Air Travel, Medicaid Funding Among Most Searched Bills

Healthcare reform is still capturing the attention of THOMAS.gov users.

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Last week, air travel and Medicaid funding captured the attention of people browsing THOMAS.gov, the Library of Congress website devoted to tracking legislation. Each week, the site compiles a list of the top-searched legislative items for the past seven days. As Congress prepared for its August recess, a bill aimed at overhauling many aspects of air travel became the most-searched piece of legislation on THOMAS. However, one of that bill's amendments, granting education and Medicaid funding, kept some members of Congress from their August travels, as the House was called into session this week to vote on the bill.

Below are the ten most-searched bills on THOMAS.gov, according to data compiled by THOMAS on August 8.

1. FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 1586)

Not on list last week

Sponsor: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)

This bill originally intended to make flying more efficient and comfortable for passengers. One provision required air carriers to submit "emergency contingency plans" describing how the airline will provide food, water, rest rooms, cabin ventilation, and access to medical treatment for passengers in an airplane on the tarmac for an extended period of time. The bill also included provisions to overhaul the air traffic control system and improve safety by increasing pilot training requirements and limiting pilot fatigue. However, all of these provisions were stricken with Senate Amendment 4575 (No. 8, below), an amendment that would provide funding for education and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP). With this amendment, the bill passed the House on August 10 and was signed by President Obama on Tuesday.

2. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590)

Previous ranking: 1

Sponsor: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)

More commonly known as the healthcare reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law on March 23, 2010, after months of partisan wrangling. Among its many provisions, this act imposes an individual mandate to obtain health insurance and prohibits insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

3. Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (H.R. 4173)

Previous ranking: 3

Sponsor: Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)

The Restoring American Financial Stability Act was signed by President Obama on July 21, six months after its initial introduction. Also known as the financial regulatory reform bill, this bill is intended to address the causes of the 2008 economic crisis. It aims to create a watchdog council at the Federal Reserve and also to mitigate the dangers of "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions by providing a way to liquidate failed firms.

4. Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213)

Previous ranking:

Sponsor: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)

This bill, which President Obama signed into law on July 22, went through several versions and was known by several names, including the "American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act" and "Tax Extenders Act." In its final version, the bill establishes the long-awaited extension of unemployment benefits until the end of November 2010, as well as a provision establishing retroactive payment of benefits to those whose benefits had recently expired.

5. Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 4899)

Previous ranking: 2

Sponsor: Sen. David Obey (D-WI)

Also known as the "Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act of 2010," this bill includes a host of proposed spending for a variety of purposes, including $5.1 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster-related audits and investigations and $37 billion to support the war effort in Iraq. The Supplemental Appropriations Act was signed into law by President Obama on July 29.

6. Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2009 (H.R. 3534)

Previous ranking: 6

Sponsor: Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)

The CLEAR Act was introduced as a response to the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and aims to increase accountability in the management of mineral and energy resources. The bill, which passed the House on July 30, would establish new Interior Department agencies to enforce safety and environmental standards around energy production, as well as to regulate the leasing of federal lands to be used in energy production. The bill also specifically addresses contributing factors to the BP blowout and aims to establish regular inspections of oil wells on the Continental Shelf and to require oil company CEOs to certify annually that their drilling operations are safe. [See photos of the Gulf oil spill.]