Top-Searched Legislation: Healthcare and Financial Regulation Reform Bills

Also this week, federal debt, student loans, postal worker retirement, and World War II internments.

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Members of Congress, still on their August recess, are not on Capitol Hill to push their issues on the floor and in front of TV cameras. With the lawmaking process halted until September 13, a few unexpected bills climbed into last week's list of the ten most-searched bills, according to, the Library of Congress website devoted to tracking legislation. While some perennially popular, sweeping reform bills remain on the list this week, the latest list also includes a few new bills with very specific topics, such as postal worker retirement benefits and the study of U.S. internment and deportation of Latin Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.

Below are last week's 10 most-searched bills on, according to data compiled by THOMAS on August 29. 

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

Previous ranking: 2 

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 the many changes it makes to the existing healthcare system, this act requires that all individuals have health insurance and prohibits insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, two provisions that both will go into effect in 2014. More than a dozen provisions are scheduled to take effect in 2010, with the rest to be phased in through 2018. [See who gets the most in campaign contributions from health professionals.]

2. 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. [See who gets the most from the finance and credit industry.]

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

Previous ranking: 2 

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 would provide basic necessities to passengers in an airplane on the tarmac for an extended period of time. However, all of these provisions were stricken and replaced with Senate Amendment 4575, which seeks to provide funding for education and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages. The bill now provides states with extra money to pay teacher salaries and fund Medicaid. With these new provisions, the bill passed the House and was signed by President Obama on August 10. [See which members of Congress get the most money from the air transport industry.]

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

Previous ranking: 4 

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. Debt Free America Act (H.R. 4646)

Not on list last week

Sponsor: Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)

This act aims to eliminate the $13-trillion national debt within seven years by levying a one-percent tax on all financial and retail transactions, except for transactions involving stock. The bill would also, as of December 31, 2017, repeal the individual income tax. Fattah's Debt Free America Act was introduced in February 2010 and immediately referred to committee, with no action taken on it since. However in recent week, the proposal has generated controversy in the blogosphere, sparking widespread discussion from minor political blogs to the popular myth-debunking site