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Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

McCutcheon v. FEC

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

WASHINGTON DC — The Supreme Court struck down a 40-year-old ban on “aggregate contributions” that a single donor can give to candidates and party committees. Though an individual still is limited to the amount donated to a single candidate, an individual can give an unlimited amount multiple candidates.

McCutcheon v. FEC PDF

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The Glass Debt Ceiling

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

“Between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946″

They wouldn’t have to raise the debt ceiling unless it was going to be the largest debt ever.

WHAT YOU OWE
$16.699 trillion current debt ceiling
316,809,000 people in the USA
$52,709.99 the amount every person owes (the largest of all time)

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How a Bill Becomes a Law

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Creating laws is the U.S. House of Representatives’ most important job. All laws in the United States begin as bills. Before a bill can become a law, it must be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the President. Let’s follow a bill’s journey to become law.

The Bill Begins

Laws begin as ideas. These ideas may come from a Representative—or from a citizen like you. Citizens who have ideas for laws can contact their Representatives to discuss their ideas. If the Representatives agree, they research the ideas and write them into bills.

The Bill Is Proposed

When a Representative has written a bill, the bill needs a sponsor. The Representative talks with other Representatives about the bill in hopes of getting their support for it. Once a bill has a sponsor and the support of some of the Representatives, it is ready to be introduced.

The Bill Is Introduced

  The Hopper

In the U.S. House of Representatives, a bill is introduced when it is placed in the hopper—a special box on the side of the clerk’s desk. Only Representatives can introduce bills in the U.S. House of Representatives.

When a bill is introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, a bill clerk assigns it a number that begins with H.R. A reading clerk then reads the bill to all the Representatives, and the Speaker of the House sends the bill to one of the House standing committees.

The Bill Goes to Committee

When the bill reaches committee, the committee members—groups of Representatives who are experts on topics such as agriculture, education, or international relations—review, research, and revise the bill before voting on whether or not to send the bill back to the House floor.

If the committee members would like more information before deciding if the bill should be sent to the House floor, the bill is sent to a subcommittee. While in subcommittee, the bill is closely examined and expert opinions are gathered before it is sent back to the committee for approval.

The Bill Is Reported

When the committee has approved a bill, it is sent—or reported—to the House floor. Once reported, a bill is ready to be debated by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Bill Is Debated

When a bill is debated, Representatives discuss the bill and explain why they agree or disagree with it. Then, a reading clerk reads the bill section by section and the Representatives recommend changes. When all changes have been made, the bill is ready to be voted on.

The Bill Is Voted On

  Electronic Voting Machine

There are three methods for voting on a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives:

  1. Viva Voce (voice vote): The Speaker of the House asks the Representatives who support the bill to say “aye” and those that oppose it say “no.”
  2. Division: The Speaker of the House asks those Representatives who support the bill to stand up and be counted, and then those who oppose the bill to stand up and be counted.
  3. Recorded: Representatives record their vote using the electronic voting system. Representatives can vote yes, no, or present (if they don’t want to vote on the bill).

If a majority of the Representatives say or select yes, the bill passes in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is then certified by the Clerk of the House and delivered to the U.S. Senate.

The Bill Is Referred to the Senate

When a bill reaches the U.S. Senate, it goes through many of the same steps it went through in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is discussed in a Senate committee and then reported to the Senate floor to be voted on.

Senators vote by voice. Those who support the bill say “yea,” and those who oppose it say “nay.” If a majority of the Senators say “yea,” the bill passes in the U.S. Senate and is ready to go to the President.

The Bill Is Sent to the President

When a bill reaches the President, he has three choices. He can:

  1. Sign and pass the bill—the bill becomes a law.
  2. Refuse to sign, or veto, the bill—the bill is sent back to the U.S. House of Representatives, along with the President’s reasons for the veto. If the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate still believe the bill should become a law, they can hold another vote on the bill. If two-thirds of the Representatives and Senators support the bill, the President’s veto is overridden and the bill becomes a law.
  3. Do nothing (pocket veto)—if Congress is in session, the bill automatically becomes law after 10 days. If Congress is not in session, the bill does not become a law.

The Bill Is a Law

If a bill has passed in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and has been approved by the President, or if a presidential veto has been overridden, the bill becomes a law and is enforced by the government.

Glossary

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For Teachers

Looking to bring the U.S. House of Representatives into your Grade School classroom? Visit our For Teachers section for resources, activities, and lesson plans that complement the material on this site.

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Fiscal Year 2014 Budget

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama said that we must invest in the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising and thriving middle class. He said that every day, we must ask ourselves these three questions: “How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”

This morning the President sent Congress his Budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which presents his plan to address each of these questions. He also spoke to the press about his proposal in the Rose Garden, and said that while our economy is poised for progress, we need to get smarter about our priorities as a nation. And that’s what his 2014 Budget represents — a fiscally-responsible blueprint for middle-class jobs and growth:

To make America a magnet for good jobs, this budget invests in new manufacturing hubs to help turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. We’ll spark new American innovation and industry with cutting-edge research like the initiative I announced to map the human brain and cure disease. We’ll continue our march towards energy independence and address the threat of climate change. And our Rebuild America Partnership will attract private investment to put construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads, our bridges and our schools, in turn attracting even more new business to communities across the country.

To help workers earn the skills they need to fill those jobs, we’ll work with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. And we’re going to pay for it by raising taxes on tobacco products that harm our young people. It’s the right thing to do.

We’ll reform our high schools and job training programs to equip more Americans with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy. And we’ll help more middle-class families afford the rising cost of college.

To make sure hard work is rewarded, we’ll build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for anybody who is willing to work hard to climb them. So we’ll partner with 20 of our communities hit hardest by the recession to help them improve housing, and education, and business investment. And we should make the minimum wage a wage you can live on — because no one who works full-time should have to raise his or her family in poverty.

President Obama’s budget also replaces the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester with smarter ones, making long-term reforms, eliminating actual waste and programs that are no longer needed.

And finally, because he is willing to make tough choices and serious about finding common ground to further reduce the deficit, President Obama’s budget incorporates his compromise offer he made to House Speaker Boehner that achieves another $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced way. When combined with the deficit reduction already achieved, this will exceed the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, while growing the economy and strengthening the middle class.

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Back To Work Budget

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Back to Work Budget – Green Jobs
As you already know, Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget is beyond devastating– dismembering Medicare, slashing Medicaid and dismantling other vitally important social programs If enacted, it will put the United States on a fast-track back to 1928.

Fortunately, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has proposed a ”Back to Work” budget which puts the emphasis back where it belongs: the creation of seven million jobs, the preservation of the “entitlements,” and full funding for domestic social programs. Deficit reduction will be achieved by increasing the number of working Americans, by raising taxes on the rich and making reductions in the Pentagon budget. For more details: http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/back-to-work-budget/

Although we would prefer larger cuts from the Pentagon, the CPC Budget represents an immense step forward. It is already changing the terms of the national debate.

But to make a real difference, we need a large number of Representatives to vote YES on this “Back to Work Budget.” National and local groups across the country are sponsoring call-in days in support of this budget.

During this week, Progressive Democrats for America will be continuing its effort to personally deliver messages to local offices around the country. To get more information and get involved with a letter drop near you: http://www.pdacommunity.org/issues/bblv-mission

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Energy

Monday, March 18th, 2013

The President on energy:

Few areas hold more promise for creating good jobs and growing our economy than how we use American energy, and today President Obama visited the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to talk about the progress we are seeing from his all of the above approach to energy independence and the risk that this important sector faces from the arbitrary cuts being imposed by the so-called sequester.

As President Obama noted in his remarks, these cuts do not distinguish between wasteful programs and vital investments. “They don’t trim the fat; they cut into muscle and into bone,” the President said. “Like research and development being done right here that not only gives a great place for young researchers to come and ply their trade, but also ends up creating all kinds of spinoffs that create good jobs and good wages.”

Because of the sequester, American labs could face two years without starting new research, opportunities we cannot afford to miss. This comes at a time when this country is poised to take control of our energy future, as the President pointed out:

After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to take control of our energy future. We produce more oil than we have in 15 years. We import less oil than we have in 20 years. We’ve doubled the amount of renewable energy that we generate from sources like wind and solar — with tens of thousands of good jobs to show for it. We’re producing more natural gas than we ever have before — with hundreds of thousands of good jobs to show for it. We supported the first new nuclear power plant in America since the 1970s. And we’re sending less carbon pollution into the environment than we have in nearly 20 years.

In addition to the balanced solution he has proposed to replace the painful cuts, a phased-in approach that includes smart spending cuts, entitlement reforms and new revenue, and that won’t hurt the middle class or slow economic growth, President Obama today talked about his proposal to create an Energy Security Trust. The proposed trust uses revenue generated by oil and gas development on federal lands to support new research and technology that will shift our cars and trucks off of oil for good. The recent rise in gas prices is a reminder that we are still too reliant on oil, which comes at a cost to American families and businesses, and the President today urged Congress to take up his common-sense proposals that will further reduce our dependence on oil, better protect consumers from spikes in gas prices, and reduce pollution.

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Music Issues Up For Congress

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Musicians and artists are finding the economy tougher than ever on the music business. The legislature has six issues on the agenda.

Excerpts from Billboard
By Glenn Peoples

From performance royalties to deciding how musicians travel with their instruments on airplanes, numerous issues central to the music industry are alive Washington D.C. The highest profile topic is webcasting royalties, a holdover from the Internet Radio Fairness Act introduced last year that sparked a strong public relations fight between its supporters, including Pandora and Clear Channel, and its opponents, mainly record labels and artists.

The music industry will have a receptive House during this 113th Congress. Although the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet lost Howard Berman, a longtime supporter of music industry issues it is now chaired by Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), who sources say has a reputation for being friendly to content owners’ interests. In fact, RIAA senior vice president Mitch Glazier was Coble’s chief of staff. Mel Watt (D-NC), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, is also said to be a supporter of music industry causes.

1. Radio and Internet Royalties. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has indicated he wants to continue the discussion on music licensing issues that began with the November hearing on webcasting royalties. Many insiders expect 2013 will see a follow-up to the Internet Radio Freedom Act, the webcasting-focused bill introduced last year and expired at the end of the last Congress, and a counter bill that would seek to address broadcast radio’s lack of performance royalties for sound recordings. Performance royalty legislation won’t be a top priority, however. The House Judiciary is likely to deal with legislation on gun control and immigration early in the year.

Sony/ATV Negotiates 25% Royalty Increase From Pandora: Report

2. Section 115 Reform. Related to the performance royalties for sound recordings will be a move to address change to Section 115, the part of copyright law that grants a compulsory license to make and distribute phonorecords. David Israelite, president of the National Association of Music Publishers, says music publishers and digital media companies have “largely agreed on the framework for a solution.” A higher rate standard in Section 115 would be consistent with Section 114 and would lead to “higher rates for songwriters, especially in the area of digital downloads.” As will be the case with performance royalties, a busy Judiciary Committee will handle Section 115 reform.

3. Intellectual property enforcement. There are rumors that Victoria Espinel, the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for the White House, will not stay a second term, according to sources (a request for a comment from her office was not received). Espinel has been well received in the music industry for her work encouraging intermediaries to voluntarily address piracy. For example, her office was instrumental in the statement of best practices released in May by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies that outlined a commitment not to support web sites that facilitate copyright infringement. “I think the office will try to be helpful in advancing those agreements and having a role,” says one executive, “[but] nobody has an expectation there will be more than that.”

4. PRO IP Act Reform. Rep. Zoe Lofgren is considering introducing a bill that will reform how the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice seizes and blocks domain names from sites found to infringe on copyrights. The PRO IP Act, passed in 2008, allows law enforcement to seize property used to commit copyright infringement. Along with law enforcement agencies in other countries, ICE has seized hundreds of domains for websites that illegally sold counterfeit merchandise or hosted illegal downloads or streams. Lofgren explained that her proposal would focus on seizures “based on accusations that a website facilitates copyright infringement and not, for example, accusations of obscenity or libel.”

5. Copy Culture Legislation. Expect some sort of legislation will be introduced that tries to advance the type of concepts — reducing the term of copyright, limiting statutory damages — held by opponents to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). These concepts appeared in a policy brief by the Republican Study Committee in November that claimed copyright law “destroys entire markets” rather than serve the original intent of the Constitution and suggested sharply reduced copyright terms (the report was quickly retracted and the staffer was fired). The bills may not go anywhere but will publicize the concepts, says one source.

6. Traveling With Instruments. Last year Congress passed legislation that reauthorized the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for another four years. Part of that bill was a provision to create a national policy for carrying musical instruments on airplanes. This year the FAA will draft rules from that legislation. The bill set standard weights and size requirements for checked instrument and allows musicians to purchase a seat for large instruments that are too fragile to be checked as baggage. This may sound wonky, but it will directly affect a lot of people.

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USA Global Warming and Climate Change

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

For many years, the United States government has been in denial about global warming; however, a new study mandated by congress, National Climate Assessment and Development Climate Assessment, highlights the impact of global warming on health, infrastructure, water supply, agriculture and in particular more volatile weather.

1. Global climate is changing now and this change is apparent across a wide range of observations. Much of the climate change of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities.
2. Global climate is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond. The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades depends primarily on the amount of heat-trapping gases emitted globally, and how sensitive the climate is to those emissions.
3. U.S. average temperature has increased by about 1.5°F since record keeping began in 1895; more than 80% of this increase has occurred since 1980. The most recent decade was the nation’s warmest on record. U.S. temperatures are expected to continue to rise. Because human-induced warming is superimposed on a naturally varying climate, the temperature rise has not been, and will not be, smooth across the country or over time.
4. The length of the frost-free season (and the corresponding growing season) has been increasing nationally since the 1980s, with the largest increases occurring in the western U.S., affecting ecosystems and agriculture. Continued lengthening of the growing season across the U.S. is projected.
5. Precipitation averaged over the entire U.S. has increased during the period since 1900, but regionally some areas have had increases greater than the national average, and some areas have had decreases. The largest increases have been in the Midwest, southern Great Plains, and Northeast. Portions of the Southeast, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountain states have experienced decreases. More winter and spring precipitation is projected for the northern U.S., and less for the Southwest, over this century.
6. Heavy downpours are increasing in most regions of the U.S., especially over the last three to five decades. Largest increases are in the Midwest and Northeast. Further increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for most U.S. areas.
7. Certain types of extreme weather events have become more frequent and intense, including heat waves, floods, and droughts in some regions. The increased intensity of heat waves has been most prevalent in the western parts of the country, while the intensity of flooding events has been more prevalent over the eastern parts. Droughts in the Southwest and heat waves everywhere are projected to become more intense in the future.
8. There has been an increase in the overall strength of hurricanes and in the number of strong (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes in the North Atlantic since the early 1980s. The intensity of the strongest hurricanes is projected to continue to increase as the oceans continue to warm; ocean cycles will also affect the amount of warming at any given time. With regard to other types of storms that affect the U.S., winter storms have increased slightly in frequency and intensity, and their tracks have shifted northward over the U.S. Other trends in severe storms, including the numbers of hurricanes and the intensity and frequency of tornadoes, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds are uncertain and are being studied intensively.
9. Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It is projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100.
10. Rising temperatures are reducing ice volume and extent on land, lakes, and sea. This loss of ice is expected to continue.
11. The oceans are currently absorbing about a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere annually and are becoming more acidic as a result, leading to concerns about potential impacts on marine ecosystems.

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YouTube Election Coverage

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012
Play Icon Live: Election Night Coverage
Live: Election Night Coverage Tune in to youtube.com/politics on Tuesday, Nov. 6 to watch live coverage of the U.S. elections. From real-time results to acceptance speeches, catch all of the big moments live on YouTube »
Play Icon Trending in the News
We bring you in-depth analysis of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, the growing crisis in Mali, and a shocking story of spiked ammunition in Syria.
Lance Armstrong gets lifetime ban

YouTube Citizen Tube Lance Armstrong gets lifetime ban

588 views

One Direction

AlJazeeraEnglish France seeks intervention in Mali

3,755 views

Swedish House Mafia

New York Times Spiked Ammo in Syria’s Civil War

12,769 views

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Do You Plan to Vote Next Week?

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Dear Citizen,

For more than a year we’ve been talking to you about the impact of the upcoming election. Now we want to hear from you.

Will you help determine the course our country takes after November 6?

The elections, now less than a week away, will impact whether small businesses and job creators have the certainty they need to invest, hire and grow our economy, or if they continue to be sidelined by regulations, tax uncertainty, and mandated decisions made by the government about their business.

As the U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said, “If we get the business people and those who support and believe in American enterprise and economic freedom out to vote, we’re going to be better off no matter what.”

Do you plan to vote in the November 6th Elections?

America’s job creators need your help getting out the vote in the last days of the election.

We’ll see you at the polls.

Sincerely,

Rob Engstrom
Senior Vice President and National Political Director
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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