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 extends unemployment benefits until the end of November 2010, and also includes a provision establishing retroactive payment of benefits to those whose benefits had recently expired. The bill was only passed after a partisan struggle in the Senate, where it was filibustered by Republicans who said they did not want to add the bill's $34 billion price tag to a budget deficit of over $1 trillion.
6. FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 1586)
Previous ranking: 5
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 grounded 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 and none of the original, air-travel-related text, the bill passed the House and was signed by President Obama on August 10.
7. Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872)
Previous ranking: 6
Sponsor: Rep. John Spratt (D-SC)
The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which contains amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (No. 2, above), was passed one week after the Patient Protection Act. Among the key changes that H.R. 4872 made are the closure of the Medicare “donut hole” and the lowering of the penalty for not having insurance. This bill also reforms the student loan system, including among its many provisions the elimination of the program via which federal student loans were administered through private institutions.
8. Livable Communities Act of 2009 (S. 1619)
Not on list last week
Sponsor: Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)
Citing a growing and aging U.S. population with limited access to public transportation and affordable housing, this act states as one of its major purposes “to facilitate and improve the coordination of housing, community development, transportation, energy, and environmental policy in the United States.” The Livable Communities Act would establish an Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This new office would make grants to local governments, planning organizations, and states to assist them in development projects related to housing, infrastructure, and land use. The bill was introduced in August 2009 and has remained largely untouched in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs since then. [See a slide show of 10 cities adopting smart grid technology.]
9. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1)
Previous ranking: 10
Sponsor: Rep. David Obey (D-WI)
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is the economic stimulus package signed into law by President Obama in February 2009. The $787 billion in provisions are going toward investing in healthcare and education, as well as numerous infrastructure projects, like improving public transportation and broadband access. To help maintain transparency in the implementation of the act, the federal government has set up Recovery.gov, a Web site that allows users to track where and on which projects stimulus money is being spent.