financial Stability Oversight Council of regulations issued by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

      34 Support | 18 Oppose

    • HR 4036

      #18 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.

      47 Support | 4 Oppose

    • S 1908

      #19 Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

      To allow reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms.

      27 Support | 7 Oppose

    • S 1731

      #20 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.

      2 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.

  3. Issue Spotlight: Trade, NAFTA and TPP

    Today, President Obama traveled to Toluca, Mexico for this year’s North American Leaders’ Summit, along with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In his remarks, the President explained that "the North American Leaders Summit gives us an opportunity to build on the enormous progress that we've already made in making sure that North America is the most competitive region in the world" and to move "forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that offers the opportunity to open up new markets in the fastest, most populous region of the world, the Asia Pacific region." (Read the President's full remarks.)

    And especially given it's the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, the President's Deputy National Security Advisor also stressed that "there are issues that were not addressed in NAFTA, like the labor and environmental standards that the President has spoken about in the past and that, frankly, are a part of the TPP agreement" during the Press Gaggle en route.

    Trade bills, NAFTA and TPP

    Weigh in on these trade proposals and POPVOX will deliver your message to Congress, guaranteed. (Learn how POPVOX works.)  

    • HR 156

      Withdrawal From NAFTA

      To provide for the withdrawal of the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
    • HR 191

      NAFTA Accountability Act

      To assess the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to require further negotiation of certain provisions of the NAFTA, and to provide for the withdrawal from the NAFTA unless certain conditions are met.
    • TPP

      Trans-Pacific Partnership

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a vehicle for Asia-Pacific-wide economic integration, which will strengthen US ties to the robust economies of this region, according to the US Trade Representative. As a group, the TPP countries are the largest goods and services export market of the United States. US goods exports to the broader Asia-Pacific totaled $942 billion in 2012, representing 61 percent of total exports.
    • HR 3830

      Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act

      (Also S 1900 in the Senate.) According to bill sponsors, it “establishes 21st century Congressional negotiating objectives and rules for the Administration to follow when engaged in trade talks, including strict requirements for Congressional consultations and access to information. Provided the Administration follows the rules, special procedures apply when moving a negotiated deal that satisfies the objectives through the Senate and House of Representatives.”
    • HR 3467

      Reciprocal Market Access Act

      To enhance reciprocal market access for United States domestic producers in the negotiating process of bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements.

      According to bill sponsor, it “would provide the United States with a comprehensive approach towards eliminating the market barriers that often prevent American manufacturers from competing in foreign markets. Currently, poorly written trade bills result in foreign nations maintaining barriers that prevent the sale of American goods abroad, while the American marketplace eliminates all barriers to foreign goods and products.”

    • S 1801

      Level the Playing Field in Global Trade Act

      To amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to include in the calculation of normal value the cost of paying adequate wages and maintaining sustainable production methods.

      According to bill sponsors, it “would ensure that sub-standard wages, workplace safety practices, and environmental protections are properly accounted for as unfair subsidies by foreign countries when calculating American duties intended to offset cheating. It also rewards companies that meet high standards on a global basis in wages, workplace safety and environmental compliance with streamlined trade and protection from enforcement actions.”

    • HR 3346

      Buy American Improvement Act

      To amend chapter 83 of title 41, United States Code, to increase the requirement for American-made content, to strengthen the waiver provisions.
    • HR 1276

      Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act

      To amend title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930 to clarify that countervailing duties may be imposed to address subsidies relating to a fundamentally undervalued currency of any foreign country.

      According to bill sponsors, it “seeks to level the playing field for American workers and businesses by providing the administration the necessary tools to address the issue of undervaluation of currency by our trading partners.”

    • S 660

      Innovation Through Trade Act

      To amend the Trade Act of 1974 to establish the position of Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative to ensure the protection of United States innovation and intellectual property interests.
    • HR 3733

      Green 301 Act

      To amend the Trade Act of 1974 to authorize the United States Trade Representative to take discretionary action if a foreign country is engaging in unreasonable acts, policies, or practices relating to the environment.
    • HR 3558

      Textile Enforcement and Security Act

      (Also S 1412 in the Senate.) To provide the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of the Treasury with authority to more aggressively enforce customs and trade laws relating to textile and apparel articles.
    • HR 419

      Taiwan Policy Act

      To strengthen and clarify the commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan, as codified in the Taiwan Relations Act.
    • S 432

      Asia-South Pacific Trade Preferences Act

      To extend certain trade preferences to certain least-developed countries in Asia and the South Pacific.
    • HR 166

      PROTECT Act

      To prevent the evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty orders.
    • S 662

      Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act

      To reauthorize trade facilitation and trade enforcement functions and activities.

    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. Which Founding-Father President Would be a POPVOX User?

    Founding Father Fun Facts!

    Yes, we know that the Founding Fathers didn't have computers -- or the internet -- to share their voice on POPVOX. But why not have a little fun? Here are some interesting facts we pulled together about our Founding Fathers for this poll. 

    George Washington

    Our 1st President (1789-1797). Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

    “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people.” (1789)

    Stats: Born near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. on February 11, 1731. 6’3”

    Politics: A Federalist, favoring a strong central government.

    Six degrees of Aaron Burr: Burr served on General Washington's staff, but for less than a year. Washington didn’t get along with Burr — and the feeling was mutual.

    Interesting.... Washington lived an aristocratic lifestyle. Loved fox hunting and cockfights. Also enjoyed going to dances and parties. His teeth were made from elephant and walrus tusks, not wood.

    Drink of choice: He made rye whiskey, apple brandy and peach brandy in his Mount Vernon distillery.

    Thomas Jefferson

    Our 3rd President (1801-1809). Principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Served as Minister to France.

    “The people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” (1787) “The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” (1801)

    Stats: Born on April 13, 1743 in now Albemarle County, Virginia. 6’ 2.5” with carrot-red hair. Nicknamed “Long Tom.”

    Politics: Jefferson, attacking Federalist policies, opposed a strong centralized Government and championed the rights of states. Called for a wall of separation between church and state.

    What happened on the Fourth of July? Died on July 4, 1826

    Six degrees of Aaron Burr: Aaron Burr was Jefferson's Vice President.

    Interesting.... Jefferson wooed his wife with violin serenades. Avoided the look of nobility by choosing to dress himself in sometimes dirty and tattered clothing.

    Drink of choice: Red wine. He's considered as "the greatest patron of wine and wine growing that this country has yet had."

    James Monroe

    Our 5th President (1817–1825) and the last president who was considered a Founding Father.

    “Let us, by all wise and constitutional measures, promote intelligence among the People, as the best means of preserving our liberties.” (1817)

    Stats: Born in 1758 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. 6’0"

    Politics: As an anti-federalist delegate to the Virginia convention, Monroe opposed ratification of the Constitution, claiming it gave too much power to the central government. Went on to develop what was later known as the Monroe Doctrine: Interference with independent countries in the Americas would be considered a hostile act toward the US.

    What happened on the Fourth of July? Monroe died on July 4, 1831.

    Six Degrees of Aaron Burr: Monroe's son-in-law was the District Attorney in Burr's treason trial.

    Interesting.... As president, he wore what was by then considered outdated Revolutionary War-era attire. He was the only President after Washington to run unopposed (in 1820) and the last president who was never photographed. Monrovia in Liberia, is named after Monroe, who supported efforts to create a home for freed slaves in Liberia.

    Drink of choice: Sherry Cobbler, a cool long drink considered to be America’s first cocktail, popularized during the Revolution.

    John Adams

    Our 2nd President (1797-1801) and first vice-president. Helped draft the Declaration of Independence and negotiate the peace agreement with Great Britain to end the Revolutionary War. Served as Minister to Great Britain.

    “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.“ (1776)

    Stats: Born in 1735 in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts. 5’7” and “plump". Nicknamed "His Rotundity.”

    Politics: Adams was a Federalist, holding a more “elitist" view of government. In 1770, Adams represented the British soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre because he believed that every person deserved a defense. As President, he was very defense-minded — building a strong US Navy.

    Six Degrees of Aaron Burr: Turns out Adams didn't really have an opinion on Burr. He wrote in a letter about Burr's 1807 treason trial: "am anxious to see the Progress of Burr's Tryal: not from any Love or hatred I bear the man, for I cannot say that I feel either.... But I think Something must come out of the Tryal, which will strengthen or weaken our Confidence in the General Union."

    What happened on the Fourth of July? Died on July 4, 1826. Adams and Thomas Jefferson were close friends. Adams' dying words were, "Thomas Jefferson survives," unaware that he had died hours earlier.

    Interesting.... He didn’t shake hands with people — he bowed instead. (As did George Washington.) First President to live in the White House. 

    Drink of choice: John Adams drank a tankard of cider nearly every morning of his life. 

    Alexander Hamilton

    Treasury Secretary. Along with Madison and John Jay, authored the Federalist Papers, rallying support for the new Constitution. Led the effort to convene the Constitutional Convention when the nation was verging on anarchy. (Okay, he wasn't a President, but was an important Founding Father.)

    “I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value.” (1794) “The first thing in all great operations of such a government as ours is to secure the opinion of the people.” (1799) 

    Stats: Born in 1755 in the West Indies. 5’7”  

    Politics: Most advocated an elitist political vision and supported a strong central government. Believed that the intellectual aristocracy should rule the nation. Hamilton’s political legacy is the Federal Bank. 

    Six degrees of Aaron Burr: Hamilton was instrumental in securing Jefferson's victory over Aaron Burr in the presidential election of 1800. That and his subsequent opposition to Burr’s bid to become governor of New York led to his death at Burr’s hands in a duel in 1804.

    Interesting.... When he was Treasury Secretary, Hamilton had a three-year affair with Maria Reynolds -- while her husband James Reynolds blackmailed him. Hamilton was forced to admit the affair after Reynolds threatened to implicate him in another scheme related to unpaid wages for Revolutionary War veterans. The affair was one of the first sex scandals in American political history.

    Drink of choice: Not whiskey! In Jan. 1791, Hamilton proposed a tax on whiskey to pay some of the debt from the Revolutionary War. When news of the tax spread to Western Pennsylvania, farmers -- seeing it as another instance of unfair policies by the "eastern elite" -- were outraged and refused to pay the tax. By 1794, the Whiskey Rebellion threatened the stability of the country and President Washington himself led the United States militia westward to stop the rebels.

    James Madison

    Our 4th President (1809-1817) Helped draft Virginia’s state constitution when he was 25. That document later became the model for the US Constitution. Served as Jefferson’s Secretary of State.

    “The people are the only legitimate foundation of power, and it is from them that the constitutional character, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.” (1788)

    Stats: Born near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. About 5'4" and less than 100 pounds.

    Politics: Madison and Jefferson led the "Republicans" in opposing Hamilton's attempts to strengthen the national government.

    Six degrees of Aaron Burr: Madison was introduced to his wife, Dolly, when he was in his 40s — by Aaron Burr.

    Interesting... James Madison is on $5,000 bill. He's considered to have ended up on the winning side of every important issue that faced the young nation from 1776 to 1816. Despite being very shy, he married Dolly, a beautiful woman who enjoyed a party -- and had a reputation for gambling, wearing make-up and using tobacco. 

    Drink of choice: French champage

     


     

    Sources: Mount Vernon Ladies Association, Celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the laying of the corner stone of the Capitol of the United States, Senate Historical Office, ConstitutionFacts.comGeorge Washington's Teeth, Change Manifesto: Join the Block by Block Movement to Remake AmericaThe Quotable Founding Fathers: A Treasury of 2,500 Wise and Witty Quotations, Pennsylvania Center for the BookThe U.S. Constitution and Fascinating Facts about it, The Constitution Society, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, The Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, U.S. Presidency Inaugural Addresses, James Monroe on Biography.com, James Monroe on the History Channel, This Day in History: April 28, FoxNews.com, John Adams on Biography.com, Univ. of Houston - Digital History, Slate, Alexander Hamilton on Biography.com, Alexander Hamilton on the History Channel, Wikipedia, Hamilton-Reynolds Sex Scandal, Whiskey Rebellion on PBS American Experience, University of Virginia Miller Center, National First Ladies' Library, Bureau of Engraving and Printing,           

  5. The POPVOX Top 20: Feb 7 - 13, 2014

    Military Benefits Tops the List on POPVOX

    Congress agreed to cut about $6 billion in military pension payouts over the next decade, as part of a budget and spending deal for 2014. But many members instantly regretted those cuts, and said Congress should find a way to restore those benefits. The Senate voted on -- and passed -- a bill restoring military pension cuts, S 1963. And this was the most popular issue on POPVOX this past week.

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Feb 7 - Feb 13

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    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.

    • S 1963

      #1 Restoring Cuts to Military Pensions

      To repeal section 403 of the Bipartisan Budget Act. -- Passed by House and Senate. Now goes to the President for his signature. -- 

      517 Support | 48 Oppose

    • HR 562

      #2 VRAP Extension Act

      To provide for a three-month extension of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

      265 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 2954

      #3 Public Access and Lands Improvement Act

      To authorize Escambia County, Florida, to convey certain property that was formerly part of Santa Rosa Island National Monument and that was conveyed to Escambia County subject to restrictions on use and reconveyance.

      41 Support | 231 Oppose

    • HR 3193

      #4 Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act

      To amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to strengthen the review authority of the Financial Stability Oversight Council of regulations issued by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

      158 Support | 67 Oppose

    • S 1862

      #5 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.

      201 Support | 17 Oppose

    • HR 3590

      #6 SHARE Act

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

      87 Support | 126 Oppose

    • HR 392

      #7 Student Privacy Protection Act

      To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to direct local educational agencies to release secondary school student information to military recruiters if the student’s parent provides written consent for the release.

      144 Support | 62 Oppose

    • HR 3982

      #8 Open Internet Preservation Act

      To provide that the rules of the Federal Communications Commission relating to preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices shall be restored to effect until the date when the Commission takes final action in the proceedings on such rules that were remanded to the Commission by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

      116 Support | 83 Oppose

    • HR 2607

      #9 Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Reauthorization Act

      To establish programs with respect to childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer.

      140 Support | 46 Oppose

    • S 1335

      #10 Sportsmen’s Act

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

      21 Support | 160 Oppose

    • S 1981

      #11 Open Internet Preservation Act

      To provide that the rules of the Federal Communications Commission relating to preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices shall be restored to effect until the date when the Commission takes final action in the proceedings on such rules that were remanded to the Commission by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

      103 Support | 61 Oppose

    • HR 357

      #12 GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act

      To amend title 38, United States Code, to require courses of education provided by public institutions of higher education that are approved for purposes of the educational assistance programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to charge veterans tuition and fees at the in-State tuition rate, to make other improvements in the laws relating to benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

      133 Support | 5 Oppose

    • HR 4014

      #13 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.

      109 Support | 4 Oppose

    • HR 7

      #14 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act

      To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.

      78 Support | 22 Oppose

    • HR 3972

      #15 Fair Employment Opportunity Act

      To prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of an individual’s status or history of unemployment.

      32 Support | 53 Oppose

    • HR 3849

      #16 Health Insurance Accountability Act

      To provide for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if it is determined that the Act has resulted in increasing the number of uninsured individuals.

      68 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 3892

      #17 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.

      56 Support | 9 Oppose

    • S 1908

      #18 Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

      To allow reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms.

      55 Support | 8 Oppose

    • HR 3658

      #19 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.

      59 Support | 1 Oppose

    • HR 3448

      #20 Small Cap Liquidity Reform Act

      To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to provide for an optional pilot program allowing certain emerging growth companies to increase the tick sizes of their stocks.

      7 Support | 47 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.

  6. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 12, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    The Senate was in to quickly pass an extension of the debt ceiling.

    The Senate approved S. 540, which is the vehicle for the debt ceiling bill. It passed only with support from Democrats and Independents; no Republicans voted for it in the final vote.

    Just before that vote, 12 Republicans helped advance the bill in a procedural vote. This vote was far more interesting, as the vote was held open for an hour in order to give Republicans more time to find support.

    Five Republicans were needed, and 12 Republicans supported the bill in this procedural vote only after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decided to support the measure.

    Senate passage sends to the bill to President Obama for his signature into law, and he's expected to sign it in the coming days. It also ends debate over the threat of an end to government borrowing until mid-March 2015.

    The bill doesn't increase the debt ceiling to a specific level, but instead suspends the debt ceiling. That means the government will be able to borrow whatever it needs until early 2015.

    The Senate also easily passed S. 25, a bill to reverse the $6 billion in cuts to military pensions. This bill passed 95-3.

    Senate passage also sends this bill to the White House for President Obama's signature.

    With those votes, both the House and Senate are out until the week after next. Both chambers were expected to be in a bit longer this week, but a late Wednesday night snowstorm in Washington forced both chambers to clear out early.

  7. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 11, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    The House unexpectedly passed a bill Tuesday to suspend the debt ceiling for 13 months, one that makes no demands of spending cuts or other concessions.

    Republican leaders surprised members of both parties by quickly deciding there is nothing to gain from a fight over the debt ceiling this year. GOP leaders tried to find agreement within their own party on an alternative, but couldn't find much Republican support for any proposal.

    Once the decision was made, it moved quickly. Republicans debated a rule for the bill, then the bill, then passed it in a 221-201 vote. As expected, most of the "yes" votes came from Democrats — just 28 Republicans voted for it, and two Democrats voted against it.

    The Treasury Department has said it can continue operating until late February, and the Senate is hoping o pass the bill as early as Wednesday. Passage would mean the debt ceiling is suspended until mid-March 2015, which would let the government continue borrowing above the $17.2 trillion debt it already has.

    The House passed a few other bills today, including S. 25, a bill that restores cuts made to military retirees earlier this year.

    The $6 billion cut was something members of both parties wanted to restore. The bill brought up by Republicans restored the cuts, and paid for that move by extending the sequester cuts on Medicaid into 2024.

    Many Democrats opposed the way the bill paid for the pension restoration, but the bill still passed easily in a 326-90 vote.

    The Senate is working on a similar proposal, and many Democrats are hoping to restore the pension cuts without any offsetting spending reductions.

     

    The House passed two other suspension bills today:

    H.R. 3348 — the Small Cap Liquidity Reform Act, which lets companies sell stock in increments higher than a penny on the stock exchange. Supporters say this would make it easier for them to draw investment, and it was approved 412-4.

     

    H.R. 3578 — a bill requiring a formal regulatory process for rules dealing with sleep disorder testing for pilots and air traffic controllers. This passed in a voice vote.

     

    Finally, the Senate passed one bill, S. 1068, by unanimous consent. It reauthorizes a program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to train officers.

  8. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 10, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    The Senate easily advanced a bill aimed at restoring the $6 billion cut to military pensions that Congress approved just weeks ago.

    In a 94-0 vote, the Senate agreed to end debate on a motion to proceed to the measure, S. 1963. A key issue is how to pay for the repeal, and the Senate is likely to debate that issue for the rest of the week.

    In the House, GOP leaders have agreed to add similar repeal language to a bill extending the debt ceiling. If the House can pass that bill, the Senate could decide to consider both issues at once.

    However, it's not clear the House will be able to pass its bill, as many Republicans are expected to oppose a debt ceiling proposal that doesn't cut more federal spending.

    The House was also in, and quickly passed two suspension bills:

    H.R. 2431 — the National Integrated Drought Information Systems Reauthorization Act, extending a program to provide information about drought-stricken areas of the country. Passed 365-21.

    H.Res. 447 — a non-binding resolution supporting efforts by Ukraine to make democratic reforms. Passed 381-2.

  9. Issue Spotlight: The Debt Ceiling

    Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Congress announcing that the debt limit must be raised by February 27, or the nation would risk a technical default. The debt limit or debt ceiling is the total amount of money that the US government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments. The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past. (Learn more.)

    Raising the debt limit isn't new. Since 1960, Congress has acted 78 separate times to permanently raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit -– 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents. Here are some recent proposals in Congress addressing the debt limit:

    Bills Related to the Debt Ceiling

    We're spotlighting bills related to the debt ceiling or limit. 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.

  10. The Week Ahead: Feb. 10 - 14

    From our Hill Sources: Congress is back for a week of work on issues like military pensions, and tweaking the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

    In the Senate

    The Senate is likely to spend most of the week on a bill to restore the cuts to veterans' pensions that were made earlier in the year. Congress agreed to cut about $6 billion in these pension payouts over the next decade, as part of a budget and spending deal for 2014. But many members instantly regretted those cuts, and said Congress should find a way to restore those benefits. The Senate will take a first stab at the problem by calling up:

    • S 1963

      Restoring Veterans' Pensions

      That bill restores the $6 billion in cuts made to veterans' pension as part of the budget deal, but doesn't offer any ways to make up for the new spending.

      The Scoop from our Hill Sources:  Senators will try to find an agreement on an offset during the week, which would take the form of an amendment to the bill.

    In the House

    The House is only in through Wednesday, because House Democrats will hold their annual retreat in Maryland's Eastern Shore.

    Before leaving, the House will consider two financial reform bills:

    The House will also consider three other other 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.

  11. The POPVOX Top 20: Jan 31 - Feb 6, 2014

    This week, the SHARE Act (HR 3590) was the most popular bill among POPVOX users. Not surprising, since this bill was voted on -- and passed -- by the House on Wednesday. The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational (SHARE) Act is "pro sportsmen’s and sportswomen’s legislation that will preserve and promote our outdoor hunting, fishing and conservation heritage," according to the bipartisan group of Representatives who sponsored the bill, Tim Walz (D-MN), Bob Latta (R-OH), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Robert Wittman (R-VA). A slight majority of POPVOX users oppose this bill -- 54% to 46% -- largely on environmental and wildlife grounds. (See map and pie charts.)

    The SHARE Act is comprehensive legislation, which includes:

    1. Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (HR 322), excluding ammunition and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act;
    2. Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (HR 2463), amends the Pittman-Robertson Act by adjusting the funding limitations and encourages federal land agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain shooting ranges;
    3. Public Lands Filming (HR 2798), for any film crew of five persons or fewer, to require a permit and assess an annual fee of $200 for commercial filming activities;
    4. Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act (HR 1818), allows for the Secretary to authorize permits for re-importation of legally harvested Polar Bears from approved populations in Canada before the 2008 ban;
    5. Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act (HR 1206), to authorize any state to issue electronic duck stamps;
    6. Access to Water Resources Development Projects Act (HR 2046), prohibits the Secretary of the Army from promulgating or enforcing any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm at a water resources development project administered by the Corps of Engineers if the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm;
    7. Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee (HR 2799), establishes the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, recreational hunting and shooting; and
    8. Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act (HR 1825), would require the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to keep their lands open to hunting, recreational fishing, and shooting and facilitate the use of and access to Federal public lands and waters for these activities, pursuant to reasonable exceptions.

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Jan. 31 - Feb. 6

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    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 3590

      #1 SHARE Act

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

      163 Support | 497 Oppose

    • HR 3972

      #2 Fair Employment Opportunity Act

      To prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of an individual’s status or history of unemployment.

      39 Support | 232 Oppose

    • HR 2642

      #3 Farm Bill Conference Report

      "A bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a five-year farm bill that will reduce the deficit, grow the economy and provide certainty to the 16 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture. [It] contains major reforms, including eliminating the direct payments program, streamlining and consolidating numerous programs to improve their effectiveness and reduce duplication, and cutting down on program misuse. The bill also strengthens our nation's commitment to support farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters or significant economic losses; and renews a national commitment to protect land, water, and other natural resources," according to the agreement negotiators.

      36 Support | 223 Oppose

    • HR 3978

      #4 New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act

      To authorize the Secretary of Transportation to establish a pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure credit assistance pilot program.

      23 Support | 228 Oppose

    • HR 357

      #5 GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act

      To amend title 38, United States Code, to require courses of education provided by public institutions of higher education that are approved for purposes of the educational assistance programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to charge veterans tuition and fees at the in-State tuition rate, to make other improvements in the laws relating to benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

      226 Support | 16 Oppose

    • HR 3932

      #6 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act

      To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.

      201 Support | 25 Oppose

    • HR 7

      #7 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act

      To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.

      140 Support | 39 Oppose

    • S 1862

      #8 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.

      168 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 3927

      #9 Student Loan Debt

      To amend section 3716 of title 31, United States Code, to raise to at least the poverty line the amount of Social Security benefits that are exempt from being offset to satisfy student loan debt.

      27 Support | 141 Oppose

    • HR 2607

      #10 Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Reauthorization Act

      To establish programs with respect to childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer.

      124 Support | 23 Oppose

    • S 1731

      #11 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.

      7 Support | 125 Oppose

    • S 1845

      #12 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

      To provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits.

      29 Support | 95 Oppose

    • S 1926

      #13 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

      To delay the implementation of certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and to reform the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers.

      13 Support | 98 Oppose

    • HR 392

      #14 Student Privacy Protection Act

      To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to direct local educational agencies to release secondary school student information to military recruiters if the student’s parent provides written consent for the release.

      76 Support | 33 Oppose

    • S 1908

      #15 Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

      To allow reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms.

      71 Support | 11 Oppose

    • S 946

      #16 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

      Prohibits the expenditure of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law or funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law (federal funds) for any abortion.

      62 Support | 13 Oppose

    • S 1726

      #17 Obamacare Taxpayer Bailout Prevention Act

      To prevent a taxpayer bailout of health insurance issuers.

      60 Support | 10 Oppose

    • HR 3812

      #18 No Bailouts for Insurance Industry Act

      To repeal sections 1341 and 1342 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

      66 Support | 3 Oppose

    • HR 562

      #19 VRAP Extension Act

      To provide for a three-month extension of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

      67 Support | 1 Oppose

    • HR 3964

      #20 Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act

      To address certain water-related concerns in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley.

      23 Support | 41 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.

  12. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 6, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    UI Extension one vote shy of Cloture in Senate

    The Senate again failed to advance legislation extending emergency unemployment benefits (S. 1845) that expired in late December.

    Senate Democrats on Thursday held a procedural vote on a new Democratic proposal to pay for the $6.4 billion cost of the extension by changing rules related to corporate pensions. Those changes would have resulted in higher taxes for companies, which would have paid for the unemployment benefits after four years.

    Sixty senators were needed to clear the procedural hurdle, but the final vote was 58-40. There were 59 votes in favor of the bill, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed his vote at the end, which gives him the right to call the measure up again in the coming days.

    Reid said he was encouraged that the Senate was just one Republican vote away from clearing the hurdle, and said the Senate would try again soon.

    Federal Lands Bill in the House

    The House was in briefly to pass a single bill: H.R. 2954, the Public Access and Lands Improvement Act. The bill combines several Republican and Democratic ideas dealing with the federal government's use of land.

    Included in the bill was language allowing for the transfer of federal land to a few countries in various states, and language requiring the Bureau of Land Management to make public a list of all the land it holds.

    Democrats, including President Obama, opposed the bill in part because it allowed for the conveyance of land without any compensation to the federal government, and also did not require environmental review of those transfers

  13. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 5, 2014

    The House was in to pass two land-use bills.

    The first was H.R. 3590, the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, a bill to "protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting."

    The bill was opposed by most Democrats, but forty-one voted for it.

    The Obama Administration supported some aspects of the bill, including language boosting state-wide funding to maintain shooting ranges. But many Democrats opposed language that sought to override federal environmental rules to allow more access to protected land.

    Members also passed H.R. 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act. The bill is meant to ensure adequate water supplies for residents and businesses in the central valley of California.

    House Republicans say the bill is needed to restore the flow of water that was cut off in 2009, when the Obama administration said more water needed to be diverted to help preserve fish in the state. Republicans said that while the whole state is facing drought conditions, this 2009 ruling is making it worse for central California.

    Democrats said the bill would do nothing to improve access to water, and most voted against it. Democrats in the Senate are not expected to consider the bill, and the Obama administration has said President Obama would veto the bill.

    The Senate was out, as both parties held their annual caucus meetings.

  14. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 4, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    The Senate passed The Farm Bill and sent it to President Obama for his signature into law.

    Senate passage marks the end of a more than three-year congressional effort. The bill didn't reform farm programs as much as some wanted, and also found a compromise on food stamps that many Republicans said was not enough.

    The final bill cuts food stamps by $8 billion over ten years, double the cuts in the original Senate-passed bill.

    Despite those cuts, most Democrats voted for the bill. Nine Democrats voted against it, along with 23 Republicans.

    After finishing the farm bill, Senate Democrats set up a vote later this week on S. 1845, a new bill to extend emergency unemployment benefits. The new bill extends benefits for three months, and pays for it by making changes to corporate pension funding requirements — those changes will increase taxes on these companies, and raise $6.4 billion over four years.

    The Senate will hold a vote by Thursday on whether to end debate on that bill, which will need 60 votes.

    The House was in to start work on H.R. 3590, the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, which looks to ensure access to federal lands for hunting, sport shooting and other activities.

     

        Members considered a few amendments, and will hold a vote on final passage Wednesday.

  15. POPVOX Daily Digest - February 3, 2014

    From our Hill Sources: 

    Farm Bill progress in the Senate

    The Senate took a step toward passing a giant farm bill that would authorize agricultural commodity programs and food stamps for the next five years.

    Senators voted 72-22 to end debate on a House-Senate agreement on the farm bill. The compromise bill is being carried on the original House farm bill, H.R. 2642.

    Most of the "no" votes came from Republicans, although three Senate Democrats also voted against ending debate. Democrats have broadly been opposed to the bill because of its cuts to food stamps, but the bill is expected to pass the bill nonetheless Tuesday afternoon.

    The Senate also passed S. 376, the Drought Information Act, which funds a federal program aimed at helping the government respond to drought.

     

    Two suspension bills in the House

    H.R. 357 — the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act, which ensures in-state tuition rates for veterans. Passed 390-0.

    H.R. 1791 — the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act, allowing for the stockpiling of drugs and medical kits to improve emergency medical preparedness. Passed 391-2.

  16. The Week Ahead: Feb. 3 - 7

    From our Hill Sources: The Senate will try to pass a farm bill early in the week, and then take another shot at extending emergency unemployment benefits.

    The State of the Union

    Last week, President Obama gave his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Nation. Here's a POPVOX-style recap of his address -- meshing his quotes with proposals already pending before Congress.

    The Farm Bill

    The House and Senate Farm Bill negotiators who met to reconcile the different versions passed in either chambers have reached a bipartisan agreement.

    • HR 2642

      The Conference Report on the Farm Bill

      A "five-year farm bill that will reduce the deficit, grow the economy and provide certainty to the 16 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture," according to the negotiators.

    Here are some specifics in the agreement*:

    1. Program cuts. Repeals the direct payment program (which costs approximately $4.5 billion a year) and strengthens risk management tools. Repeals outdated programs and consolidates duplicative ones, eliminating nearly 100 programs or authorizations.
    2. Job creation. Helps farmers and ranchers create jobs and provides certainty for the 16 million Americans working in agriculture.
    3. Land protection. Strengthens conservation efforts to protect land, water and wildlife for future generations.
    4. Organics. Creates a cost-share measure for farmers transitioning to organic agriculture.
    5. "Food Stamps" or SNAP. Maintains food assistance for families while addressing fraud and misuse in SNAP. Reduces "food stamp" SNAP funding by nearly $9 billion over 10 years. (By comparison, the House-passed bill from Sept. 2013 had nearly $40 billion in cuts, while the Senate version had $4 billion in cuts.) Mandates electronic state immigration verification for SNAP applicants. Does not include provisions to let states drug test SNAP applicants.
    6. Animal protection. Makes it a federal crime to attend or bring a child under the age of 16 to an animal fighting event.
    7. The King Amendment was not included. The King Amendment would have prohibited states from setting mandatory agricultural production standards for other states.
    8. Hemp. Allows colleges and universities to grow industrial hemp for research purposes in states where it is already legal to do so.
    9. Christmas trees. Directs the Agriculture Dept. to resume establishment of an industry funded promotion program serving the fresh Christmas tree industry.
    10. Meat labeling. Includes federal labeling rules requiring more information about the origins of beef, pork and other meats.
    11. Marijuana. Clarifies that medical-marijuana can't be deducted as an expense to claim more food-stamp benefits.

    The Scoop from our Hill Sources: The House approved this $956 billion bill last week, and sent it to a Senate that should have an easy time passing it. Senators will hold a procedural vote on Monday, and if 60 votes are there for the bill, it will pass shortly thereafter.

    Unemployment Insurance

    Senate Democrats said they would try again to extend unemployment insurance benefits that expired in December. They want a three-month extension, which could cost $6.5 billion and would be paid for by making a change to private sector pension requirements in order to increase the tax liability of companies.

    The Scoop from our Hill Sources:  It's unclear whether enough Senate Republicans will go along with the new proposal, but Democrats are thought to need just a few more to get 60 votes and the right to end debate on the bill. As of the weekend, the bill was still being written, and there was no text available.

    The House

    The House has plans to work on bills related to the use of federal land:

    The House will also take up two suspension bills 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.

    *Sources: House Agriculture Committee, Fresno Bee, Wall Street Journal, Sacramento Bee, Politico, Washington Post.

  17. PRESS CLIP: The Future Of Political Engagement Is Here (And It's Called POPVOX)

  18. The POPVOX Top 20: Jan 24 - 30, 2014

    Federal Funding of Abortion is the Top Issue Among POPVOX Users

    The President's State of the Union address to Congress was the biggest event in Washington, DC this week. (Only the frigid temperatures were perhaps more discussed!) Take a look at POPVOX's roundup of the State of the Union, where we meshed the President's quotes with proposals already pending in Congress. 

    Federal funding of abortions was a top priority among POPVOX users this week. This wasn't surprising given that the House passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 7) on Monday, which would make permanent the ban on spending federal funds on abortion, a policy that is usually renewed each year. The bill also includes a new attack against the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. It would prohibit federal subsidies to be used to buy Obamacare plans that cover abortion. According to POPVOX's Hill Sources, "opposition from Senate Democrats will likely turn the House effort into a "messaging" bill that goes no further than the House vote."

    POPVOX Roundup: Week of Jan. 24 - 30

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    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 7

      #1 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act

      To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.

      572 Support | 156 Oppose

    • S 946

      #2 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

      Prohibits the expenditure of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law or funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law (federal funds) for any abortion.

      403 Support | 77 Oppose

    • S 1726

      #3 Obamacare Taxpayer Bailout Prevention Act

      To prevent a taxpayer bailout of health insurance issuers.

      359 Support | 31 Oppose

    • HR 2642

      #4 Farm Bill Conference agreement

      "A bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a five-year farm bill that will reduce the deficit, grow the economy and provide certainty to the 16 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture. [It] contains major reforms, including eliminating the direct payments program, streamlining and consolidating numerous programs to improve their effectiveness and reduce duplication, and cutting down on program misuse. The bill also strengthens our nation's commitment to support farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters or significant economic losses; and renews a national commitment to protect land, water, and other natural resources."

      78 Support | 260 Oppose

    • S 1945

      #5 Voting Rights Amendment Act

      To amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are subject to section 4 of the Act.

      30 Support | 281 Oppose

    • S 1926

      #6 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

      To delay the implementation of certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and to reform the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers.

      57 Support | 253 Oppose

    • HR 3279

      #7 Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act

      To amend section 1303(b)(3) of Public Law 111-148 concerning the notice requirements regarding the extent of health plan coverage of abortion and abortion premium surcharges.

      238 Support | 55 Oppose

    • HR 3899

      #8 Voting Rights Amendment Act

      To amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are subject to section 4 of the Act.

      30 Support | 238 Oppose

    • S 1908

      #9 Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

      To allow reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms.

      215 Support | 39 Oppose

    • HR 676

      #10 Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act

      To provide for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all United States residents, improved health care delivery.

      74 Support | 153 Oppose

    • HR 2166

      #11 Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act

      To direct the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture to expedite access to certain Federal lands under the administrative jurisdiction of each Secretary for good Samaritan search-and-recovery missions.

      162 Support | 24 Oppose

    • S 1862

      #12 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.

      174 Support | 9 Oppose

    • HR 3927

      #13 Student Loan Debt

      To amend section 3716 of title 31, United States Code, to raise to at least the poverty line the amount of Social Security benefits that are exempt from being offset to satisfy student loan debt.

      20 Support | 160 Oppose

    • S 1731

      #14 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.

      21 Support | 153 Oppose

    • HR 3932

      #15 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act

      To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.

      140 Support | 19 Oppose

    • HR 217

      #16 Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act

      To amend title X of the Public Health Service Act to prohibit family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions.

      31 Support | 64 Oppose

    • HR 160

      #17 Disability Benefit Fairness Act

      To amend title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the 5-month waiting period for entitlement to disability benefits and to eliminate reconsideration as an intervening step between initial benefit entitlement decisions and subsequent hearings on the record on such decisions.

      75 Support | 15 Oppose

    • HR 61

      #18 Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act

      To amend title X of the Public Health Service Act to prohibit family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions.

      25 Support | 63 Oppose

    • S 604

      #19 Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act

      To recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel.

      70 Support | 8 Oppose

    • HR 198

      #20 Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force

      To repeal Public Law 107-40.

      56 Support | 14 Oppose

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

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

  19. POPVOX Daily Digest - January 30, 2014

    From our Hill sources:

    Flood Insurance and Farm Bill in the Senate

    The Senate voted Thursday to delay some reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

    Senators passed S. 1926, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, in a 67-32 vote. The bill delays rate hikes that were passed in 2012, which many senators on both sides of the aisle now say will make homeownership unaffordable for thousands of people who require flood insurance.

    Aside from the rate hikes, the bill also allows flood insurance subsidies to be transferred to new homeowners when a home is sold. The 2012 reform ended those subsidies.

    Opponents of the bill said the bill represents the unwillingness of Congress to stick to the 2012 reforms, which were aimed at pulling the NFIP out of debt. But with support from both parties, it was able to pass.

    Senate Democrats also set up a vote for next week on the $956 billion Farm Bill that the House passed earlier.

    The huge bill — which is mostly a food stamp bill but also includes reforms to U.S. farm commodity programs — split both parties in the House but ended up passing 251-166. It's expected to pass next week.

    The Senate will start by holding a procedural vote that needs 60 votes. After that, a simple majority is enough for final passage.

  20. POPVOX Daily Digest - January 29, 2014

    From our Hill Sources:

    Farm Bill passes House

    The House approved a huge farm bill on Wednesday, sending it over to the Senate where it will likely be approved in the coming days.

    Members passed a House-Senate agreement on federal farm policy in a 251-166 vote. The bill spends $956 billion over ten years, mostly on food stamps, which would be cut by $8 billion over ten years. That's higher than the Senate's original $4 billion cut, but much lower than the House's $39 billion cut.

    Most Democrats opposed the bill, primarily because they wanted no cuts to food stamps. And while most Republicans supported it, several dozen voted "no" to protest the lack of reforms and the inability to closely examine the deal, which was agreed earlier in the week.

    Senate continues with Flood Insurance reforms

    The Senate made some progress toward passing S. 1926, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. The bill delays rate hikes for homeowners and businesses under a 2012 law reforming the National Flood Insurance Program.

    Senators adopted three amendments to the bill, including language requiring more study of community-based flood insurance. The bill also survived a Republican challenge that the bill violates the budget — senators shot down the GOP's budget complaint in a 64-35 vote.

    The Senate did approve two bills, including H.R. 2860, the OPM IG Act, which provides funding for the Office of Personnel Management's Inspector General. That bill was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate.

     

    Senators also passed S. 1417, the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act, which extends grants for prenatal screening.