With the current tragedy in Japan we have decided that 100% all donations made to Truth About Bills through Apr. 15, 2011 will be donated to the American Red Cross. These donations will help with relief efforts in Japan.
This bill was introduced in the Senate on March 30 by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. On April 13, the Senate committee on Homeland Security and Government began debate to amend the bill.
S. 679 reduces the number of presidential appointees that must be approved by the Senate, for the reason of streamlining and efficiency. There are 30 departments affected by this and over 100 positions. Some of the departments containing positions that would no longer be subject to senate confirmation are:
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Department of Energy
Department of Health and Human
Department of Homeland Security
Source: Gov Track
Nicole J Pearce
Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced H.R. 1249 the America Invents Act on April 14th, 2011. H.R. 1249 deals with the reform of the current patent law system. If passed the law would changed from the current "first to invent" to a "first to file" law. H.R. 1249 is seen as highly controversial, many feel that it would hurt smaller companies and inventors while favoring the large corporations.
The bill is currently in the House Judiciary committee awaiting a committee vote. If this bill were to pass on the main floor of the House of Representatives it would need reconciled with S. 23 which was passed in March. After reconciled it would come back for a final vote in Congress that could allow it to become a federal law.
Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced H.R. 358 on April 15th 2011. H.R. 358 would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and prohibit federal funding for any part of a healthcare plan that would cover the cost of an abortion. Currently direct federal funding and pay for an abortion is illegal under Federal Law. Under the new Healthcare Law that is slowly going into effect there would be funding for Health Insurance Plans that would also cover abortion costs. Many Republicans and Democrats see this as a violation of the law that prohibits funding for an abortion.
The bill currently is in the House Committee on Energy, Commerce, and Health. Currently the bill has bi-partisan support and 142 co-sponsors.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced S.J.Res 10 on March 31st 2011. Senate Joint Resolution 10 would do the same thing as H.J.Res 56. This would require the Federal Government to run a balanced budget for each fiscal year.
S.J.Res 10 also would require the Federal Government to spend no more than 18% of the GDP yearly. S.J.Res 10 also requires the Congress to vote on raising the "Debt Ceiling", this vote would require a 3/5ths majority in order for it to pass.
Currently S.J.Res 10 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee with 46 co-sponsors. Every Senate Republican has signed on with support to the bill while currently there are no Senate Democrats showing support. The bill is expected to see increased coverage when Congress comes back into session to Debate the Debt Ceiling.
This bill was introduced by Maine Senator Olympia Snowe as a direct response to the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church in protesting military funerals. The Westboro Baptists gained notoriety for their "God Hates Fags" signs, which implied that when a soldier died in battle, it was God reacting to the gays in the United States.
The Serve act would ban disruptive noise for a time from two hours before a military funeral to two hours after. It would also create a 300 foot buffer zone around the place where the service is being held.
Freshman Florida Senator Marco Rubio said of the bill "I can't imagine anyone being against it, at least no one in their right mind".
Source: Olympia Snowe
Nicole J Pearce
On April 1st, 2011 Congressman Louis Gohmert (R-TX) introduced H.R. 1297. The purpose of this bill is to ensure that funds be made available to pay our military forces in times where Congress doesn't approve Fiscal Year funding. In wake of the potential government shutdown Congressman Gohmert introduced this bill. Under currently rules the Military would not receive pay if the government were to shut down due to lack of funding approved by Congress.
The bill currently has 179 co-sponsors and is in the House Subcommittee on Armed Services. The bill is expected to receive increased support when Congress comes back in session.
On April 7th Congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL) introduced House Joint Resolution 56. The Proposed Resolution would add a constitutional amendment requiring the Federal Government to run a balanced budget yearly. The Amendment would require a two thirds vote from Congress to authorize spending that would exceed total income for the fiscal year. The only time the Federal Government could spend more than it has would be in cases where it is paying back money on the debt principle.
In order for this Joint Resolution to pass and become law two thirds of both chambers of congress would need to approve it. Currently the bill is in the House Judiciary Subcommittee with 39 co-sponsors. It is expected to receive some consideration in the House as the debate over the Debt Ceiling starts.
S. 820 was introduced on April 14 by Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. It was read twice and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
This bill would replace the current IRS tax system with a flat tax system. The tax would be a 17 percent tax on all personal income (wages, retirement accounts and unemployment). In addition, all businesses would be subject to the same 17 percent tax, hence the name "flat tax".
The bill repeals the Alternative Minimums Tax, Tax Credits, Gift and Estate Taxes.
For passage, this bill would require a super-majority (2/3) in both the House and the Senate.
Nicole J Pearce
Senate Bill 520 Introduced by Senator Tom Coburn has received increased coverage in the past few days. The goal of S. 520 would be to eliminate Ethanol Subsidies that have been in place since 2005. Currently the Federal Government offers a 45 cent per gallon tax credit to those who produce ethanol. Since 2005 this program has cost the Government approx. $30 Billion. If the program was eliminated it would save nearly $4 billion by the end of the year. The bill would need to be added to a current piece of legislation on the floor and would need 67 votes to have it happen. The bill is expected to come to the floor this week.
Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) proposed H.R. 1350 on April 4, 2011. The purpose of this bill is to increase funding to aid in federal investigations of crimes related to the 2008 financial crisis. The main area in which the increase in funds would be allocated is to hiring more FBI agents, employees by the Attorney General of the Department of Justice, and employees by the Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Enforcement. The need for hiring extra people comes from the fact that there are not enough federal employees already to continue the investigation and prosecution processes. The findings to support this are listed in Sec. 2 of the bill.
H.R. 1350 has six co-sponsors and is currently under review in the House Financial Services and House Judiciary committees.